A drop in a bucket isn't much, but every drop helps fill it. Saving money is the same way. A few cents here or there may not seem like much, but those pennies add up to dollars in the bank, and those dollars in the bank eventually start earning you money. Cutting expenses may sound painful, but saving money doesn't have to hurt.
Keep the Change
If your bank offers an automatic savings plan, sign up for it. Many banks offer a variation of a round-up program for debit card purchases. The bank automatically rounds up any purchase you make with your debit card to the next dollar and transfers the difference from your checking to your savings account where it will accumulate and earn interest.
Feed the Pig
At the end of each day, empty all the change from your purse or pockets and drop it into an old-fashioned piggy bank. It's old-school, but those pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters quickly add up to dollars.
Automate Your Savings
Set up automatic transfers from your checking to your savings or money market account each pay period. Even $20 a week adds up to over $1,000 a year in savings before interest.
Dress Your Windows
Drapes can cut your heat loss by as much as 25 percent and heat gain by as much as 33 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Choose tight-fitting drapes that cover your windows completely. Open the drapes over south-facing windows during the day to let the sun in during the winter. In warm weather, use light-colored drapes and keep them closed during the warmest hours.
Pay Bills On Time
One late payment can trigger higher interest rates on all of your credit cards. Your bank's automatic bill-paying service can help you get payments out before the due date so you don't rack up late fees and trigger higher interest charges on credit card accounts.
Make a List
Your grocery list -- don't leave home without it. Plan your weekly menus around the grocery circulars to maximize your food savings. Make a list of things you need and stick to it. Shopping with a list makes it easier to avoid impulse buys that add up to a bigger grocery bill.
Tune Up Your Car
Keep your wheels tuned up and in good shape to save money on gasoline. A poorly tuned engine can increase your car's gas consumption by up to 20 percent, according to the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.
Invest in your community, your health and your wallet by frequenting farmers' markets and local farm stands, where fresh produce is often cheaper than it is at the supermarket. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a handy app to help you find farmers' markets near you.
Make Your Own Coffee
The daily office coffee run can cost you $25 or more a week. If your employer allows it, plug in a one-cup coffee maker at your desk, or talk your boss into buying an office coffee maker. Each time you fill up, drop a buck into your piggy bank and watch the savings add up.
Use Loyalty Cards
Sign up for loyalty cards and programs at all the stores you frequent. A supermarket savings card entitles you to the lowest prices on groceries and household necessities. Many stores also offer cash-off coupons on your entire order as your purchases add up over time. You'll miss out on those savings if you habitually let the cashier key in your weekly savings on a store card instead of your own.
Deb Powers is an avid urban gardener who works with a community collective to promote sustainable urban agriculture and build partnerships between local business owners and community organizations. Powers serves as a social media and marketing consultant for local non-profits and businesses, and is collaborating with a coffee roaster to publish a cookbook highlighting coffee as a culinary ingredient.