Simple, smart strategies for the time-pressed.

By Jessie Van Amburg Illustration Jessie Ford

No time for store hopping, price scanning or extreme couponing this month? Follow these tips instead.

Commit to bringing lunch to work every day for a week. Throw together an extra sandwich while prepping your kids’ lunches, or pack up last night’s leftovers. You’ll be eating healthier and cutting your take-out tab. Get your spouse to join in for double the savings. You save: $50

When your printer runs out of ink, take the original empty cartridge to Costco, which will refill for members for up to 70% less than buying new. You can also purchase remanufactured cartridges, which have been recycled and refilled, from Office Depot or Cartridge World at a discount. You save: $8.70

Consider moving your checking account to a no-fee bank provider, like Capital One 360 ( or Ally Bank ( These digital banks don’t charge the usual $154.44 in annual fees typical of other providers, and they offer great additional perks, like interest-accruing accounts. You save: $12.87

You may be paying for too much data on your family wireless plan—on average, people use less than 2GB per month. Check your family’s usage on the bill, and consider switching to the data threshold below your current one (say, from 10GB to 6GB on Verizon Wireless). Apps like My Data Manager (Android, iOS, free) can send notifications if you get close to your limit. You save: $20

For cheap reads, subscribe to BookBub ( They’ll send you daily ebook deals and freebies curated to your personal taste. Many are as inexpensive as 99 cents—less than the cost of a paperback—and you won’t have to deal with library waiting lists. You save: $14.49

If your contract allows it, temporarily suspend your gym membership and take your workout outside for the month. Visit /walking-workouts for exercise ideas, and consider enlisting a friend to join you and keep you motivated. You save: $58

Go eco and switch 10 of the most-used lights in your home to Energy Star CFL bulbs. Most CFLs pay for themselves in energy savings within nine months, and they last longer than the incandescent bulbs you’re replacing. You save: $3

Plan one dinner a week using only what’s already in your fridge and pantry, says savings expert Stephanie Nelson of “About 25% of a family’s grocery spending is wasted on spoiled food,” she says. Then try the USDA’s free FoodKeeper app (Android, iOS) to track the expiration dates on perishables and avoid further waste. You save: $47.28 (for a family of four)

Buy household basics—we tried pet food and toilet paper—in bulk through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. Schedule a regular delivery of a certain item to arrive when you need it, with free shipping. The more items you subscribe to, the more you save—up to 15% extra off your order. You save: $13.36

Your monthly total: $232.31

Additional reporting by Abby Kass