It hit me hard one evening driving home from work. I realized how much I had spent that day. I had purchased a large coffee and breakfast in the morning, filled my tank with gas, charged my parking fee, and then grabbed a pack of gum and water. Then I spent money on lunch with a coworker and an afternoon coffee.
I made a promise to myself that I would start planning better in the morning to prevent this unnecessary spending. Here are 13 things you can do every morning before you walk out the door to school or work to save you money all day:
How to Save Money in the Morning
- Eat breakfast at home. When you’re rushing to get dressed and go in the morning, sometimes making breakfast doesn’t make the cut, and you probably settle on grabbing something on the way to work. The price of your breakfast on the go can cost double or triple what you’d be spending if you made it yourself. For a hot breakfast, make it the night before. You can make eggs, bacon, sausage, or any other of your favorite breakfast foods, and simply warm them up the next morning. Whether it’s warm foods or something like cereal, yogurt, and fruit, if you don’t have time to eat, bring it with you.
- Brew your own coffee. Chances are you’ve heard the tip of making your own coffee a thousand times on lists to save money. But it’s true. Stopping for coffee every morning, and if you’re like me also every afternoon, it will quickly add up.
- Take a shorter, cooler shower. It may not be much, but lowering the temperature on your shower and keeping it shorter, can improve your gas bill by lessening the amount of hot water  you’re using. Better yet, if you’re headed to the gym before work, shower there.
- Use fewer toiletries. I realized I had been wasting a lot when I heard that you only need a dime size amount of shampoo to properly wash your hair. Evaluate how much you’re using on all of your toiletries – shampoo, conditioner, hair products, makeup, lotion, shaving cream, and even toothpaste (you only need the size of a pea). It may seem like a small thing, but it can add up.
- Make your own lunch. The same way that making your own breakfast and coffee will add up, the same is true with lunch. Eating lunch out  of the office is a huge budget buster. If you spent an average of $7 per day on lunch, you could be spending $150 a month on eating lunch.
- Pack incidentals. When I started working at an office, I thought I was ahead of the game by packing my own lunch and coffee. But then there always seemed to be something else that I wanted or needed during the day. Sometimes you need an afternoon snack so pack fruit or nuts instead of heading to the vending machine. It’s also a good idea to carry Tylenol, Tums, and cough drops with you in case you start to not feel well at work.
- Lower the thermostat. During summer, I always have a bad habit of leaving my air conditioner running even when no one’s home. Before you walk out, turn off your heat or air conditioning  or at least turn them to a more reasonable setting.
- Turn all the lights off. Turning off your lights , television, and other electronics will keep your electric bill low.
- Unplug electronics. Besides turning off the lights and electronics, take it one step further and unplug all of your electronics. Anything that is plugged in is still using electricity. Lamps, coffee pot, toaster, phone charger, radio, and everything else that is plugged in are included.
- Grab your train or bus pass. Opting for public transportation instead of driving is a huge savings. With the price of gas and parking, it’s often a better idea to take public transportation. Driving less will also be better for your car. Besides saving on gas , parking, and wear and tear on your car, you may also be able to lower your car insurance rate. If you’re driving under a certain amount of miles, you may be able to get a better rate.
- Check the traffic report. If you don’t have the option to take public transportation, walk, or bike to work, you should always check the traffic report before you leave. If there is an accident or road work and a huge traffic delay, you can find an alternative route. Sitting in traffic is a waste of gas. Flip on the news in the morning to hear the updates. Also, most news stations and newspapers will have a link on their website where you can see the traffic times from your home to your work. You can download the free Beat the Traffic App. Research different routes to find which one will save you the most on gas.
- Pack walking shoes. I had to take a train and then a bus while getting my journalism degree. Instead, I decided to just start walking after I got off the train. With the traffic, it actually took me about the same amount of time to walk. Skipping that bus to and from the train home saved me almost $100 every month. Also, pack an umbrella and the proper coat so you’re able to walk. Plus, walking will give you more energy throughout the day and is great for your health.
- Have cash with you. A few months back, my coworker was collecting money for my boss to buy a birthday present. I didn’t have any cash so I had to go find an ATM and ended up also getting a charge on top of it. For one reason or another, you may need to use cash throughout your day. Avoid the ATM fee by having cash on hand .
What do you take with you every day to help you save money? What do you pack for lunch to save money?