When most people think about saving money, they think of the time and energy it will take to do it.  But it doesn’t have to be that complicated.  Sometimes there are ways to save money without even realizing it.  Here are some of our favorite ways how:

1. Automate your savings.
This one should be a no-brainer. By setting up automatic transfers to savings from your paycheck or checking account, it ensures you’ll never forget to do it, and you won’t accidentally spend the money on other stuff first.  By the end of the year, think of all the cash you will have in that account!

2. Automatically bump up your 401(k) contributions.
Everyone wants to save more for retirement, but it can be hard to actually make it happen. Auto-escalation is an awesome feature hat many 401(k) plans offer that automatically increases contributions on a regular schedule, like around raise time or annually. (P.S. – If your company’s 401(k) doesn’t offer this feature, set a calendar reminder once or twice a year to raise your contribution percentage.)

3. Stop impulse buying and audit your own cabinets.
Did you know that the average American makes 1.5 trips to the grocery store weekly? That’s way too many chances to accidentally fill your shopping cart with things you don’t really need (especially if you’re shopping hungry). So instead of heading to the supermarket, save yourself a trip and check out your own kitchen for food that might otherwise be wasted. You’d be surprised at meals you can whip up with everyday ingredients you already have (saving you money and cleaning house!).

4. Change food brands.
Speaking of grocery shopping, what’s easier than swapping a few of your standard grocery items to a lower-cost generic alternative? Try swapping out a few premium brands for a budget-conscious alternative and see which ones work for your family.  While there will be some items you still prefer your brand name in, there are so many cheaper brand items that are almost indistinguishable and can save you a lot of money with no effort.

5. Make yourself wait.
In today’s day and age, everyone wants instant gratification.  If we want it, we buy it.  That mindset will never help us save money.  The first step is to decide on a threshold – let’s say for example, $50.  For anything that you want over $50, make yourself wait a certain period of time before purchasing, say 2 weeks.  You will often find that at the end of the 2-week period, you’ll realize you didn’t really want or need it anyway.  Or, you may have even found that item somewhere cheaper during the 2-week period.  Whatever the end result, you can reduce impulse buys and save money without trying.