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coin jarBack to school shopping season is officially over, which means the holidays are coming up on us fast. And you know what that means: you're going to need cash soon. But if you're broke right now, is there really any hope of saving enough money to make the holidays jolly?

Here's the short answer: yes. How about the long one? You can save money, if you really want to. It's more or less that simple, because really wanting to save some cash each month should be enough motivation to actually commit to a saving plan. And committing is actually more important than how you save, because there are a ton of good ways to keep the cash from flowing out of your account every month:

1. Make a coin jar (a big Mason jar works best). Yes, this is a bit like having a piggybank when you were a kid, but it worked then, didn't it? When you come in at the end of the day, empty all your spare change into the jar. When it's full, you'll be surprised by how much you collect when you aren't losing your loose change or being tempted to spend "just 50 cents" here and there. Now the key is to actually put it in the bank!

2. Make a grocery list ... then take it with you when you shop. I make lists all the time, but remembering to actually put them in my pocket is the real key. When you aren't buying "this and that," you tend to spend less on splurges you don't really need.

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3. Buy a reusable water bottle and fill it yourself. Every time you buy a 20-ounce soda or grab a 16-ounce bottle of water from the convenience store, you're spending at least $1.50. If you're doing that every day or even several times a day, you're killing your wallet. Fill a big bottle with water at home or from the office sink or buy a bigger bottle of your favorite soda or juice and fill your reusable one to save.

4. Shop when you're in a hurry. You won't be tempted to overspend if you only have time to get a few quick things.

5. Make your own coffee. Really, this is common sense people!

6. Make your own lunch. Ditto!

7. Plan out big purchases. The longer time you wait between deciding to buy and actually doing it, the more time you have to realize you probably don't really need it.

8. DIY anything you can. Challenge yourself to stop buying things that can easily be made at home for less. You'll save on the actual item. You'll also potentially save because you are devoting time to mixing up a container of your own laundry detergent instead of being tempted to shop.

9. Hit the library. This isn't just for people who traditionally buy books. This is for EVERYONE. Reading library books is a cheap and fulfilling hobby, one that can keep you from stress shopping.

10. Exercise. Another cheap hobby that will keep you from stress shopping, this one will also help you cut down on your medical bills.

What are your best "save money now" tips?


Image via KrissZPhotography/Flickr