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Aug 16, 2008

6 Ways to Save $50 a Week

Cutting a few corners can add up to real savings.

Now is definitely the time to figure out how you can save a dime--or, better yet, 500. Think of it like this: If you can hold onto just $50 a week, in one year you'll have saved $2,600, which is a decent sum to feather your nest egg with. But if your budget is already tight, you're probably wondering what you can do to set side such an amount.

When used in combination, the following six ideas will help you do just that, and as an added bonus, they'll benefit your health and the environment as well.

Bring your lunch to work
. Let's say you spend approximately $7 a day on lunch, which adds up to $35 a week; for $10, you can purchase enough ingredients at the grocery store for a week's worth of lunches, and that will save you $25 a week. But the caloric savings can be even greater: Considering that the typical fast-food meal can contain as many as 1,200 calories whereas a homemade lunch is usually only 300 to 500 calories, you can lower your weekly caloric intake by as much as 4,500.

Take a hike, or ride a bike
. When gas was cheap, it was easy to take cars for granted. If you needed something from the store, you'd drive a mile and back just to pick up one item. But with high fuel prices, it provides a great opportunity to adjust our mind-sets for the better

By deciding to walk or ride a bike when you shop or run errands at places that are within a two-mile radius, you can shave an average of 15 to 20 miles off your weekly mileage. While that may only save you $3 a week gaswise, in terms of calories, you can burn anywhere from 75 to 100 calories per mile.

Organize a carpool
. The average commute is 33 miles a day. Over a week, that equals approximately $27 in gas. If you can split your ride with three other coworkers, the money you'll need to spend on gas will go down by $20. And reducing the number of cars on the road lowers hydrocarbon emissions, which react with nitrogen oxide and sunlight to form ground-level ozone, a major component of smog and an eye and lung irritant.

Quit smoking
. This many seem like a no-brainer, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 20 percent of the U.S. population still lights up. If you're one of them, it's likely that your habit will only get more expensive over time. About 23 state legislatures are considering a tax hike on tobacco, and since 2002, states and U.S. territories have raised tobacco taxes 75 times. Nationwide, the price of a pack of cigarettes comes in at about $3.90 (in some areas, it can run as high as $7 or more), so if you smoke a pack a day, you can save at least $27 a week. And the cilia in your lungs, which helps prevent infection, will return to normal function within one to nine months after quitting.

Give tap water a chance
. Even a mild case of dehydration can leave you feeling drained.

So the next time you're feeling a bit tired, grab a glass of water rather than a caffeinated beverage. You can spare yourself anywhere from 15 to 750 calories and keep between $1 and $4 in your wallet, which can equal $5 to $20 by week's end.

Invest in power strips
. The power your appliances use in standby mode can account for as much as 26 percent of your electric bill. If you hook them up to power strips that you can easily switch off before you go to bed at night and when you leave for work in the morning, the savings on your electric bill can reach as high as $6 a week. An added bonus: you'll do your part in decreasing your carbon footprint.