No matter what your financial situation we could all use a little extra money each year.

Whether you need the money for vacation, to buy a car, or to buy some clothes for your kids, saving that money can sometimes be difficult and seem all together impossible.

However, there are some easy and clever ways to save money without completely depriving yourself. We've rounded up 7 tips that can save you over $700 a year or more! I don't know about you, but I would love an extra $700 in my pocket!

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1. Create A Cash Jar

Whether you usually carry cash in your wallet or not, somehow we always end up with cash every now and again. Designate a special jar or container for saving money and when you end up with that random extra cash in your wallet, drop it in the jar. Whether you only put in a one dollar bill, or a five dollar bill, if you do this every time you have cash in your wallet it will add up fast. Let's just say you put in $1 every week. That's $52 over a whole year. Imagine how much money you would have at the end of the year if you put in more than just $1 a week!

2. Meal Plan

One of the biggest ways we waste money each month is by over-buying at the grocery store. We often go without a plan and end up buying things we won't use or eat. Before heading to the grocery store, plan out your meals and snacks for the week. This way you will know exactly what you need for each meal and you will only buy what you need. You won't be buying extra bags of chips you don't need or cans of soup that you can't remember if you need more of or not.

3. Store Credit & Debit Cards

Many stores now a days offer store credit or debit cards that when used will give you either money back or extra savings. The Target Red Card is a perfect example. You can either get their debit card or credit card and with every purchase made at Target with your Red Card, Target gives you 5% off your total purchase. If you shop at stores like this often, it's worth doing. Even that small 5% will add up quickly. It's also great that Target offers either a debit or credit card for those of us who don't have great enough credit to qualify for a credit card, or if you don't like shopping on credit. If Target isn't a store you shop at often, ask your other favorite stores if they have similar programs like this. The savings will quickly work toward your advantage.

4. Share Food At Restaurants

As much as we all hate spending money on eating out, we all do it. When you do go out to eat, share your meal with someone. Restaurant portions are huge and completely ridiculous for one person to finish. If you split your food with someone, you will still leave the restaurant full and satisfied and your wallet will thank you as well. You'll basically be cutting your bill in half. So, even if you only eat out once a week and your average bill is $20 you'll save almost half of that! If you save $10 each week you'll be saving over $500 a year! Obviously the bill will vary depending on where you eat, how often you eat out, and who you take to eat with you, but it's an easy way to save some extra money without even trying too hard.

5. Drive Less

One of the most expensive things we purchase each month is gasoline for our cars. In order to save money on gas, try riding your bike if you only have just a short distance to go. You could also try putting together a carpool group to and from work. These options may be slightly more inconvenient, but worth it when you start to see the impact it may have on your bank account.  Even if it saves you only half a tank of gas each month and the average cost of filling your car up is about $30, you'll save $15 a month! That's almost $180 a year! Imagine the money you'll save if it costs you more money to fill up your car!

6. Use Cash

As nice and as convenient as credit and debit cards can be, they can also be a spending trap. Since you can swipe your card without paying attention to how much money you are really taking out of your account, it's easy to overlook how much money you're spending. Instead of using cards, try taking cash out of your account and keeping it in your wallet. This will make you more aware of how much money you are taking out of your wallet. Once you realize how quickly that money disappears you may stop spending so much on little things you don't really need.

7. Replace Your Light Bulbs

According to the Department of Energy, switching out your 5 most-used lightbulbs to more energy efficient ones can save you up to $75 a year! This is an easy way to save money over time since all you have to do is unscrew your old ones, and screw on the new ones. Then you can celebrate as you watch your energy bill drop and your bank account balance increase. Sounds like a great deal to me!


Author Bio: Mary Mulroney is a beach lover, thrift store addict, crafting and DIY-obsessed, mama of one son, and soon to be one daughter. She and her husband have been married for 5 and a half years and honestly couldn't be happier. They love their little life together as a family and spend every minute they can together. Mary is a main writer over at LifeAsMama.com.

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