by Jennifer Dees

Money adds up. As someone with a sweet tooth, I probably spend about $7 each week on sweets, sometimes planned, usually on a whim. I got curious about how much money that adds up to over a year: $336.

Look, I’m not willing to cut sugar out of my life. I’d fight off anyone who tried to bolt with my ice cream. But for something that lasts a few minutes and really isn’t all that healthy, cutting out a little wouldn’t hurt.

We have a lot of resources that can be easily taken for granted, so much so that we sometimes overindulge. Indulging isn’t a bad thing, but there is a limit to how much pleasure we can get out of something. Once your cup is full, let the rest flow into someone else’s.

One simple way to do this is by keeping a spare change jar. I’m irrationally bothered by stray pennies, so I might as well throw those in. It doesn’t matter how quickly the jar fills, just that, when it is full, I can donate coins that probably would have otherwise continued to sit on my car’s dashboard for eternity. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a difference.

I created an infographic to provide a few suggestions for saving money. The biggest way to save is to use public transportation exclusively. For those who live in cities with good public transportation, it frees up time for reading (or sleeping!) during the commute, and according to the American Public Transportation Association, you could save a whopping $9,000 a year when you cut out auto insurance, gas, repairs, and car payments. Even those who want to keep a car can save an average of $1,400 a year by carpooling.

Another easy saving opportunity is switching from bottled water to filtered tap water. It’s better for the environment, and it saves $280 per year. Another option is a small switch from one soda size to another. Ten cents might not seem like much, but added up over a year, that’s $36, and it takes just $30 to give one person safe water for a lifetime.

I’m not suggesting you sell all of your possessions and internal organs, nor that anyone gives up their Saturday night ice cream (again, fight me), but a few cents here and there adds up and can go a long way toward transforming lives in rural villages in Niger. If you think you can find even $5 extra a month, why not sign up to become a recurring donor? With a donation of just $5 a month, you can provide give the gift of a lifetime of safe water to two people by this time next year.