250 money saving tips that will blow. your. mind (not to mention, grow your savings account at rates you haven’t been able to).
Saving money is a two-part equation. That’s why you’ll find that each of the 250 money saving tips I’m about to give you will fit into one of two categories:
- How to save money off of your bills (both variable expenses, like groceries, and fixed expenses, like your mortgage).
- How to physically move more of your paycheck(s) into your savings account.
These are two very different things — growing the balance in your savings account doesn't automatically happen just because the bottom of your last grocery receipt says you “saved” $16.02.
You've got to ACTUALLY put that $16.02 (and a whole lot more) into your savings account to grow it.
We’re going to talk about methods that will help you to do both – save lots of money off of purchases AND getting more money into your savings account.
Sooo…click around, and stay awhile!
How Can I Save a Lot of Money Fast? Use My Bank It! Method
Aside from actually taking action on lots of these money saving tips all at the same time, you can also save a lot of money fast with my Bank It! method.
What’s the Bank It! method?
When you see money at the end of your receipt that you saved – at the grocery store, CVS, or anywhere else where they tell you how much you had in coupon and discount savings — actually put that amount into savings (Bank it!).
This works to save a lot of money fast because instead of never really seeing those “Savings” as actual savings in your account, you now can. It makes you stay within your budget, and squeeze money out of that budget’s spending categories into your savings account – letting you save money much faster than you currently are able to.
25 Easy Ways to Save Money Every Month
These are not one-and-done tips to save money; these tips will save you money month after month after month (and often times, after just taking action ONCE to reap the continual savings!). Now that's a fun way to grow your piggy bank.
- Get Cheaper Homeowner's Insurance: I've got 9 strategies I've personally used for getting cheaper homeowner's insurance (one tip alone saved us $1600!).
- Eat through Your Pantry Stockpile: I've written an article on 17 different non-perishable meal ideas. You'll find non-perishable desserts, dinners, and side dishes.
- Switch Electricity Providers: Are you in a deregulated energy market? By switching electricity providers, you can save a decent chunk of change. Even better, there are energy search engines that will shop around for you for FREE, and tell you which plan is the cheapest for you, based on your own usage patterns. Sweet!
- Upgrade Your Interest Rate: Last year, I took the time to research and then switch our savings from an account earning a paltry 0.75% interest, to one earning 1.4% (so, almost doubling our interest earnings each month). And one year later? That rate is now at 2.35%. That means without me having to do any extra work, I've tripled our interest earnings each month (that original account we were with? STILL only has a 1% interest rate). #winning
- Zap those Energy Vampires: If an electronic is plugged in, then it’s still sucking energy up. You’ll want to unplug your appliances and things when not in use (an easy way to do this is to plug your entertainment center into one power strip, then just unplug once before going to bed).
- Use a Cash Back Credit Card: Redeem the cash back as a check, and stick it into your savings account. Hint: using credit cards can actually make you spend more money. SO, you could do a hybrid approach to using credit cards, like we do, to maximize rewards and minimize extra spending.
- Downsize Your Orders: Stop up-sizing your orders, and downsize your orders instead (this gets tricky; I’ve found that fast food restaurants automatically assume you want a medium, so you have to say “small” instead).
- Cancel those Free Trials: Did you sign up for a free trial and forgot, and are now being charged each month? Go check your account for any recurring fees you don’t want.
- Decrease Your Health Insurance Premiums: You pay these each month, so definitely take a look at how to save money on health insurance premiums.
- Submit Defensive Driving Course Certificate to Your Insurance Company: My husband got a speeding ticket and decided to take the defensive driving course instead of pay the full fine. Yes – our auto insurance company still gave us a monthly discount from having taken the course!
- Separate Purchases for Once-Use from Continual Use: Let’s talk about shopping at dollar stores. It’s not always a good deal. But if you can figure out how to make it a good deal, then you should add it into your savings strategy. Personally, if I need something that I’m only going to use once, twice, maybe three times, then I’ll go to the dollar store – chances are very good the product I buy there, for cheap, will last that long. If I need something that I will use over and over and over again? I look for higher quality and don’t waste the few bucks up front.
- Pay Auto Insurance Once or Twice Per Year: Call your insurance agent and see if you’re being charged a monthly surcharge/fee for paying your bill monthly. If so, instead, pay for six months or one year at a time (whatever is necessary in order to stop paying the monthly fee) to save on insurance costs.
- Ditch the Cable: Are you ready to actually ditch your cable bill altogether? Don’t worry, there are some awesome alternatives out there now. Use the premium savings you'll get in the first few months to buy something like Roku for streaming some of your favorite shows. Also, this HDTV Antenna is cheap, and has a really high reception (it comes with a signal boost).
- Switch Cell Phone Plans: I used to have Verizon at about $83/month. Then, I switched to Virgin Mobile…and my cell bill is now just $39.99/month (after taxes). Not only that, but I have unlimited EVERYTHING, which I didn’t have with Verizon. What a cool way to slash a bill and make out better in the end, anyway.
- Keep Your Car Longer: As soon as you pay off your car, KEEP it. You will essentially be putting hundreds of dollars back into your pocket every single month. An even better idea? Put that money into a car fund savings account for the next few years so that you can pay cash for your next vehicle. Goodbye paying interest on a car loan!
- Spend One Hour Taking Action: If you just spent one hour EVERY month taking action on this huge list of ideas I’ve given you, then you would see AMAZING progress on your ability to save money. It would compound your savings ability over the next year!
- Search for Whatever it is you Want to Do/Have in a New Way: Whatever it is that you want to do or to have this month, search for it in Google (personally, I use Swagbucks search engine because I earn reward points and cash them in at my Paypal. But that’s me) plus the word free. You literally never know what you’ll find.
- Take Advantage of Credit Card Offers: I’ve mentioned before that we use a hybrid strategy of both cash and credit cards to manage our money. Something I want to also mention is that periodically, we get extra offers from our current credit card to earn us even more cash back (for example, now until the end of next month, I could be earning 3X my normal reward points). Make sure you sign up for these – they’re free.
- Trade Up Your Clothes, Cost-Effectively: Do you want or need new clothes for yourself or for your kiddos? Go through the closets and drawers first and get out all the clothes that could be resold. You can take them to places like Plato’s Closet, a local consignment shop, and other stores that will give you cash for them (some after they sell). Then, use that cash to fund your new wardrobe, saving you money you were going to spend anyway. You might also want to check out Thred-Up. Bonus tip: Do this before the upcoming season change, and load up on warm-weather clothes or cold-weather clothes.
- Get Off the Designer Foods: There are tons of really great nutrients out there that suddenly become trendy and you think you need to buy specific products in order to get them. It turns out, you can get the same nutrients that others are buzzing about (like Omega-3s, Omega-6s, and complete amino acids), but from different, cheaper, sources.
- Before Paying for Any Experience, Search a Group-Buying Site: You can search Groupon.com, LivingSocial.com, etc.
- Remember this Golden Rule: Turning off automatic savings withdrawals – perhaps in a moment of desperation – is a heck of a lot easier to do than turning them back on. So, take caution when thinking about doing that. Instead, try to find an alternative way to make your budget work.
- Do a Toy Swap: Instead of buying your kids new toys, set up a toy swap with neighborhood/friend/family Moms. Everyone will walk away with new toys every few months, without having to go to the store.
- Purchase Gifts Year-Round: Part of my holiday budgeting strategy is to keep a cupboard in my home that is only for gifts, and to fill it with great deals I find year-round. Shopping year-round for the holidays not only saves you money; it really takes the stress out of the holiday season. You’ll want to periodically check in on everything so that you don’t double buy for the same person, and then come the fall, make a list of presents you still need to purchase (hint: if you DID over-purchase, you can use presents for birthdays, Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day throughout the year).
- Nix One Date Night Out: Instead of doing date nights out for each date night, choose one date night IN. Don’t worry – I’ve got some really fun resources for at home date nights for married couples (that don’t include the television).
- Consider a Group Vacation Home: Once a year, for several years in a row, our family (all of my husband’s brothers/sisters and their kids) rented a big, beautiful, beach house. We were all right on the ocean for about 3-4 days, and the cost was just a few hundred dollars per family (that includes food costs — we each took turns cooking a meal in the kitchen). This was an awesome way to pool our money together and get away, with substantial savings than if we had gotten our own beach house for the weekend.
- Ask for Strategic Gifts: When people ask what to get you or your kids for holidays/birthdays…be strategic. Ask them for something that will save you money each month, or save you money because you need to purchase it anyway. For example, our sister-in-law asked what to buy our little guy for Christmas. I gave her two suggestions that we were going to buy anyway – the size of shoe we need in the next few months, or size 4T pants. (Hint: of course, only give suggestions if you’re asked!).
25 Good Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget
Have you thought in the past that there just aren’t any good ways to save money on a tight budget?
When you’re hardly making it to your next paycheck, let alone setting aside any money for yourself in a savings account, then it can feel like that.
But I can tell you – with confidence + experience – that there are lots of ways to still save money, even if you’re living from one paycheck to the next and not sure where next month’s new kid expense is going to come from.
Let me share 25 of these strategies with you, below.
- Negotiate Your Rent Down: Yes, you can negotiate rent with both a landlord or with an apartment complex. Here's my 9 (tested) strategies for how to negotiate rent.
- Bank your Work Reimbursements: If you have to pay for work expenses out of pocket and submit reimbursements, then you’ll need to wait for the payment. That means you’ve taken care of that paycheck cycle’s bills or that month’s bills without the need of this money (since you already spent it, and time has passed). So, when the money does come to you, send it straight to your savings account.
- Shop Around for Your Next Surgery: Yes, you heard me right. For your next surgery (that ISN’T an emergency – I did this with hernia operation costs), you need to do some price comparisons to see where you can get it done in a way that doesn’t kill your wallet.
- Use a Bank Opening Bonus: This is a really easy way to score several hundred dollars for just a little bit of your time (opening a new account and funding it from another savings account you have – just move the money over). I’ve used it to jump-start savings goals, like when I opened up an account with a $250 bonus to start our honeymoon savings! You’ll need to keep the money in this new savings account for the period of time the bank tells you in order to reap the bonus money, such as 90 days, 3 months, or 6 months. Here’s much more info on how to figure out if a bank opening bonus is worth it.
- Sign Up for SaverLife.Org: If you’re 18 or over, a United States citizen, you have a savings account and use online banking, and you’ve got a valid email address, then you’re eligible for SaverLife.org’s savings match program! You can get up to a $10 match/month for six months on money that you save yourself (you have to save $20/month). At the end of the six months, you’ll have $240 in total, of which $60 was from the nonprofit EARN.
- Ask for a Generic Prescription: Save yourself money on prescriptions by calling your doctor’s office and ask if there’s a generic medication you can take to replace one of the ones you have right now (that you’re paying a higher copay on).
- Change up Gift-Giving in Your Family: If you’re like me, then you have about 15 kids to buy Christmas presents for (not to mention, birthday presents throughout the year). Approach your family and ask if they’d like to choose names this coming holiday season. This will help with holiday budgeting.
- Change Up Gift-Giving, Tip #2: Get really good at making something, and then make it for lots of people for your next holiday. For example, my friend made homemade lotion/homemade deodorant/homemade lip balm, etc., then gifted these to several people. They were awesome and totally chemical-free! One year, I made several sets of wine charmers, and gave those out as gifts. Not only will this simplify the holidays for you, but it will likely save you money.
- Play the Rebate Shuffle: If you purchase products that yield rebates, stay within your budget when doing so. Then, when the rebate check comes in the mail, deposit it into savings. This is a way to squeeze more savings out of a tight budget, as you still purchased the product you needed within the budget you were given, and can now funnel that money to a “For Keeps” account.
- Start a Change Jar: Put all your spare change (get your kids to look in couches periodically, and under your car seats) in one location. Every six months to a year, deposit it at your bank.
- Cap the Number of New Recipes You Try: I just love trying new recipes. But what I find is, if I try out 3-5 new recipes each grocery cycle, I end up buying “one-off” ingredients that we ONLY need for those recipes and the bill comes in much higher. Now, I limit myself to trying out just 1-2 new recipes each grocery cycle (we grocery shop every other week).
- Grocery Shop Every Other Week: The more times you’re in the store, the more you’ll be exposed to things to buy and give into those temptations. Not only that, but grocery shopping every other week forces you to make a meal plan (which is another GREAT way to save money).
- Build Savings by Helping Others Save: Last year, the awesome bank our savings account is with (PurePoint Financial) sent out an email with a referral link. For every person we referred who also opened up an account, they would give us $200 in our savings account, and the person would receive $200! How amazing is that? We were allowed to refer up to 6 people. Look for an opportunity like this with your own bank, where you earn money for your own savings by referring friends and family (I know Digit.co also has a referral program, where you get $5 added to your savings account for every referral you give who opens an account).
- Find a Substitute for One Thing: Did you know that you could use Interlibrary loan to get most of the DVDs you want through Netflix (nixing your Netflix subscription, and banking that money instead)? What else could you find a free substitute for?
- Become a One-Car Family: I’m serious about this one as a way to save on family expenses – my husband and I have been driving one car for over a year now (both our cars were flooded during Hurricane Harvey + a flash flood three weeks later). I drive him to work each day, and pick him up at night, giving us an extra 2 hours of time with him each day. We also have been a one-car family before when a beater car of ours has died, for a few months at a time (even though we had two different jobs at the time). It can be done, and you’ll save insurance, some gas costs, and some oil change costs, all of which you can dedicate to your savings account.
- Grow Your Savings through Internet Search Earnings: You can sign up for Swagbucks.com, and search the internet through them. Periodically, you win SwagBucks, which you can then redeem for actual cash (by PayPal). For every 5,000 points, you can get $50 in PayPal cash, or you can cash in at 2,500, or 10,000 points. Stick this money in your savings account!
- Check Money Saving Websites Daily: Sites like MoneySavingMom.com publish AWESOME deals for quality products and items you need/want anyway, at crazy great prices, all throughout the day. You want to go to these often so that you can get what you need for cheap or free. In fact, she’s got a section of her site for freebies and giveaways ONLY, so you can just stick to that for a while!
- Share a Service with Another Family: You can share magazine subscriptions (I give away the magazines I’ve read all the time!), carpooling to the same school/daycare, etc.
- Go for a Gift-Free Birthday: Leading up to your next birthday, sign up for birthday freebies (such as a free Starbucks drink to your liking, and a free scoop of Baskin-Robbins ice-cream. I even once got a free set of pearl earrings at a jewelry store!). Then, use those treats for your birthday gift instead of buying yourself something.
- Host an Online Yard Sale (with proceeds going to your Savings account): I’ve had some success with online yard sales – essentially going through our stuff, and taking pictures/pricing them for Facebook sell groups all at once, for a duration of time – in the past. Could be a nice jumpstart to cushion your savings.
- Price Shop, One Item at a Time: You’ve got to get your savings money from somewhere – so look around and make a list of what you consume on a regular basis. Then, go down the list one-by-one to do some price shopping. For example, start by price shopping your pet food/medications/needs, then price shop your prescriptions (yes, different pharmacies charge different prices! Also, check out what the heck gag clauses are – it could save you money), then price shop oil changes, then price shop whatever is next on your list. Three places to check are the cost of buying it online, buying it in bulk (like at a membership store), and buying it at a competitor’s store. Small changes, over time, will add up to big savings!
- Do a No-Spend Challenge: There are some awesome no-spend challenges out there, whether you want to do a no-spend weekend, no-spend week, or even a no-spend year!
- Get the Kids Involved: You should involve your kids in the money saving process. Not only will it help get everyone onboard, but they need to learn about how to stretch money from somewhere, right? Might as well let them help you save it by doing things like scanning in your receipts to cash-back apps (I use CoinOut – I’m up to $22.36), have them hang up laundry on the laundry line, give them a small bonus each time they don’t leave the lights on (or charge them $0.25 every time you find a light left on), etc.
- Crowdsource Date Night Childcare: My husband and I made a weekly date night a priority in our marriage after our little guy was born, and it’s been a game-changer. We don’t go out often (probably just 1-2 date nights out a month) – most are at home date nights. However, couples from our church group let us know that they used to do a childcare ring for date nights, where each couple took a turn watching another couple’s kids so that everyone got to go on date night without paying $30+ to a babysitter. Nice!
- Cut Two Things Out of Your Grocery Buying: If you could get rid of two unhealthy things from your diet, while simultaneously saving money, would you do it? How about you nix two of any of the following completely from your home – soda, chips, ice-cream, frozen meals, crackers, etc.
- Stop Using Plastic: The stats are in, and it’s well known now that if you use credit cards (or plastic, in general) to pay for things, you will spend more money. It’s because parting with actual dollar bills is harder to do than swiping a card. Don’t believe me? Go one month with paying in cash, and then compare your spending with the previous month. We did, and decided to use a hybrid spending strategy with cash and credit from here on out.
Still there? Awesome! Because we've still got 200 ways to save money to go!
50+ Household Money Saving Tips – Save Expenses
Many purchase decisions have to do with the household. There are groceries, clothing, home repairs and renovations, Pinterest projects, toiletries, and probably 237 other transaction points that all take place within/around the household.
So, we’re going to dedicate 50 of the 250 money saving tips to this specific category.
- Use the Half Rule: I can’t believe how well this tip has worked (without any “side effects”). On many of the household items that we use, I simply just decided to use half the amount I had been. This meant doing things like cutting dryer sheets in half, using half the laundry detergent that’s recommended (it’s true! Still cleans), making half recipes (or if we use the whole recipe, freezing half for another meal later), etc. Try it out!
- Sign Up for Rewards Programs: There are TONS of reward programs/loyalty programs out there. If you take the time to sign up for each, get the cards/apps downloaded, and then read through how to use them, then you can save a bundle off of everyday purchases over the next years.
- Make Your Own Laundry Detergent: We did this for years, until our little guy came along. WOW do you save a ton of money. In fact, check out all the different ways for how to save money on laundry.
- Don’t Buy a Single Book, for One Year: My friend, Aurora, and I were discussing this – we are voracious readers (as is my husband), yet we buy fewer books than you’d think. We get by this by using our library’s Interlibrary Loan (ILL) system to get our hands on almost any book we’d like, Overdrive to download books on our phone to borrow from the library, and using Paperback Swap. Why not resolve to do this for the next year?
- Shed Unhealthy Shopping Habits with this Question: Each month, check out your spending by category. Then ask yourself, “did I receive satisfaction and value in proportion to life energy spent?” This is from the book Your Money or Your Life, a must-read!
- Eliminate Overdraft Fees: This one is a bit harsh, because by setting it up – you could find yourself getting your debit card declined at checkout (BUT, you won’t be charged the $30 overdraft fee). Opt out of overdraft protection at your bank. Period. It means you will be denied at a cash register in the event that there is not enough money in your checking account to cover your purchase — which could be embarrassing — but at least you will not be allowed to spend money you do not have (and incur a hefty charge for doing so).
- Eliminate as Many Maintenance Costs as Possible: There are items you own that require maintenance (at additional costs), and items you CAN own that won’t require additional maintenance. Own more of the items that don’t require maintenance. For example, do not buy dry-cleaning only clothing – eliminate that maintenance cost.
- Share Pet-sitting with Neighbors: We’ve saved hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over the years (as well as saved our neighbors as much) by finding nearby people to feed our cats while we travel.
- Make Better Use of Your Leftovers: Leftovers are great for dinners, lunches, and then to make your own freezer meals that you can reheat months later. For example, we hosted Thanksgiving, and after 4 days of eating leftovers, we were over them. So, I simply put the rest into two freezer meals, and in late December, we enjoyed them again! Also, when I make a meal with a sauce, there’s generally enough sauce leftover to make that same meal again. I’ll then freeze that sauce and label it, and that part of the meal’s made the next time.
- Read Free Digital Magazines: Don’t renew your magazine subscriptions, and instead, read free digital magazines.
- Automatically Split Restaurant Meals: I never (or ALMOST never) eat my entire restaurant meal in one sitting. I typically take half or even ¾ home, and have an awesome lunch or meal for the next night. It cuts down on costs, and time/energy of preparing a new meal.
- Get a Movie Theater Monthly Pass: My husband and I LOVE going to the movies. But they didn’t have these awesome monthly movie passes before we had our little guy (re: we don’t get to the movies that often anymore).
- Rent Out Part of Your Home: Renting out unused portions of your home for storage, or for renters is a great way to increase cash flow and dedicate that to your savings account.
- Play the Drugstore Game: Trust me on this one – you’ll score hundreds and thousands of dollars’ worth of free toiletries by playing the drugstore game.
- Repair Something Instead of Buy New: My husband’s Timberland boots (over a decade old) started flapping in the wind. To replace them was a staggering $139. Instead, we took them to a shoe hospital and had them professionally repaired for $16. See what you can get repaired!
- Play the Grocery Store Game: You’ll need a discounted newspaper subscription+ coupon sites (like the Coupon Mom site) to save with coupons. This lady pairs together all of the coupons to the sales every 12 weeks to give you a double whammy of savings, for FREE!
- Take the Pantry Challenge: You only eat from your pantry/freezer/cupboards (except maybe milk and bread and eggs, or something like that) for a period of time. Like this lady did.
- Ask Yourself this Question: Every time you’re about to make an online purchase, take the total amount in the cart, and ask yourself if you’d rather have that amount of money in savings for XXX GOAL instead? Shop accordingly.
- Buy from Meats Clearance Section, Only: One of my favorite places to shop at our grocery store is the clearance section in the butcher’s area. This is because organic, grass-fed meats are marked down severely and as long as we go home and freeze them for future use, then use them the same day we defrost (which is normal for us to do), we’re good to go.
- Keep Your Smartphone: I kept my last smartphone for 6 years. The one before that was at least 5 years old. They still worked, though perhaps a bit slower. But you know what? I saved lots of money by not buying the latest and greatest.
- Get Repairs Made in Off-Season: if you know your A/C unit is out, then get it repaired in the winter. It’ll be cheaper! Same for your heater (get it repaired in the summertime), or other appliances/items.
- Get Multiple Quotes: I can’t tell you how many times I saved hundreds of dollars by not taking the first repairman quote I got for repairs on our home.
- Find an Awesome Car Mechanic: I go into detail here about how to find an honest car mechanic, which can save you thousands over the years.
- Upgrade within the Same Brand: My friend, Aurora, gave me this tip – they keep buying Subaru cars, because they learn how they work and can do minor repairs/oil changes/etc. on the car themselves instead of paying a mechanic.
- Source Free Wood: Try to get some free wood to burn in your fireplace for the winter (or wood stove). If a neighbor is cutting down their tree, ask if they are going to keep the wood. Heck, we’ve even found great free wood on big trash day.
- Do Freezer Meal Cooking Days: If you find you eat out a lot as a family, then you’ll want to do once-a-month (or even less often) freezer meal cooking days. It’ll decrease the temptation to hit up the drive-thru on the way home.
- Extend Work Trips: Do you travel for work? Use this time as a vacation by extending the end of it and adding a few days in the place you’re at. This can substitute for your own vacations.
- Use Your Grocery Store’s Prepared Foods Section: Next time you’re going to go out to dinner or for lunch, go to your local grocery store instead. Pick foods from their prepared foods section, and save money (plus no tip!).
- Volunteer in Place of Paying: Have you ever heard of karmic yogis? They’re people who clean up part of a yoga studio, and in exchange, get a free membership. Where else could you volunteer to get free access (a concert? Fundraising event? The zoo? Etc.)?
- Get Inspired: I love to read stories of extreme frugality. Not because I want to do what those people are doing…but I find it inspirational when trying to stretch my own frugal muscles.
- Search for Tax Credits Before Big Purchases: We were fortunate in that we got the $8,000 first item homebuyer’s tax credit (the one you didn’t have to pay back!). When you have a big purchase of any kind, do a quick search online to see if there is any tax credit available for buying it a certain way (like, an appliance with a certain amount of efficiency).
- Search for an Online Coupon: If you’re buying anything online, make sure you do a quick search for an online coupon for that site. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with this over the years.
- Find the Best Times of Year to Buy Anything: Read this about when to buy all different kinds of items in order to find the best deals.
- Stay Ahead with Cheap Family Activities: I’ve got loads of ideas for cheap family activities that will still allow you to engage and bond.
- Stop Buying Lottery Tickets: I know several people who continually spend $50+ on lottery tickets each month (for decades now). Just stop. Instead, dedicate that money to savings. You’ll get to what you want faster.
- Use Alternative Ways to Get Books: My husband and I are voracious readers. The way we afford to be so is by using both Interlibrary loan (ILL), Overdrive to borrow books on your phone, and Paperback Swap.
- Deprioritize Your Vices: Do you smoke, or drink a good bit? These vices cost a lot of money. My husband quit smoking during our marriage, and we are saving $100 more each month because of it. Deprioritize your money going to vices and prioritize your savings instead.
- Make Restaurant Favorites at Home: Turn one of your takeout nights/month into a CopyCat Recipes night where you make your family’s favorite restaurant dishes at home.
- Use Your Warranties: Before you think about replacing something, look at your warranties (you’ll want to keep a warranties file in your filing cabinet). Like getting your Tupperware replaced after all these years (here’s our Tupperware replacement experience).
- Learn How to Dispute Medical Bills: We have lots of experience with disputing medical bills (because we were wrongly charged). It can save gobs of money!
- Learn How to Negotiate Medical Bills: Here’s how to negotiate medical bills over the phone.
- Take Time to Prepare Your Savings: I want you to take the time and strategies needed to financially prepare for the next big thing in your life – so that you don’t end up getting it/doing it too soon and not being able to save any money (because money is too tight).
- Don’t Be Afraid to Sign Up for Freebies: I detail here how much signing up for freebies has meant to us financially over the last several years.
- Use Your Freezer: If I know something is going to expire before I can use it, I freeze it. That way, I won’t have to re-buy the ingredient when I want to make a dish with it later.
- Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster: Can you imagine how much more you can save in your savings account each month without a mortgage? Here’s how to pay off your mortgage faster.
- Save Money on Your Water Bill: Here’s ways to save money off your water bill.
- Open an Interest-Bearing Checking Account: Did you know there are checking accounts that will pay you interest on your money?
- Rethink Family Memberships: You’ll want to know whether a family membership is worth it or not, and I’ve got how to do that here.
- Keep Up to Date on Cheapest Gas Prices: You can use gasbuddy.com (and get your kids to help if you’d like!).
- Clean Out Your Freezer/Cupboards/Pantry: You want to periodically clean out these areas in your kitchen, because you’ll find lots of food that needs eaten (before it expires…or you missed it already and you’ll be more aware of what will get eaten in your household in the future).
25 Creative Ways to Save Money
Things are about to get a bit more interesting – I’ve got 25 creative ways to save money that will help stretch your resources way further than you thought possible.
- Fight Your Property Taxes: I successfully fought our property taxes, and had our home’s appraised value lowered by 3.9%. Sounds like something you wouldn’t want, right? But it doesn’t affect market value, and will reduce the taxes you’ll owe. Here’s how to fight property taxes.
- Scroll Buy Nothing Facebook Groups: My friend recently introduced me to Buy Nothing Facebook Groups. It’s a local community of like-minded people who all want to save one another money plus help the environment by getting their consumption needs met through each other instead of through Amazon or at the store. Talk about a creative way to save money (by not spending it!). Simply type in “Buy nothing groups near me” in the Facebook search bar, and see if you can find one.
- Use Your Free Annual Physical: Got health insurance? Then you also get a free annual physical with your doctor. That’s the perfect time to get refills on medication, or to ask a few (simple) questions. Granted, you might need to schedule a follow-up appointment if your question entails more than just a minute. But you never know – you might get what you need without having to pay a copayment.
- Play a Savings Game: There are some fun saving money games for adults out there people play in order to save more than they thought they could – like saving every single $5 bill that comes into their wallet. I also love this idea about “tipping” yourself, or the One Percent Challenge, or the 52-Week Dice Game. Remember college drinking games? Choose to save a buck every time something happens (like, $1 every time someone on The Bachelor says “it’s me, not you”.)
- Give Mystery Shopping a Go: I really like mystery shopping. You get the assignments from your email at home (take what you want, leave what you don’t want), you do the reports at home, and you get to try out new places/buy things/experience things on someone else’s dollar. For example, we mystery shopped a date night at a local Irish pub, a horse race at a racing grounds (we even got to place bets!), and I mystery shopped our oil changes for a few years. Companies I’ve personally worked for include Intelli-Shop, and KernScheduling.com.
- House Swap with Family/Friends for Vacation: Nix the cost of hotels or even Air BnBs by setting up a house swap for your next vacation with family and friends. Choose the same dates, and either drive or fly to each other’s homes with your family. Leave a list of any instructions + local attractions to check out, and clean up after yourselves when you’re through.
- Zero Out Your Entertainment Costs for the Year: I challenge you to take your spending on entertainment down to $0 for a year. There are TONS of free things to do if you live in a city, and tons of things around your home that are just waiting for you to explore. On top of that, if you have parents or family members who ask what to get you for the holidays (like we do), as for experience gifts (such as movie theater gift cards, restaurant gift cards, a cooking class, a foraging hike, etc.). Then, use them one by one throughout the year as your entertainment.
- Set Up a Savings Swear Jar: Each time a family member does something against a family rule, make them pay a dollar (or whatever you’d like) – parents included. Then, deposit this money into your vacation savings fund or any savings fund you’d like.
- Move to a Cheaper Tax District: Are your property taxes really high? You could purchase a home to get into a lower tax district. Just be sure to research ahead of time and see if you can send your child can apply and enroll at different schools (in case the lower-taxed area does not have a good school district). For example, here in Houston, you can apply to enroll at whichever paid or “free” school you’d like – you don’t have to stick with the one you’re zoned to. And, of course, you’ll want to take closing costs on selling your home and purchasing another one into consideration when figuring out if the move is worth it (so, how much tax savings will you see, and how many years will it take to live in the new place to essentially make a profit from the move and start adding that tax money to your savings account instead?).
- Take Pictures of Your Food Waste: Weird, right? But after reading American Wasteland, I set out to take pictures of the food that we purchased and didn’t get to eat before it expired/rotted/etc. so that I could write about it on this blog. I was amazed! Just having that awareness meant we spent less money on groceries, used what we had in our pantry more, and saved money.
- Travel Hack Your Next Trip: For your next vacation, use travel hacking to get your airfare for free! We’ve done this. Most recently, we got $900 in free Southwest gift cards. A few years ago, we made it to Michigan for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, saving $1,281 on airfare by using travel hacking. Here’s a beginner’s guide.
- Check Your Rewards Inflation at the Door: We all love to reward ourselves in different ways. But what I have found is that it’s typical (even in my own life) to up the ante over the years. Suddenly, rewarding myself with a $2.50 ice-cream for a job well done isn’t good enough, and now I set my sights on one in the range of $25.00-$35.00. I like to call this rewards inflation, and keep my eye on it. How has rewarding yourself changed over the years? Are you spending a lot more on a reward than you used to?
- Consider CD Laddering: You might want to CD ladder your money to get paid higher interest rates than in a regular savings account.
- Slow Your Consumer Pulse: Don’t rush out and buy the new things (new books, new electronics, new exercise equipment, new DVDs, etc.). Instead, be patient, and buy them used from the first wave of people who had to get their hands on them. You’ll pay SO much less.
- Grow Your Financial Intimacy: Getting on the same page with your partner about money is CRITICAL to increase savings, get the things you guys want, pay off debts, and so many other things. Stop working against each other and start working towards your savings goals with my page on marriage and money.
- Take a Nod from the French: Shamelessly pursue your pleasures, but also stop mindless consumption. If you do both, then your quality of life will go up (not to mention, your savings account!).
- Go Deeper, Not Wider: This year? Take this sage advice about going deeper with the belongings you already have in your life, rather than going wider (by purchasing a bunch more).
- Recycle Décor: I’m talking between rooms, and between homes. Sometimes our sister-in-law’s are just “done” with décor they’ve had in their home, and they offer them up to others in the family. Also, I love taking décor that feels stagnant in one room, and putting it into another room – it gets a whole new life. Give it a new look, even, by changing it up. For example, you can take a bunch of old, tired picture frames, and paint them all the same color. Suddenly, they pop! I once took a white board that was quite stained, and simply painted the white part with chalk paint. Now, I’ve got an awesome chalkboard for my office.
- Go on an Extreme Savings Sprint: Keeping up anything that is “extreme” for the long haul is usually going to backfire. But little extreme sprints here and there? Totally doable. Specify an amount of time – could be one weekend, one week, one month, six months, etc. – where you are going to be extremely frugal + put all of the extra money you then have into your savings account. At the end of that time period, you can go back to your “norm”, but with a bit of a bigger savings account. Remember – the key is to not deprive yourself so much during this time that you go haywire in spending (the elastic-band effect). That’s why you should pick a duration of time that won’t drive you nuts.
- Shop Around for Your Next Surgery: Did you know you can actually shop around for surgeries (not the emergency kinds)? I did this with hernia operation costs, and was pretty amazed at the difference in prices.
- Bank your Work Reimbursements: You know how sometimes you have to pay for work expenses on trips and such out of your own wallet, and then you get reimbursed? Do this using your debit card, submit your expenses, but then when the money comes rolling in a month or so later, send it to savings instead of just to your checking account. After all, you made it through the month without that money – so this can feel like extra.
- Play the Rebate Shuffle: While we’re talking about shuffling some of your spent money around, let’s talk about the rebate shuffle. Do the same thing as above – spend money within your budgeted categories on products that will give you a rebate. Submit for the rebates, and then when the money comes in, send it to savings.
- Become a Spokesperson for Savings: I use this cool savings app called Digit.co – an app whose algorithm automatically sends small deposits from my checking to savings without me even noticing – and each time a referral of mine signs up, I get $5.00. The thing is – you don’t have to be a blogger to get this referral. You can sign up for this service, love the dickens out of it, and then refer your family and friends. Keep all the money earned in their saving account through the app, and use that towards your savings goal.
- Make it a Family Savings Goal: Do you have a savings goal that hasn’t been a priority, but would benefit everyone? Make it a family savings goal to get there faster, plus to model for your kids how to actually save money for a goal.
- Enter Sweepstakes with Greater Odds: Mindlessly entering sweepstakes and giveaways is probably not a good use of your time. But entering ones where you have greater odds? Well, that’s just smart. Even on my own blog – when I’ve hosted giveaways, maybe 12 people have entered. That means your chance of winning is WAY higher than if you enter big cash giveaways.
25 Simple Ways for How to Save Money Each Month
This category covers action steps to take ONCE, that will continue to save you money month after month after month.
- Downgrade Your Services: We’re all about upgrading, right? How about downgrading your cable package, your internet package, your Netflix account, etc. to save money each and every month?
- Call Your Insurance Companies: Every six months, or once a year, call your insurance companies (homeowner’s, auto, etc.) and try to negotiate for a lower price (psst: you'll definitely want to check out my article on 9 strategies for scoring cheaper homeowner's insurance). I’ve had much success with this over the years.
- Nix One Habit: Habits are something we do daily, weekly, and monthly. If you can replace just one habit with something that costs nothing, you’ll automatically increase your monthly cash flow. In our own household? This could include my 3 times/week Starbuck’s Iced Chais. In yours? Perhaps your habit of getting takeout food on grocery shopping night (because you’re too tired to cook), or eating out three lunches per week, or waiting for twice the length of time in between getting pedicures.
- Replace One Disposable Product with a Reusable Product: Every month we consume tons of products. But there are tons of products available now that are reusable instead of disposable. For a bit of extra money up front, you’ll save yourself hundreds and even thousands over the years. In our own household, we purchased the Reveal mop instead of the Swiffer because you can put the mopheads in the washing machine instead of having to buy disposable ones, we substituted cloth diapers for regular diapers (we lasted a year), cloth wipes for baby wipes, we use a hybrid of dish towels and paper towels instead of just paper towels, etc.
- Keep Your Car After Paying It Off: I can’t believe how many people rush into “buying” a new car as soon (or even before) their old one is paid off. Of course, this is coming from a gal who’s never – in her 36 years on this earth – had a car payment. I’ve always paid cash for my beater cars, and then run them into the ground. Do yourself a favor, and once you pay off your car, keep it for another 5 years. Seriously. Or longer. And what do you do with that $200-$500 you’re paying each month? You put it in a car savings fund, as if you were paying a car payment. After 5 years, you’ll be able to pay for your next car, in cash (without paying any interest).
- Remove the PMI on Your Mortgage Payment, Sooner: Do you pay PMI (private mortgage insurance) in your monthly mortgage payment? It’s because you had less than a 20% down payment when you purchased the home. Did you know you can get that removed once you reach 20% equity in your house? Figure out how much more you would have to pay on your mortgage in order to get rid of your PMI (it’s money you’ll never get back that you’re paying out each month). Consider paying that off, then read this about how to physically get rid of your PMI.
- Do a Business Spending Audit: Once a year I audit my monthly biz expenses. I generally uncover up to $80/month I’ve been spending where the services no longer make sense, or that I can combine two services into one and get rid of a service. Those are then savings I see every month for the next year.
- Purchase Less Home: Don’t take the bank’s preapproval offer as sound advice for how much you SHOULD spend. Trust me – you’ll likely feel house poor if you do. Instead, purchase a home that will cost less than 30% of your take-home pay. Want to really rock your savings each month + leave flexibility for future lifestyle design? Then buy a house that is less than 30% of just ONE person’s pay.
- Nix the Gym Cost, but Don’t Go it Alone: We have a gym membership, because it’s at a community center and is actually a cheap form of childcare. So, I’m not completely against gym memberships. But to save money each month, you might want to ditch yours. Don’t go it alone – there are some really awesome workout gurus that you can follow and it feels like they’re in your living room, cheering you one. Two of my favorites are Yoga with Adriene, and Natalie Jill.
- Rethink Childcare: While we’re on the subject, see if you can swing a “hybrid” form of childcare. Instead of paying for 5 days somewhere and working, could you do a few days somewhere, and a few days with grandparents? Could you sign up for a community center and work in their café while you get 90 minutes of “free” babysitting (included in our $99/month cost) once or twice per day? Can you sign up for a childcare co-op, and volunteer a few days a month using you + your partner’s vacation days, then have your child taken cared of the rest of the days? What about partly working from home?
- Create a Vending Machine in Your Office: Do you work in an office, and find yourself at the vending machine each day? That can get expensive. Save money by bulk-purchasing the snacks you like from a membership store (like Costco or Sam’s Club), then filling the bottom drawer of your desk with them.
- Host Potluck Game Nights: I know someone who’s circle of friends do potluck game nights several times a month. Each person takes turns hosting, and everyone brings food. The host offers up their board games – it’s a lovely time, and I’ve gone twice myself!
- Turn Up the Hygge in Your Life: Ever heard of the Danish term, hygge? It’s a way of life – about cozyness, warmth, getting rid of annoyances, etc. Set your life up with this in mind, and not only will you increase your happiness, but you’ll be less likely to turn to spending money for comfort.
- Shop Clearance Sections FIRST: Many years ago, I started to shop clearance section of stores – clothing stores, discount stores, grocery stores, etc. – FIRST instead of last. Makes a big difference.
- Mess with Your Thermostat: In summers, turn your thermostat up just one degree. In the winters, turn it down just one degree. Experiment with this.
- Keep an Eye on Bill Creep: You may make automatic bill payments, which is convenient. But be sure to periodically check this month’s cell/internet/electric bill rates against ones about a year ago. Have they gone up? If so, it’s time to call your service provider and get them reduced.
- Make Your Own Signature Drinks: Are you a Starbucks Junkie (hey, hey – no judgement here). Then check out your signature drink and find a copycat recipe to make it at home instead. Figure out how much the ingredients cost per drink, then subtract from the cost of that same drink at Starbucks. Bank the savings each day you choose to make your own!
- Brush Up on Couponing Skills: You’ll want to read what extreme couponers know about couponing that you may not.
- Don’t Be a Part-Time Lover of Frugality: If you’re only frugal during the hard times, then you likely aren’t saving enough money to put money into your savings account. Be frugal during the cash-flush times in your life as well, and bank those savings!
- Start a Borrowing Ring: Borrowing works best when it flows both ways – you borrow from others when you need things, and others borrow from you when they need things. Then everyone saves money, and everyone is happy to continue the reciprocity.
- Get Paid to Walk (and Stash in Savings!): You’ll want to read up on how to get paid to walk.
- Focus on Decreasing Your Electricity Bill: There are all kinds of ways for how to save money on electricity bill.
- Sell Your Used Cell Phones: Save money on your next smartphone purchase by finding the best place to sell your used cell phone.
- Have Awesome, At-Home Date Nights: I am THRILLED to introduce you to The Dating Divas, a site (and group of married gals) that offers some of the coolest free and paid printables for date nights that you could ever imagine. You will LOVE these guys – not to mention, both nurture your relationship AND save money while doing so! Some of my favorites include the
- List Out Free Nights at Local Attractions: We routinely enjoy free zoo days (first Tuesdays of the month here in Houston), free art museum dates (Thursday nights), free open gymnastics times, etc. Take half an hour or so to look for the free nights/days for local attractions where you live (this will be easier if you live in a city), and then mark them on a list or in your calendar to actually take advantage of it.
What are the Best Tips for Saving Money?
Alright…you want the best tips for saving money? I’ll add in this section the tips I think are the absolute best from above (plus a few more for good measure).
- Remember that Savings Snowflakes Amount to Something: You know the debt snowflakes that Dave Ramsey talks about – where you’re finding small ways to save money to use towards debt payments? Instead, think about Savings Snowflakes. Saving $5.00 here, $1.00 there, and $10.00 over there DOES add up to additional money you can put into your actual savings account. Keep that mentality as you go about your day.
- Track your Savings: Whatever you measure, tends to grow. It’s just one of those life facts. So, you need to start tracking the growth of your savings account (heck, you might as well track your net worth growth as well! Here’s the free tool I use to do this).
- Set Aside a Percentage of Your Windfalls: Throughout our lives, we get mini and large windfalls. Not often, but when they come, it would be nice to already know the percentage you’ve decided to set aside into savings. So, resolve to set aside 50% or more of any windfall (lottery winnings, unexpected Christmas/birthday money, bonuses, prizes, etc.) that you get.
- Add Up How Many TIMES You Shopped Last Month: I'm not talking about how much you spent on variable purchases last month (variable expenses being anything you have control over the amount for — like groceries, books, clothes, etc.). I'm talking about you just going over ONE month's bank statement and adding up how many times you hit a store. 20 times? 50 times? The reason why this is so revealing is twofold. First off, you could be using your time and energy to do things that will bring you more life satisfaction. And secondly? Every time you hit a store, the temptation to buy things you don't actually need (and, really, may not have even wanted) increases. For this next month, now that you're aware of how many times you hit the stores, decide to combine errands and go to stores 25%-50% less. You'll automatically spend less.
- Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate: Call your credit card and get your interest rate lowered (at least ask!). That way, you’ll pay less each month in interest on a balance (if you keep one), and can dedicate that money to either paying down the card faster, or funneling it to savings. Personally, I would use that extra savings to pay down the card faster, knowing that once you do, you can then put even more money into savings each month than you can right now.
- Be Flexible: I know people who will only buy one specific brand for anything (detergent, toiletries, clothing, etc.). Their chances of getting what they need at a discount is much less than the person who is willing to be flexible with how to fulfill their need/want.
- Don't Pay PMI: Are you in the market for a mortgage (I mean, a home)? If so, you want to avoid having to pay PMI. This isn’t insurance to rebuild your home in the event of disaster; this is insurance to make sure that in the event you default on your loan and potentially go through foreclosure, the lender will still be able to sell your house and pay off the loan balance with the proceeds. The cost is shouldered by you, typically in the monthly amount of $50-$200 (depending on the value of the home and your PMI rate). A lender will determine if you need to pay this by looking at your loan to value (LTV) ratio. If you are seen as a high risk, then you may have to pay PMI even if your down payment takes you below the 80% LTV ratio. Be sure to discuss this with the lender.
25 Ways for How to Save Money from Salary
So far, we’ve discussed tons of ways to increase your monthly cash flow by decreasing your monthly spending. But this section? We’re dedicating it to figuring out the logistics for how to save money from your salary, and then how to increase those savings.
- Sign Up for Your Employer’s 401(k) Plan: Lots of employers offer 401(k) plans with matching contributions. Commit to (meaning, do the paperwork) saving a percentage of each paycheck you get into your 401(k). bonus: save the amount you need to get your employer’s maximum contribution they’re willing to give.
- Challenge Yourself to Do Annual Incremental Retirement Increases: Up your 401(k) contribution by just 1% – something you’ll hardly notice – to set yourself up for bigger retirement savings over the years. Even better? This is a percentage. So, the amount you’re setting aside for retirement automatically increases each time you get a raise, without you having to do anything else. Score!
- Split Your Direct Deposits: Did you know that many companies will allow you to split your paycheck’s direct deposit into more than one account? Go ahead and automatically have a percentage of your paycheck deposited into a savings account.
- Open a Flexible Savings Account (FSA): You want to take advantage of an FSA for the tax advantages (you get to pay for eligible childcare and healthcare expenses with pre-taxed dollars). Then bank those tax savings.
- Use an Automatic Savings App: This is your secret weapon to saving even MORE money from your salary. In fact, I’ve saved an extra $4,215.37 using the Digit.co app over the last two years. That’s amazing!
- Sign Up for Employer’s College Matching Program: Does your employer offer a matching 529 college savings plan? Take the time to sign up for it to get the full match (and if not the full match, start with half)!
- Take Part in Employer Wellness Programs: My husband’s company has a wellness health program where each person – the employee, plus their spouse – can earn up to $450 in gift cards per year by doing things that they likely do already (such as getting your physical, annual woman’s exam, etc.). This past year? We got $900 in Southwest gift cards! Even cooler – you can use the money to decrease your health insurance premiums for the year.
- Dedicate All Overtime Pay to Savings: Make a rule for yourself that any overtime pay you receive will go straight to your savings account. It might get you super-motivated to take on more work!
- Take the 50% Tax Return Challenge: Any tax return you receive this coming year? Resolve to set 50% of it into your savings account.
- Save those Two Extra Paychecks Each Year: If you’re paid bi-weekly, then you actually have two months in the year where you get three paychecks. Since your budget is set up to be covered by two paychecks, you can just bank them (if you’re diligent). Take a calendar and work out when your paydays are so that you can clearly see which two months this coming year you’ll be receiving a third paycheck. Then be sure to bank it!
- Resolve to Save a Percentage of Your Paycheck: Typically, a person’s income rises over their career. So, if you resolve to save a percentage of every paycheck, then when your income rises, the amount you save will also rise. You can do this through HR, if they allow you to split direct deposits between two accounts (so, your checking and then a savings account). From the forms I’ve seen, you get to put a percentage of pay that goes into each account.
- Save an Entire Person’s Paycheck: Got two people working in your household? How about you save an ENTIRE paycheck each month (or their entire salary). My husband and I did this for several years – the amount of money that we were putting into retirement and savings accounts equaled my monthly pay. To start, you might want to try just one entire paycheck a month, or the entire salary of the person who makes the lesser amount of money each month. What a challenge!
- Use the Retirement Savings Tax Loophole: I’ve set up a strategy here for how to save for your retirement, by getting double tax benefits.
- Front-Load Your Savings: Ever heard of paying yourself first? It means, putting some money into your savings account (your “for keeps” savings account) FIRST, and then paying out your bills and living on what’s left. It’s one of the best ways to ensure you actually put money into savings (ever notice by the end of the month there just doesn’t seem to be a lot left, if any, to send to savings? This should fix that).
- Automate Your Savings: Set up an amount you’re going to save, automatically, through your savings account by associating your checking account to your savings account and filling in the details online. Much more info on this in The Automatic Millionaire.
- Decide to Save 50% of Pay Increases: If you make a rule now, when you make less income, that you will save 50% of every pay increase you ever get…well, you don’t have to do any math to see that you’ll really increase your savings over the years. What I like about this, though, is that you also will still get more money to spend each month as well! It’s a win-win.
- Choose Savings Inflation over Lifestyle Inflation: Lifestyle inflation is the idea that as we age and earn more money, we also spend more money. Once our consumption levels rise, it’s hard to come down from them (think about it: would you go back to living like a college student? Maybe, but it would take some sacrifices). BUT, what if instead of allowing your lifestyle to inflate with each pay raise, you experience savings inflation? Food for thought.
- Maximize Your Benefits with Your Spouse: When my husband and I first married, we took a look at both of our health insurance plans to see how much it would cost to insure the other. It turned out, it made sense for us to keep our plans separate. Then when he got another job, it made financial sense for me to go on his insurance. If both you and your spouse are working, periodically check to see whose health insurance it’s cheapest to go on.
- Give Your Savings Account a Sexy Name: Savings Account 623839394 is really boring. But if you name your online savings account after what you want to do with it – like the Margaritas in Mexico account, or the House of Our Dreams fund – then you’ll be more likely to actually, well, fund it.
- Conduct a Fee Audit on Your Portfolio: You’ve heard that portfolio fees can eat away at your retirement savings, right? Yet, if you’re like me, you have 7-8 different retirement accounts (from moving jobs). It’s hard to know how many fees you’re paying each year. That’s why I like to use the free tool, Personal Capital, to tell me how much in fees I pay across my portfolio and investment accounts. If you have a 401(k) with your company, you should know they’re notorious for having lots of fees. It’s worth checking into, and possibly rolling your money over into an IRA (while you’re still employed there).
- Track Your Personal Savings Rate: I use this free tool to track my net worth, and then each year I figure out what our personal savings rate was. What do I do with this awareness? I use it to up the ante for next year. If our personal savings rate was 19% for the year, I’ll calculate how much we’d need to save to get to 22% next year.
- Write Your Savings Goal Down: Do you know that you’re 33% more likely to meet your savings goal by just writing it down?
- Take Care of Both Sides of the Coin: In order to save money, you need to either earn more money than your expenses, or spend less than you earn (they sound like the same thing, but they’re not, exactly). But, what if you both earn more money AND cut expenses? You’ve now widened the gap even more between your income and expenses, and that’s all beautiful money to set aside into savings.
- Play for Keeps: For each of your paychecks, ask yourself, “how do I spend the least amount of money out of this paycheck while still obtaining what I need/desire so that I can keep the most amount of money for my savings?”
- Pay for Your Next Vacation Without Your Salary: We paid for our honeymoon to Austria mostly from cash that was not from our salaries. Check out how.
200 Ways to Save Money Isn’t Enough…So I’m Giving You 50 More
You might think I should stop at 200 saving money tips. But to be honest, not only do I know way more tips for saving money than 200, but I also want to give a wide variety of tips so that you’ll find lots of ideas for how to get more of your paychecks into your savings account.
50 Money Saving Tips and Ideas
Wait…you want 50 MORE money saving tips and ideas?
Okay, okay. You want it, you GOT it!
- Shop Scratch and Dent Stores: We got both our refrigerator (stainless steel) and our washing machine/dryer at the Scratch N Dent store in Houston. Both were half off! The dents are a little noticeable…but you know what’s even more noticeable? That $1,000+ in our savings account.
- Use Buy One Get One Free Coupons for Two Lunches: You know how Subway and other places offers a Buy One Get One Free coupon? Go once, get two subs or whatever you’re buying, then eat one today and the next tomorrow for lunch.
- Reorder Your Food When Unpacking Groceries: Super easy tip to save money on groceries is, while you’re unloading your groceries and putting everything away, just put the old product on top of or in front of the new one you bought. Like, if you have two old yogurts, and you bought 6 new ones, put the two old ones in front of the new ones so that you eat those first. Waste not, want not!
- Get Free Magazines (and Give as Gifts): RewardSurvey.com is the EASIEST place to get free magazine subscriptions that I have found (magazines.com comes in a close second). You just take a survey here and there, and get $15-$30 at a time to “spend” on magazine subscriptions. I get Oprah’s magazine, I’ve gotten Martha Stewart’s, Women’s Health, Goodhousekeeping, and all kinds of other subscriptions – I even get free subscriptions to give to my in-laws and grandmother!
- Get Free Haircuts (Still Need a Tip): We have a beauty school about ten miles away from us, and you can get a free haircut or even pedicure from them. You do, generally, still tip them a few bucks.
- Use Your Corporate Discount Program: Does your company or your husband’s offer corporate discounts for everyday products and cell phone plans? Take the time to look around the website they give you, and see if you can take advantage of any deals.
- Submit Price Protection Claims: Does your credit card offer price protection (as in, if you find something you just purchased within 6 weeks or so drop in price, you can get a refund of the difference)? I’ve done this twice with our credit card for sneakers and was pleased with how it all worked.
- Erase Your Cookies when Travel-Shopping: If you look up airplane tickets ahead of time, then make sure you erase your browser’s cookies before looking them up again a few days later. This is because sites know you want those tickets, on those exact dates, and by the time you come back to buy them they can put up the price (there’s demand).
- Make Sure You’re Not Doubled Up on Roadside Help: Are you paying for a roadside assistance subscription when your car insurance company actually offers it within your insurance package? Double check your coverage with your insurance agent.
- Make Two Transactions at CVS: If you shop at CVS, but don’t want to play the drugstore game, let me show you just one trick you can use to save a lot more. Take your transaction, and divide it into two. In your first transaction, pay for items that will earn ExtraBucks rewards. Then, for the second transaction, partly pay for it USING those ExtraBucks rewards. BOOM.
- Get to Know Your Electricity Plan: Many plan providers charge less during non-peak hours, and more during peak hours (meaning hours when everyone is trying to use electricity). Give your provider a call and find out when the cheapest times are for you – then do things like all your laundry during this time period.
- Order Appetizers for Dinner: Have you SEEN how large some restaurant’s appetizers have grown? And how yummy they are? Order 3 appetizers for a dinner out instead of two meals.
- Give Conscious Spending a Try: You can still spend money on the areas that are important to you AND save money at the same time…but probably only if you do conscious spending.
- Eliminate Certain Items Altogether: Off the top of my head, over the last several years we’ve eliminated paper towels (we use dish towels and wash them each week), baby wipes (man, it’s easy to get addicted to them! They’re so convenient), diapers (gotta love potty training!), dryer sheets (though we live in humid Houston), and Swiffer Mops (we use the reusable Reveal Mop instead). We also just don’t wash our cars (though for Mother’s Day, my husband and son gave ours a hose down!). Eliminating items entirely off your list will save you money.
- Purchase a Nice Tumbler: One of the reasons why I think people love going to Starbucks all the time (and I’ve had my own stints with it, especially after baby came!) is because you have such a nice coffee cup/cup to carry around a drink in. Just a theory! SO, what I did to cut back on my own use, was spend the money to buy a nice tumbler that I would then love to put a drink into. It kind of uplevels the whole experience, causing me to not feel like I’m missing out by skipping the drive-thru. If you use it to replace designer coffees/iced coffees/teas, then it’ll pay for itself very quickly.
- Get Gender-Neutral Clothes: If you’re still building your family (or not sure if you want a second/third/fourth/etc. child yet), then you definitely want to ask for + buy gender-neutral baby and toddler clothes. This could save you a bundle for the next little bundle of joy!
- Commit to Not Buy Something Because it’s On Sale: I fall for this one WAY more than I’d like to admit – buying something that’s not 100% suited for me, just because it’s really low-priced. I could actually buy something very high-quality if I stopped spending the $5 here and $10 there on things I don’t end up using (listen to your gut!).
- Treat Your Freebie as If You Had Paid for It: This is especially true in the blogging world, but I have found it to be true in real life as well. There are tons of courses and free information, and free things out in this world. But if we get something without paying for it, the tendency is to take it for granted/not use it to its full potential because it’s not worth as much in our eyes. Stop this thinking! I’ve gotten some of the best business advice of my life through free courses and articles, and have implemented them as if I had paid $1,000 for the information (most online courses for businesses range from $497-$997). Where are you undervaluing something just because you got it for free?
- Buy Less Things, So That You Can Buy Back Your Time: Why not stop buying so much stuff, and instead spend the saved money towards buying back some of your time (such as meal planning help, getting your home cleaned, childcare)? I know it sounds weird, but this is part of the conscious spending above. You can totally buy these services and still save money in your account; you just have to then stop buying in other areas. The time you gain? Use it to save even more money (plus, well, you know, enjoy your life!).
- Shop Around for Veterinarian Services: I shopped around for a random vet service once to prove a point, and was BLOWN AWAY by how different the prices are for the same service. Make sure you do this.
- Ask Your Boss to Telecommute: If you can work from home for any number of days in the week, then do it. It’s less gas costs, less temptations to spend on lunch or at stores, etc.
- Save Gift Bags: We always get the most gorgeous gift bags, and I feel like it would be such a waste to not reuse them! This tip alone has probably saved me over $100 in the last few years. Just don’t give them back to the same person?.
- Get Free Tax Return Help: Do you make $54,000/year or less? You could qualify for free tax return help.
- Use Your Grocery Store Gas Rewards: I could kick myself at how long it took me to take the time to figure out how to use gas rewards at our grocery store. Once I did it the first time, I routinely saved $10 or so each month on gas (and the price there was always a few cents cheaper than other gas stations anyway).
- Don’t Sign Up for COBRA: If you’ve lost your job, or ever lose your job, you should know there are other options for health insurance (you also don’t want to lapse) than the really expensive COBRA. Read about health insurance without a job.
- Get Rid of Netflix and “Rent” DVDs from the Library: Your library has a collection of DVDs for you to borrow, PLUS, you can use the interlibrary loan system to get your hands on just about any DVD you want (it’s true – check out how I found almost our entire Netflix queue at the library).
- Make Use of College Community Events: Do you live near a college? My college used to have community events every month – such as film festivals – where people in the neighborhood could come for free or cheap. See what your local college offers!
- Do a Park Crawl: Keep the kids busy by doing a free park crawl – do a search for all the different kid’s playgrounds and park areas within 20-30 minutes of you. Each day you need something to do, go to a new one. Have you kids put pushpins in a map (if it gets them excited).
- Volunteer to Take the Next Flight: Be the person who volunteers to take the next flight since yours is overbooked…and save those travel vouchers for future trips!
- Use GetAirHelp When Traveling: Do you know your airline passenger rights? Knowing them could get you a decent chunk of change the next time you miss a flight, your flight gets cancelled your luggage gets lost, etc. GetAirHelp will even go after any money owed to you from the airlines, on your behalf.
- Get Inspired: Do you need some savings inspiration? Perhaps some books that will stretch your thinking on just what you can achieve with your current income? I always love to read survive-and-thrive stories from others who have been in worse situations than myself. I can’t tell you how many times this has caused me to change my perspective and breakthrough to another level of savings. Specifically, I love to read about how people survived the Great Depression.
- Speaking of Getting Inspired, Hang Out with Savers: We all are influenced by the people we hang out with, and we influence others as well. Make sure you’re hanging out with people who are gung-ho about saving money – even if it’s just online. Finding Facebook Groups of frugal savers will teach you tons of techniques you hadn’t thought about, plus keep you on the path to high savings. Trust me when I say it’s nice to talk to like-minded people sometimes. Three FB groups I’m personally a member of include Money Saving Mom’s Deal Seekers, Rachel Cruze’s group, and Your Money and Your Life’s Group (run by NPR).
- Consume Some Great Content, Free: Have you ever listened to the Serial Podcast? I was about two years behind on hearing about it. But once I listened to the first one (there are 3 seasons)? I was hooked. I opened up my laptop while cooking each evening, and listened to an episode (which was super helpful because at the time I had an infant). Completely free. What other awesome podcasts can you consume for free instead of, say, an audiobook?
- Use Back to School Sales Differently: Take advantage of back to school sales by actually restocking your OWN office with office supplies. Bonus savings if you can get these items tax-free, as well!
- Play the Zero-Sum Expenses Game: Every time one of our expenses goes up – such as a rise in our flood insurance premiums, or an increase in gas costs, or an increased service cost – I play the zero-sum expenses game. This means, I need to take the increase, and find out how to save that amount of money (or more) on something else in our budget. That way, our spending still stays the same (hint: this is a really great thing for when you get raises at work – if you keep your expenses the same, then you’ve widened the gap between income and expenses and saving becomes easier).
- Try a Prescription Discount Card: See if you can save money on a prescription using a prescription discount card, like GoodRx.com.
- Save Some Cash to Spend After Christmas: One of the best time for you to buy things you need for around the house is in the post-Christmas sales. The problem is, most people don’t save any money to spend around this time of year, so they miss out on these incredible sales. Don’t let that be you next year! Make a list of what you’ll get at 50-75% off, and then go get it during the sales.
- Return What Doesn’t Work: It might be a little inconvenient, but go get your money back on purchases that just weren’t right for you. You can do this all in one fell swoop, or one at a time over lunches during the work week. If it’s been a long time, and you still have the receipts, tags? Many stores will give you credit to the store.
- Close Out Credit Cards with Annual Fees: If you’re not using a credit card, or can use another one that has the same or better perks, then get rid of the card with fees. FYI – you’ll likely take a hit to your credit score when you do this, so don’t do it if you’ll need your credit soon (like you’ll be buying a home with a mortgage, or car with a car loan, soon).
- Flatter a Brand You Love: Take the time to email a brand that you love, and tell them why you love their products (be specific). Many brands have been known to send out coupons and free products to big fans!
- Get Car Work Done at a Tech School: My Aunt used to take her old truck to the local vo-tech (Vocational-Technical) school to get routine maintenance + repairs done. She just had to pay for the supplies, and didn’t have to pay labor.
- Shop After Valentine’s Day Sales for Anniversary: Valentine’s Day and Anniversaries are both all about love! You can save some money on your anniversary gifts by shopping the clearance after Valentine’s Day.
- Use Your Crockpot: Not only will you save lots of time and energy (which are worth money), but using your crockpot to cook food will keep you out of the drive-thru, and use up less energy than using your oven. Plus, there’s bound to be leftovers (unless your family is Duggar-sized).
- Consider Refinancing Your Mortgage: We did this 7 years ago. Over the life of the loan, we’ll be saving an astounding $103,000 off of interest payments (going from a 30-year down to a 15-year mortgage). Read more about refinancing our mortgage.
- Substitute in the Kitchen: Here’s a secret my family probably has not even noticed – I substitute ingredients for recipes all the time. If I have every ingredient I need to make a recipe for dinner, except the shallots, I’ll use any kind of onion we have in the pantry, instead. I’ll substitute cheeses for one another, almond milk for regular milk, etc. I’ve even used garlic powder in place of garlic in a pinch (though we cook from scratch with real ingredients almost all of the time). Anything that will keep you out of that extra run to the store!
- Don’t Delay Purchases that Will Cause More Spending Later: It’s easy to just not make a purchase for something – especially for us ultra-frugal. But I have found that delaying a purchase now can sometimes lead to having to pay MORE later. For example, if you roof is leaking, not fixing it now means that you might have an insulation/wall/painting issue later. Or certain car repairs, if not made now (like getting the brakes checked *ahem*) could lead to more repairs later (like getting into a minor fender-bender that costs $1,000 PLUS the original brake repair — I'm talking to myself, here).
- Open Up a Prize-Linked Savings Account: There are savings accounts where you get entered into a prize drawing each month for saving money! For example, one such account enters you into a drawing for every month you save at least $25. Walmart does something similar with their MoneyCard.
- Give Yourself a Monthly Clean Slate (or Weekly): Sometimes, I can be very black and white. If I don’t get near my savings goal for the week or month, or my spending is out of control, I just throw in the towel. Don’t do this – give yourself a clean slate at the beginning of each week or month. You CAN and ARE a success, even if last week or last month didn’t look so hot.
- Model Good Savings Behavior to Your Kids: If you know your kids are watching you do things like use coupons, comparison shop, and make deposits at the bank, then chances are you will get better at saving money. Model how to do it for their sake, and grow your savings account at the same time!
- Host a Family Swap: You can keep a swap in the family – just tell your brothers and sisters to bring 10 items they no longer need/want in their house, and you do the same. At your next family gathering, everyone gets to swap!
- Use Recipes that Don't Require Small Kitchen Appliances: So here’s my silly confession of the month: I always thought that you needed an ice cream maker in order to make homemade ice cream. Not only is that not true, but there are recipes that you can make for many things that don't require things like bread machines, ice-cream makers, or popcorn makers. I've enjoyed ones like Rachel Ray’s Cocoa-Cinnamon Sorbet recipe, Martha Stewart’s Sugar and Spice Popcorn recipe, and the awesome master artisan bread recipe that the book Artisan Breads in 5 minutes a Day is based on.
250 Money Saving Tips Bonus: How Can I Save Money on a Low Income, Fast?
I’ve got one bonus idea for you on how to save money fast, on a low income.
Bonus Idea #1: Savings Match Programs
If you’ve got a low income, then you likely will qualify for a savings match program. These are programs sponsored by Nonprofits, the government, and banks/organizations with the purpose of helping you achieve substantial savings goals on little income (such as saving up for a down payment on a home, paying for job training, paying for college tuition, or even building an emergency fund savings. On top of the financial help where you get free money for saving your own money, some programs offer free financial training.
Bonus Idea #2: Join a Saving Money Challenge
There are loads of saving money challenges out there that you can join to really boost your savings performance. A few of my favorites are the 52-week savings challenge and the $1,000 in 30-days challenge.
You’ll definitely want to check it out!
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