Looking for the best ways to save money for a future holiday, buying a house, or simply to improve your overall financial health? Whatever your reason, with time, commitment, and a little sacrifice, these 25 creative ways to save money have the potential for a substantial payoff.
1. Plan a Budget and Stick to It
Creating a budget will help you determine precisely where your money is coming from – and where it's going. Whether you prefer a good old-fashioned ledger or a free software budgeting app, mapping out your income, expenses, and debt obligations is the first step toward better future money management.
2. Track Your Expenses
When most people consider their big-budget items, they think of mortgages and car payments, but it’s really the little expenses that add up. Budgeting goes hand-in-hand with tracking expenses, so from purchasing your daily coffee to paying off credit card debt, you’ll be able to tabulate your monthly "out-flow" and identify areas where you can cut back.
3. Cut the Cable
Most of us have "bundled" cable packages, and this adds up faster than you might think. Before you call your cable service provider about “unbundling” your package, do the following:
Consider how much time you actually spend watching television. It’s possible you don’t need cable at all.
Think about scaling back on your package – do you really need thousands of channels?
If you still want to keep your bundled cable package, contact your provider’s competition for an estimate. When you call your current company to ask for a discount, you can demand a specific deal – or threaten to switch providers.
4. Netflix and Save
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, and other streaming services can be excellent replacements for cable television. They also provide a wide range of viewing options (including original programming) to meet every taste, interest, and age range – all for a fraction of the cost. These can quickly add up, so only choose streaming services you use regularly.
5. Eat Less Meat
In addition to the potential health benefits, cutting back on meat consumption is a great way to save money. You don’t have to become a strict vegetarian or vegan, but selecting more affordable protein sources – like beans, legumes, nuts, and eggs – are good for your heart as well as your wallet.
6. End Your Gym Membership
If you’re a gym regular, a yearly membership is something that can quickly pay for itself. If you’ve only gone once or twice since signing up, consider selecting a cheaper option. Squeeze neighborhood walks, bike rides, or even online yoga classes into your regular schedule.
7. Avoid Scrolling with No Plan
Scrolling on your phone is an easy distraction but can also be a major budget-buster. Avoid scrolling on your favorite shopping sites unless you absolutely need something. When you are in need of an item, set a specific purpose and budget while trying to resist impulse purchases.
8. Become a One-Car Family
At first glance, being a one-car family sounds like a hassle, but it can be an extremely practical, effective way to save you money. It definitely takes some planning, but it can be a great way to save money on things like gas, upkeep, and auto insurance rates.
9. Pack Your Own Lunch
Lunches at restaurants really add up. But it’s not just money that’s problematic: If you’re trying to lose or maintain weight, food at restaurants tend to have higher-calorie offerings. And since Americans waste about 40% of their food supply, it’s safe to say that a lot of perishable goods get chucked. Eating everything that you purchase is a major way to save money.
10. Give Yourself a Trim
Online tutorials have shown that we all have the potential to become our own hairstylists!. While taking on multi-colored foils is better left for an expert, trimming your bangs and dead ends is something that you can easily do. If you’re afraid of snipping off too much – or simply need the tiniest trim – it won’t hurt to ask your hairdresser for a “between-cuts” discount.
11. Postpone the Holiday
When you’re on vacation, it’s easy to blow your budget, and a luxurious, week-long getaway can set you back months. That can quickly get in the way of your long-term financial goals (e.g. paying off your mortgage)
Absolutely need a holiday? Remember that hotels and flights tend to be cheaper during the week – – just make sure you set a budget before setting off.
12. "Stay-Vacation" Instead
If you stay local and avoid shelling out for plane tickets and hotel rooms, you could spend your cash on experiences instead. You might be surprised at the tourist attractions you can explore in your state or region. You may even find a favorite new place for an annual family trip!
13. Ditch the Daily Lattes
Grabbing coffee or tea can help get us through the slog, but a single latte can cost about the same as creating your own specialty drinks for a week. Start by investing in a French press or espresso machine, as well as an insulated coffee mug. You’ll quickly recoup the costs if you’re a caffeine fiend, and you’ll discover fun, new, creative ways to save money.
14. Negotiate Your Credit Card Interest Rate
If you’ve never reviewed your credit card statement in detail, you might be shocked at your monthly interest charges, especially if you carry a high balance. Ask whether you can lower your credit card interest rate, or check out new cards with lower balance transfer fees.
15. Save Money on Books and Music
Consider switching to an e-reader for your reading and investing in Spotify for a small monthly fee. If you prefer, you can swap books with friends, visit your local library, or check out local used bookshops (which are heavily-discounted and support local businesses).
16. Cut Out Single-Use Items
Convenience isn’t just costly: It’s often detrimental to the environment. Reduce your plastic use with sustainable options. Think stainless steel water bottles, reusable shopping bags, cloth diapers (if you’re a new parent), and shopping secondhand.
17. Take Care of Your Car
Regular car maintenance can extend the life of your car, and reduce the potential for costly repairs and emergency repairs. Find a reliable mechanic or teach yourself basic car care – your owner’s manual will help you track upkeep measures.
18. Carpool or Use Public Transport
Carpooling not only saves money, but the high-occupancy vehicle travel lane also saves time. If your city has public transportation, this is another viable option to save on common commuter and parking costs.
19. Cut Your Utility Costs
It isn’t just about turning appliances off when you’re not using them. Consider investing in items like programmable thermostats, Energy Star-certified appliances, and energy-efficient light bulbs. Many states offer home energy audit guidelines to help you identify where you can shore up energy use, as well as rebates for energy-efficient installation.
20. Pay Your Bills on Time
We can’t stress this one enough. Credit card late fees can incur additional fees, charges, and can also hurt your credit score. Many creditors offer automatic payments – some even offer a discount on your monthly bills when you sign up for the option.
21. Leave Your Credit Card at Home
If you struggle with impulse buying, start leaving your credit card at home when you’re out shopping. If you have to go home for your card, it’ll give you time to think if you really need to make that purchase.
22. Comparison Shop
From buying a kayak or a pair of sneakers, comparison shopping will ensure that you’re getting the best deal. Before making a buying commitment, do your research online. Ask retailers if they’ll price match (or can beat the price of their competitors).
23. Reduce Your Cell Phone Plan
There are numerous ways to reduce your monthly phone bill. Start by speaking with your service provider to discover if you’re paying for options you don’t need or don’t use. Next, look for special offers and bundling options (like family plans).
24. Drive Less
Driving less saves you money on gas and auto wear-and-tear. Consider walking, biking, ride-sharing, and even taking public transportation. Plan your errands to tackle them all at once. Think about placing online orders to help keep you at home – and save cash.
25. Stop Using Your Credit Card Entirely
Using cash instead of a credit card is a fantastic way to keep you accountable for your money outflow. You can’t go over your budget or incur credit card interest if you never use your card. It’s an easy way to save money if you don’t spend it!
What To Do With All Your Saved Cash
Saving money is always a challenge, but having a goal can help you stay motivated. Whether paying down debt, saving for a house downpayment, or creating a financial safety net, the first step on your journey to financial freedom is getting started.
- Create a retirement savings goal
- Design an investment plan to reach it.
- Get a professional money manager to continually monitor and rebalance your portfolio
Sound complicated? Don't stress. Vanguard's new robo advisor service can help you put all of this (and more!) on autopilot, all for an annual gross advisory fee of just 0.20%.