Most financial advisors, millionaires, and others who have “figured out” money all agree on this one thing: the first step to HAVING more money is SAVING more of what you’re already making. Once you’ve mastered how to cut costs, and live within your means, you’ll be ready to take your money to the next level. That’s why I’ve compiled 15 smart money saving ideas that can transform your life.
You may be wondering how to begin – saving seems tedious, right? Well, these ideas can be your launch pad, and they’re actually pretty easy!
1. Use Every Discount You Can!
One of the easiest things to do when shopping is to take one extra step and find the DISCOUNT! It seems simple, but you would be amazed how many shoppers are just leaving money on the table whenever they shop.
The number of different ways you can get a discount when shopping are countless.
Websites like Rakutan (formerly known as Ebates) and Swagbucks provide cash back on purchases made at hundreds of different online stores. All you have to do is go to Rakutan or Swagbucks first, then search the store that you want to shop at. You can get as much as 30% back (sometimes more!), from certain stores. To make things even easier you can add these cash back sites as extensions to your browser bar so you don’t even need to enter their site before shopping to get cash back.
Another simple way of spending less on your purchases is to use a discount code collector like Honey. It’s totally free to use, you simply add Honey as an extension on your browser bar, and it will automatically collect every coupon code online so that you can pick the best one at checkout.
A similar free service called Paribus will track your purchases from companies like Amazon, and if the item you purchased goes on sale AFTER you bought it, Paribus will contact the seller on your behalf to get you back the difference!
One of the best known and time-tested ways of reducing costs is to also clip coupons. While it may seem old-fashioned, coupons can save you hundreds of dollars every year on the things that you’re already purchasing! Use a website like Coupons.com to find dozens of coupons every week.
When it comes to grocery shopping there are even apps that will offer you cash back just for uploading your receipts! Which brings us to our next point.
2. Chop Your Grocery Bill
For most of us, groceries are one of life’s biggest (and most unavoidable) expenses. We need to eat, and food is just expensive. The good news is, there are easy ways you can save a LOT of money on your groceries!
In addition to the afore-mentioned coupons, there are several apps that will pay you substantial cash back just for uploading your receipts! Apps like Ibotta (my #1 pick – read my review to see how it works!), Checkout 51, and Swagbucks will offer cash back on dozens of specific items each month, and will often pay you a dollar or more back.
You can easily make $200 or $300 back on your grocery purchases every year with just these apps!
Another thing to consider when grocery shopping is generic brands. While not all generic brands are as good as brand name alternatives, they often ARE. And they’re WAY cheaper! Try out store brand versions of the items you like, and if you like it, replace your brand name purchases with it! There’s no benefit to paying extra just for a brand name.
And speaking of food…
3. Limit How Much You Eat Out
This one might seem obvious (and not much fun), but eating out is a huge expense. It may be quicker and easier to eat out, and often a good time, but it’s better for your wallet to pack a lunch bag at home.
A lunch out could easily cost $10 or more, but a PB&J sandwich with some baby carrots could cost you $1 in total. This simple change of habit could save you thousands of dollars every year.
The same is true X10 when it comes to buying drinks at bars and breweries, or buying coffee. It’s a perfect activity for special occasions with friends, but it’s extremely expensive as a regular habit.
4. Reduce Your Recurring Bills
Many of your monthly, recurring bills may be unavoidable, but they usually be trimmed down if you apply a little elbow grease. Here are a few tips for how to do it:
- ALWAYS shop your insurance plan. The best rates vary from one zipcode to another. The best rates may be from AllState in one location, but Liberty Mutual in another. Use a resource like Compare.com to easily find your best plan in a matter of seconds.
- You can often get cheaper monthly costs by buying a subscription yearly, instead of monthly, by bundling subscriptions when you have the option, or by churning free trials (if you have multiple emails this is usually super easy!)
- Call your providers to haggle for a better deal or a discount
- If you don’t want to mess around with your providers, there are a bunch of bill negotiation services that will do it for you! Services like Trim, BillShark, and TrueBill will call your providers (like your internet, phone, cable, etc.) and get you a discount for a cut of the savings.
Once again, these simple steps can save you thousands on top of thousands every year.
5. Watch Streaming Instead Of Cable
If you don’t absolutely need cable, your bank account is better off without it. Cable service usually costs $100+!
Sure, there are WAY too many streaming services out there now, but Netflix, HBO, and Amazon Prime alone have mountains of content to watch, and even all three combined cost under $40 a month.
6. Use A Smaller Phone Carrier
It’s astounding how much people are spending to use major cell phone carriers, like Verizon and AT&T. Even with all of the fancy bundles, deals, and sales tactics they throw at you, chances are you’re paying a fortune for your phone carrier.
That’s where smaller carriers like Mint Mobile come in. Mint Mobile charges you only $15 a month for 4 gigs of data, and they use the T-Mobile network so you can get service almost everywhere. Why pay $40/month for the same thing?
7. Use Credit Cards The RIGHT Way
Credit cards can be your friend or your worst enemy when it comes to finances. If a credit card will tempt you to spend more than you have, or even close to it, then it’s not worth having. Millions of credit card holders get themselves into trouble by taking on credit card, and it snowballs into a monster in no time.
The interest on credit card debt is high, and it’s purely bad debt. While a business loan or a mortgage are investments that could eventually make you MORE money, or grow in equity, credit card is always just a loss.
So how can credit cards be good?
If you’re able to use them with self control, and you pay off your balance in full at the end of every month, you can make good point money on credit card rewards. Many credit cards from companies like Chase will offer you rewards or cash back for using the card. You could easily make $20-$30 or more every month, depending on how much of your spending is on the card!
8. Keep Your Money Somewhere It Will GROW!
If you’ve been keeping all of your savings in a bank account because you think it’s safe, I have some bad news for you! Money that’s just sitting in a bank is actually LOSING value. It doesn’t keep up with inflation.
There are a few ways to combat this. The easiest is to start off by moving all of your savings to a high yield savings account (like an account with CIT or Ally). Even though their interest rates are still low, they’re much higher than the interest in brick-and-mortar banks, and they’ll protect you from total loss.
It’s far better to invest as much of your savings as possible. There are a bunch of different kinds of investments that you can spread your money across to keep it safer: bonds (check out Worthy Bonds), stocks (a free robo advisor like SoFi can you get you at least 9% growth on your money most years. In 2020 they grew my account by 30%), and even shares of real estate through something called an REIT (check out the investing app Fundrise).
In addition to growing your money’s value, and in some cases being paid dividends every quarter, you will also experience compound interest over time. This means that your interest will be growing on your interest. Confused about how that works? Check out this compound interest calculator to see how much your money will grow itself over the years.
9. Buy A Used Car
If you’re not already a millionaire, buying a brand new car is not a good idea. Unlike properties or stocks, the value of a car is pretty much guaranteed to go down. In fact, your car loses value the minute you drive it off of a dealership lot.
While a used car has exponentially lost tons of its value, a gently used vehicle can still last you for years and years. Even if you have to put occasional repairs into it as it ages, you’ll still likely save a boatload of money by not going for the expensive car.
Car buyers often lose sight of how much they’re actually overspending because they can spread out their car payments. You’re better off buying a simpler car that just gets the job done. It will keep tons of money in your pocket that you can then reinvest.
If you’re a car enthusiast, don’t sweat it. There will be plenty of time for the cars you really want once you’re a millionaire and living off passive cash flows. You just have to do it in the proper order. Cheap car and investments first. Nice color later.
10. Sell Stuff You Don’t Need
If you have a lot of clutter around your house that you aren’t using and don’t really want, then don’t throw it out – sell it!
There are tons of apps that let you sell stuff locally, like OfferUp, Craiglist, and Facebook Marketplace. If your item is very niche and doesn’t have a local appeal, you can always use Ebay.
You may be surprised by how easily it puts a few extra bucks into your pocket (and declutters your house at the same time!)
11. Buy The Stuff You Do Need Gently Used
Similar to buying a car, you can buy almost anything else gently used too. Using the same marketplaces we recommended above for SELLING stuff, you can also find hundreds of items at a big discount.
You can often find things in brand new condition, barely touched let alone used, for far below their retail prices. Often, prices on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist will be even lower than discount store pricing.
It barely takes extra effort to get things cheaper, so we highly recommend going the extra step to save a boatload.
12. Rent Out Your Space (Or Your Car, Or Anything!)
If you have a house of your own, or even in some cases just an apartment, you can make a lot of extra money by renting it out through AirBnB. It’s a pretty low maintenance gig – you’ll need keep the space clean, and interact with the guests at least a little (even if it’s only over message) – and the pay can really add up!
If renting out space isn’t really an option for you, there are other items you can rent too!
Apps like Turo, ZipCar, and Maven will let you rent out your car for brief periods of time. It’s an awesome gig for some who works from home and doesn’t need their car all the time!
In fact, you can rent all kinds of things! Apps like Spinlister, Loanables, or Idle will let you rent out all kinds of things for extra cash.
13. Find Some Cheap Hobbies
As you probably know, hobbies can be very expensive. There are TONS of things we like to do that cost a lot of money.
So what about developing a hobby that doesn’t cost much? Something outdoors or creative?
There are also a lot of hobbies that only require a one-time purchase, and you can then use the same item many, many times. Take a look at your interests, and try developing a hobby out of them that doesn’t cost tons of money. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your hobbies that are most expensive, but by spreading it out and interspersing it with cheaper hobbies, you’ll save some money in the long run.
14. Treat Saving Like It’s Not Optional
If you set a budget every month to make sure you’re not over-spending, you’re already on the right track. But take it one step further!
Instead of making saving something that you do IF you have extra cash at the end of a month, make saving money a part of your budget. Set in stone. Don’t consider any of your money to be spare or left-over money until some of it has gone towards investments and savings.
This will help it add up faster!
15. Set A Budget
While we’re at it, if you haven’t already created a budget it can be helpful. It may sound messy to scribble it down on paper, or to create a wild spreadsheet with all of your budgeting details, but there are also apps that make this process easier.
Apps like Mint, TrueBill, and Simplifi by Quicken, make it extremely easy to create a budget. The beauty of these apps is that by connecting your various bank, investment, and credit card accounts, it will record your spending and budgeting for you. This way you’ll know if you’re in danger of overspending!
It’s always good to know what condition your net worth is in, and to keep an eye on your spending habits. If a bad habit is developing, a budgeting app can help you catch it!
These tips are just the tip of the ice berg! There are hundreds of cool (and usually easy) ways to save money. You just need to get started!
Stay tuned to this blog, and bookmark the pages, to stay up to date on investing ideas, money tips, and saving hacks. We’ve got you covered.