If you’re on a personal finance journey, saving money in any one area of your life is a huge win. But imagine how much more financial progress you could make if you mastered ALL the ways to save money in life!
At How To Money, we’re all about slashing spending on the things that don’t bring you joy so that you can spend more of your time and money on things you love. Saving more money can give you more freedom and options in retirement, and provide you with greater financial security in the here and now.
Here is our master list of ways to save money. Pick a few and commit to them. You’ll be amazed at the progress you’ll be able to make in even just a year!
Ways to Save Money: Low Hanging Fruit
We’ve tried our best to break up all the ways to save money into sections and categories, starting with the lowest hanging fruit. These will give you the most bang for your buck, literally! So start with these first.
1. Contribute to Your Company’s 401(k) Plan
Adding to your company’s 401(k) plan saves you money in two ways. First, it lowers your taxable income for the year, so you save money on taxes. Secondly, there’s a good chance your company provides matching benefits. For each dollar you save, your company gives you extra dollars. Free money! Take advantage of it.
While it may not seem like a lot now, with compounding interest over decades it can really make a difference!
Although 401(k)s are most common, other retirement accounts that save you money on deferred taxes are 403B plans, 457’s, IRAs, and HSAs!
2. Save Money on Groceries
Don’t worry- we’re not going to suggest you switch to a diet of only rice, beans, and ramen!
With the recent rises in food prices, trips to the grocery store can take up a huge portion of your monthly budget. According to the USDA, Americans spend an average of $890 each month on groceries! Imagine if you could save even just $200 a month on groceries. That could add up to $2400 each year in savings!
We covered all the different ways to save money on groceries, but here are the basic principles to live by:
- Plan your meals, make (and stick to) grocery lists.
- Find grocery stores with the best prices. Switching where you shop can oftentimes make the biggest difference in your grocery budget. Aldi and Lidl FTW!
- Eat what you buy. Stretch your pantry and waste nothing
- Learn to repurpose leftovers – don’t let them end up in the trash!
- Use digital coupons, mobile apps, and the right cashback credit cards to maximize your discounts at the grocery store!
Eating out is fun, but in most households it’s become a too regular fallback for meals. Reducing restaurants and take-out is one of the biggest ways to save more money.
3. Shop Around For Insurance (annually!)
If you’ve been with your insurance company for a few years, you may think that they would reward you with the lowest rates, right? Wrong.
Each year your car gets older, your driving record gets better, your credit score increases a little, and life circumstances change. It’s always a good idea to check for current insurance rates to save money. You don’t need to slash your coverage, you just need to change providers.
Insurance companies are one of the few instances where you won’t be rewarded for your loyalty. That’s why it’s important to shop around your insurance every year or two to take advantage of the best rates and promotions in the market.
4. Pay Down High Interest Rate Debt
Certain types of debt, for example credit card debt, carry extremely high interest rates. These can cause your original debt to grow at an alarming rate, making it difficult to get ahead!
For example, if you bought a T.V. for $1000 using a credit card with an 18% interest rate and only made the minimum payment of 5% the original balance, you would pay an extra $359.35 on that purchase. This means that the T.V. that you purchased actually cost you $1,359.35. This is why it’s so important to pay your credit cards off in full each month!
Prioritizing paying off your high interest debt will save you a TON of money on interest.
If you’re struggling with credit card debt, you’re not alone. In fact, about ~50% of Americans say they need to use credit cards to cover essentials. If you want to take a strategic approach to mowing down your credit card balances, try using either the Debt Snowball or the Debt Avalanche!
5. Cancel Unused Subscriptions
There’s nothing worse than forgetting to cancel that free trial and getting charged!
Subscriptions can be useful sometimes, but often we find ourselves continuing to pay for services we seldom use. Perform a subscription audit every few months to cleanse your finances of those lingering charges. If you end up missing that service, you can always re-subscribe!
Pull up your credit card bills and review all your charges. Question anything that’s recurring. Remember – there’s little downside to canceling subscriptions… If in a few months you realize you’ve made a mistake, you can always sign up again. No harm.
6. Save Money On Your Utilities
One of the easiest ways to save money is to pay more attention to your energy and water usage. When optimized, you could save hundreds of dollars each year on utilities.
Something as simple as dropping your thermostat by a few degrees and performing routine maintenance could save you loads each year. Combining multiple energy saving tips can supercharge your savings. Check out these articles on how to save money on your gas, water, and electricity bills!
- 9 Ways To Lower Your Monthly Gas Bill
- 8 Ways To Save Money On Your Water Bill
- 13 Ways To Save Money On Electricity
7. Ditch Banking Fees
The average person has been with their bank for 14 years! A lot has changed in banking over that past decade and a half. Chances are, your current bank is charging you fees, giving you barely any interest, and generally being difficult to work with. Even if they’re only charging small fees, there’s no reason to pay them when there are tons of competitors without them!
We love online banks like Ally, Capital One, and Discover. CIT Bank is one of the best options out there too! These banks have the highest savings rates in the country, and don’t charge the same crappy monthly fees that the biggest banks in the country often levy on customers.
The truth is, banks make money by lending out your savings, but if you’re only making less than 1% interest, they really aren’t passing those earnings down to their patrons. That’s why we recommend moving your savings to a high yield savings account, where you can earn up to fifteen times the national average in interest each year.
For more tips on switching your bank account, check out Why You Need A New Bank & How To Switch.
8. Switch Your Cell Phone Provider
If you haven’t changed your cell phone plan in the past few years, chances are you could save a lot of money by switching to a low cost cell phone provider. I know some of you may have doubts about switching to a “low cost” company, but I promise you won’t have to trade in your favorite iPhone for a Nextel the size of a brick.
The truth is, these cheaper alternatives can provide you with great service at an even better price. If you need unlimited everything, Mint Mobile has a $30/month unlimited plan. If you’re looking to save even more they’ve got a 4GB plan for just $15 a month! And if you’re worried about coverage, Visible runs on Verizon’s network.
Check out our full article on cheap cell phone plans. Here we compare four of the best low cost providers to help you decide which one will fit your needs!
As you can see, tiny savings (even just $15 per month) adds up to a HUGE amount over decades. Switching cell carriers is one of the easiest ways to save money each month.
9. Consider Joining A Warehouse Club
While this may not be one size fits all advice, a warehouse club can definitely help some to save tons of money each year. It’s estimated that groceries and household goods can cost around 15-30% less at warehouse clubs when compared to stores like Target and Walmart. It’s great for buying some of your staple groceries in bulk, and some even offer discounted gas.
The downside is, memberships do cost money. So you’ll have to crunch the numbers and find out if joining makes sense for your specific situation. And these memberships can definitely tempt you to overspend if you’re like me and sometimes get lost in the aisles. Here’s more information on ways to save money at warehouse clubs:
- Are warehouse clubs worth it? (Pros and cons)
- Top benefits of Costco Membership
- Best Costco Hacks (that most people don’t know)
10. Save Money On Cars
One of the biggest expenses we’ll encounter in life is our transportation costs. There are plenty of ways to save money on cars without sacrificing safety or reliability!
One of the best ways to cut your transportation costs is to purchase a used car with cash that you’ve got on hand. The average monthly payment for new cars is about $700! And 15% of folks are paying more than $1,000 a month for their ride. Imagine what that money could do if it weren’t being sunk into a heaping hunk of metal and was being invested each month instead.
There are tons of great, affordable used cars out there on the market. Check out this interview with Consumer Reports’ Mike Quincy for the specifics on some $5,000 cars that rock!
Another great way to save money on cars is to learn to perform a few routine maintenance tasks yourself. There are tons of tutorials to help you on YouTube, and you’ll be able to save tons on oil changes. Plus, you could even offer to help some of your friends and neighbors to DIY some maintenance tasks for cheap. Do I feel a side hustle coming on? 😉
Side note: We’re not saying all new cars are bad. Here are some situations when it might make sense to buy a new car.
11. Utilize Credit Card Rewards
Using credit card rewards is a great way to claw back some of those hard earned dollars, and get some great perks at the same time. Some credit cards offer you additional cashback on spending categories like groceries, transportation, or travel!
One of the coolest things about credit card bonuses is that they aren’t taxed! You get to keep 100% of those rewards, as opposed to bonuses earned by switching banks.
We created a search tool to help people find the best credit cards. Also here are some pre-made lists showing the best credit cards to save money on various things…
Here are the most popular lists:
- Top travel rewards cards
- Top cash back cards
- Top 0% APR cards
- Top cards for students
- Top small business cards
Keep in mind – you don’t need 50 different credit cards to save money… In fact, using our “Super Chill” Credit Card Strategy will help you to jumpstart your credit card hacking game with only three cards!
Here are the credit cards we use personally! 👇👇👇
Credit cards also provide you with additional protection from theft. Some give you additional insurance protections when traveling, discounts at certain retailers, and even free subscriptions to different services you might currently be paying for. Having the right credit cards in your wallet is one of the simplest ways to save money, because we use them almost every day.
Responsible credit card usage can also save you money by helping you to build a strong credit score. Having a high credit score gets you the best interest rates for things like home loans and car insurance! A strong credit score can save you tens of thousands in fees and interest over you lifetime.
All of these credit card benefits are totally worthwhile, but remember that using credit cards for everyday purchases only make sense if you can pay off on time and in full every month! Failing to do so will lead to the opposite results, causing you to lose money in the long run!
12. Avoid Paying Common Fees
Fees are the worst, especially hidden ones! Some are smaller than others, but every dollar saved has major wealth building potential! Here are a few quick tips to help eliminate those pesky fees and save more of your hard earned dollars!
Overdraft fees- Overdraft fees can easily turn a small purchase like a coffee into a hefty withdrawal! Some banks charge around $35. The best way to prevent these is by opting out of your bank overdraft protection service!
Checking Account Fees- Switching banks is definitely an inconvenience, but it’s usually not as bad as you might imagine. It’s totally worth it to switch to a bank without fees for low balances, account fees, or that demands regular deposits.
Use Automation To Prevent Late Fees- Life gets crazy, and sometimes you miss a payment! We get it! A great way to get ahead of those late fees is to automate your payments. It takes a little bit of work up front, but saves you loads of time in the future. If you do get slapped with a late fee, make sure to call up the company and ask if that late fee can be waived.
Investment fees- The finance world is riddled with fees. Switch to low cost, passively managed index funds. Not only will you save on fees, but these funds actually beat most fund managers in performance!
Looking for more ways to save money by avoiding fees? Check out our full article here on common fees and how to banish them!
13. Open A High Yield Savings Account
Banks make money by lending out your money, so why are they being stingy with their interest?
We already talked about ditching checking fees and moving to an online bank. The next step is taking advantage of a High Yield Savings Account to keep your emergency cash in.
HYSAs are a great way to earn more for banking with an institution and hedge your emergency fund against inflation. You can find tons of great banks online which will give you between 3-4% APY, which is almost fifteen times the national average! Just make sure whichever bank you decide to go with is FDIC insured.
We love and recommend CIT Bank, Ally, and Discover.
14. Use Online Shopping Coupons
You don’t have to go dumpster diving for circulars to save money using coupons! Sometimes all it takes is a simple google search to find a discount code that could amount to some serious bucks saved!
Try installing Honey on your browser to quickly search for discount codes across the web. Personally, I’ve saved up to 20% on purchases! Honey doesn’t always sniff out a killer code, but it’s quick enough to download that it’s worth a shot!
If you have some time before you need your item, you could also sign up for emails for the company to be notified when there’s a sale! Just make sure to unsubscribe once you’ve made your purchase to avoid temptation in the future.
Pro-tip: If you’re planning on buying a product soon, check out reviews on Youtube! Sometimes there will be affiliate codes in the video description that can lead to significant savings! You could also post to social media and ask your connections if anyone has a coupon or referral code to use for particular stores.
15. Ask for A Raise at Work
If you haven’t gotten a pay increase in a while, asking for a raise is a great way to see an immediate boost in income. This could lead to a higher rate of savings, assuming you don’t spend the additional money.
It’s a good idea to ask at the completion of a big project, or after a positive performance review! Just make sure to go into the conversation with information relevant to the typical salaries for your position and experience!
Remember that getting a raise doesn’t always correlate to a higher savings rate. Make sure to avoid that pesky lifestyle inflation – this is a common financial mistake most people make. Do the opposite of what most folks do and SAVE your pay increase instead.
More Ways to Save Money – On The Fun Stuff!
Saving money doesn’t have to be boring! Here are some ways to save money on some of the more exciting things that life has to offer!
16. Save Money On Travel
Travel doesn’t have to be expensive! In fact, saving money on travel means having the freedom to fully enjoy your trip knowing that you have the funds set aside to afford it.
Being flexible in your travel plans is one of the easiest ways to save money on your next trip. Traveling during the off-peak times is much more budget friendly than traveling during the busy summer months! Even shifting your travel to shoulder season, opting for the months of April or October, can save you money, while still allowing you to explore an awesome domestic or international destination without freezing temperatures.
You can also save money on flights in a number of different ways. If you’re open to a few different destination options, you can sign up for flight notifications, which will send you flights with the lowest prices and notify you of price drops. Google Flights can help you to see if prices are likely to drop, while Going (fka Scott’s Cheap Flights) sends out emails each week with the best flight deals!
For a full list of budget travel tips, check out: How To Save On Travel!
17. Save Money on Electronics
Being frugal doesn’t have to mean communicating with two tin cans and a piece of string. Let’s face it- we live in a world where access to technology is an important part of our lives, so here are some ways to enjoy our technological wonders on a budget!
One of the best things you can do to save on electronics is to opt for a slightly older model. For example, if you’re shopping for a new iPhone, you can choose to buy the second newest generation as opposed to one that just came out. New tech is released constantly, and before you know it, that brand new iPhone will be replaced with an even newer model. Remember that you can always buy something a few years old for a much better price!
If getting a new phone is on your horizon, you could also try to time it to coincide with large sales like Black Friday or Cyber Monday, where tech deals are easier to find! Make sure to shop around, and compare the price between multiple websites. You may be able to find yourself a great discount!
Lastly, there are several online marketplaces where you can buy lightly used tech. You could also sell your old pieces of tech that might be currently languishing in your drawers! Check out these sites:
- Amazon Renewed (certified refurbished tech!)
18. Save Money On Clothes
“It costs a lot of money to look this cheap,” is one of my favorite quotes, said by rock legend Steven Tyler. But what if you could do the opposite and look totally fashionable without breaking the bank?
The good news is that this is totally possible, and honestly not that difficult! There are many different ways to save money on clothes, and picking the right method for you is all about your shopping habits, budget, and personal style.
One great way to always look effortlessly good is to create a minimalist wardrobe full of high quality basics. The merit in this is that it will be easy to create cohesive outfits because most of your pieces will work great together. This is a great way to avoid overconsumption of clothes, which is bad for both the environment and your wallet.
Another great way to look put together on a budget is to hit up your local thrift store! Buying secondhand is a great option to pick up some of those trendier pieces at a steep discount. Goodwill has even launched an online store!
Also, some high quality brands sell “lightly used” clothes online. LuluLemon “Like New”, Patagonia Worn Wear, REI Used, NorthFace Renewed, and Levi’s Secondhand are just a start!
Bonus Tip- Ever think of shopping online for clothes in the opposite hemisphere? Across the globe, the seasons are swapped. For example, if you live in the United States, our winter is Australia’s summer. The clothes for upcoming seasons will always be on sale!
19. Save Money on Date Nights
Dates are so important for bonding with your significant other! Or, meeting new potential partners. So don’t let the high cost of going out prevent you from spending quality time with your people. The internet is FULL of cheap date ideas, so there’s no excuse not to hit the town with your partner!
As a general rule of thumb, getting outside in nature is always a viable option for an affordable date! You could also look into free days at cultural institutions like museums, botanical gardens or libraries. When all else fails, get creative with activities you can do together within your home. With a little creativity, a night in can turn into a memorable date you will cherish for years to come.
Here’s our full post of 30+ cheap date ideas!
20. Save Money on Education
Going to college is a huge milestone in the lives of many adults, but typically that education comes with a steep ticket price! With the colossal price of tuition, finding a way to pay those college bills can be challenging. However, there are plenty of ways to save money during college. Here are a few tips:
It all boils down to being proactive! Two big decisions that will have a huge impact on the cost of school are the college you decide to go to, and your living arrangements for your time during college. Choosing to go to an in-state school could lead to a much lower balance on your student account. You could also consider commuting to cut down on room and board costs!
No matter what age you’re applying to schools, applying to scholarships will be your best friend! It’s reported that each year over $100 million dollars in scholarships go unclaimed. That’s because many of them fly under the radar. But if you start digging, you’re likely to find scholarship funds you didn’t know existed. If you’re interested in pursuing scholarship money, one of the best ways to begin your search is to start local! Remember, even small scholarships are real money. The goal is to whittle away at that number to make sure you borrow as little money as possible. Other scholarship sites worth checking are Fastweb and Scholly.
If you’re looking for more ways to save money on education, be sure to check out these articles:
21. Save Money on Renovations – DIY!
We all want to make sure our living space feels like home, but sometimes renovations can be costly. It’s not uncommon that a renovation project costs more and takes longer than you expected. So it’s important to be realistic when budgeting for these ventures, and start saving up early if you can!
One way to save is to make sure that you take the time to thoroughly vet your general contractor. Having the right GC can totally make or break your project. Ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations of contractors they’ve had a positive experience with. Be sure to get at least three different quotes from different GCs!
It can also be super helpful to talk to other prior clients who have used that GC. Ask for referrals and make those phone calls. If a reference is open to it, ask if you can swing by and take a look at the work that was done for them. Seeing it face to face and hearing more about their experience can help you to make an informed decision.
Another great way to save is to ask yourself– what parts of this renovation can you DIY?
Tackling some of the smaller tasks along the way can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Doing your own demolition will not only save you money, but allow you to let out any repressed rage without the cost of going to one of those expensive smashing rooms. You could also easily take on some of the painting! With some friends and a pizza, you could get a large portion of the painting done in an afternoon.
If you have a lot of experience with doing renovations, you could also consider being your own general contractor. Keep in mind that this could be the equivalent of taking on another full time job, and you’ll definitely need to be well versed in the world of subcontractors. Going this route is probably not for everyone, but it’s worth mentioning for those out there who are extra handy.
Lastly, ask yourself whether or not you would be satisfied with cosmetic changes to your home only. Not moving things like HVAC, electrical, or plumbing means less people you have to hire for this renovation. And while making your home bigger may sound appealing, be sure to consider the secondary costs. Not only will it cost more to heat and cool, but your taxes will also increase with the added square footage. I’m not trying to put a damper on your exciting project, but it’s important to consider before diving in!
If you’re looking for even more ways to save on your next home project, be sure to check out our podcast episode about renovating on a budget!
22. “Gamify” Your Savings
One of the best ways to save money in your life is by turning it into something that is enjoyable for you! While a lot of folks may think that personal finance is boring, it’s only as boring as you make it. Gamification is a great way to bring some life into your money journey, making you more likely to stick to it over the long term.
We can apply the mechanics of games, i.e., what makes games fun and addicting, to our money! Here are a few ideas to get started:
Bring In Some Healthy Competition- Challenge a friend or family member (or even just yourself) to join you in a competition to get closer to your financial goals. For example, you could see which one of you can spend the least on groceries for a month, or who can find the best, most affordable hang out spot. Just make sure to keep it light, and avoid taking it too far! We’re not in a contest to see who can end up on an episode of extreme cheapskates!
Recruit Teammates- What’s better than working to build a brighter future for yourself? Doing it with some of your closest friends or loved ones! It adds an extra layer of purpose, and can help you to feel like you’re a part of something bigger.
Get Addicted- Ever wonder how our parents get addicted to Candy Crush? One of the most compelling features of games is that they have a certain achievability element. You don’t just grind it out doing menial tasks until you defeat the main bosses. You get to overcome smaller challenges and level up along the way! Set smaller money goals and celebrate them on your path to financial success.
Have A Prize At The End- Once you reach a big accomplishment, make sure to celebrate it! Moving the goalposts as soon as you reach them is a great way to destroy your motivation. You don’t need to blow all of your savings to celebrate, but you can make a special dinner, have friends over, and just sit and take in your accomplishments!
Life is short, you don’t want to spend a lot of time doing things that feel like pulling teeth. Modifying your approach makes it more enjoyable.
Develop Your Money Saving Skills
One of the best ways to see a change across your finances is to develop strong money saving skills. Working on your money mindset will help you to make educated, and mindful decisions with your money. Here are a few tips for getting started.
23. Get Clear On Your Savings Goals
Having specific money goals helps you to stay focused. It’s difficult to stay motivated to save money if you don’t know what you’re saving for. Having a clearly defined money quest gives you something to weigh each decision and each purchase against.
It’s a good idea to also develop a clear understanding of your values. We don’t want you to live a miserly life and cut back in all spending categories. Spend on the things you enjoy and cut mercilessly on the things that don’t bring you value. Check out our episode on The Why Behind Money for some guidance on discovering what’s important to you.
24. Start Budgeting And Tracking Expenses
It’s tough to really start saving if you don’t know exactly where all of your money is going in the first place! It’s important to start paying attention to your purchases, especially the small ones that might slip under the radar!
Budgeting is a great way to keep track of your income and expenses. There are plenty of different budgeting methods to choose from, and you can spend some time messing around with these to find the one that works for you. It’s up to you how fancy you want to get with this, whether you prefer using a tracking software like YNAB or Mint, or prefer to go old school with some pen and paper. Pick a method to start with, stick to it for a few months, and I guarantee you’ll start seeing different ways to save money in your life!
For more information on different budgeting techniques to try, check out 4 Easy Approaches to Budgeting!
25. Pay Yourself First
Paying yourself first is crucial if you want to begin building wealth and saving for the future. You’re likely to save more if you transfer money directly into your savings and retirement accounts right after you’ve been paid, rather than waiting to see what’s left in your accounts at the end of each month. If you struggle to remember to move this money each month, try setting up automatic transfers to each of these accounts!
Pro Tip: For more ways to streamline your personal finance game, check our article on Ways To Automate Your Finances. Putting your savings on auto-pilot helps you build wealth without putting in regular effort.
26. Start Asking For Discounts – Everywhere!
Getting comfortable asking for discounts is not only a great way to save some money… It also presents the opportunity to work on our natural fears of rejection! It’s an empowering way to advocate for ourselves as consumers. If we don’t do it, no one else will do it for us!
We’ve written a complete guide on ways to ask for a discount (and actually get it!). Putting yourself our there can be hard, but by starting small and continually trying, it gets easier and easier.
If you’re nervous about asking for a discount, remember that the person you are talking to likely just works at the store! Answering your question is just part of their job, and you are definitely not the first person to ask. Even if they say no, they’ll probably forget about the entire interaction after a few minutes if you asked politely. No harm, no foul!
27. Practice Mindful Spending
Have you ever noticed that the times when you tend to splurge on things like takeout, new clothes, and Amazon impulse buys tend to be when you’re busy, stressed, or tired?
Unfortunately, impulse buys often don’t make us any happier, and only cause additional financial stress. We all occasionally overspend and end up with a shopping hangover, but by practicing mindful spending, we can hopefully cut down or eliminate those purchases altogether.
Mindful spending is all about being intentional and making sure that your spending aligns with your goals and values. It gives us the freedom to spend on the things that truly do make us happy, while allowing us to cut back on the things that don’t move the needle. So try instituting a 48-hour rule. Wait two days between the spending impulse and making the actual purchase. Incorporating some of these mindful spending techniques will have a huge impact on your financial wellbeing!
The Bottom Line:
Whew! You’ve finally made it through all 27 ways to save money in all aspects of your life! And hopefully while reading through this it sparked a few more custom ideas specific to your life!
If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all of this, that is totally fine! Change happens by taking small consistent steps and ramping them up overtime. Start by picking just one tip from this post, turn it into a habit, then move to another. After 6 months, you’ll have developed some really good financial habits and the magic will start to unfold!
Even small monthly savings can have a huge impact overtime. The rule of 173 allows us to estimate how much an amount could become if saved and invested each month over a period of ten years. Even a savings of just $50 each month could mean an extra $8,650 in your pocket. This is why it’s so important to leave no stone unturned!
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**Feature pic by Darius Bashar on Unsplash
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