Many Ways to Save
There are many ways to save money around the house, at school, on vacation, and at work, and these 25 ways to save money are tried and true methods to save a few dollars.
By themselves, each way won't amount to extraordinary savings, but added together over time they can help you create a fantastic savings account and establish a much more manageable household budget.
1. Conserve Water
Cutting down on water usage can help you save money on your water bill. There are several ways to conserve water. For example,
- Fix leaky faucets.
- Take short showers.
- Don't let the water run while brushing your teeth.
- Install a low-flow toilet.
2. Reduce Electricity Usage
Take steps to reduce your power bill by reducing your electricity usage. A few options to consider are:
- Turn off unused lights.
- Unplug gadgets and small appliances when not in use.
- Switch to Energy Star light bulbs.
3. Control Heating and Cooling Costs
Keep your heating and cooling costs to a minimum by increasing the energy efficiency of your home. Ways include:
Add insulation to your home.
Repair or replace leaky doors and widows.
Have your HVAC unit serviced and cleaned twice each year.
Follow Energy.gov thermostat recommendations of 68 degrees F during the winter and 78 degrees F during the summer.
Adjust thermostat to reduce compressor time when you are away from home.
4. Prepare Meals at Home
Get in the habit of preparing meals at home more often than you currently do.
- Make extra food when preparing dinner so you have leftovers for school and work lunches.
- Double-up when cooking, making a dish to enjoy now and one to put in the freezer for later.
- Keep no-cook foods on hand, including sandwich supplies, cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, etc.
- Go on weekend picnics (with home-prepared goodies) rather than heading to a restaurant.
5. Plan Meals Around Sales
When you start to map out what meals to make for the coming weeks, look closely at supermarket sales circulars and choose accordingly.
- Supermarkets typically rotate sale pricing among different kinds of meat; some weeks chicken meals will be a great deal, while beef or pork may represent better values at other times.
- Stock up on buy-one-get-one free deals and bonus buys on staple items when they are available.
- If there is a grocery store in your area that matches competitor's advertised pricing (like Walmart), consider shopping there to save store visits. Take circulars from all the stores in your area with you.
6. Serve Seasonal Produce
Get in the habit of deciding what types of fruits and vegetables to serve based on what items are in season in your local area.
- In-season produce tends to be less costly in the supermarket.
- You can rely on local farmer's markets and roadside stands for seasonal produce, resulting in greater savings and the added benefit of supporting local small businesses.
- If you purchase large quantities of seasonal items when prices are low, you can preserve extra for the off-season.
- Try your hand at growing your own vegetables.
7. Have Meatless Mondays
While you don't necessarily have to go with Monday, you can save money on your grocery budget by picking a day or two each week to serve meatless meals. There are a number of frugal vegetarian and meatless meal recipes that your family members may enjoy. Options include:
8. Use Store Brands
One of the best ways to cut costs on your grocery bill is to convert from name brand products to store brands wherever possible.
- Canned, frozen and boxed foods are often available in store brands for much less than comparable brand names.
- In some cases, store brands are identical to branded items, but not always. They aren't always as good, but may sometimes be even better.
9. Clip Your Way to Savings
Savings can be as simple as a pair of scissors or a smartphone app. Always look for coupons and shop for the best deals on groceries, services, and other products.
Coupons can be found in many places:
10. Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
Commercial cleaning products can be quite costly. While you can cut down somewhat on the expense by using store brands or manufacturer's coupons, you can save even more by learning how to create your own cleaning solutions.
11. Use Loyalty Programs
Retailers have gotten very focused on keeping their customers coming back through the use of loyalty programs. Signing up and participating in these programs can help you save money and earn freebies based on your ordinary buying habits.
- Decide which drugstore in your area offers the best rewards program and consolidate all of your prescription purchases there to build up points.
- Buying groceries from a store that participates in the Fuel Rewards Network can help you reduce gasoline expenses.
- Try to keep your business travel consolidated to a hotel chain or airline with a generous travel rewards program to earn points toward free getaways.
12. Make Barter Arrangements
Rather than immediately deciding to purchase the goods services you need, consider if there is a way to enter into a barter arrangement. This can be a great way to get what you need without having to spend money, instead swapping your expertise or unwanted items with that of another person.
- See if you have friends who would like to swap goods or services such as fresh produce, babysitting, lawn care, meal preparation, handyman assistance, etc.
- Organize a clothing exchange to trade clothing items with people in your circle of friends.
- Look for bartering websites designed to help match people who have goods or services to swap.
13. Secondhand Shopping
Before you head to the mall or your favorite online retailer to make a purchase, stop and ask yourself if you really need a brand new item. Even when it's not feasible to barter for what you need, you can always attempt to find a second-hand item.
Resources for finding quality used merchandise include:
14. Repurpose Household Items
Instead of automatically throwing away household items when you've used them or if they seem worn out, consider whether they can still serve another purpose.
- Use spent coffee grounds as plant fertilizer.
- Make compost from kitchen waste.
- Use worn out t-shirts as dishrags and car washing cloths.
- Repurpose binder clips as chip clips to keep snack chip bags closed .
- See 101 Ideas to Reuse, Recycle and Repurpose Household Goods on the One Cent at a Time blog for more suggestions.
15. Rely on End-of-Season Sales
The best time to get great deals on seasonal merchandise is at the very end - or just after - the season when they are in demand. By shopping end-of-season sales, you can purchase the items you'll need for the following year at deeply discounted prices.
- Purchase replacement Christmas decorations a few days after Christmas and save 50 to 90 percent.
- August is a great time to shop for outdoor furniture and gardening items, as well as beach and pool supplies.
- If your kids love decorating Easter eggs, stock up on egg coloring kits immediately after the holiday.
- Plan ahead for holiday and birthday presents, buying whenever you find items on sale and saving them until gift-giving time.
16. Create Homemade Gifts
Get in the habit of creating homemade gifts for the holidays, birthday celebrations and other occasions. Doing so can provide you with hours of hobby entertainment, as well as provide a way to reduce the amount of money you spend on presents. As an added bonus, handcrafted gifts often have special meaning to recipients.
- Many fun craft projects make terrific gift items, from crocheted or knitted pieces to handmade jewelry or soap.
- Creating a ready-to-fill scrapbook is a great personalized gift for new parents, newlyweds and others.
- Homemade candles can also be a much-appreciated frugal gift idea.
17. Review TV Subscriptions
Look closely at your family's viewing habits and determine if you have the most cost-effective television subscriptions.
- If you still have cable or satellite television, but most of the shows you watch are available for streaming, you may be able to save money.
- Take a look at what's available on Hulu Plus for only $8 per month to see if you may be able to replace a more costly subscription with it.
- Also consider movie availability through low-cost sources like Netflix and AmazonPrime, as well as sources for free online movie viewing.
18. Evaluate Telephone Expenses
Communication devices can represent a significant expense each month. Look closely at your service to determine if it really meets your needs.
- Are you paying for a house phone that rarely gets used? If so, you may want to cancel it and rely solely on cell phones.
- Even if you want to keep a house phone, you may be able to save money by bundling it with your Internet subscription or another service like cable or satellite television.
- Make sure that you have the cheapest cell phone plan that meets your needs, being sure to consider no-contract and family plan options.
19. Manage Healthcare Costs
Take measures to keep yourself - and your family members - healthy and well. Doing so can save money on medical expenses and reduce time lost from work, school and other activities.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle with proper sleep, a nutritious diet, frequent hand-washing and suitable exercise to reduce your chances of getting sick.
- Opt for generic over-the counter and prescriptions medications when needed, as they are far cheaper than name brand options.
Take advantage of preventive healthcare options available through your health insurance provider.
- Consider getting a flu shot each season as a preventive measure.
- Register to receive free Health Alert Network messages from the Centers for Disease Control about seasonal and regional health concerns.
20. Reduce Interest Expenses
If you owe money, chances are you're spending too much of your income on interest expenses. Some of the worst money drains are interest and finance charges, but you can find ways to save.
- Pay above the minimum balance on all loans and credit cards to minimize finance charges.
- If you have credit card debt, consider transferring the balances to a lower interest rate account and focus on paying it off.
- Get in the habit of paying a little extra on your house payment each month to save on interest and reduce the length of the loan.
21. Minimize Fuel Expenses
Take steps to keep your fuel costs under control.
- Use the GasBuddy.com website or mobile app to locate the lowest fuel prices in you area.
- Drive between 40 and 60 miles per hour for the best gas mileage (according to BrokenSecrets.com).
- Avoid aggressive acceleration for maximum fuel economy.
- Keep tires properly inflated.
- Avoid unnecessary driving, planning trips and errand routes to make the most of your mileage.
- Carpool or take public transportation when feasible.
22. Vehicle Maintenance
Avoid the need for costly, major vehicle repairs by properly maintaining your vehicle.
- Get your oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
- Have regular tune-ups.
- Take care of repairs as soon as you become aware they may be necessary.
23. Enjoy Free Playtime Activities
Activities don't have to cost a lot of money. There are plenty of enjoyable things that you - and your children - can do that don't cost anything at all. Instead of paying expensive admission charges for various activities, consider:
- Utilize free parks and recreation facilities in your area.
- Start a neighborhood play group for kids in your children's age groups.
- Get in the habit of playing board games, card games and outdoor games with friends and family.
- Take family picnics to scenic areas.
- Go fishing if you live near the water.
24. Exercise on the Cheap
You don't have to spend money on an expensive gym membership in order to get the exercise you need to stay in shape. There are plenty of free and low cost exercise options to consider.
- Walk, jog or ride your bicycle through your neighborhood or a local park. If you like company when you exercise, invite a few friends to join you.
- Utilize some of the many free workout videos posted on YouTube, where you can find everything from Zumba classes to yoga sessions.
- If you subscribe to Hulu or have a cable or satellite subscription that includes On-Demand programming, you have pre-paid access to a number of exercise videos.
- Put together your own workout plan using printed aerobic routines, Pilates exercises and weightlifting charts.
- Ask around to find out what churches or community groups in your community may offer free exercise classes on a weekly basis.
25. Divert Money to the Bank
It's hard to make a conscious decision to take money out of your wallet (or checking account!) and put it in savings. Instead of putting yourself in that position, try to send a little money to your savings account on a regular basis that never passes through your hands.
- If your company offers direct deposit, direct a small percent of each paycheck directly to a savings account. Start with five percent and move up as you can.
- If you have extra money coming in through a side job or eBay sales, set up a PayPal account just to receive those funds and transfer them directly to savings.
- Get in the habit of putting half of any cash gifts you receive for birthdays or other special occasions directly into savings before you start spending.
Do What Works for You
You don't have to adopt all of these tips to make a difference in your spending habits. Every little step you take to save a few cents here or a dollar there will add up - it is true that every cent counts.
Cut back where you can and incorporate frugal living tips into your lifestyle. As you start to see your expenses fall and feel your financial stresses decrease, you just might start looking for even more ways to save on your own.