I love writing posts about the best ways to save money because no matter how diligent I am in keeping my own budget, there’s always more I find I can do to cut expenses and save even more. I figure it does no good to preach to you about saving money if I can’t do it myself so it actually forces me to take a good look inward and find those savings so I can pass them on to you!
This list may not be all new to some but to others it will be, so if you are in financial distress, then here are some answers to your problems. The number one rule to understand is pretty simple and if I have said this once, I have said it a million times – but for the record and today’s post here it is again:
There are only two ways to improve your finances: 1) earn more money and/or 2) spend less money! That’s really it. There are no other secret formulas.
Your Journey Doesn’t Have to Be Dangerous
No matter where you are in your financial journey, if you want to, you can start turning things around today. If you always feel that you are lost and actually in financial danger, it is more than likely it’s because you don’t know where your money goes!
Once you know where your money is coming from and going to, it’s a simple matter of that number one rule, earning more and spending less.
We have chatted before about side hustles and many of the ways to earn more like my personal fave working and selling at the flea market. And don't forget about getting a raise at your day job. Earn more is step one.
The Best Ways to Save Money
Yes, it’s true that not every saving strategy will work for everybody. But there’s something out there that can help anybody do a better job of managing their money. So let’s do it. Step two: save more, and here are just some of the tried and true winners so get started right now!
Refinance Your Loans
It can be a refinancing of your mortgage, home equity loan, or even your student loans, but refinancing high interest loans usually will save you both money and time even when there are some fees to do it. If you don’t check out your options, you are just wasting money!
Besides your local loan holder, check out LendEDU. It’s a tool to compare your loan rates against rates available from other lenders. They could save you money.
Patch Your Big Budget Drains
Check your budget for major drains on your spending. Overspending on certain things (ahem…groceries…), recurring payments that you could drop, expensive internet packages, etc., all of these are issues you can change immediately. Many of us have charges and fees drawn from our checking or charged to our credit cards and we have actually totally forgotten about what and why they exist! Go through them now and cancel or limit them and see how that adds to your wallet.
Use Freezer Meals
On a good Saturday, two people can make a dozen meals or more to freeze without any problems. Preparing the meals all at once allows you to take more advantage of grocery sales by buying in bulk and it also saves you time cooking when you use them for dinner every night!
Trade Your SUV or Truck for Something Fuel Efficient
Let’s be honest here. Many out there are driving big, inefficient gas guzzlers and don’t need to be. If you’re driving one, consider trading it in for a smaller, more fuel efficient car. You can knock off big bucks from your payments and use that money for some other needed item or save it for that rainy day!
Minimize Your Electronic Costs
It’s not 1999 anymore. If you’re watching cable rather than streaming on something like Netflix, you’re spending a lot of extra money and missing out on some great shows. If it’s news that’s keeping you from pulling the trigger, most news channels can be watched online. It’s time to toss the cable box and save big bucks and oh by the way, almost every smarty is doing it these days.
Oh and your phone… If you’re sick of paying for a home phone just go mobile. Seriously, you are on the mobile and it’s with you just about 24/7 anyway and you are already paying for Wi-Fi, so why do you need the landline at about $40 bucks a month? Just to get spammed 15 times a day?
Turn Down Your Water Heater Temp
Did you know that the temperature setting on your water heater is adjustable? They are usually pre-set at up to 140 degrees, way more than you need and you can easily turn that down to a lower setting in about 15 seconds. Check your water heater and reset it to 120 to 125 degrees and you will not even notice the difference but you will save 10% on your hot water and electric or gas bill every month!
Try Meatless Meals
Why not swap a few meals per week for vegetarian equivalents? There are lots of great veggie protein sources that are less expensive than meat. Chick peas, lentils and beans are a few good examples. Just one dinner a week can save you 15% on your weekly main meal.
Change Your Own Oil
If you’re up for getting a bit dirty, try changing your own oil instead of taking your car to the shop or dealership for basic service. You can buy the oil and a filter and can change it out in around 25 minutes. In most places, the going rate for oil changes are twice the price plus tax for that kind of service.
Sell Something You Don’t Need To Buy Something You Do
Instead of just buying something new, why not finance the purchase by selling something you don’t use much? This is a great way to buy tools. If you have something that you only bought for one project like a tile saw, why not sell it to pay for something you need right now?
And that reminds me…can you say yard sale?
Ride Your Bike
Gas is expensive, but leg power is free! If you have a good bicycle, why not ride it just one or two days per week? Besides being good exercise for good health, the savings will add up!
Better Insulate Your Home
Buy a can of insulating foam (it’s only a few bucks at the hardware store) and find places where air can escape to save money on your heating and air conditioning bills!
Almost every big purchase is negotiable. Even some smaller things like thrift shop finds can be bartered down. Honing your negotiating skills can save you a fortune over time. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Stop Paying Fees at Your Bank
Are you still paying banking fees? Check out offers from local banks and credit unions. Today, institutions offer free checking accounts, so why are you still paying for one? Save as much as $25 a month. We’ve had a free account for years and haven’t ever looked back.
Plan Gift Purchases Ahead with a Calendar
If you can plan out who you’re going to buy gifts for this year, you can keep an eye out for really good deals while you’re out and about. This will save you from spending too much on any last minute gifts. This is especially true of holiday gifts.
Make Gifts Rather Than Buying
Are you crafty? Why not try making something for somebody this year? Refinishing an old piece of furniture, building a picture frame, or even gifting an oil change are great, practical ways to give that don’t cost much. Of course it is very appreciated and yes, it will save you bucks when you do it!
Install a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are really good and can save you a lot of money. It’s an upfront investment, but you will see the savings quickly. It really is a requirement these days.
Don’t Charge Everything
That’s right, I said it. It’s too easy to justify the cost by spending more than you would typically when it’s done with plastic. When you use cash, it is real spending and when you are short on funds…yeah, you have to skip the purchase. After a while it becomes easier and you will see the savings. If you’re somebody who struggles with credit cards, this actually works!
Rent Out Space in Your Home
There are lots of ways to do this. AirBnB, VRBO, roommates, renting out a garage, etc. Renting out space in your home can be a great way to bring in some new income whether you’re home or away on holiday.
Trade Babysitting With Friends
I don’t know what happened between when I was babysitting at age 15 and now, but I wasn’t making the kind of money sitters get these days! Instead of hiring a babysitter, why not do an exchange with a trusted friend? They get a night out, you get a night out, it’s a win-win.
Stop Buying Lunch Out
Spending $10 on lunch just once per week is $520 per year. It’s a lot of money to spend. Make better lunches at home and brown bag it. This may be the most popular and easiest way to save $500 a year without much of an effort. Do it every day and you will be looking at a savings of thousands!
Eat Before Grocery Shopping and Always Bring a List
I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot more money at the grocery store when I’m hungry. Try eating a meal right before you shop. Then make a list and bring it with you. Only buy what’s on the list! Bonus points for shopping your own pantry, doing a meal plan first, and then building your list off of that.
Stop Spending Big Money Entertaining the Kids
Spending $25, $40, or more for tickets to trampoline parks, wave parks, or theme parks and other “big“ experiences? Yes, they are fun, but why not reserve those experiences for birthdays and special occasions? Most cities have nice parks, trails, beaches, and libraries that can entertain kids for hours and don’t cost a dime.
Replace Old Lightbulbs with LEDs
LED bulbs have dropped in price over the last few years. Good quality LEDs can be bought cheaply now and will last much longer than traditional bulbs, even years longer! Replace a few per month and you’ll have your whole house switched over in no time.
Invest in Your Future
If you’re not investing for your future, this is the time to start. You don’t need much to get started. Contributing just $25 per month is enough to start building the habit of investing. Saving for emergencies, retirement, vacations, etc., makes a lot more sense than using your costly credit cards or even worse, just being totally unprepared for the future!!
Make Coffee at Home
I know that I’ve said in the past about how much money you can save by making coffee at home, but it is worth repeating! We’re looking at the big picture for the entire year here and dropping the coffee shop lattes can make a real difference over the course of a year. $4 to $5 bucks a day times 5 days a week is over a thousand dollars a year!
Feeling safe with your money all starts by getting control of that money you already have in your budget. You need to know what you have and what you spend; it’s simply the act of tracking your expenses. But the beauty part is that once you’ve identified that, then you’re in place to go out and start finding new and best ways to save money and even earn more money! So my friends, you know what you have to do!