Saving money can help you reach financial goals like becoming debt-free, buying a home or saving up for a vacation. While many people struggle to save money, there are clever ways that everyone can save money in their daily life. It’s hard to cut high areas of spending like your housing, transportation, and utilities, but there are other areas in your life where you can find economical solutions to save money.
Here are some clever tips to help you save money.
Clever Tips and Tricks to Save Money
Saving money doesn’t have to be extreme, boring, or tedious. There are clever ways to save money that make saving easy for everyone to do.
1. Automate your savings: One of the easiest ways to save is to automatically send a percentage of your income straight to a savings account. Many direct deposit programs allow you to send part of your paycheck to a savings account. You can also set up an automatic bank transfer from your checking account to your savings account. Even if you only save $30 per month, after a year, you'll accumulate $360 in a year, plus interest.
High-yield savings accounts, money market accounts and Certificates of Deposit allow you to earn even more money on your savings.
2. Unsubscribe from marketing emails: If you have ever given your email to your favorite stores to get a discount, you most likely receive daily emails from them. Marketing experts create these emails to make you buy more. If you are tempted by “BOGO” or “50% off” sales, unsubscribe from those emails. You can always sign up again if you need something in the future.
3. Use financial apps: There are numerous smartphone apps that allow you to manage your finances. Using apps like Mint can help you to create a budget and track your spending. These two things can help you set your spending habits and set financial boundaries for yourself. Also, make sure you download your bank's mobile banking app, so you can manage your checking and savings on the go.
4. Take advantage of cash-back rewards: If you are a responsible credit card user, you can use cash-back rewards as a way to increase your savings. If you do most of your shopping online, find a credit card that gives you 5% back on online shopping. For every $1,000 you spend, you will get $50 back. That $50 can be seen as a discount on your purchases, and the money you budgeted for your spending can go right into your savings with that cash back. To learn more about how to efficiently manage your credit cards, read: How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many?.
5. Be selective on your subscriptions: Subscriptions are easy to set up, yet just as easy to forget to delete. If you want to save money, take a close look at the subscriptions you are paying for. Find out which subscriptions you need to have, and cancel the rest. Americans spend about $219 a month on subscription services like Amazon Prime, Netflix and Spotify and this area can easily be reduced.
6. Sign up for gas rewards: Apps like GasBuddy will give you money back for using their app when you fill up your tank of gas. You can also use apps to help find the cheapest gas prices in your area, based on your specific city r zip code. If you're planning a trip, you can find the cheapest gas stations in advance.
7. Pay back your debt: According to MoneyGeek, the average American cardholder has $5,769 in credit card debt. With interest rates on credit cards at an all-time high, debt can quickly snowball. If you have any outstanding debt, pay off what you can. If you're paying too much on student loans or your mortgage, consider refinancing for a better rate.
8. Take advantage of the library: If you enjoy reading or listening to books, you know that the cost of books can quickly add up. The price of a paperback novel can run anywhere between $10-20 each. The library has great resources, from books, movies, and music to apps that let you download ebooks and audiobooks, for free.
9. Make food at home: The average hamburger costs $9 on a restaurant menu, but when you add up the cost of the individual ingredients, the same meal costs just under $2 to make yourself. Eating out can quickly add up, especially if you are also getting your food delivered. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average American household spends $3,000 a year just on dining out. Start by cooking one meal at home and find easy recipes you make during the week. If you don’t know how to cook, there are thousands of recipes and how-to videos easily available on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok.
10. Use cold water: Using cold water to wash your clothes or when you shower can help you cut back on your utility bill. These small changes can also be applied to other utilities, like unplugging appliances and turning off the lights to lower your electric bill. Experts say that washing clothes with cold water can save you around $250 per year.
11. Buy in bulk: Many people, especially single people or couples, find buying in bulk to be wasteful. But with proper planning, you can buy the things you eat and often use at a lower price without wasting. Look at the cost of your favorite foods from the grocery store versus a wholesale store to see the real cost savings.
12. Use cash: Cash is a great way to save more money. Physically seeing the money you spend makes your purchase more tangible. If you only use cash, it may help you think twice about impulse purchases.
13. Create your own spending rules: You can use rules when purchasing something outside your everyday living costs. For example, if you're planning to buy something over $100, wait three days before you comit to that purchase. Your decision may change in the days that you wait.
14. Get off of social media: Influencers get their name because they can influence their audience to buy products and services. Keep in mind that many posts you see online advertising products are paid sponsorships. It’s easy to think that everyone has the newest kitchen item, but you are just being marketed to buy this.
15. Join "Buy Nothing" groups: You can join a community on Facebook where people in your local area give away items that they no longer need for free. You can also give away items, and connect with local community members.
Discover How to Spend Less Money
Everyone’s finances are different, so it’s important to discover ways that you can personally spend less money. To get started, track your spending for a month. Doing this lets you see exactly where you are spending your money. Is the majority of your money going to gas, dining out, entertainment? From there, you can cut back on unnecessary expenses.
Some examples of unnecessary spending are:
- Buying coffee out: If you make one cup of coffee at home every workday of the year instead of buying it out, you could save approximately $845 per year.
- Eating out frequently: Restaurant, fast food and café expenses can quickly add up. You can have fun learning to cook at home, not to mention, make healthy swaps.
- Having a gym membership that you don't use: While staying healthy and active is important, having a gym membership isn't helpful if you don't use it. Consider exercising at home or outside to save money on monthly gym fees.
- Impulsively buying the latest gadget: Do you really need the latest smartphone if the one you currently have is working just fine? To prevent going overboard, you can set a yearly budget for electronic expenses and stick to it.
- Expensive hobbies: While it's important to have hobbies, it's also important to budget for them and avoid overspending. Just one day of skiing can cost you up to $400 per day, not including skiing clothes!
- Cable TV subscriptions: Though "cord-cutting" has been around for quite some time, there are still about 75 million cable TV subscribers in the US. If you primarily use streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, cutting your cable bill can save you hundreds.
If you are able to shop smarter and make smart swaps, you will be able to save more money. If you make a frugal lifestyle a habit, eventually, you may even be able to retire early.
How to Save Money from Salary
If you are struggling to save money with a standard salary, there are ways that you can find money you didn’t realize you had:
- One of the best ways to save money from your salary is to create a budget. Budgeting allows you to have enough money for your daily costs as well as to save for short and long-term financial goals. Setting clear financial goals can give you the motivation to save and stick to a budget. For example, if you set a goal to pay off $5,000 in credit card debt in one year, you'd have to budget for monthly payments of around $416 per month, not including interest.
- Another way to save money from your income is to negotiate your salary. If you have recently finished a large project for your job, this is a great time to ask for a salary increase. Make sure to keep track of major accomplishments to help make your case. Increasing your salary can allow you to use the extra income to put towards savings.
You can save money even with low income
If you have a limited income, you may already be applying these clever tips and tricks into your life. You may have to go beyond these and look at ways to save on your everyday living expenses from groceries, housing, and clothes.
Here are some examples for how to save money fast on a low income:
- Use coupons: Coupons can allow you to buy everyday items for a lower price. Saving a few dollars on each item can add up over time. For example, if you plan appropriately, you can buy all of your cereal on week for $1 off each and the following week coffee for $2.50 off each to maximize your savings.
- Buy store brand: Store brand items are generally cheaper than name brand items. For example, you can buy name-brand toilet paper for $29.99 at Costco versus $23.99 for Costco's Kirkland brand toilet paper. Let’s say you buy this once a month; the $6 savings turns into $72 just on one item.
- Buy used products: Buying second-hand or used items is another great way to save money. There are great stores that have second-hand items like clothing, but you can also use Facebook Marketplace to get a great deal on a lightly-used kitchen appliance.
- Reduce utility bills: Try to be mindful of your energy usage by turning off lights and electronics when not in use, using energy-efficient light bulbs, and taking shorter showers to save water.
- Use public transit: Using public transportation instead of driving a car can help you save money on gas and car maintenance. Many cities also offer discounted or free transit passes to low-income individuals.
Saving money goes beyond a restrictive budget. If you can find clever and creative ways to save money, you can continue living your current lifestyle. You can save more money by cutting unnecessary expenses, factoring in financial goals to save in your budget, and making frugal swaps. Finding key ways to save can add up and help you find more ways to save. Every small saving adds up to help you reach your goals.