Saving money can seem impossible but there are lots of clever ways to save even if you are on a tight budget. Often all it takes is that first step in the right direction to get things moving in your favour. But, as with most things, sometimes that very first step is the hardest part.
The following 50 tips can help you start saving money today. None of these tactics will be life-changing on their own, but they can make quite a difference over time if you’re able to implement more than one. Some of these suggestions take just a few minutes, while others require a bit of regular effort. Still, they are all very – anyone can do them.
Not all of these tips will apply to everyone but, by finding 10 or 15 that do apply, you may quickly find that you are saving money you never thought possible.
1. Adopt the 10-second rule
Whenever you are shopping and put an item in your basket, stop for 10 seconds and ask yourself why you are buying it and whether you actually need it. If you cannot find a good answer, put the item back.
2. Avoid convenience foods and fast food
Instead of eating fast food or pre-packaged convenience foods, prepare some simple and healthy replacements instead. This cannot only save you money but they are likely to be more nutritious and healthier options anyway.
3. Avoid speeding when driving
Apart from the fact that you are breaking the law, speeding is inefficient when it comes to petrol consumption. It is far better to drive to the speed limit and make your fuel go that bit further.
4. Avoid stress spending
If you are stressed, try to find other ways of relaxing rather than buying things you do not need. Exercise is always a good option, as is meditation. Spending money, in the long run, will add to your stress, not reduce it.
5. Build-up an emergency fund
Creating a “rainy day” fund can make all the difference when an unexpected emergency or event occurs. Just saving a little here and there can make a big difference when the money is really needed.
6. Buy next year’s holiday items right after this one
After every major holiday, like Christmas, all the major stores have sales where their seasonal items go on sale at a major discount.
Use this to your advantage and stock up for next year’s holiday this year. Obviously do not buy items that will go bad, but there are still bargains to be had if you are prepared to think in advance.
7. Buy staples in bulk
For items that you use a lot, especially non-perishables, buy them in bulk. This cuts down on their cost per usage by quite a bit and, over the long haul, adds up to significant savings.
8. Buy used instead of new
Instead of buying new products, with a little bit of research, you can find the exact item you want at a fraction of the price, which has been barely used. Check out used equipment stores, used game stores, consignment shops, and so on.
9. Cancel the cable or satellite channels you do not watch
If you are subscribed to a cable or satellite channel and rarely watch the programmers they show, then cancel your subscription, and keep the cash instead.
10. Cancel unused memberships
If you are paying money for a club or membership you rarely use, such as at your local gym, now it. You can always renew the membership at a later date if it turns out that you actually do miss it.
11. Choose own label or generic brands
Instead of just picking up the ordinary brand of an item you buy, try out the store brand or generic version of the item. Not only will you save money, but you will also likely discover that the store brand is just as good as the name brand — often, the only difference between the two is the marketing.
12. Clean or change your car’s air filter
A clean air filter can improve your car’s fuel consumption by up to 7%. Cleaning an air filter is simple and involves minimal tools and effort. Just follow the instructions in your vehicle’s manual.
13. Comparison shop for home insurance
Before renewing your existing homeowner’s insurance policy each year, check out the rates of competing companies.
14. Consider carpooling
If you live near anyone you work with, you might both be able to benefit by carpooling to work. Or if your partner or spouse works nearby, it could make more sense to take one car back and forth each day. Doing so could save money and wear and tear on both of your vehicles.
15. Cut down on expensive holidays
Instead of going on a big, extravagant trip, consider visiting some of the sights in your surrounding area. Or consider exchanging that hotel room for a stay on a camping site.
16. Do not sign-up for extended warranties
When buying consumer products like electrical equipment, cameras or computers, or buying a new car, many retailers will try and sell you an extended warranty as well. Resist their overtures firmly. The odds are that you will never need the coverage and even if you do, the money you’ll save in repairs will not come close to what you paid for the added warranty.
17. Eat breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast fills you up with energy for the day while also curbing your desire for a big, expensive lunch. If you choose foods like a bowl of oatmeal, breakfast can be very healthy, quick, and inexpensive.
18. Eat less meat
Even if you are not a vegetarian, try and eat less meat. It is very expensive when you consider its nutritional value, especially as compared to vegetables and fruits. And in almost every case, protein-packed staples like beans offer a much better value.
19. Eat out less frequently
Try and cut down the number of times you eat out in a month. Even reducing monthly restaurant meals by one or two can add-up over a year.
20. Employ the 24-hour rule
This rules helps avoid purchasing expensive or unnecessary items on impulse. Think over each nonessential purchase for at least 24 hours. This is particularly easy to do while shopping online, because you can add items to your cart or wish list and come back to them a day later.
21. Get a crock pot
A crock pot or slow cooker is an ideal way for reducing cooking costs for a busy family. You can just dump in your ingredients before work, put it on simmer, and dinner is done when you get home.
There are countless recipes out there for all variety of foods, and every time you cook this way, you’re saving money compared to eating out. Crock pot meals are also notoriously good as leftovers, which can mean additional savings.
22. Get a friend or partner to cut your hair
Get a friend, partner or spouse to cut your hair rather than go to a barber. All they need is a pair of clippers or some sharp scissors. You could also do it yourself, but the results might not look very appealing if you are not confident in what you are doing.
23. Give up smoking and alcohol
Giving up smoking and alcohol is good not for the wallet, but also for your long-term health.
24. Install a programmable thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat is a major way to cut down on energy usage whilst you are at work, or simply want to regulate the temperature in your home. By setting it to heat or cool your home at certain times, you can ensure that your utilities are not being wasted while you’re at work or asleep – and save money in the process.
25. Keep your tyres inflated
For every two PSI of air pressure under the recommended level in your tyres, you lose 1% on your petrol consumption. Most people’s car tyres are five to 10 PSI below the normal level, so that means by just inflating your tires, you can improve your fuel consumption by up to 5%.
26. Look for a cheaper place to live
If your job is not dependent on where you live, consider moving to a cheaper part of town, or even a part of the country where the cost of living is lower. If you want to enjoy the amenities or attractions of another city, you can always travel there.
27. Make saving a regular habit
Get into the habit of saving a little money each month and put it into a savings bank. It will help you build up a small fund on the side and also encourage you to think about the future. With interest rates what they are now, though, do not expect your money to grow beyond what you contribute.
28. Move bank accounts
If you are paying a monthly fee for your current or savings account, you would benefit from researching some of newest banking offers out there. Not only do some of the best banks offer sign-up bonuses simply for opening an account and setting up direct deposit, but some offer attractive interest rates to new customers as well.
29. Only Buy Quality Products
Whilst this may seem antithetical, it actually makes sense to buy quality items rather than the cheapest on the shelf. The old adage “buy chap, buy twice” holds true. Instead buy quality items that last – you will save money in the long run.
30. Pay off credit cards in full each month
Whilst credit cards offer incentives for people to use them more, like air miles and cash back, the interest rate on a standard card is exorbitant. Instead pay off the balance each month in full and avoid costly interest.
31. Prepare your own lunch
Rather than buying lunch at work or from a nearby shop, prepare it yourself at home. It is cheaper and, depending on what you prepare, might be healthier as well.
32. Read everything and look for hidden fees
The small print is the place where many companies will hide hidden fees, such as maintenance fees, early termination fees or excessive usage fees.
Make sure you are aware of what you are agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line.
33. Reduce your use of laundry detergent
The laundry detergent sold today is usually highly concentrated and powerful. Use the smallest suggested amount, and often you can use less than what is on the bottle and still get clean clothes. In many cases, using less actually washes more effectively because there is no leftover soap in your clothes.
34. Rent out unused space in your home
If you have an extra bedroom or space in your house that is not being used, consider renting it, to a site like Airbnb.com. If you live near a popular or tourist area, doing so could bring in a lot of extra money. Just make sure you know the risks and are willing to take the steps required to protect your family and your possessions.
35. Save your loose change
Put any loose change into a piggy bank and it will soon mount up.
36. Sign up for customer reward programmes
No matter where you live, there will be plenty of retailers who are willing to reward you for shopping at their store. Collect every card you can and check the account for promotions and coupons when you are ready to shop.
37. Stick to water
When you eat out, it is standard in the restaurant industry to mark up the cost of alcohol by three to five times. So an easy way to cut down on your restaurant spending without changing your habits too drastically is to skip the beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
38. Stop buying lottery tickets
Stop buying tickets because the odds against you winning anything are just too long. If you buy a lottery ticket on a regular basis you will lose far more than you will ever win.
39. Stop using credit cards
If you have a habit of charging too much on your credit cards, hide then and keep them in a safe place in your home, not in your wallet. Use them for emergencies only.
40. Take full advantage of coupons and promotions
When grocery shopping, take as much advantage as possible of coupons, vouchers, price discounts and other promotions. If non-perishable items are on offer at special prices, consider buying them now, even if there is no immediate requirement for them, and store them until you need them.
41. Take pet care into your own hands
Stop booking your dog into the local spa or vets to be groomed. Instead you can clean and groom your animal yourself. Invest in a pair of clippers, soap, and other minimal tools, then prepare to lather, rinse, and repeat.
42. Take public transport
If the city’s public transport system is near you, take the train or bus to work instead of driving your car. It’s far cheaper and you will not have to worry about the added expense or hassle of parking your vehicle either.
43. Try to fix things yourself
With the advent of Internet and YouTube, you can find online tutorials and videos that show you how to fix almost anything, and all for free.
44. Turn off the lights
Whilst keeping the lights on in your house may not be expensive on a per-watt basis, it can add up over time. To save as much as you can, turn off lights any time you leave your house – or even when you leave the room. Turning off lights when you have plenty of natural sunlight can also help keep your electric bill down in the long run.
45. Turn off your television entirely
By turning off your television entirely, you cut your electric bill, are removed from commercial temptations to spend, and it frees you up to pursue other activities. It may take a few days to find other ways to unwind, but the rewards are worth it.
46. Undertake some basic home and car maintenance repairs
Instead of waiting until something breaks to deal with it, develop a monthly maintenance schedule where you go around your home (and your car) and perform a bit of maintenance where it is needed. This little activity, taking you just an hour or two a month, will keep things from breaking down and help you catch problems before they become disasters. Maintaining your home can also keep it in better shape and improve the value of your property over time.
47. Use less water
Install low-flow showerheads and tap aerators to reduce your water usage and water costs.
48. Use your local library
Rather than buying books or DVDs, use your local library instead. More and more libraries are offering e-books, so you do not even need to visit in person. Many libraries are also part of an intra-library loan system where you can borrow anything you want, but that they do not have, for a minimal shipping charge. Just ask.
49. When buying a car, look only at used models
New cars make terrible investments. Not only do they drop in value the moment you drive off the lot, but they continue dropping in value with each year that goes by.
If you want to save as much as possible on transportation, look only at used cars in relatively good condition. If you focus on cars that are only a few years old, you may also be able to find one within its warranty period.
50. Write a shopping list and stick to it
One of the easiest ways to save money is to only shop when you have a list. Because when you are without one, you typically end up making impulse buys and unplanned purchases – all things that cost money.