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Looking for great money saving tips to save you lots of cash? Look no further!
I gave a little bit of background on myself in my first post, but let me elaborate on that a bit.
No, I wasn’t raised in poverty and my story isn’t one of extreme hardship, even though most of us have heard such stories. Like most people, I came from a middle-class family that was neither rich nor poor.
Also like most people, I’m not rolling in the dough, spending money on anything my heart desires. I had to fight to get to where I am today, and I’m still working to make improvements.
I suspect many of you out there have similar situations, so I’m willing to spill the beans and hopefully help you out in the process.
Taking it One Step at a Time
This is another concept I alluded to in my first post because it’s so true: realizing financial independence and freedom isn’t about going from drowning in debt to being an overnight success.
Generally, you have to take baby steps to get there, cutting out a few expenses here and there, and maybe even making a few extra dollars.
I think most of us have heard this at some point, and with good reason. Eliminating unnecessary expenses is a sure-fire way to improve your financial situation.
In addition, these tips will allow you to set savings goals, help you with putting money away, and, hopefully, learn something new.
Ready to meet your savings goal with some money saving tips? Let’s dig in!
1. Cut the Cord
This is one of my favorite money saving tips.
I stopped paying for traditional cable and picked up a Mohu Leaf 50 to get local channels for free. Once you pay the up-front cost, you’ve got yourself some free entertainment!
You can also supplement cable with a streaming service service like Hulu.
As far as streaming services go, I still use my Mom’s Netflix password. Yep, it’s silly, but Netflix has yet to explicitly prohibit it. If that ever happens, I would certainly get my own account.
But in the meantime – why not? Cutting the cord is an easy way to save money fast.
2. Consolidate Subscription Services
I prefer to skip ads if possible, so I was paying for both YouTube and Spotify’s monthly subscriptions to stream music (and videos). Each subscription costs $9.99 per month.
That obviously wasn’t necessary, so I consolidated to just one service. YouTube, in my case, since it has both music and videos.
Of course, you may be partial to other services, but consolidating them down as much as possible is one of those simple ways to save money every month.
3. Reduce Car Insurance Coverage
This depends somewhat on your risk tolerance and a lot on your car’s value. For example, if you are paying $125/month for comprehensive coverage and your car is worth $1,500, is that worth it?
To you, it might be. But if not, you may want to reduce your coverage to just liability coverage. In that case, you will only be covered for damage to other vehicles and property.
To get started figuring out your car’s value, you can check Kelley Blue Book. That value may not be 100% accurate, but it’s a good place to start.
4. Buy Used Cars – With Cash
Yes, this is a topic of debate and not everyone agrees. And if you have a specific reason to buy new (or lease, like I did), I’m won’t try to stop you.
But if you don’t have a specific reason to buy new, I recommend this option.
Especially if you’re in a major metro area, there are likely plenty of cars that are a little bit older but still perfectly reliable. You can probably find one for under $10,000. If you do and can buy it up front with cash, you will save thousands on interest.
5. Refinance Student Loans
I no longer have student loans, but one thing I did when I did have them was that I refinanced through SoFi. That was just the lender I used, but there are a lot of lenders that offer student loan refinancing.
I had Parent PLUS Loans, so it was a bit crazy. Refinancing allowed me to go from a mind-boggling $950 monthly payment at 7.9% interest all the way down to $300 at 5%.
That’s obviously a really nice interest rate reduction. It’s definitely worth looking into for anyone who is being held down by loans.
6. Get a Cheaper Cell Phone Plan
I switched my cell phone service about a year ago now. Even if you don’t live in the biggest city, you probably have lots of phone plans to choose from.
My switch was to Google Fi, which is a really cool concept. In particular, it made sense for me was because I expect to travel a lot. With coverage in 200+ countries, you never have to worry about whether your phone will work overseas.
I still saved money by switching to Google Fi from T-Mobile, but if you don’t travel internationally, it might not be the best choice. I had an unlimited data plan before – I no longer do, but I still save money.
I always recommend what are known as Mobile Network Virtual Operators (MVNOs) to the average mobile phone user who doesn’t intend to travel.
This is a fancy term, but you’ve likely heard of many of them: Cricket, Boost Mobile, Republic Wireless, Straight Talk, Virgin Mobile, and so on.
These providers all operate on the “big four” networks (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint), but charge significantly less money. Because they run on the same networks, your coverage will be exactly the same.
The only thing that could vary is customer service. So, you may want to look into that for each provider.
In addition to switching to an MVNO, you could also just lower your existing cell phone bill. Thanks to Sarah for mentioning this. A lot of plans a limit on data use, but it’s possible you could be allotted much more than you actually use. Check your provider’s web site as they will usually tell you how much you’ve used of the current billing cycle.
7. Optimize Your Investment and Retirement Accounts
This is a pretty big topic on its own, so I won’t go into very much detail here.
However, the very short version is you want to be sure to minimize your expense ratios on retirement and investment accounts.
Pro tip: funds in retirement accounts – even those through your employer – tend to have high expenses.
I recommend taking a look at the expense ratios on the funds in your retirement accounts. Even for these typically high-expense funds, I would aim for expense ratios of 0.50% or lower.
If yours are much higher than that, see if there are funds with lower expense ratios. If you aren’t sure, reach out to your benefits department for guidance.
8. Cut Back on Alcohol (Yeah, I Know)
Yeah, sure, Bud Light is basically water, but it’s still technically beer. Not only is drinking expensive but it’s also not the healthiest habit.
And I’m not saying you should necessarily avoid it altogether. If you can start by having one fewer drink here and there, you’re already on the right track.
Cutting back on alcohol can be one of the easiest methods to save several hundred dollars.
9. Join Rover If You Need a Dog Sitter
Rover is a great service that allows you to find a dog sitter or a dog walker. And the nice thing is that if you are the one needing a sitter/walker, you’ll pay a lot less than you would pay a dog kennel.
Plus, if you use my link above, you get a $20 credit for signing up. 😉 I am now a dog walker myself on Rover and I love it!
10. Move Money to High-Interest Savings
This is really more of an optimization than one of my moneysaving tips. However, if you aren’t reaping the benefits of a high yield savings account, you are “leaving money on the table” as they say.
I personally opened an Ally online savings account a few months ago, and it was a great decision. This is one of the best savings accounts out there.
Update – March, 2020: the above snippet is definitely outdated now. You can see just how quickly these things can change. Eventually it should go back up, though.
Sure, it may still not seem like much, but compared to the average interest rate of 0.06% on checking, it’s actually amazing.
Speaking of which, if you do have an online checking account, make sure you have free online checking. Personally, I use Charles Schwab.
And the more you have saved, the more that interest will pay out.
11. Invite Friends Over Instead Of Going To The Bar
If you tend to go out frequently, you may want to consider inviting friends to your place instead. While not everyone loves hosting, this is almost certain to be much cheaper than going out.
After all, bars have to make money which is why drinks there are much more expensive.
If you enjoy drinking but would rather not curb the habit, this can be a great way to do it. Plus, you’ll avoid the all-too-common problem of having to get home safely after a long night of drinking. Win-win!
12. Meal Prep And Make Healthy Food In Batches
This is one I actually don’t do a ton of, in part because I don’t have a large family. The bigger your family, the bigger the potential benefit.
That said, there are lots of great ways to do this. Since I don’t have a lot of experience with it myself, I’ll defer to my friends Budget Epicurean and PFGeeks who have some GREAT healthy meal prep ideas.
Needless to say, it’s important to have a plan when you go to the grocery store. Check out this post for how to save on groceries.
13. Money Saving Tips: Use A Cash-Back Credit Card
Getting money back for your everyday purchases? Must be too good to be true, right? Nope, not at all.
These days, you can easily get a rewards credit card that earns you points. You can then convert those points either to cash or for free hotel rooms, flights, and more.
I have been using them for rewards because the redemption rates tend to be better, but that is often for travel. If you aren’t interested in that, you can redeem for cash.
You earn points anywhere and everywhere but can often earn bonus points at gas stations, grocery stores, and other stores with. You usually earn bonus points through categories.
Of course, this recommendation always comes with a major caveat: you must pay them off in full every month. Never carry balances over – ever. If you do, this will almost certainly end up costing you more than the cash back you get in return.
14. Book Flights for Free Using Credit Card Points
Closely related to #13, I recently booked trips to and from Europe and the flights were entirely covered by credit card rewards.
I did have to pay a bit in fees, but that was tiny compared to what I would have paid in cash.
15. Money Saving Tip: Buy an EV
In some cases, buying an electric vehicle (EV) can be cheaper than buying an internal combustion engine (ICE) car. I bought an electric vehicle myself:
EVs continue to get cheaper to buy and operate by the year. That said, they are still more expensive for a lot of people. However, if you happen to only drive 10-15 miles per day, a used Nissan Leaf can be a great investment.
You can easily find a used Leaf for under $10,000. So if your daily commute is short, this might be worth considering.
16. Use Public Transit
Yet another transit-related idea. If you are lucky enough to live in a city with excellent public transit, this could be cheaper than driving.
Since this will vary widely, you’ll have to do your own comparison. Public transit typically has monthly passes, so compare that cost to what it would cost to drive.
If transit is cheaper, congrats! You just took advantage of one of the less expensive options for travel.
Not only that but mass transit is typically more environmentally friendly. Yet another win-win.
17. Filing Your Taxes For Free is a Great Way to Save Money
Filing your taxes can seem like a daunting task. Much worse is paying someone a sizable fee just to get your money back.
Luckily, there are a few ways to do this without paying. One way is the IRS’s Free File – if your income is $66,000 or less.
Personally, I used Credit Karma to file this year. My taxes are fairly simple so it wasn’t bad. And their filing is actually 100% free which is great! It’s a pretty easy process, too, with everything in wizard form.
Of course, if your taxes are especially complicated, you may still want to consult a CPA. That will have to be up to be your call to make. If you want to save money, this is an easy one that can do the trick.
18. Buy Clothing From Thrift Stores
I love visiting my local thrift stores. I talk about thrift stores pretty regularly and that is because they are basically a gold mine.
Seriously. $4 for a dress shirt and the same price for a pair of jeans? How can you possibly go wrong?
Yeah, I know. There are horror stories out there about people whose thrift store clothing was infested with bed bugs or something. Scary as that may sound, though, it’s an anecdote at best and an old wives’ tale at worst.
I’ve been shopping at thrift stores for years and the worst thing I can say about them is availability varies. Of course, they rely on donations, so you won’t always find your size. Other times, simply nothing you like.
But when you do, it’s seriously a steal. You could end up walking out of there with 5 shirts that cost half the price of ONE new shirt. And most of the time, they are in like-new condition.
19. Buy Other Products Used
There are lots of ways to do this. One of the easier ways (and more popular in today’s culture) is buying things used through Amazon.
For example, this headset sells for $132.50 brand new, but there is currently one under “used & new” for $94.15:
There is also one that is “like new” for $99.99. I tend to go for those if possible because you get a lower price without sacrificing any quality.
These savings will vary widely by product, but it’s definitely worth considering. Nowadays, you can even still get a warranty on used products – either because the one you buy comes with one or you can purchase one separately.
20. Keep Cell Phones Longer/Buy Last Year’s Model
Need I say more? Nowadays phones are not evolving as quickly as they used to. I mean, get a load of the first smartphone I ever had – the HTC Tilt 8925.
It’s hard to believe this thing only came out just over 11 years ago! It looks absolutely ancient. And…ahh. That physical keyboard. How I miss it.
Back in those days, every single phone release was a major improvement. Today, though, you have to wait at least several years before you might see that kind of difference.
So why not keep your phone longer? Or if your phone breaks, consider buying a model that’s a year or two old.
21. Easy Way to Save Money: Buy Bread From Jimmy John’s
I’m not sure if you’ve heard about this one, but typically Jimmy John’s will sell you day-old loaves of their famous French bread for 50 cents apiece.
Pretty simple concept here – fresh bread is at the core of their business model, so it absolutely has to be fresh. So, at that point, it’s either they sell it to you for 50 cents or it goes in the trash.
I really need to look into this one further, but I’d be willing to bet other, smaller business might have similar offerings.
22. Bring A Reusable Cup To Starbucks
Okay, sure – this one is more of a sustainability tip than a money-saving one. Even though Starbucks is frankly a huge contributor to waste given that most of their drinks and food items are served in disposable containers, Starbucks does have goals for reducing waste.
And yes, Starbucks does give you a discount if you bring in a reusable cup, although the discount is only 10 cents. However, this past holiday season they upped that to 50 cents. That is actually worth considering in terms of cost savings.
All in all, it is obviously going to be cheaper if you make your own coffee. But I do like the holiday initiative they had and I’ll be looking out for that next winter.
Saving 50 cents is still totally worth it even if you only go to Starbucks occasionally and prefer to make your own coffee most of the time.
23. Check Your Employee Benefits
Many employers can get you a discount on your everyday expenses, such as your cellphone plan. Ask your benefits if your employer offers this.
24. Reduce Credit Card Debt
Having a large balance on one or multiple credit cards is one of the biggest strain on a lot of people’s budgets. I know this is easier said than done for some since credit card balances can snowball thanks to interest.
Nevertheless, you should pay as much you can every month. And there are other things you can do, like getting a balance transfer credit card with 0% interest.
Balance transfer credit cards can help while you work to pay down debt.
Another option is to ask your credit card company to waive late fees and/or give you a lower interest rate. While this isn’t always a possibility, it can’t hurt to ask. It’s a common question for them.
Reducing this debt can help you improve your credit score while lowering monthly expenses. Win-win.
25. Keep a Healthy Emergency Fund
“Wait, how can putting money in an emergency fund help me save?” you might ask. Well, when the unexpected happens, things could be much more expected if you have to resort to using a credit card or a payday loan.
That’s why an emergency fund is an important part of any savings plan. If you want to reach your longterm goals, be sure to have an emergency fund.
Also, I don’t recommend keeping the cash in your bank account. It’s better to have it in high interest savings.
Now You Know How to Start Saving Money!
This is a good list so far, but we can always add more. Once you have your routing number, you’ll be able to use your money for other things – such as paying off credit cards.
Do you know any good ways to start saving money? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!
By the way – are you interested in starting your very own blog? If so, check out my post on how to become a blogger.