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Yet there is a vast array of articles written on how to save money, that too few of us exploit to their fullest. We spend all our lives worrying about money, and then we allow it to slide out of our grasp due to sloppy consumer practices and generally wasteful behavior.
So in this article, we’re going to help you to take control of your money once more. No lecturing. No hectoring. Just a barrel-full of simple, straightforward, yet practical and valuable, tips to save money for your new car, house or a dream vacation.
In these austere times, most people are probably sick and tired of being told to tighten their belts! But sometimes being thrifty can mean you get more for less, and a better return on your hard earned cash. A promise that will make almost anyone sit up and pay attention.
How to Save Money Fast?
1. Make a Savings Plan
If you want to achieve anything in this life, make sure you start with a solid plan. Draw up an estimate of how much you want to save, and come up with the strategy on how to save money using the following tips, and try your hardest to stick to it. Before you know it, you will be well on your way to achieving your saving goals. Plum is a great app that can help with this.
2. Track Your Spending
Your spending is one of the most important aspects of saving money, as you can hardly hope to understand where you are wasting money if you’re not entirely familiar with how much money is going out. So it’s essential to keep a diligent record of all of your spending every month and update your savings plan to reflect this.
3. Budget with Cash and Envelopes
The envelope budgeting system is a simple yet effective way of controlling your spending habits.
It can be broken down into five simple steps:
- Determine how much you have available after you pay all of your required expenses, and put this money aside for savings and investments.
- Work out how much money you have left, and make a firm decision on how you will divide this among the various budgetary categories that your monthly spending entails.
- Acquire envelopes for each category of expenditure, and then fill them with the amount of cash budgeted at each payday.
- The key aspect of this system is only to spend cash from these envelopes. Once you have run out, you have used up your budget for that period, and cannot spend any more until the next.
- Finally, if you have any money left over at the end, either pay off your debts or save it.
Related: 10 Best Budgeting Apps for Personal Finance [2021 List]
4. Calculate Purchases Cost by Hours Worked
Time is money. Before you make a purchase, calculate how many hours you would have to work in order to buy it. You might quickly change your mind!
5. Use the 24 Hour Rule
This can apply to so many areas of life and certainly applies to money. If you’re about to make a big decision, wait 24 hours, reassess, and see if it seems to be such a good idea once the dust has settled.
6. Create a Savings Goal for Retirement
Once you get into the savings frame of mind, you should definitely be thinking of longer term goals. Saving for retirement is becoming an increasingly important issue for many people, and this is something that you should seriously consider. Work out how much you need for retirement, make a savings goals, and start working towards it. Check out the Nutmeg pension calculator to assist you with this process.
7. Consolidate Debt
Consolidating debts can be an excellent way to reduce your outgoings. This involves drawing together several separate debts into one more palatable package. There are lots of advice available online, if you are paying out several debts simultaneously, do take the time to research debt consolidation, it could save you a lot of money, and take a massive weight off your mind.
Before deciding on debt consolidation, contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) or the Financial Counseling Association of America(FCAA). Both of these organizations will advise you on your debt consolidation options, and whether it’s right for you.
Once you get into the savings frame of mind, you should definitely be thinking of longer term goals. Saving for retirement is becoming an increasingly important issue for many people, and this is definitely something that you should seriously consider. Work out how much you need for retirement, make a savings goals, and start working towards it. Check out the pension calculator to assist you with this process.
8. Pack your Lunch
Even a simple thing like taking a packed lunch to work, rather than buying your food, can help you save money. These savings soon build up if you do it every day, and it is estimated that simply making your sandwiches rather than buying them could save you $100 per month. Check out these healthy packed lunch ideas.
9. Pay off Credit Cards in Full Each Month
This is quite a straightforward tip, but it is nonetheless essential. When you get your credit card bill, don’t pay off the minimum amount. Don’t even eat into the balance. Pay the whole amount off each month. By doing this, you can take advantage of the rewards and incentives that credit cards offer, making them work for you, and avoiding accruing interest. The average APR on a credit card is nearly 16%, so this will save you $160 annually on every $1,000 owed.
10. Use Cashback Reward Cards
There are a wide variety of cashback reward cards out there, both those that resemble store cards and cashback credit cards. Taking advantage of these will mean that you get money back every time you shop. A good example is the American Express Cashback Credit Card. You can earn 5% cashback on this card for the first three months that you carry it.
11. Use Only the ATMs of Your Bank or Credit Union
When you use ATMs from other banks, you are often charged for the privilege. Avoid this frittering away of cash by only using ATMs related to your retail bank. You can see a list of ATM charges.
12. Check your Credit Report for Free Once a Year
Your credit file is central to your financial well-being, and you should thus take advantage of the opportunity to view your file for free that are offered by the likes of Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.
13. Pay All of Your Bills on Auto-pay
Setting up automatic bill payments can help ensure that you avoid defaulting, saving you time, money and hassle. Most phone companies, mortgage companies, and utility providers will provide this useful feature. You can also set up a Western Union account to do this.
14. Download Money-Saving Apps
There are a wide variety of money-saving apps available in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. There are far too many to list here, but Monzo and Squirrel are all worth checking out.
15. Switch Bank Accounts
Switching current accounts can often glean benefits, including cash incentives for switching. Banks will compete for your custom, and make it as easy as possible to transfer all of your automatic bill payments – for example, Bank of America explains how to switch bank account. Incentives can be as much as $200, so this is worth doing.
16. Get in the Habit of Walking
Many of us are slaves to our motorcars, yet walking can be both enjoyable and good for our health. And it can help save money that you would have spent on gas! According to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, this could save as much as $2,500 annually.
17. Bike to Work
Another way of scrimping and saving on gasoline money is to bike to work.
You can also be secure in the fact that you’re helping reduce damaging emissions and improving your health and fitness.
18. Don’t Let Your Doctor Be a Stranger
In our busy lives, it is all too easy to allow little ailments to build up unchecked. Not only is this potentially dangerous for our well-being, but it can also end up costing a lot of money in medical bills. Make sure that you see your family doctor regularly; this will benefit your health and your wallet. US citizens spend the most on pharmaceutical products of any country, and thus the average American could potentially save $1,162 annually.
19. Don’t Skimp On Preventive Healthcare
Prevention is better than cure. Be ready to invest in preventive measures to ensure that more serious health problems do not develop. It is a false economy to avoid investing in your health. Examples of this would be eating better food and going to the gym regularly.
20. Comparison Shop for Prescription Drugs
Comparison shopping is one of the great money saving opportunities out there, yet many people miss the boat with prescription drugs. PharmacyChecker.com is one excellent resource for ensuring that you don’t overpay for medicines.
21. Stick to Generic Brand Medications
Another easy way to overspend on drugs is to buy brand name medicines. Generic over-the-counter medications are just as effective, and often considerably cheaper.
Research indicates that purchasing generic drugs has saved the US healthcare system $1.67 trillion in the last decade, and research suggests that many generic drugs are 85% cheaper than their better-known counterparts. In short, this is another excellent way to save!
22. Comparison Shop for Homeowners Insurance
Another valuable area to use comparison sites is household insurance. There are multiple price comparison sites available that allow you to do this, so make sure that you make the most of them. Progressive.com is one such site offering this service.
23. Refinance Your Mortgage
You could easily be overpaying on your mortgage. Don’t just blindly make mortgage payments without questioning them, get on comparison sites, actively phone up mortgage companies, and see what deals are available.
Many companies offer this option, but Rocketmortgage.com is a good place to get started. By cutting your interest rate by even 0.5%, you will save around $9,000 over the lifecycle of a $100,000 mortgage.
24. Use Less Water
Water usage is one area where you can dwindle quite a bit of money quite easily. So monitor what you’re using carefully. Take showers instead of baths.
Wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine or your dishwasher. Don’t run the tap when you clean your teeth. Don’t waste water! It is estimated that efficient use of water can save as much as $600 annually.
25. Lower the Temperature on Your Water Heater
Most water heaters default to high temperatures, but you can save time and money by defaulting it to 120 degrees. This will save the average family around $40 per year for doing absolutely nothing!
26. Install CFL or LED Bulbs
CFL and LED light bulbs are designed to be more energy efficient. CFLs typically use 60-80% less energy than an incandescent, potentially saving you significant money throughout a family home. It is estimated that each CFL lightbulb will save you $45 during its lifecycle.
27. Unplug Energy Vampires
Modern appliances are almost designed to waste energy! In particular, consumer electronics devices use completely unnecessary power while on standby, and this is completely avoidable by simply turning them off! Leaving an appliance on standby can cost around $40 annually, so it can suit mount up across TVs, microwaves, computers, etc.
28. Maintain Your Appliances
Getting your electronic appliances serviced on a regular basis can save a lot of money. You might find that they are functioning inefficiently, and wasting energy. Even cleaning them out can make them work better.
Energy monitoring devices can help you achieve this goal. Alert 360 suggested that managing appliances efficiently will save you $1,000 annually.
29. Install a Low-flow Showerhead
Low-flow showerheads are another handy way of saving both water and money. For maximum water efficiency, select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm. It is estimated that this can save 3,000 gallons of water per year for the average family home. Estimated savings per household from this at around $450.
30. Use Your Dishwasher
This may be surprising, but research shows that dishwashers are more energy and water efficient, and thus cost-effective than washing dishes by hand.
So if you have a dishwasher in your home, don’t make the mistake of viewing it as a money waster!
31. Sell Your Extra Stuff
Finally, it is surprising how much all the junk you have lying around your house might be worth! One person’s rubbish is another person’s riches!
Take the time to dig out everything from the backs of cupboards that you’re not using, and stick it on Ebay.com (and other similar auction sites). You will be surprised how much cash this can raise, often thousands rather than hundreds.
32. Make Meal Plans
There are two ways to shop. One is to wander around the supermarket, randomly sticking stuff in your trolley, half of which ends up being thrown away. The other is to plan your meals, buy what you actually need, and save a fortune!
Sit down at home for 30 minutes at the beginning of the week, work out what you need to eat, make meal plans for every meal, buy that you require for them, and you will soon start saving.
33. Cook at Home
Home cooking can save you a tonne of money, rather than shelling out for mediocre and often sugar and fat-laden restaurant meals. Get out the saucepans, and think of the money that you’re making! Start with just one extra homecooked meal per week, and work your way up to cooking every meal at home, from fresh ingredients.
A study discovered that one could save $16 per meal by cooking at home.
34. Stick to Water
Water is the healthiest drink out there, as it hydrates the body effectively. Yet too few people pay heed to this simple truth. Indeed, around 75% of the general public is chronically dehydrated.
And not only is water healthy and good for your body, it’s also cheaper than teas, coffees, juices and sodas. It is hard to estimate precisely how much this will save, but you will save around $10 at the average restaurant by drinking water. So don’t waste money on drinks that are bad for your body!
35. Save Time and Money By Doubling the Recipe
Recipe books are undoubtedly useful, but they’re not always cost-effective. Instead of making the dish for two people, double all of the ingredients, and make enough to last.
This will save money, as your ingredients will cost less proportionately when bought in bulk.
36. Pay Attention to Expiration Dates
Don’t end up wasting food by throwing it away once it’s past the expiration date! Keep a close eye on everything you have in your cupboards and refrigerator, and make sure you use stuff well before the use-by date.
CNBC reported that the average US family wastes $1,500 on good food every year, so it makes sense to reduce wastage as much as possible.
37. Get a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are a great way to save on energy. Slow cookers use just a little more energy than a traditional lightbulb, and you can leave your food to cook slowly while you get on with other things. Americans spend $40 per week outside of home per week, so a slow cooker could potentially save you $2,000 annually.
38. Become a Vegetarian (some of the time)
Eating less meat can be beneficial to your health, as well as your bank balance. A vegetarian diet is estimated to be $750 cheaper per annum, while you will also eat more fruit and vegetables this way, improving your health! If you don’t want to go full veggie, try introducing meat-free days.
39. Eat Less
Obesity is an absolute epidemic, with around 70% of the population being deemed overweight. Avoid the obesity trap by simply eating less. Keep a calorie diary, and cut down the amount you eat gradually, and you will save money as well as losing weight! One journalist was able to save over $1,300 in a year, merely be reusing and reheating meals.
40. Buy Generic Brands
Another way that you can save money on shopping is to buy purchasing shop’s own generic brands, instead of those familiar names that cost a little bit extra. This can soon add up when conducted over numerous product areas, and the quality of these products is almost always similar, and sometimes identical, to more fancy brand names.
One investigation of this discovered that you could save as much as $8 per meal just by buying generic brands.
41. Stock Up on Sales
Try not to pay full price for anything! The retail market is hugely competitive now, and stores are continually competing for your custom with sales and bargains. Make the most of these, and stock up on non-perishable items in particular when they are on offer. Check out coupon sites as well, such as retailmenot.com.
41. Make Shopping Lists
In common with food shopping, don’t be an impulse buyer. Plan what you’re going to purchase, make lists, and don’t walk out of the store with extraneous purchases.
Make shopping lists and stick to your budget! It is quite realistic that this could save you $10 per day.
42. Shop Around
Don’t just walk into any old store and buy the first product you see which is vaguely acceptable. Be willing to shop around. This is the best way to locate bargains and can save you big money.
43. Shop by Unit Price
Most shops today offer pricing in a variety of different ways, in order to make pricing as transparent as possible. One of these is the unit price, which tells you how much a particular product will cost per purchase.
Using this can be a much more cost-effective way of shopping than impulse purchasing, or basing decisions on the total price. In particular, supermarket websites make unit prices easy to compare, so do check them out when you shop online. For example, Walmart offers you the unit price of every item on sale.
44. Use Coupon Apps
Coupons are a great way to save money, and probably the best way to achieve this is via the coupon apps which are now standard on mobile platforms. Honey is one of the best platforms around.
Related: 19 Guaranteed Ways to Get Free Gift Cards [2021 Update]
45. Become a Mystery Shopper
Lots of travel companies and hotels pay people to mystery shop. You turn up and critique the hotel or other establishment, and in exchange, you get paid, or at the very least get a free stay in a hotel. Check out Marketforce.com for a free initiation. What have you got to lose?!
46. Sign Up for Free Loyalty Cards
Many stores offer free loyalty cards, which enable you to make significant savings every time that you shop there. Definitely, take advantage of as many of these as possible. Almost all major retailers now offer some reward card scheme. This means you can make money back, and also get free stuff. For example, the Target Red Card can save you 5% on shopping at the store every day.
47. Bring Your Own Grocery Bags
Most stores are charging money for grocery bags nowadays. So save money every time you go grocery shopping by being prepared…and bringing your own!
This could easily save you $100 per year if you’re a keen shopper.
48. Buy Your Clothes Off-Season
Most people, naturally enough, buy their clothes in season. This means that stores tend to discount clothes that are out of season, in order to clear unwanted stock. So you can pick up some real bargains if you’re willing to buy clothes out of season.
Many items of fashionable clothing are marked down by as much as 50%, so you could easily halve your clothing expenditure.
49. Instead of Buying Books, Borrow from the library
There are thousands of amazing books just waiting to be checked out for free at your local library. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, your library will locate the book, and obtain it for you free of charge. Never buy books again, and count the savings! With paperbacks costing around $10 each, if you read 20 books per year, this would save $200.
If you have to buy books, check if you can buy it used.
However, if you are forced to buy books, do trawl the local bookshops and second-hand booksellers, and see if it’s possible to pick up a second-hand copy. There are some real bargains to be had, that’s for sure. And check out the used items on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online booksellers. You can usually save 75% per book via this method, so again for 20 books per year that would amount to $150.
50. Get Unadvertised Theater Ticket Discounts
Call, email, or tweet your nearby theater to ask about discount options that are often not well-advertised. Many theaters offer discounted seats for seniors, students, and young adults, such as pay-your-age or pay-what-you-can programs. Or they’ll offer rush discounts of any unsold seats immediately before a show. Theatermania.com is a good place to start with this.
51. Volunteer at Local Festivals
Volunteering at local festivals can be a great way to meet new people, experience a wonderful cultural event, and spend no money doing so! Sometimes you will even be paid a nominal fee for helping out.
Festival International is a great example of an exciting event that encourages people to volunteer and get involved.
52. Search for Free Entertainment
The best things in life are free. Seek out your own free entertainment. Take your dogs for a walk in the country. Enjoy public parks, woods, and forests. Get involved in community events. Play sport in the open air. Join a book group. And there are hundreds of entertainment ideas out there.
53. Enjoy the Great Outdoors
As we’ve just mentioned, do make the most of the great outdoors and the countryside. There is so much out there to experience, and it can be enjoyed for such little outlay. There are thousands of ideas on Tripadvisor.com, and it’s easy to search for places to visit in your local area.
54. Meet Friends for Coffee Instead of Dinner
It’s so tempting to meet friends for dinner, and yet it can end up costing a fortune. If you meet for a coffee instead, you’ll have more time to talk instead of eating, you’ll have just as much fun, and you’ll save wonga!
Save even more money by combining your coffee morning with times when coffee shops are running offers and promotions. It is estimated that this will save you $20 every time that you do it, so if you meet friends weekly then you could save $1,000 per year!
55. Comparison Shop for Auto Insurance
Yes, it’s that old chestnut comparison shopping again! Don’t forget to get the cheapest car insurance possible by using one of the many price comparison sites out there. This can save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a vehicle.
Compare.com is a great place to start with your auto insurance savings quest. It’s tough to give a precise figure for this, as it depends on circumstances, but you could certainly save hundreds annually.
56. Sell or Rent Your Parking Spot
Pavemint is parking app that turns your empty car space into cash.
If you live in a city with limited parking or live close to a stadium or another popular venue, you can rent your parking space at a premium. Use Pavemint to list when your space is available.
57. Buy Used Cars
As soon as you drive a new car off a forecourt…you’re losing money! Stick to used cars; this is far more cost-effective! According to Carfax.com, the value of a new vehicle can drop by more than 20 percent after the first 12 months of ownership; so for a $30,000 car, you’ve already lost $6,000. That’s staggering $500 lost a month.
58. Invest In Car Maintenance
Assessing your car regularly can end up saving you a fortune in expensive garage bills. Check the oil levels. Check the fluid levels. Change the air filter. Assess tyre pressure and depth. Look after the windscreen and paintwork. And keep it clean.
This will help maintain the value of your vehicle as well; again, potentially making you thousands of dollars. For starters, a poorly tuned car uses between 25% and 33% more gasoline each year; based on average usage this could save you $1,000 annually.
59. Improve Your Gas Mileage
There are many ways that you can improve the mileage that you get out of your car, and this can save you an absolute fortune, considering gas prices. Go easy on the accelerator! Driving smartly can save as much as $300 annually, according to the Automobile Association.
60. Shop Around Online for Gas
There is nothing that isn’t covered by online price comparison nowadays. Check out gasbuddy.com, and find the cheapest gas prices for your community. You could save as much as 10% at the pump, which translates to $300 annually for the average American.
61. Car Pool
If you can share the cost and hassle of commuting by sharing the load with colleagues then this is a win-win situation for everyone involved and one that will save you money. When you take parking, gas, wear and tear, and other expenses into consideration, this can save thousands of dollars annually.
62. Public Transportation Isn’t Just for New Yorkers
Finally, in the transport section, don’t be afraid to get on a bus! Using public transport is more environmentally friendly, and will also save you a significant amount of money if done regularly. The annual saving is $9,370 for a person who switches their commute to public transportation, according to the American Public Transportation Association.
63. Use AirBnb
There are so many options available to travelers nowadays, and one of them is to use a room renting site such as AirBnb, rather than relying on expensive hotels. This can save you a packet, while you also often get to stay in a more homely location.
Most major cities have AirBnb locations available for less than half the cost of even a basic hotel, meaning that you could expect to save around $300-$500 on accommodation for a week’s trip to New York, as an example.
64. Check Multiple Sites for Low Airfares
Again…make sure you use price comparison sites! There are many airfare comparison sites out there, such as Skyscanner, Kayak, and even Expedia.
With huge competition out there for commercial flights, this can save you a lot of money.
65. Be Flexible With your Flight dates
It is surprising how much travel costs can vary over just a couple of days. By keeping your options open with travel, you can end up with a lot more spending money when you arrive!
66. Fly on a Midweek Day
Quite a simple tip this one. It almost always costs more to fly at weekends. Try to travel during the middle of the week, and you will find that this saves you quite a bit of wonga. This does vary depending on route, but it’s not uncommon for flights to be less than half the price at quieter times.
67. Get Free Stuff from Government
There are lots of grants and assistance programs that offer free government money or even a free land.
Say Goodbye to Debt
So in conclusion, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading through these money saving tips. Not every single one will apply to every individual reader, but we do urge you to put as many as possible into practice. It could literally save you thousands and thousands of dollars. What is your favorite way of saving money?
Related: 12 Tips to Become a Millionaire (At Any Age!)