When I was looking for ways to save money I noticed that a lot of the advice out there is pretty basic and not relevant to my needs:
Cut out one coffee shop visit a week. Skip a manicure twice a year. Use Coupons.
But I wanted to know some serious ways to save money. I mean, I have had 2 manicures in my whole life.
So here are some of the best ways to save money both for people who are just starting out or who have already made lots of changes and are looking for more.
Oh yeah, and don’t forget to add your frugal tips in the comments!
45 Creative Ways to Save Money
This is pretty obvious but it’s a good place to start. Making a budget is a good way to see where you stand, where your money goes each month and where you might be able to cut back. Get my free monthly budget spreadsheet here!
2. Dump Subscriptions
According to this article, the average cable bill is $128 a month! Even if you pay only $40 a month, that’s $480 a year. Plus, when you stop watching TV you reduce your exposure to advertising, which will help you to feel content with what you already have. A win-win!
Magazines, newspapers, and Netflix (unless you are using Netflix as a replacement for cable, but even then you want to skip it altogether) can cost a lot of money monthly without you even being aware of it. The added benefit of not having lots of TV shows at your disposal is that you’ll have more time for other things like reading up on raising chickens, or growing a garden, or other homesteading skills.
The Internet is a difficult one for many people, including myself. Since I work from home I do need internet access (though I could, theoretically, could go to the library).
3. Ditch the Home Phone and Cell Contract
Get rid of your cell phone or home phone. One or the other is usually enough. If not, look into a VoIP phone provider like Vonage and a pay-as-you-go cell phone. Update: You can now get smartphones on a pay-as-you-go service! I use Tracfone and am very happy with it.
4. Get Rid of Debt
Debt is an expensive and cumbersome “convenience” of modern-day. Do whatever it takes to get out of debt and stay that way. For some people, that means not using a credit card at all because they just can’t trust themselves.
I have found that I can use a credit card responsibly since signing up with mint.com. It keeps track of all of your purchases, even those on a credit card so you know if you are within your budget each month and you know you can pay the full balance of the credit card.
Be sure to use a zero balance credit card for online purchases that you are going to pay back immediately. If you use a card with a balance then you are paying the interest for the whole balance each month. So, if you are carrying a $100 balance and buy something for $20, even if you pay the $20 by the end of the month you are still charged interest for $120 balance.
5. Avoid Bank Fees
Avoid bank fees by only using your bank’s ATM and not overdrawing your account. I use Mint.com to keep track of everything.
6. Learn to Substitute in Recipes
Some things can only be bought at the grocery store in bundles, but what if you only need one? I usually substitute something else if it’s not a crucial ingredient instead of buying a bunch of something that I’ll only use one of.
7. Meal Plan
Meal planning can help you to say organized and only buy what you need at the grocery store. It also helps reduce food waste.
8. Buy in Bulk
Check out my other tips for saving money on groceries.
9. Invest in Food Storage
Buy a deep freezer or build pantry space. This way you can stock up on things that are a good price and you’ll have a place to store it. You can also can or ferment foods for storage.
10. Don’t Eat Out
Bring your lunch to work. Carry snacks and water everywhere you go so that you aren’t tempted to buy something when you get hungry (probably healthier too).
11. Cook from Scratch
Don’t buy meals from the grocery store — buy ingredients. Spend some time on the weekend preparing some freezer meals, snacks, etc. Don’t pay someone else to do this for you.
12. Grow Your Own food
Starting a garden can drastically decrease your grocery bill in the summer and can continue to feed you in the winter if you preserve the bounty by canning, fermenting, or freezing. While you’re at it, why not raise some livestock?
13. Drink More Water
Buying juice, soda or other beverages can add up. If you make an effort to drink mostly water then you can save a lot (plus it’s healthier!). Make hot or iced tea for a treat. If you forage your tea ingredients, there’s even more money saved!
14. Have a Leftover Night
According to this article 40% of the food in the U.S. is wasted. That’s 33 million tons of food! If we make an effort to waste less by eating leftovers every week we can save money (not to mention the social and environmental benefits).
15. Use Power Strips
Electronics use power even when they are off. Plug them into a power strip and turn the power strip off at night or when you go away for the weekend.
16. Wash in Cold Water
Wash laundry in cold water. Simplify your laundry.
17. Use CFL Light Bulbs
They use less energy, reducing the cost to you.
18. Buy a Programmable Thermostat
I know we have wasted plenty of energy when we have forgotten to turn the heat down at night. A programmable thermostat would fix that and save money!
19. Use Less Expensive Fuel
Use wood, pellet or solar heat instead of oil. (update: oil prices fluctuate, so sometimes it’s actually cheaper than wood or pellet heat!).
20. Invest in Quality
Buy quality things. Don’t waste money on cheap stuff that will break or fall apart. Invest in quality products that will last so that you don’t have to purchase them over and over again.
Buy higher quality clothes. You can get them at a discount if you buy them used and they should still have a lot of wear left in them. Online consignment stores like Thredup have kids and adult clothes and you can browse without having to waste gas.
21. Raise Your Deductibles
Check the deductible on your car or other insurance. If you have an emergency fund that could cover the higher deductible (or the ability to save one now) it might make sense to raise it and pay less each month/year.
22. Make Your Own Household Cleaners
It’s healthier too.
Make household cleaners.
23. Make Your Own Personal Care Products
24. Don’t Collect
Acquiring and maintaining a collection is costly and frankly, takes up a lot of space. Instead, “flip” your collection for profit. If you are into antiques, buy low and sell high. Keep photos of your favorite pieces for a keepsake.
25. Rethink Gift Giving
Gift giving can be expensive. Consider making gifts instead, or drastically reducing what you do buy. We have found that others tend to be relieved that we have set a lower expectation for gift giving. No one wants to be the one to say, “Hey can we skip gifts or just stick to $20?” but it seems like most people are happy to agree.
26. Entertain at Home
Instead of meeting friends out for dinner invite them over for a home cooked meal and conversation. Not only does it save money, but it’s often more fun.
27. Get Organized
Keep a list of gift ideas and things you need to purchase to save money. Staying organized and on the look-out can save big. I use a universal wishlist so I always have ideas for gifts. It’s also how I keep track of things I want to buy but want to wait on for whatever reason.
28. Buy Decorations After Each Holiday
Buy decorations just after the holiday for next year. You’ll get a great discount on seasonal items that the store wants to move fast. Or better yet, don’t buy any at all to save money! Why not just decorate with natural found materials?
29. Find Free Entertainment
Hiking trails, parks, and community events are great ways to spend a day without spending any money.
30. Cut Your Own Hair
Cut your own hair or barter with your stylist. Most people can at least trim bangs on their own.
31. Pay Bills Online
Pay bills online to save a stamp and the cost of a check. Every little bit counts!
32. Create a Thrifty Wardrobe
Learn how to build a frugal capsule wardrobe by thrifting, swapping, sewing, and choosing wisely.
33. DIY All the Things!
Whatever it is, can you do it yourself to avoid paying someone else? There are lots of DIY books available for just about any subject. It doesn’t hurt to try and ca save money.
34. Don’t Keep Traditional Pets
This is a hard one to accept but cats, dogs, and fish don’t pay for themselves the way farm animals do (cats and dogs could arguably pay for themselves on a farm as pest control). Chickens and angora rabbits are good choices for those uncomfortable with slaughter.
35. Kick Bad Habits
If you smoke, stop! If you’re addicted to sugar, work on removing it from your diet. The cost of these addictions is much higher than the monetary cost.
36. Use the Library
It’s free! You can get books, movies, and computer access as well as free events for children.
One of the best ways to save money is to use your skills to pay for things! Get good at something and use that skill to get other items or services that you need.
38. Conserve Gas
Maintain your car and drive slowly. reduce your trips out as much as possible.
39. Keep an Old Car
Add a car maintenance line to your budget in place of the car payment line. When you pay off a car loan you can also start putting that money into savings for the next car. That way you avoid the interest fees and car payments.
40. Ditch the Second Car
If it’s at all possible, choose to be a one-car family. Even if you don’t have a payment, the cost of registering and inspecting your car, insurance, and maintenance costs can add up.
41. Use Unexpected Income Wisely
You should never use “extra” money to pay for something that has additional recurring costs. Consider investing or saving the money instead of spending it.
41. Make More Money
Start a side business, pick up some freelance work, or sell your stuff on eBay.
42. Downsize Your Living Space
Evaluate your living space honestly. Could you get by with less sq. footage? What if you got rid of some of your stuff on eBay first? Less space means less to clean up too!
43. Use What Ya Got
If at all possible, avoid buying new materials for homestead projects. Places like habitat for humanity sell used/leftover materials for a fraction of the cost, but what’s even better is if you can find something you already own.
44. Fix Instead of Replace
Starting with a quality item helps here too. Instead of replacing tools or appliances, try to fix them instead. Many fixes are simple if you just look online for the problem.
45. Go Off-Grid (ish)
Going off-grid can really put in perspective what things we need and how much energy we use. Being accountable for every bit of energy we use can help us focus on conserving. Obviously, this is a huge step, so start by camping for a few nights which can give you the same perspective.
There’s always off-grid power too. Though there’s an up front cost to solar energy, it may be cheaper in the long run.
Want to Manage Your Money Better?
Click here to download the budget template that helped me avoid credit card debt and finally start saving money.
What are Your Tips to Save Money?
Tell us in the comments below!