When you have a big why and clear financial goals, learning how to save becomes crucial for reaching them. The more you can employ money-saving hacks, the quicker you will be able to buy your dream house, pay off debt, create an emergency fund, or travel the world.
Saving is great. With the right amount of savings, you can enjoy a relatively stress-free life. The hard-earned money you’ve saved is your safety net in the event of an emergency.
If you or a loved one needs medical help that costs a lot, you can use your savings and cover the expenses without going in debt. With the rising costs of living, education, and utilities, having a financial cushion is becoming more critical than ever. Living without money is difficult and stressful, especially when you are older, and job prospects are limited. With enough saved, you can retire without worrying about your finances. This gives peace of mind that’s very valuable.
Money-Saving Hacks: Know the Bottom Line
Money is leaking from our pockets every day. Most of the time, we don’t even notice it, but we certainly get the taste of the result. It is reflected in our reality and having our dreams further away from us than we would want.
The bottom line is that without money, you are more vulnerable and open to more risks. But you can eliminate the possibilities of going into debt if you start working on your saving skills and habits, and understand some good money-saving hacks.
In this article, you will find practical tips to help you stop spending unnecessarily and set aside some cash for future use. We will tell you how to do that without being restricted and getting into extremes.
Read our list of money-saving life hacks that will help you reach your financial goals faster.
Also Read: A Guide to Money Market Account Rates
How to Save Without Feeling Restricted
Are you cutting your daily coffee or magazine? This means taking even the smallest pleasures out of your life, and it doesn’t seem fair at all. Yes, that’s true. To save money without feeling restricted, you need to work on your attitude and mindset first.
Do you have a strong why? Why are you doing all of this? You have the image of your most prominent dream coming true in your head all of the time. You can make a vision board so that you see your “why” every day.
Remember you are working for yourself and not against yourself. You are doing all of this for you. Saving money doesn’t necessarily need to be about guilt, limitations, or working until exhaustion. To set yourself up for successful saving, there are a few steps you need to take first.
Understand your “why”
It is easy to feel down and disappointed with your savings or spending habits at times. Being frugal, you will sometimes feel deprived. But if you understand why you are doing it and if you remind yourself often enough, things will be much more comfortable, and in the end, you will feel grateful.
Making saving a habit
If you want to be successful in saving, you need to make it a priority. Do you spend first and then save what is left? A lot of people do it, and it feels normal. But most of these people end up having nothing left at the end of the month to set aside.
If you want to save what’s left at the end of the month, chances are you will save nothing at all. So, what you can do is reverse it all. Save first and spend what’s left. Of course, that doesn’t mean skipping the payment of your rent or utilities, but you get the point.
To make things easier, you can set up a separate savings account or go with the envelope system, piggy banks, or whatever suits your preferences best. As soon as you receive your paycheck each month, set aside a certain amount. That way, you won’t have to think about saving at all. It will happen naturally. You won’t even notice the money piling up each month in your savings account.
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It’s not about more willpower
You have probably tried saving in the past, and maybe you failed. So, working harder won’t bring you a different result. You need to be smarter. If you are serious about saving money, you need to build a habit. Put a system in place that makes things easier for you and not harder.
When planning how much money you want to save each month, be realistic. For example, if you are used to a particular lifestyle, don’t think you will become frugal overnight to save extra money. You will never stick to it. The changes need to be gradual. It takes time to build habits, and more time to “unbuild” them. Being realistic will help you stick to your plan.
Automating your finances is one of the best ways to save money. You can set up your bank account to automatically move a small amount into your savings account every month. The money will automatically flow to your account and will be separate from the rest of your money. Automation makes saving effortless, and your money will grow without you even noticing it. Plus, it will be safe in a different account where you cannot spend it.
Focus on the big expenses
If you are trying to save money, start by evaluating your budget and costs. When you are ready to cut costs, focus your attention on the significant fees first because this is where you can save the most money. This is the area of your budget where you can save the most money with the least amount of effort. That’s why it’s a great place to start.
Building a habit of using money-saving hacks is a gradual process. So, don’t expect it to happen overnight. Once you have reviewed your budget and have automated your savings, you can start reducing monthly expenses. This will inevitably lead to a change in lifestyle. The important thing here is not to feel like you are robbing yourself of all pleasures in life, because this will create resistance. Optimize your spendings, but decide what one thing brings you joy and keep it as a reward for your efforts.
No matter where you are on your journey, you need to know that it’s possible to turn your financial situation around, and it starts with learning how to save.
Sometimes, it is enough to make the first step in the right direction, and things will start moving in your favor. But, as with most things, the first steps are the hardest.
Saving doesn’t need to be hard. That’s why we compiled a list of money-saving hacks to help you start your journey today. Keep in mind that none of these hacks will change your financial situation on their own, but they can make a difference over time. Pick several of these ways to save, combine them in your own, personalized strategy, and do them consistently, and you will notice the positive impact. Some of these life hacks take just a minute; others require a real lifestyle change. But all of them work best when you consistently put forth an effort. They are straightforward, and anyone can do them. The one who sticks to them, however, will benefit most.
Not all of these are fit for everyone. Go through this list and find the ones that fit your life situation. Apply them, and in a short time, you will notice that you are saving more money than you anticipated.
Let’s jump into our list of smart money-saving tips.
Smart Money-Savings Hacks
Track your spending
This is not exactly one of the many money-saving hacks, but a necessary first step you need to take. Go over your monthly budget (if you don’t have one, maybe it’s time to create one) and see what are you spending money on. If this is hard for you, use free software or an app on your phone to track your spending.
You can also use your phone for shopping too. The advantage of shopping through an app is that you get rewards. If you frequently buy at one store, you get coupons, and you can earn cash back rewards (check the ibotta app). So, you will be saving money on the things you already use and purchase.
Also Read: Vital Tips for Saving for College
Declutter your home
Decluttering has many benefits, but one of the best ones is that you can make money with it. Clean out those closets; check your garage and attic. You’ve probably collected things that you don’t need anymore and can sell for a reasonable price.
Go through your belongings and gather everything you no longer use. You can sell it online on eBay or Craigslist, or even at a yard sale. You can also donate stuff and get a tax deduction if you mark down what you give away. This is a great way to turn the old and often unnecessary things into cash in your pocket. The other great benefit of decluttering is that you will remove a psychological load and you will feel a lot freer. Your possessions will not control your life.
If you like collecting stuff, pick something that has value. You don’t want to be left with a bunch of things that have lost their value over time, and you have spent a lot on. If you have collectible items that you are not passionate about anymore, you can sell them now and put some money down toward your financial goals.
Rent out a room
Do you have an extra room in your house or apartment that’s not being used? It is easy to rent it on sites like Airbnb or Couchsurfing platforms. If you live in the center of a city or near a popular tourist area, this move can bring you a lot of extra cash.
Renting out a room in your home comes with some risks, so make sure you are aware and willing to take them. Research visitor ratings and make sure your family and valuables are safe.
Replace cards with cash
A great strategy you can use as one of your money-saving hacks is to pay in cash for your everyday purchases. The reason behind this is psychological. When you swipe your credit card, you don’t see the money and don’t think of how much you are spending. So, you end up paying more and more. This is how your budget can quickly sink in credit card debt.
If you only pay in cash, you will be more aware of the money you are spending. You see the money in your hand, which creates a buffer to overspending. Parting with cash is much harder than swiping a card. You cannot spend money that you don’t have, right? For this to work, you cannot use your credit or debit card. Leave these at home when you go shopping.
Another great thing you can do if you switch to cash is to use the envelope system for saving. People report amazing results with this method. To take advantage of this system, operate on a cash-only budget for your everyday spending. Each month, you receive your pay and divide different amounts into envelopes for shopping, entertainment, gas, rent, etc. If you spend the cash, you will have to wait until your next pay period. The envelope system works for many people; for others, it is tough. But it brings results, for sure.
Using only cash will teach you to think about how much you are spending. It’s a great hack if you want to start saving money today.
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Look out for group deals
You can find anything you need on the group deals sites. Watch Groupon and similar sites for deals on anything from local activities to specialized services. The offers are great, and they are not only nice for you, but also serve as a gift for a loved one.
A massage, trip to a museum or tickets for a concert is a more meaningful gift than just another thing. Giving experiences is much better than giving stuff because they leave a lasting memory.
Keep your eye out for special offers and discounted and free activities and enjoy them without spending much.
Make a list before you go shopping
Always go to the grocery store with an agenda. If you go to the store hungry or unprepared, you are likely to spend much more money. Do your homework! Look around your home and think about what you need. Make a list and only then go to the grocery store. This way, you will spend less time and less money too.
How does that work? You will have a list, and you will be focused on it in the store rather than browsing around and tossing things in your cart. If you want to get some bonus points for your daily grocery shopping, check the store’s flyer first while making a list. There you will find ideas on discounted things you can add to your list (but only if you need it). If you find a great deal, you can buy stuff in bulk to save some extra money.
If you make a meal plan every week and shop according to it, you will also be able to shop in a more organized and money-saving way.
Another tip is to try generic brands of items that you regularly buy (things like toilet paper, detergent, soap, etc.). Try the store brand or generic version of the products. You will save some money, but you will also discover that store brands can be just as good as more popular ones. Often, the only difference is marketing and advertising, which is what you pay more money for. Stay open to the generic brands, and once you find the products you like, you will see your grocery bill shrinking.
Buy less meat
Meat is costly but it has a high nutritional value. Eating less meat doesn’t mean you should become a vegan if you don’t want to. It merely means buying less of more top quality meat. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you know that beans and chickpeas are packed with protein. These are great if you want to have a day without meat. Challenge yourself to eat without meat for one or two days a week. This will help you add variety in your diet and will also save you money.
Pack your food
Take your lunch from home in a reusable container. It is much cheaper and much more convenient. If you are on a special diet (gluten-free, lactose-free), it is much better to prepare the food yourself because you know exactly what’s in it. When you travel, take some time to pack snacks you can quickly eat on the go. You won’t need to worry about shopping in the middle of your trip or driving around looking for a place to eat and paying high prices.
Eat at home
It is so easy to get takeout or delivery food, especially when you have a lot of things to do. It is convenient, and it seems like one less thing to worry about.
The problem is that you are paying for someone else to prepare your food, and this can be quite expensive. Besides, you are often compromising the quality of your diet. The solution is to remove this expense by eating at home. If you create a meal plan for the week and get organized, you will not have moments in which you feel overwhelmed. This way, you will reduce getting takeout triggered by stress — plan for simple meals that you can prepare in minutes and clean up quickly afterward.
There’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal. You know exactly what goes in there and you have prepared it with your own hands. Things like tacos, salad, soup, and spaghetti are easy to make, and everyone loves them. If you think that would help, you can invest in a steamer or slow cooker that will do part of the job for you.
Celebrate each meal at home as a step forward in your saving journey!
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Choose reusable items
Switching to reusable items will save you a lot of money. You may be surprised. Just calculate how much you spend on shopping bags, hygienic pads, coffee cups, bottled water, and straws.
The reusable alternatives are not only better for the environment, but for your pocket too. Some places start offering discounts and coupon codes for bringing your bags and containers, so why not take advantage of that?
Speaking of reusable items. . . .
If you have a young child and you spend a ton of money on diapers, you may be better off if you replace them with reusable ones. Using cloth diapers has become popular. Of course, using disposable diapers is much more convenient, especially when you travel, but it is not very economical and certainly not environmentally friendly. Yes, while on the road it may be best to use a disposable diaper, but when you are at home, it is money wasted.
A huge pack of cloth diapers will cost you a little more than $50 depending on the quality. The key here is that they will last for a very long time, and you won’t need to buy disposable diapers anymore.
Make your coffee
Speaking of reusable items, coffee cups are one of those. Many people have the habit (almost a ritual) to stop at a coffee shop for a cup of coffee.
The truth is making your coffee in the morning is easier, cheaper, and much more environmentally friendly. Get a reusable cup or thermos, set your coffee up the night before so that you need a couple of minutes to prepare it, and leave. You can drink it in a beautiful park before you get to work or with your colleagues in the office.
Cold brew coffee is another way to have coffee that will save you a lot of time.
Don’t buy it if you don’t need it
You should be able to make a difference between what you need and what you want. Do you need to buy another laptop just because it is on sale? The price may be discounted, and it sure looks like a great deal, but can you afford it?
Even if a sale has seemingly great opportunities, you are not saving money with these purchases. The feeling that you get is that you will be missing out if you don’t buy it. This is an emotional response that sales are built on. You get the urge to not pass up on a great offer. This is a smart marketing tactic that benefits retailers.
The sales and deals are tempting, but you should stick to your position and not be drawn into them.
When faced with a great opportunity, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I need this?
- Will I use this item regularly?
- Will this item bring value to my life?
If the answer is YES, then go and buy it. But if you say NO, you don’t need to buy it.
Think before you buy
Give yourself 24 hours before you buy something. These days, we can have anything we want with just one click. This is how we continuously need instant gratification. What you need is a system—a buffer to help you stop buying impulsively.
If you wait before you spend money on things, you will find out that most of the time, you probably don’t need them. If you are more mindful of your spending, you will be able to save more money.
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Quality over quantity
This rule applies to everything, from food to clothes and electronics. It is always tempting to choose a more budget-friendly item, but sometimes choosing quality over quantity will save you money in the long run. If you buy things in better condition they will last longer, so you don’t need to replace them so often.
Avoid shopping centers
A proven strategy to avoid buying things you don’t need is to stop going to big malls and shopping centers. A mall is a fun place, but it is full of temptations. They are everywhere. That’s precisely why you should avoid these places unless you need to purchase something that you can’t find anywhere else.
Window shopping is not a good idea, especially when you are on a budget. Don’t torture yourself—find something else to do when you need entertainment. A walk outdoors, a fun game, or a good book or movie can easily replace window shopping at the mall. And it will be much better for your budget too.
Avoid emotional spending
Spending money is a great way to unwind after a stressful day. However, that’s usually not a good idea. Instead of buying things you don’t need to make you feel better, it would be wise if you found another way to relax.
Excessive spending is often a way to avoid certain emotions. If you align with yourself before you go on a shopping spree, you may be able to identify the prevailing feeling. Maybe you are bored, stressed, lonely, or sad, and therefore you rely on instant gratification to avoid the underlying emotion. It’s always best to deal with your feelings first. Look inside yourself before buying anything and be mindful of how much you spend and on what. This will reduce your impulse buys.
Exercising, reading, or discovering a new hobby are great when you need to deal with some emotions. You may need to take a nap or watch a good movie or work in your garden. All of these are easy ways to relax when you are stressed out. Spending money will not reduce stress in the long run; on the contrary, it will intensify it.
With the internet and social media, it’s hard not to compare yourself with others. You see celebrities with flashy lifestyles everywhere. However, it is essential to be clear on your own financial goals and the things that are most important to you. You need to have a solid financial plan to support your vision and to keep you focused on your own goals.
This example in our long list of money-saving hacks will keep you moving toward your financial goals without comparing yourself to other people. You will not try to impress anyone, and you will save enough to make your dreams come true.
In the last decade, we have become more and more virtual, including our relationships, friendships, and what we do with our spare time. Spending time with people offline is a great way to make us feel like we belong somewhere. It also brings joy and variety to our lives.
Instead of going out with friends, invite them to your home. Having friends and building relationships is very important, but going out harms your food and entertainment budget. It is always cheaper to stay in with friends and come up with entertainment that everyone will enjoy. Plus, it can be much more fun than going out.
Instead of hitting the clubs, prepare great food for your friends at home. You can play cards, watch movies, or drink good wine in a candle-lit atmosphere. You will all save money, and you will spend quality time together.
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Make your gifts
We all like gifts—both giving and receiving them. If you want to save money but still give generously, creating handmade items is a great way to do it. You can make so many things at home—candles, cookies, soap, cosmetics, and so much more at a fraction of the price you would otherwise pay.
These things make great gifts because they have that personal touch. The items you buy from the store are all the same, and they will probably end up as clutter in somebody’s home. Spend some time making something for someone, include a handwritten note, and enjoy the feeling of making someone happy.
Magazines and beauty box subscriptions are quite expensive. Do you have tons of unread magazines and unused cosmetic products lying around? This is likely the result of a subscription service.
The smartest thing to do in this situation is to cancel your subscriptions. Give them a call and ask for a refund for the remaining months. You may be surprised by the amount of money you can save by doing this.
Review your purchase history and look closely if you have any forgotten subscriptions for apps, software, or anything digital. There may be recurring charges that you might have forgotten about. You can either cancel the services you don’t use or negotiate cheaper rates.
Enjoy free events
Entertainment is essential, and you shouldn’t drop it in favor of your savings plan. However, you can modify it to your new lifestyle. Check out the free events in your area, go to the open sports areas, or sit and relax in a lovely park. These public spaces are there to be used and enjoyed for free. There are clubs for anything you can imagine—yoga, running, drawing, reading, etc.
You can have so much fun outdoors in your area. All you need to do is to be open and to discover all the great free activities around you.
If you love the outdoors and you have a yard, gardening is a great inexpensive hobby. Plus, you can produce your food that is clean and free. It will keep you active, you will be able to enjoy the outdoors, and you can grow some of your favorite herbs and veggies.
You don’t need a lot of space for several tomato plants. We all love tomatoes in juice, ketchup, and pasta or pizza sauce. Make it yourself, and you will enjoy a great taste minus all of the additives and preservatives.
Use public transportation
Owning a car is expensive, and if you live in an urban area with an excellent transportation network, you can save a lot of money. If the transit system is available to you, instead of driving, use public transportation. You won’t need to worry about insurance, gas, parking, or maintenance of your vehicle.
You can buy an annual pass so you can ride on any bus you need. If you own a car, you can carpool or share the ride with someone and split the costs.
Work out at home
Gym memberships are costly, but staying fit is very important for your health. However, you don’t need to go to the gym and pay those high fees to get in shape.
If you want to do some cardio exercise, biking or running in the park is an excellent alternative to the gym. Swimming is excellent for getting the cardio benefits without putting too much pressure on the joints.
You can do yoga at home following a free course online. Squats and push-ups are basic workouts that you can also do anywhere.
Get free books
If you want to read the latest books or watch recent movies, there are many ways to do that without actually buying DVDs and books.
You can pay a small fee for an online streaming service and watch a new movie. Public libraries have a wide variety of magazines and books you can pick from. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, you can order it, and they will get it for you. You can also listen to some books online at a low price.
You can even use the internet service at the local library where they typically have subscriptions for periodicals, audiobooks, podcasts, and more. The access is usually free for library visitors.
Spend less on vacations
Exotic destinations and fantastic trips can be expensive. However, you can pack your car and explore the surrounding area without spending much. You can go camping and travel to your town as a tourist does. These kinds of trips can be cheap and memorable too. Plus, you don’t have all the hassle of getting used to a different place, food, and time zone.
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Don’t be afraid to ask
Most of us pay the price on the tag. We take it as it is and pay for it. To get the most of a product or service, ask for a better price. We do negotiate the price when we buy things like cars or houses, but this should be a rule to apply for almost everything we buy.
If you go to a store, ask about the best deals or products with discounted prices and pick from those. Ask the salespeople what they would recommend and what they think about the products. You can also ask for a lower bill or a downgrade of your contract for some of your utilities.
You’d be surprised at how far you can get only by asking. The lesson here is that it never hurts to ask.
Create a capsule wardrobe
Capsule wardrobe? What’s that? It has recently become trendy to create one of these. This concept is related to things like ethical fashion and repurposing. It has to do with what clothes you buy and how you dress.
A great way to save money is to buy used (pre-loved) clothes instead of getting new ones. This may not work for everything, but with more and more second hand and thrift stores popping up, the choices are getting bigger. You can also exchange clothes with friends and family members.
eBay and Yard Sales
Buying on eBay or yard sales is also an option if you are looking for used items. You will notice that second-hand clothes are often much better quality than new clothes. If a piece is in good shape after being worn by more than one person, then you can assume it is quite well-made. This means that your clothes will last longer and you won’t need to replace them so often.
When you go shopping for clothes, check the stitching and feel the quality of the cloth. You need to look at whether the stitching is tight and avoid garments with uneven stitching and thin fabrics.
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The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on the planet, so by choosing to shop ethically (second hand, vintage), you are also acting responsibly toward the environment. Second-hand clothes have been washed many times before you buy them, so the risk of a skin reaction caused by toxic dyes is far smaller.
But let’s get back to the capsule wardrobe concept. It is all about buying clothes that are easy to combine. They are usually in neutral colors, so you don’t need that many to create delightful combinations. This simple technique enables you to have a pretty versatile wardrobe because everything combines well with everything else. You can mix and match items so that it appears you have an extensive wardrobe, but in fact, you are just creative at styling things better with fewer pieces you buy. Isn’t that clever? This technique teaches you to dress minimally but still with good taste and style. Go for classic, timeless pieces. This way, you will minimize clothing purchases without feeling like you have nothing to wear.
Another great way to save on clothing is to repurpose or repair clothes instead of throwing them away. An old shirt can turn into a shopping bag or a crop top. You can transform your old jeans into summer shorts and so much more. If you have a hole in your pants, patch it up and make it look different and unique. Anyone can do most basic sewing. You need a little bit of practice. Learning basic sewing techniques is a great way to save money and extend the life of your clothes.
Save on your cable bill
There are many ways to lower your cable bill such as cutting the premium channels, downgrading your plan, or bundling all the services you use. Check our article on how to lower your cable bill for more details and tips.
Save money on travel
If you are passionate about traveling, and exploring your area is not enough for your wanderlust, we will share our travel hacks with you. Travel rewards cards can be a powerful tool that can help you save money. However, since they are credit cards, you need to make sure you have the financial discipline, and you don’t overspend. Using these in the wrong way can negatively impact your credit score.
The goal here is to take advantage of credit card bonuses and rewards and to earn travel points. You can redeem these points for exploring the world for less. There are dozens of cards available—some co-branded with airlines and hotel chains. If you are loyal to a given airline, you can also join their loyalty program and enjoy all the benefits that come with it.
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Consolidate your debt
Interest rates are low at the moment, so depending on the type of loans you have, it could be a good idea to consolidate them into one package with low rates.
This idea is excellent for student loans. You can consider the various student loan consolidation packages out there and see what suits you best. Even a small reduction on a bigger loan can save you a lot of money.
Also Read: Learn to Save Big With CD Rates
Never give up
Saving or struggling to pay off debt can cause a good deal of stress, but when you feel down, remind yourself of your goal. Go online and read some stories, and you will see that you are not alone. Many people are struggling with the same things. These everyday struggles will probably give you some inspiration and motivation to keep going. Don’t ever give up on your dreams!
Summing It All Up
Making money, just like saving, is a personal responsibility. That’s why we call it personal finance. The opportunities to make the most of your saving strategy are different and unique for your situation. The potential to cut costs is always there. Whether it’s on entertainment, housing, or transportation, there is a way to optimize your spending and save money.
The key is finding what works best for your situation and what can bring you closer to your financial goals. Read through this article again and pick the hacks that you think you can and are willing to implement into your life. Make a plan and apply them one by one. Don’t start using all of them at once because you will get overwhelmed.
A good start is to follow the simple rule of saving not what’s left, but what’s needed. Take it from there and see in what areas of your life you can optimize your spending and save money.
Share the saving life hacks that have helped you. What keeps you motivated to stick to your saving strategy?