Sometimes I can use a reminder that small savings add up big over time. For example, when I leave the house and either forget lunch on accident or was aware I was leaving without one, and without a plan for what I am going to eat that day. When I leave without packing a lunch I know it’s not only going to cost me more money but will likely be more caloric.
Or how about that trip through Starbucks when I have my $2.00 ready to hand the cashier only to find out my chai tea is $4.79 – that’s crazy. It’s delicious but soooo expensive!
30 easy ways to save money
Become more conscious of where you are spending, and you will save in the long run!
1. Pack your lunch.
It’s not only cost-effective but likely healthier than any take out or a microwave meal. The effort pays off when planning in advance. Take leftovers from dinner, or make something special. Either way, you’ll save money over the alternative of eating out.
2. Only pay with cash.
Not only will this help you stay on budget but you are less likely to spend period. You can only spend as much as you have on you, so it’s a great way to budget! In fact, if you’re going shopping, only take into the store (or restaurant or salon, etc.) the amount you want to spend. It’s easy to say no to an appetizer or throwing extra things in your cart, or the salon upgrade when you only have so much cash on you.
3. Save your change for a rainy day.
If you’re mainly on a cash-based system your change can really add up quickly. When you cash it in, it feels like a bonus as it was probably forgotten about immediately after you threw it in a jar. It is an easy way to put money away for a rainy day. If you’re not a cash person, consider an automated savings app that mimics change saving digitally, such as Acorns.
4. Carpool or drive less.
If carpooling is an option for you, try it. Even if only part-time. If it’s not, maybe you can simply challenge yourself to drive less. Track how many miles you drove last week, and aim to drive 10% less this week.
5. Shop at the Dollar Store.
You can get 2 greeting cards for $1.00! If you’re in need of something to entertain the kids, a small gift, crafts, seasonal decor, etc. shop here first. And if you like shopping for discounts, check out how to save money at Target.
6. Shop consignment stores/garage sales/second-hand.
This is one of my favorite ways to save, specifically on children’s clothes. Check out my blog post regarding consignment savings here. You can find phenomenal deals on gently used items. Check one out today!
7. Create larger meals and eat the leftovers (think pasta).
It reheats easily and you can make a lot of inexpensively. Plus batch cooking is time-efficient. The less time you spend cooking the more time you can spend on something else (unless you love cooking, then cook away!)
8. Plan your meals ahead of time.
Avoid last-minute overspending on regular price groceries or take out. Use the weekly grocery circular to plan your meals for the week. Save time and money with a little planning ahead. Also aim to use what you have in your pantry first, before buying something new.
9. Shop with a list.
Only purchase what is on the list. Period. It avoids you overspending at the grocery store if you have the self-discipline to actually do it.
10. Don’t carry a balance on your credit card.
It’s a no brainer… those fees can really add up! If you’re prone to overspending, try a cash-only system or use your card for emergencies only.
11. Quit the gym and go for a walk outside.
Are you really using your membership? If you are, keep it. If you’re not, try canceling and find other ways to get those steps in.
12. Look at clothing labels: avoid anything you need to dry clean!
I avoid dry cleaning like the plague. It’s expensive and time-consuming for you to clean. Unless you have to for some reason, try to avoid buying anything you need to clean “special.”
13. Shop end of the season sales for next year.
Holiday décor, seasonal apparel, beach toys, etc. You can easily find cheap end of season items for next year at the end of the season this year. Think summer stuff in September, Christmas items in January, and boots in March.
14. Plan a no-spend weekend.
Get creative with free activities or break out those board games collecting dust in your house. Odds are there is something of entertainment value in the house that hasn’t been touched in years. If you’re really motivated, try a no spend month!
Related: Free No Spend Month Success Guide
15. Use money-saving apps to save on groceries
16. Use generic prescriptions and over the counter drugs.
For example, when I was pregnant I asked my doctor and she prescribed prenatal vitamins for free. It is so much cheaper than paying out-of-pocket for over the counter.
17. Make your coffee at home.
So easy, just as delicious, and so much cheaper! In fact, even buying the “expensive” coffee at the grocery store and you’ll still be ahead financially.
18. Fill your water bottle before you leave the house.
Nothing irks me more than having to pay $2.00 for a beverage when out and about but thirsty as hell. Plan in advance and throw something in your car or purse if you’re out and about. You can save money but bringing snacks or beverages with you if you know you’ll be away from the house for a while.
19. Return items you have buyer’s remorse on.
How many items do you have in your closet with tags on them? Don’t let them sit! Take them back if the fit isn’t right or if it’s simply not your style.
20. Wait 24 hours before you make a big purchase.
You may be over the purchase if you wait. It’s easy to get excited about making a purchase. But have you thought it all the way through? is it really a need or a want? can you afford it? Simply hold off on making the purchase for a day or two and see if you feel the same way about it.
21. Reduce car trips and gas usage by making multiple errands in one trip.
I’m guilty of this one. The gas may be nominal but your time really adds up, and time is money. Push a trip off or think ahead to combine trips when you can. You’ll save time and money.
22. Wash/clean your own car.
Make it a fun chore with the kids in the summer with the hose. You’ll probably be more thorough than any car wash anyway. It’s also a great way to teach your kids the value of money and pride in taking care of what you own.
23. Avoid the bar and craft cocktails at home.
My husband and I like more expensive craft beer. So much cheaper buying at the store and drinking on our patio; and arguably more fun. Check out our favorite ways to have fun at home here.
24. Buddy up with a friend and swap meals.
Not only will you diversify your menu, but it’s cost-effective to make a large batch and split it up.
25. Hit the library for free entertainment.
A completely underutilized venue for fun activities. Check out your local library’s list of entertainment, you may be surprised.
26. Only buy what you need or will use before it expires.
As a couponer, I’m guilty of this one. I stock up on so many items, condiments specifically come to mind. That’s great that I only spent $.25 on that bottle of ranch dressing, but if it expires before I use it or donate it, was it still worth it? I’m all about the deals, but there is something to be said for only purchasing what you are going to reasonably use.
27. Automate your savings.
I take advantage of the 401K at work. I also recently started using Acorns, an app that rounds up each purchase made on linked credit cards and debit cards to the nearest dollar and invests it for you. An easy way to save without thinking (or noticing).
28. Use the envelope system to keep your budget on track.
Create a budget by category. Assign each category an actual wallet and put cash inside each one for the week/month, how ever your budget works out. You’d be amazed to find where your money goes, and what is left in each envelope at the end.
29. Hang laundry outside to dry.
Not an option for all seasons but could save your dryer and gas/electric when you can.
30. Before you buy, ask yourself: Is this a need or a want?
Sometimes I convince myself I need something but it’s usually just a want. Will you be happy you purchased this a year from now? The answer may be yes. Then buy it. if the answer is no, or it’s an emotional purchase or simply a want, try to stop yourself from purchasing.
We all impulse buy from time to time or spend more money on something than we would have had to. Becoming aware of those small dollars flying out of your wallet here and there can add up over time. Challenge yourself to forego one small expense today. Then tomorrow do the same. You’ll build a habit that will lead you to make a change in your spending behavior that can affect your day-to-day finances in a big way.
What would you add to the list?
Take one small step today – to help your finances tomorrow,