Saving money can be hard to do. With higher costs of living and having such busy lives, saving is something we forget to do. We tell ourselves “I’ll do better next month, this month has just snuck up on me.” If you have created a budget, you should be developing habits of saving at this point. Even if it’s just a few dollars a week, getting used to saving is what is going to get us our black belts in finance.
Sometimes we could be saving money on the items and services we use without even realizing it. It always excites me when I realize I’ve been paying too much for something because that means I get to keep more of my money and put the amount I save to work for me. Just remember that with every hundred that you save, when invested, it should make you at least $5 dollars a year for the rest of your life.
If you’ve been hanging around the dojo for a while now, you might be thinking “Okay, I’ve already cut back on everything I can think of. I couldn’t possibly save any more.” This may be true but probably isn’t.
I’ve put together a pretty long list so it may take a while to get through it. It could potentially save you millions over the course of your life though so I’d say it’s worth a read.
Next to housing and utilities, food is probably the biggest expense most of us have. Since permanently fasting isn’t really an option, we’ll have to look at ways we can spend less on what we eat.
1. Eating out less or not at all is the easiest way to cut back food expenses.
Restaurants are way more expensive than buying groceries and you’ll probably enjoy your meal more knowing you cooked it. When you do go to restaurants, get water to drink and try to eat something cheaper on the menu. The feeling of having more money for the rest of your life lasts longer than those few minutes of eating a more expensive, better-tasting meal.
2. Where you buy your groceries has a big impact on how much you save.
Even if you have to drive farther to get to a cheaper grocery store, you’ll save a lot more in grocery costs than the extra gas. The cheapest place to shop in my area is Aldi. Aldi gets mixed reviews but my wife and I have been shopping there exclusively (unless they don’t have an item we need) for a couple months now and the food quality is great. If you have a Costco in your area, start shopping there and only there! We don’t cut coupons because we’ve looked into it and have found that most of the time Aldi is just as cheap if not cheaper than shopping at other stores with coupons.
3. Planning out your meals for the week, or even better the WHOLE MONTH will save a lot in the long run.
You’re probably laughing at me right now for even suggesting someone could plan their meals for a whole month but it can be done. The reason planning saves you money is that you won’t have to go to the grocery store as often and that will save in car expenses. You’ll also be on a mission when you go to the store to buy a month’s worth of groceries and won’t have enough time to browse around and buy unnecessary things. My wife and I don’t plan out everything single meal of the day for the month but we make sure we’re buying enough food to last for weeks when we go shopping. Taking the time to plan out the month and go to the store once will save more time than going to the store each week.
4. Buying store brand items can save you a lot of money.
I don’t usually find a difference in quality and you’re really just paying the name brands higher cost for marketing. There may be certain items where this isn’t true and you might get a great coupon that makes a name brand item cheaper than store brand. Just be observant of the difference in cost to be sure your getting the best deal.
5. Snacks are the evil little minions that sneak up on your wallet and slowly stab it to death over the course of the year.
Snacks have been my weakness in past because I felt like since I was only spending a couple dollars each time, it didn’t add up to much. After calculating what the snack money would do if I invested it instead, I found that $10 a week over a 40 year working career turns into $111,076.98 if your investments earn 7%. Needless to say, the only reason you should go to a gas station is to buy gas. Also, stop buying snacks at theaters, amusement parks and sporting events. It doesn’t matter if you can afford it, spending 5x more than what the food is worth doesn’t make sense. Eat before you go to the events so you won’t be hungry.
6. Growing your own food can be a way to eat healthier and save money.
I haven’t personally become a gardner myself but I live in the country and a lot of people around here grow a ton of food and freeze it or give it away to friends and family.
7. Buying a house is the biggest expense most of us will ever make in our lives.
Therefore, buying a house the smartest way possible is going to have one of the biggest impacts on our ability to save. You probably won’t have enough cash to pay for a house in full so we need to be smart about what kind of mortgage to get. Getting a traditional mortgage where you put down at least 20% to avoid PMI is going to be the best way to go most of the time. Going with a fixed rate 15 year mortgage is going to save you a ton of money in interest over the life of the loan.
8. Buying instead of renting will save you money in the long run.
I don’t think you should buy a house until you have an emergency fund in place and can afford a 20% down payment with a 15 year fixed rate mortgage. While renting might be cheaper, buying a house is an investment so you will end up wealthier from owning instead of renting.
9. Buying within your means is critical when it comes to how much you will spend on your house.
As a rule of thumb, you should make sure the mortgage is going to be less than half of your take home pay. Your house will quickly lose it’s charm if it causes the rest of your life to be miserable because you’re spending all your money on it.
10. Refinancing to get a lower interest rate is a great way to save.
If you are paying over 5% interest on your mortgage I have one question for you. WHY? You can find banks that won’t charge closing costs to refinance and the current rates are around 4%. Interest rates probably aren’t going anywhere but up from here so you need to act fast if you want to save money on interest.
11. Be thrifty with furnishing.
When you buy a house, there’s A LOT of things you will need to buy. Buying used appliances and furniture can save you thousands. Luckily when we bought our house, the owners left a kitchen full of appliances. They might have some character but they work fine and don’t look bad at all.
12. Renting your house or a room in your house on Airbnb can be a way to make money.
Just know there are some risks involved in letting strangers stay in your house.
13. Downsize if possible.
Do you really need 2500 square feet of living space? Downsizing can be a way to save a huge chunk of money and simplify your life.
In this day and age, we outsource just about everything we do. Although you gain more time by outsourcing, it costs you a lot of money and may even make you less healthy. You will earn a sense of accomplishment by doing things yourself so that’s a bonus as well.
14. Cutting your grass shouldn’t be Timmy from across the street’s job.
Paying a couple hundred dollars a month to have someone else cut your grass is killing your wallet. If you don’t have a big yard, cut your grass with a push mower. I’ve literally had 3 lawn mowers given to me for free in the past two years and saved a couple thousand cutting my yard myself. I also get much needed exercise from using a push mower.
15. Pressure washing your house can be done with a sprayer like this one and some bleach.
You mix bleach and water in the sprayer then spray onto the house and finally rinse off with water. The end result is the same as using a pressure washer but you save a lot of money by using less water and not buying an expensive machine. Be sure to wear clothes that you don’t care about ruining and wear some form of glasses to protect your eyes.
16. Clean your gutters yourself.
Unless you feel like your going to fall and hurt yourself. You can buy a ladder for cheap at a flea market or yard sale and then you don’t have to spend another dime on cleaning your gutters.
17. Remodel your house yourself.
It can be something you do yourself and if you don’t believe me, ask Mr. Money Mustache. It will take some time to learn how to do things but the savings can be astronomical.
18. Washing your car shouldn’t be done by a machine.
Some people blow $20 a month to run their car through a car wash when they could be saving 90% of that doing it themselves. You will end up doing a better job than the machine anyways.
19. Changing the oil/regular maintenance on your car can be expensive if you go to a shop to have it done.
If you don’t already have the tools, buy them at yard sales or on Craigslist used.
20. Installing things yourself in your house is an easy way to save.
I’ve installed a dishwasher and ceiling fans with no prior experience and it wasn’t hard. There’s a how to on Youtube now for everything so you can learn how to do things very easily.
21. Stop using daycare.
If you’re unable to live on one spouse’s income, you’re probably spending too much money. See if you can find a work from home position so you can stay home with your child. You’ll probably be happier and feel better in the long run.
A necessary evil in certain circumstances, insurance is one of those things most of us pay for but rarely use. There are ways to save though so let’s take a look at how.
22. Live healthier so you don’t have to use health insurance as much.
Start exercising and eating better and cut out bad habits to minimize your time in the hospital.
23. Shop around everywhere including your doctors office to make sure you aren’t spending money you could be saving.
Your doctors office could use someone that isn’t in your insurance network and you will be stuck paying out-of-network fees because of this. You also want to be sure you’re on the cheapest plan possible that allows you to get the coverage you need.
24. Raise deductibles to lower your monthly bills.
If you have an emergency fund in place, you should be able to pay for the out of pocket amounts. This goes for ALL types of insurance, health, homeowners and auto especially.
25. Switch to Term life and stay away from annuities.
Term life should be the only type of life insurance you use. You shouldn’t use an insurance company for your investments so don’t ever get an annuity. Term life is cheaper than whole life so you’ll save a lot.
This is probably America’s most wasteful category. Just take a stroll into town and you will see inefficiency at it’s finest. I’m talking to you Mr. guy driving the diesel truck 50 mph in between traffic lights that are 100 feet apart. You look so cool making it to the red light two seconds before I do.
26. Buy used cars instead of new.
New cars lose 19% of their value in the first year alone. If you’re into investing, you know losing 19% is a huge hit. Buying a car at least 5 years old will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your life.
27. Buy as small of car as you can handle.
If you mostly drive by yourself, you don’t need a big car at all. It would be cheaper to rent a truck for a day when you need it than to drive a truck year round and spend so much more on gas. Yeah, I’m talking to you person driving around a Tahoe and only have two kids. You’re spending too much.
28. Go electric if possible.
Technology in electric cars is really advancing and you can save a ton of money on gas by driving cars like the Nissan Leaf.
29. Drive less by planning trips in advance.
If you have several things on the to do list, try to plan your trip to where you can get all the things you need to do done in one trip.
30. Go engineless.
If you’re brave enough, give up engines all together! Biking/walking everywhere is a great way to stay in shape. Using public transportation instead of owning a car can save thousands and thousands over the years.
31. Using Liability only insurance can save hundreds a year.
You should have an emergency fund anyways so if you total your used car, it won’t cost that much to replace it and you’ll have the money to do it.
32. Rent your car out.
This is a newer concept that a lot of people don’t know about but it’s out there. If they’re available in your area, HyreCar is a way to make money renting your car. I haven’t personally used them so I don’t know how great they are.
33. Carpool with friends.
This might not work as a day to day thing but any time you can carpool, you should.
34. Buy a reliable car.
If you’re going to buy a car, do your research on reliability so you won’t have to repair it as much. I like to stick with Toyota and believe they’re one of the best when it comes to reliability.
35. Use your car to make money.
If you have to have a car, you might as well use it to make money. Delivering food and driving for Uber are decent ways to make extra cash.
36. Shop for the best deals on tires.
To become financially independent, you will need to develop a skill for sniffing out the best deals on everything you buy. Tires are no exception. Just know that not all tires are created equally and cheaper isn’t always cheaper if you have to replace them more often.
37. Drive the speed limit.
Driving slower keeps you from getting a speeding ticket and lowers your risk of getting in an accident which could cost thousands of dollars in damage or even your life.
38. Stop buying accessories for your car.
Do I need to explain this one? Buying unnecessary accessories for your car is like throwing money onto a sinking ship. The car is going down in value no matter what you add on to it.
The downside of owning a house is paying for utilities. At least you can optimize how you use them to minimize the cost.
39. Replace all bulbs with LED.
Every light bulb in your house needs to be LED. They save a lot of energy and last much longer. Here’s a good cheap bulb with great reviews.
40. Bathing quicker
This will cut down on your water usage and that saves you money as well as helps the environment.
41. Doing less laundry
By re-wearing things that aren’t dirty you will cut down on the chore of laundry and will save on water and energy costs. I wear the same pair of jeans at least 3 or 4 times before washing them and I can’t tell any difference.
42. Hanging clothes to dry to save a lot of power.
Your dryer is one of the biggest energy consumers in the house so using a hanging rack to dry your clothes can save a couple hundred dollars a year.
43. Unplug Items that aren’t in use.
If you aren’t using it, unplug it. You’ll be surprised by how much energy is consumed just by having things plugged in all the time.
44. Turn off the lights.
If you’re walking out of a room, flip the switch. You don’t need light in a room you aren’t in so turn it off. And turn the TV off if you leave it on all day too.
45. Turn off the A/C.
Try to live your life as heating and air free as you can. You shouldn’t make yourself super uncomfortable but try to make yourself able to live with more heat or cold air to save on energy.
46. Replace your shower heads.
Using a shower head designed to reduce water consumption can save a lot of water and money over the years.
47. Save water with your toilet
Filling a 2 liter with water and putting it in the tank of your commode saves a little bit of water each time you flush and you won’t notice any difference.
48. Add insulation to your attic.
This can have a huge effect on your house’s heating and cooling costs.
49. Add insulated shutters.
Your windows are the main area that heat escapes from your house. Adding some insulated shutters will keep your house at a stable temperature.
50. Find the cheapest garbage disposal.
Shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal on garbage service.
51. Hall your own garbage.
If you have a truck and there’s a place in your area that allows you to dispose for free. My parents do this, you just have to try to waste less and not let it build up quickly.
Paying for entertainment is completely unnecessary. I’m not saying I don’t ever pay for it, but you should try to go about it as cheaply as possible.
52. Cut the cable.
If you have high speed internet, there’s no need to pay for cable anymore. Services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video can replace your cable TV entertainment.
53. Redefine entertainment.
Think of new ways to entertain yourself that don’t cost money. You may end up learning something new about yourself and have more fun in the process.
54. Go for a walk instead of paying for entertainment.
Walking is a good way to clear your mind and focus on yourself. You will gain health and calm your mind without paying a dime.
55. Go to the library.
Stop paying for books and use one of the greatest things the government has ever provided us. Books are better than tv because your mind is stimulated in a different way. Instead of having the story shown to you, you have to use your imagination to picture what’s going on. You shouldn’t ever have to buy a book brand new so if your library doesn’t have what you want, find it used.
56. Use MoviePass.
If you go to the movies a lot you want to use MoviePass. My wife and I start using this at the beginning of the year and have seen over ten movies at a total cost of $80.
57. Find free events instead of spending money.
look around for things that are free to do. You might end up finding something you didn’t know about that is fun and free!
58. Find deals and use coupons.
If you know you’re going to commit to some form of entertainment, make sure you know your doing it as cheap as possible.
59. Hangout with friends and family.
Some of my happiest times in life have been hanging with family, not spending anything. Use friends and family as a free resource for good times!
60. Stop caring about sports.
Being into sports can be an expensive hobby. If you just can’t live without sports, at least stop buying so much fan apparel and figure the cheapest way to watch your team play. Millionaires aren’t made by going to the bar every weekend and dropping a couple hundred on food and drinks.
61. Stop buying new video games.
If you can live with waiting a year or 2 to buy a game you’ll save some money. I don’t play video games at all so that’s the ultimate way to save on them.
62. Use subscription services.
Using subscription services can save you money if you would otherwise buy a lot of a certain thing like music or movies.
63. Cancel unused subscriptions.
For example, if you haven’t bought anything from Amazon in the past few months but you’re still subscribed to Amazon Prime, cancel your subscription until you need to buy something from them.
64. Become one with nature.
Start hiking or doing something related to being outdoors. Our society has become so obsessed with electronics that we forget that there’s a whole world out there to explore
If you’re trying to save as much as you can, you should try to avoid being in stores or browsing the internet unless you need something specific. Here are some ways to be more frugal with your shopping.
65. You probably have all the clothes you need.
Try to make it through the rest of the year without buying a single article of clothing.
66. Stop going shopping if you don’t have something specific you need.
This goes for online shopping as well. The more you browse, the more you buy. Find other places to hangout besides target.
67. Use coupons.
Try to make it to where you don’t buy something unless you have a coupon for it. Unless you can get a similar item for cheaper than the item the coupon is for.
68. Shop at cheaper places like yard sales Craigslist and Facebook market place.
You’ll find better deals buying used items than you’ll ever find in stores.
69. Wait a week before buying anything and you’ll probably by less stuff.
When you give your brain more time to think about purchases, you make wiser decisions.
70. Cure your need for buying things.
Find contentment in what you have. You most likely have more than you need so be happy with what you have and focus more on experiences rather than things.
71. Become a deal sniper.
Develop a skill of knowing when something is a good deal or not by doing research on everything you go to buy. You’ll end up with higher quality items and spend less for them.
72. Don’t buy anything you can’t pay for with cash.
If you can’t afford it, don’t borrow money to buy it. This simplifies life a lot and keeps you from stressing over owing companies money.
You could be wasting money by banking inefficiently. Clean up your banking strategies to get optimal returns on your investments.
73. Use cash back credit cards for everything you purchase.
As long as you don’t use the credit cards for things you wouldn’t normally buy, they can be a great way to get cash back for your regular purchases. I recommend Discover Card. I personally use it to get 2% cashback on all my purchase for the first year and they do a quarterly category where you earn 5% for that particular category. There’s no annual fee and if you go through the link you’ll get a $50 credit when you purchase something in the first three months.
74. Pay your credit cards off every month
Don’t pay interest on your purchases. Don’t use credit cards at all if you can’t discipline yourself to pay them off in full each month.
75. Stop paying someone to do your investing for you.
There are cheaper ways to invest than to go through a human advisor. Most advisors charge 1-3% of your investments to manage them and that can turn into hundreds of thousands of dollars lost over the years. I’m currently using betterment for my investments and it isn’t the cheapest way to invest at 0.25% but it’s a lot cheaper than using an advisor.
76. Switch banks.
You’re using a bank that charges fees for everything you do, it’s time to switch. Ally bank and Capital one 360 are fee free and have good interest earnings on their accounts.
77. Don’t take out loans.
Just don’t do it.
I’m a guy and don’t know much about how expensive girls grooming products can be. Feel free to give us your ideas to save in the comments!
78. Cut your own hair or find the cheapest place in your area if you aren’t able to get the hang of it.
A lot of people pay a couple hundred dollars a year for basic hair cuts they could do themselves.
79. Use razors for months.
The trick to making a razor last for months is to make sure you dry it really well after using it. That means take it out of the shower when you’re not using it. I signed up for a month of dollar shave club and got 4 razors for a few bucks and I’m good to go on razors for the next year or two.
80. Be happy with your natural look.
There’s only one person in the world that looks exactly like you (unless you’re a twin) so own your look and don’t worry so much about using fake products to make you look different.
81. Take care of your teeth.
If you will take care of your teeth it could potentially add years to your life. You also won’t have expensive dentist bills.
82. Reuse towels after drying your CLEAN body.
I use the same towel two or three times. This cuts down on the laundry load and I don’t see the point in cleaning an already clean towel.
83. Try to find cheaper products that work just as well.
You may be paying way more than you could be for the same result just by choosing a different brand.
84. Stop going to the gym.
Gym memberships are expensive and you can get the same results with a couple dumbbells and a barbell. Run or bike to get your cardio in (or train in martial arts).
Since you’re going to school to become smarter, you should get some practice and be smarter about how you pay for it.
85. Apply for scholarships if you’re going to go to college/university.
You could end up not having to pay at all for your education.
86. Go to community college.
Community college is a lot cheaper than four year universities and in some states it’s free. I got my current job as a systems engineer without even graduating from my two year degree program.
87. Decide if you even need to go.
Times are changing when it comes to the job market and a lot of companies are waking up to the idea that people can be smart without going to college. Look into the field you are thinking about studying and see if a degree is even required.
88. Find the cheapest university in your area and go there.
No one is really going to care where you got your degree from. When’s the last time you asked your doctor where they went to school?
89. Rent books instead of buying them new.
For me, books were the most expensive part of going to school. You can get them for a fraction of the price new if you rent them.
90. Buy used equipment.
You might not have the shiniest new gadget but if you make it through college without going into debt, you’ll be way ahead of your classmates when you graduate.
91. Use your student discount everywhere you can.
You can even get Amazon prime for free for 6 months. All you need is an edu password.
92. Get good grades so you can qualify for more scholarships and internships.
Sometimes you can get a paid internship while still in school and having good grades will boost your chances of this happening.
93. Become a tutor.
No matter what level your on, there’s probably someone you could be teaching and earning money doing it. Find someone who needs a tutor and see if they’d be willing to pay you.
You can blow a lot of money if you’re not smart about the way you travel. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to save before taking your trip.
94. Use travel rewards credit cards and possibly travel for free.
I haven’t learned the ways of hacking travel rewards cards but there are plenty of people that travel the world for “free” by doing so. Even if you don’t get a completely free trip, you could save a lot of money.
95. Stay closer to home.
Have you explored everything there is to do in your area? You may find you don’t know your hometown as well as you thought you did.
96. Find deals on Groupon and other sites.
If you’re going to travel, see if there’s a deal out there for the place you want to go. The more flexible you are, the better deals you will be able to take advantage of.
97. Plan ahead.
Booking hotels long before your trip will ensure you get the cheapest rate available. It’s also good to book flights well in advance too.
98. Bring snacks on your trip.
This will cut down hunger and save money on eating out while you’re abroad.
99. Only bring a carry on bag.
This will require minimal packing but if you travel a lot, it will save you hundreds in bagging fees.
100. Avoid touristy attractions.
Try to engulf yourself in the true culture of your destination and stay away from expensive tourist activities. You will probably enjoy your trip more anyways.
Well there you have it. 100 legit ways to save money. I know there are even more ways to save so if I missed something be sure to add your ideas in the comments! Let me know if you learned some ways to save from this article.
Nathan created Millionaire Dojo to document his journey to reaching a million dollar net worth so that others may be inspired to follow the same path. He and his wife reached a net worth of one hundred thousand by the age of 25 and has been featured on Business Insider. His blog focuses on practical advice that can be implemented immediately in the form of saving money, earning more, and investing to create passive income.