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What are your favorite ways to save money?
I asked this question last week to my wonderful personal finance friends on Twitter. I was looking to start fun conversations with people who love to save money, and in the process I learned a few new tricks to keep a few more dollars in my own pockets.
Everyone has their own little tricks and tips to save money. Some save just a couple bucks a month, while others save hundreds.
For me, every dollar I can save moves us just a little closer to our goals. An important factor in successfully saving money is creating goals to work toward. Right now we are desperately trying to live the minivan life!
We’ve got a beautiful baby girl and two fur babies, so traveling gets tricky. Especially since one of our fur babies is 75 pounds! 🙂
After talking to dozens of people, I’ve compiled a list of the best ways to save money and help you reach your goals faster. I also highly encourage you to check out these sites for more financial tips. The personal finance world has amazing writers that can help you change your finances forever.
1. Calling Phone Provider to Negotiate a Better Deal
Cell phone plans these days are out of control. There are so many features and data to think about, and phones are just outrageously expensive! I guess it makes sense since a smart phone is a computer in your pocket, but it doesn’t make me feel better about paying for it!
My friend Mike over at Ninja Budgeter suggested calling in to negotiate a new rate. There are a couple ways to make this strategy work for you. One method is to threaten you will change services if they don’t lower your rate. For the best results, you need to actually mean it, no bluffing! I’m a total chicken, and don’t like creating confrontation, so I have a hard time doing this. But it WORKS!
If you’re a chicken like me, another route is to play the loyalty card. When I got married, I moved off my family’s phone plan and created my own for my wife and me. At that point, I had been with my current provider for 7 years, and asked if they could reduce my rate since I’ve been a loyal customer for so long.
After a few phone calls and negotiations, we had a custom built plan that fit much better into our budget. I lowered my bill and didn’t feel bad about threatening to switch carriers.
A company like Verizon or Sprint doesn’t want to lose your business. They value your loyalty and want you to keep paying them versus a competitor, even if that means a lower rate. Pick whichever option you’re most comfortable with! 🙂
2. Do the Same Thing with Car and Home Insurance
Eric over at High Five Dad has had luck with this. Plus, the worst that can happen is they say no, right? If you want lower car and home insurance, pick up the phone and give your company a call.
Our rates went down drastically two years ago when we bought our house. When we added home owners insurance, we begged and bartered to get a lower rate. My wife had been a loyal customer for many years, and we leveraged that loyalty to drop our rate even lower.
And one of my personal favorite ways to save money with car insurance is to pay for a 6 month period in a lump sum instead of monthly.
Check out more tips at MikedUpBlog and learn from his experience doing this!
3. Use the Library
When was the last time you visited your friendly, neighborhood library? Books are expensive if you choose to buy them new. The same goes for DVDs and seasons of your favorite TV show. Plus, after you buy them, they sit on your shelf collecting dust for years.
Creating Commas loves to use the library to solve all of these problems. They have a lot more than just books too. Our local library has books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, TV Shows, audio books, and more that I can’t think of right now haha.
4. Credit Card Travel Rewards
This can be risky if you’re struggling to stay out of credit card debt, but really rewarding if you’re able to stay on top of it. An amazing perk some credit cards offer is travel rewards that earn miles for your every day purchases.
As your points add up, you can book flights and hotel stays using your points, keeping more money in your pocket. If you’ve never done this, BE CAREFUL! It’s really easy to rack up debt just trying to earn points, which defeats the purpose entirely.
5. Switch to an Alternate Cell Phone Carrier
I looked into this a few years ago, but was too big of a chicken to make the switch.
Creating Commas switched from AT&T to Cricket Wireless and their phone bill dropped $110! That’s $1,320 when you add up their savings for the year. Instead of $180, he now only pays $70 a month. With AT&T, they had two phones and unlimited data.
Now with Cricket, they only have 5 gb, which is plenty for them, and pay $70 after paying $20 for their SIM cards to transfer their phones over. The catch here is that when they switched carriers, they owned their phones outright, which made it that much easier to change.
6. Grocery Shopping at Aldi, or A Local Cheap Alternative
Want to cut your grocery bill in half? You and me both! There are loads of ways to save money at the grocery store and Debt Free Lab has great tips to do just that!
Avoiding your local grocery store can save you bucket loads of money every month. I live in Northern MN and we are blessed by Aldi, a cheap alternate grocery store.
The store is small, and is packed full of off brand food, fresh produce, and super cheap prices. Debt Free Lab loves to shop at Aldi and since they started, their grocery bill is about half of what it used to be. Plus, they spend so much less time shopping because the store is small and they know exactly where everything is. The make one stop and are in and out in a flash.
If you don’t have an Aldi near you, look for a similar type discount grocery store!
7. DIY as Much as Possible, and Always Order Water When Out go out to Eat
The FiMillennials have two favorite tricks to save money. It’s like having two favorite jolly rancher flavors, which are obviously watermelon and cherry. You can keep the blue raspberry and green apple! 🙂 I know jolly ranchers are unrelated, but I work in a middle school where jolly ranchers are basically currency and all of my students love blue raspberry and green apple. I can’t understand it for the life of me!
Being a first time homeowner, I’ve experienced the amazing feeling of DIY, and also the gut wrenching feeling of paying someone else a stupid amount of money to fix something for us.
Labor costs are outrageous on house projects and you’ll save a ton of money if you can find a way to do it yourself. Earlier this year I installed a thermostat, a friend helped me change an electrical outlet to power our gas oven, and I begrudgingly mow my own lawn.
These are all projects I could’ve paid someone else to do, but I do them myself for pennies on the dollar. For this reason, I definitely prefer the DIY method if I can figure out what the heck I’m doing, which is often its own challenge, haha.
The bonus money saving trick is to always order water when you go out to eat. Of course it’s fun and delicious to order a beer or glass of wine, but it’s expensive! When you’re talking $5-10 per drink, your bill gets out of control real fast! And to be honest, I’d rather just have more food.
8. House Hacking
Real estate can be a cash cow for making and saving money. FiMillennials strikes again with a money savings tip. I’d never heard of house hacking until I asked them about it.
They save money by buying a duplex, triplex, or quadplex. They live in one section of it, and then rent out the other units. The goal is to cover the cost of the mortgage with the rent from your tenants, or get your housing costs as close to $0 as possible.
If you can completely cover your housing costs, all that money is now free to use in a different part of your budget. You can save, invest, or pay off debt.
The only downside is you will be a landlord and be responsible for maintaining rental units, so hopefully all of your tenants are amazing!
9. Spend Money When it Brings You Joy
This is one of my favorite ways to save money. It’s easy to get caught up in buying things just to buy, or because it’s a good deal. But what if it doesn’t bring any value or joy to your life? Is it really worth it?
Damn Millennial spends time evaluating what brings him the most enjoyment when spending money. It helps him buy things and experiences that bring the most joy and focus on those, and avoid all other excess. It’s a hint of minimalism and a lot of value based budgeting, which I’m a huge fan of.
10. Use Public Transportation Instead of Owning a Vehicle
Now I know this won’t work for everyone because unless you live in a bigger city, you probably don’t have access to public transportation.
However, if you do have public transportation readily available, it’s worth looking into. Veronika at Debt to Riches sent this idea my way. Think of all the savings involved in just not having a car. No need to fill up on gas, no insurance, no license renewals, no maintenance expenses, and no car payments!
For us, that would be a yearly savings of at least $2,568 just for gas, insurance, and renewals. We could probably double that pretty easily to account for repairs and maintenance.
Of course you will need to fork over some dough to pay for bus fare, ubers, or taxis. But you can also rely on walking or biking to save even more money and invest in your own fitness.
11. Coupon Shopping
I’m not talking about extreme couponing here, just regular average joe couponing. Simple Measures at Home clips coupons and maps out where to shop based on the deals. It might mean more jumping around from store to store, but it can be worth it to save money.
She finds it very satisfying to save money on stuff you need to buy anyway, especially when it’s healthy food.
I know a married couple who LOVE coupon shopping. Anytime their kids want to get something from the store, they ask, “is there a coupon?”. It’s not only saving them money, but it’s also teaching their kids to be money savvy.
12. Couponing and Cash Back Rewards
We’ve got another couponer on our hands here! In addition to using coupons though, A Budgeting Blonde also takes advantage of cash back rewards. They love food, I mean who doesn’t ;), and they eat out a ton!
Now I know what you’re thinking, eating out a ton doesn’t sound like saving money. But that’s where the cash back rewards kick in. Some cash back cards give you more rewards when you spend money eating out. Every time they swipe that card at their favorite restaurant, they get cash back so it’s really not as expensive as it sounds.
13. Shopping in Your Own Closet
Lisa Bennet runs her site Work Force Millionaire, and saves money in unique ways. She likes to craft and DIY, but instead of buying new supplies for every project, she reuses supplies she already has. Rather than throwing out scraps and left over string, paper, etc, she finds ways to repurpose smaller quantities into new projects.
She’s also a fan of shopping in her own closet. New clothes are expensive, but clothes you already own are really cheap! When was the last time you really went through your wardrobe? If it’s been a while, chances are you have great items that you haven’t worn in a while.
Dust the cobwebs off and take your “new” shirt out on the town. You might remember why you never wear it, or you might fall in love with it all over again.
14. DIY and Buy Used Whenever Possible
We’ve got another fan of the DIY movement! Mystery Money Man (super cool name) does his own house projects as much as possible, and has a bonus reason for doing it. “Not only do you save money, but you also feel pretty badass about being able to fix or build something.”
I LOVE this! That’s exactly how I feel when I fix something. I’m basically a level zero handyman, so anything I manage to do feels amazing!
Another tip from our Mystery Money Man, especially for household appliances, is to buy used whenever possible. Unless it’s absolutely necessary to buy something new, which it usually isn’t, you can still get high quality stuff for a fraction of the price when you buy it used.
15. Pay Yourself First
The 76K Project is working hard to get out of debt and save money. She practices paying herself first with every paycheck she gets.
If you haven’t heard of this concept before, I highly encourage you to try it. As soon as you get paid, take a portion of your income and put it in savings right away. Do this before you spend any of it. You can also do like The 76K Project does and make a payment toward debt too.
When you pay yourself first, you’re intentionally saving money at the start of your paycheck. This ensures you’re actually saving money. If you wait until the end of the month, there’s a higher chance that you will spend it along the way and not have any leftover.
Make a habit of paying yourself first and you’ll reach your savings goals much faster!
16. Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
Household cleaning products can get pricey, and they need to be replaced pretty often. Especially if you have kids! My wife is on a mission recently to use as little plastic as possible. Her first boycott is the use of straws in any beverage.
As part of our mission to be more environmentally friendly, we’re going to start making our own laundry detergent, shampoo, and conditioner. One benefit is we won’t have to worry about extra plastic containers, and another is that we’ll know exactly what goes into our products.
I’m really hoping we can figure this out, because we will also save money in the long run. Wish us luck!
Let Me Know in the Comments
What did we miss? What are your favorite ways to save money?
Our budget and goals changed our lives and it can change yours too.
As an Educator and Personal Finance Blogger, Jamie has helped hundreds of families learn how to budget, save money, and pay off debt (go here to subscribe and start your debt free journey). Read our debt free story, “How We Paid Off $73,000 of Debt in Less Than Four Years”.
Great job Jamie! Definitely some actionable ideas here.
Three things that I have done:
1) We make our own hand-soap as well which is SUPER easy.
2) Create/build a garden. You can do this super cheap and get cheap and healthy returns!
3) Partner with another family for babysitting. We have 4 young kids and being able to go out on a date or just spend time along with my wife can be difficult and expensive if you have to pay for a babysitter. We partnered up with some friends of ours and trade off watching each others kids while we go out for a couple hours. No more babysitting costs!
That is a brilliant idea for babysitting!!!! And my wife has always wanted to build a garden so it’s just a matter of time before we launch that project.
Thanks for the tips!
Thanks for the mention Jamie! Regarding #5…I thought that I knew of all the carriers up here, but a new one started up a couple of years ago offering data plans for nearly half the price. Only hitch is it’s at 3G speed, which I genuinely don’t care about. Looks like I’m going to be sacking an extra $30/mo. Hah!
You definitely pay more for convenience, so if you’re willing to wait for a smidge slower internet, props to you on the money saved!
Thanks for sharing your insights here and in the blog post!
Thanks so much for including me Jamie!
So many good ideas here, but I really love the inclusion of “spend when it brings you joy”. People are sometimes surprised when I make a big purchase or take a vacation, knowing how much effort I put into saving wherever I can, collecting rewards points, etc. That’s the whole point! Like many other frugal people, I save where I can so that I can spend on things I value and that bring my family joy.
I also like the “shop in your own closet” point. I am guilty of forgetting what I have in there.
Other things I do to save money…you’ve covered most of them, but also meal planning, using local parks and playgrounds to entertain my kids, making greeting cards, and my husband and I have eliminated gift giving to each other (we plan an activity or day out together instead).
You’re so welcome! Spending money where you find value is one of my favorite tips too. Its so much more freeing and worthwhile.
We always talk ahead of time about gift giving and a lot of times we opt out or create spending limits. Date days are another great way to save instead of gifts
Thanks for the mention! Great roundup of money saving tips. I also have saved a lot of money by switching to Cricket, and as for insurance, I switch companies every couple of years so I can always get the introductory rates!
Happy to include you! Do you find it a hassle to keep switching companies?
These are all great ideas! I focus on conserving: reducing food waste, conserving water whenever possible (and teaching my kids to do the same!) and setting my thermostat a degree or two lower in the winter and a bit higher in the summer to save on my electric bill.
Teaching your kids at a young age is a great way to get their wheels spinning about money and ways to save. Also, being environmentally friendly is cool too!