Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I would earn a little money with no extra cost to you. The opinions expressed are my own. Read my disclaimer to learn more.
I want to share with you 13 easy ways to save money every single month.
In fact, these money saving tips helped us save money so we could pay off $100,000 of debt in 5 years. That’s $20,000 a year we spent paying off our debt. We couldn’t do that if these tips didn’t work.
It all started with a budget and learning new ways to save money.
Let’s get started.
Pay Attention to Your Spending and Start to Track Your Spending
This is easy to understand, but so hard to put into practice. If you want to find ways to save money, the first step is to know how much you’re spending and where you’re spending it at.
The good news is, there are so many tools to help you out, and I’ll be going into more depth on a lot of them in this article.
- Make a zero-based budget
- Use money tracking apps – Hi Charlie, Mint, YNAB, EveryDollar, Google Sheets, Tiller Money
- Log into your bank account every week
- Start using cash instead of your card (it’s harder to part with cash)
- Keep all of your receipts (have your heard of receipt envelopes?)
There are so many ways to help you pay more attention to your spending, you need to find the best tool for you and your family.
This is a totally made up statistic, but I’d guess that 50% of Americans have no idea how much money they spend every month. And I’ll bet even fewer people know exactly how much they spend on different categories like eating out, entertainment, groceries, date nights, clothes, fast food, and just for fun expenses.
Where do you stack up? Do you know how much you spend every month or where your money goes?
On average, we spend $3,000 a month on our actual expenses. I only know this because we’ve been tracking our spending since 2013.
If you answered ‘no’ to either of those questions, you’re leaving money on the table and you could be saving more money every month.
Use Cash Envelopes
I am a Dave Ramsey fanatic and love the cash envelope system. If your spending and impulse control seems off the charts and out of control, I highly recommend trying the cash envelope system.
Here’s how it works:
- Buy envelopes
- Choose flex categories that make sense to pay cash – groceries, gas, household, dates, etc
- Write the names of your categories on the envelopes (decorate if you want)
- Withdraw the budgeted amount and put it into the envelopes
- Bring your envelopes with when you shop
- When your envelope runs out of money, you don’t get to add more until next month
There are all sorts of tricks and tips to make cash envelopes work for your budget and situation, but if you stick with it, I promise you’ll save money.
Buy Generic Brands Instead of Name Brand
When you stop and pay attention, it’s absurd how much more expensive name brand products are. However, I think it’s also about value.
If you LOVE your name brand items and the generic alternative sucks, it’s probably worth your time, energy, and money to buy the name brand. I mean is there really an alternative to Oreos?
But there are so many times there’s no real difference in taste or experience.
We buy generic for most things, and especially these:
- Flour and sugar
- Canned goods
- Most spices
- Peanut butter
- Ice Cream
- Over the counter meds like Advil Cold and Sinus
We don’t notice a major difference in these grocery items and it helps us save money buy avoiding the name brands.
I found this cool article that compares name brand vs generic on 25 common foods and household items to see what is really worth it to buy name brand.
For us, we will ALWAYS spend the money on caramel macchiato coffee creamer. Always, as best quoted by Severus Snape, always.
Set Up Automatic Transfers
Your bank can be your best friend to help you find more ways to save money. When I married my wife, she had an automatic transfer of $25 from her checking to her savings. And we still have it set up to this day.
Why? Because it’s easy and it works. $25 gets transferred at the end of the month and it ensures we save at least a little bit of money.
If you need more ways to save money, an automatic transfer is a great place to start. Start small and increase the amount you transfer over time.
Create a Zero-based Budget to make a plan for every dollar
What’s a zero based budget? The idea is to give a name and place to every single dollar you make.
You pay bills, buy groceries, put gas in your car, pay your debts. All the normal things you spend money on every month
But then you also plan specific dollar amounts for savings, tithing, retirement, extra money for paying off debt
At the end of the month, your income – expenses (and savings, tithing, retirement, etc) your end of month balance is ZERO.
A huge piece to saving money is paying attention and being intentional with your money. Spend the time and energy to plan and think ahead, and you’ll save money in the long run.
A great service to help you make a zero-based budget is Tiller Money. Tiller connects to your bank account and creates a budget spreadsheet AUTOMATICALLY!
It’s honestly the simplest budgeting software I’ve used. It costs $6.50ish a month, but it creates a budget and downloads your transactions automatically.
No more manually entering every expense or constantly looking at your bank statements. The work gets done without you. All you need to do is check to see if you’re going over budget.
I wrote an honest review, which you can read about here. (it’s an affiliate link, so I’ll make a little money at no cost to you, nor does it sway my recommendation. I partnered with Tiller because I think they’re awesome)
Or watch this video on how you create your own Tiller Budget in less than 30 minutes.
Start Using Hi Charlie
There’s a really cool company I found this year called Hi Charlie. It’s built on artificial intelligence and works through Facebook Messenger.
You do have to connect Charlie to your bank account, but it’s just as secure as online banking through a mobile app.
Once you’re connected, Charlie (an adorable little penguin) sends you messages to check in on your spending, budgeting, and overall financial health.
It’s like carrying a budgeting best friend in your pocket. He checks in on you, helps you stay on budget, and sends friendly reminders and summaries about your spending.
From Facebook messenger, Charlie can do a few really sweet things.
- Show you a dashboard of all of your recent transactions.
- Send you tips to save money
- Set money saving goals
- Create budgets for spending categories like groceries
These are just a few things. Charlie is programmed to respond to messages you send him, and the cool thing is, he’ll send you messages to teach you how to talk to him.
For example, if you want to save money, type “help me save” or “I want to save money”. And if you’re not exactly sure what to say, Charlie provides some options for you, like in this example “Present”.
When I say quick math, I mean this adorable penguin responded instantly.
Then he can send me reminders so I don’t forget.
It’s pretty damn intuitive and helpful to keep you focused on your spending and saving, and help you pay more attention to where your money is going.
The best part? It’s completely free.
If you want to give Hi Charlie a try, you can use this link, and if you decide to sign up, I’ll get a couple bucks at no extra cost to you. Like I said before, I only partner with and promote companies I love and Hi Charlie is one of them.
Prepare for Grocery Shopping Before You Leave the House
Ever go grocery shopping on an empty stomach? How often do you plan ahead and make a list?
Or do you shop like my Dad and get side tracked by every deal and discount you see and say peace out to a bunch of extra cash at the checkout? (I love you Dad :))
A little prep work goes a long way to saving money at the grocery store. It’s one of my FAVORITE ways to save money.
This week we paid $35 for groceries and will have plenty of food to eat. This is how we did it.
1. Plan meals with ingredients you already have.
Chances are you can make at least part of a meal with what you already have at home. As a result, you don’t need to buy much food, and you save money on groceries.
We had leftover ham and shredded cheese hanging out in our fridge. So we made egg bake for dinner this week. All we bought was eggs, cream cheese, bread chunks, and restocked on a few things for our daughter and breakfast foods.
2. Plan your meals before you leave the house.
Pinterest is your friend here. Find a recipe you love and cross reference the ingredient list with what you have at home and see how easy it is to make. I’m not a huge fan of cooking, so the easier the better.
3. Make a grocery list and stick to it.
I’m serious on this one. Use a phone app or a piece of paper and write down all the ingredients you need to buy.
If there’s something you want to buy but you’re not sure if it will fit into the budget, put a question mark next to it. This becomes a bonus grocery. If you can fit it into your budget, awesome. Otherwise, it’s not a necessity, so leave it on the shelf and stay under budget.
Remember, you’re trying new ways to save money.
If you want more help meal prepping, I made a guide to help you out.
Get Out of Debt with the Debt Snowball Method
This is a lot easier said than done, trust me I know.
But what if you didn’t have any debt? Imagine how much more money you could save?
Debt payments can be a huge chunk of your monthly income. It might be a long route, but getting out of debt is one of the best ways to save money.
When I graduated from college I paid over $500 a month for student loans and my monthly income was around $1,400. So between rent and student loans, I was basically broke.
When I got married, we had $100,000 of total debt as two teachers. Talk about a dream come true right?
It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t come without sacrifices, but we paid it all off in 5 years.
There were times it sucked, but I’m so glad we don’t have debt hanging over us anymore. It frees up our income to invest our money in things that matter – buying a house, saving for vacation, giving more generously, and starting a family.
The best first step you can take to get out of debt is creating a debt snowball spreadsheet. It helped us go from 25 years of debt repayment to 5. And it can help you too.
Split Meals When You Go Out to Eat (or Order Smaller Menu Items)
Some people might think splitting meals is cheap, but I think it’s one of the easiest ways to save money and enjoy date night.
Eating out is expensive and so many meals are such big portions these days that it’s a struggle to eat it all. Why not just find something you both like and split it with your partner? It can make it more romantic, Lady and the Tramp style, and you’ll save money.
Or if you’re out with friends and not a partner, find smaller menu items that have a cheaper price tag.
One of our favorite things to do is eat a yummy dinner at home, then go out to eat for dessert. It’s cheaper, but we still get the fun adventure and experience of going out.
Get Rid of Cable – Netflix is Cheaper
I haven’t had cable in over 6 years and I don’t regret it for a second. We share the costs of Netflix and Hulu with my sister so we both get each service.
They work great and we get to watch almost everything we want, except for the Minnesota Twins during baseball season. Even so, I’ll still take $8 a month vs the costs of cable.
Cancel Subscriptions You Don’t Use
I’m looking at you gym membership. Good intentions don’t help your budget and it’s not a great way to save money.
I bought a gym pass in high school for $25 and had all the intentions of going a couple times a week.
Guess how many times I went.
Just once. And that was the day I bought the membership. I think I repaid it one time before I cancelled. I knew I wasn’t going to go, so why should I keep paying for it?
What other subscriptions do you have that you’re not using?
Utilize Direct Deposit to Funnel Money into Your Savings Account
Direct deposit is another way your bank can help you save more money and put your savings on autopilot.
Talk with your employer to see if you have direct deposit available and get the paper work. If you already have direct deposit, grab the form from HR and add your savings account to your direct deposits.
If your budget is tight, start small and only deposit $25 a paycheck. That $50 a month will add up over time and help you reach your financial goals faster.
We saved up $6,000 for our 5 year anniversary trip to Ireland and a big reason why is a $50 deposit into our savings account every single month. It’s not a lot of money, but when it’s automatic, you don’t really pay attention to it, and before you know it your savings is booming!
Make it a goal to set up your direct deposit this week!
Plan Ahead for Extra Money
Extra money is awesome. It’s even more awesome when you make a smart plan when you it happens.
A few of my favorite extra incomes are:
- Three paycheck months
- Bonuses at work
- Tax returns
It’s easy to take the extra money and do something fun with it. Buy a new gadget or go on a trip. But what if you chose to save a big chunk of the extra money? How would that affect your savings goals?
Anytime we have a three paycheck month, we plan out how we’re going to use it. A big chunk usually goes to an extra mortgage payment, we enjoy some of it and spend it on stuff we don’t usually buy, and the rest goes to our savings goals.
Or what if you used it to pay off debt faster?
What are Your Favorite Ways to Save Money?
There are hundreds of ways to save money. The trick is finding the low hanging fruit and implement the strategies that are easiest, like direct deposits and cutting cable.
Find your low hanging fruit and start saving more money this month. Why wait? This is not an exhaustive list, so if you’re still looking for ways to save money, here’s 54 more ways to save money.
Do you need a plan to start getting out of debt too? Grab my Debt Free Guide.
It’s the exact same guide we used to pay off $100,000 of debt in 5 years. It worked for us, and it can work for you too.
Our budget and goals changed our lives and it can change yours too.