30 Easy Ways to Save Money You Probably Aren’t Doing Yet

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ideas for saving money

Let’s keep this one simple and clean – just a bunch of relatively easy ways to save money. As you incorporate more and more of these tips into your life, the savings add up and it wouldn’t surprise me if you could save thousands over the course of a year.

It will take a little work on your part but those thousands of dollars in savings are what helped us get out of debt earlier and kept us out of debt for several years . Hopefully, it’ll help us pay off our recent auto loan soon as well.

1Cook at home often

If both the husband and wife work, this is likely to be very difficult. Start out with the habit of cooking at home once a week and slowly increase the frequency until you find a balance between saving money and getting stressed out.

2Make your own coffee

Everyone seems to have heard of the latte factor. Even though the author may have overestimated the savings from skipping a latte at Starbucks, don’t underestimate the ding it puts in your pocket in the long run. You don’t have to entirely ban drinking coffee, but skip it as often as possible- unless you make it at home.

3Brown bag lunch at least a few days a week

Lunch times are great opportunities to network and make connections that could improve your career growth. So, unless there is a common eating area for brown baggers, you may choose to limit brown bagging lunch to three days each week.

Find a balance between saving some money and making the connection. In my case, I take my lunch with me 2 to 3 times a week and eat out the rest of the time.

4Make a list before going shopping

They call it impulse buying for a reason.

Humans simply have a very tough time resisting the temptation to purchase extras while shopping. Without a list, you will likely buy items that you simply do not need. Even worse is when your forget to purchase the actual item you came to the store for in the first place.

If you plan on cooking at home, pre-plan a rough menu and make a list before you go grocery shopping. Getting all that you need in one trip can help avoid another unnecessary trip and temptation.

5Go grocery shopping while you are in a hurry

Maybe you need to go out in a couple of hours or your favorite show is going to be on TV after a couple of hours. Try to squeeze in the grocery trip in that intermediate time.

Armed with your grocery list, you should be in-and-out very quickly with little time for meandering and getting tempted to buy things you don’t need.

6Watch out for expiration dates on perishable goods

This one seems intuitive when you read it, but I am surprised at how many people do not pay attention to expiry dates. No point getting a gallon of milk if it is going to turn sour with a couple of days. Same goes for meat, eggs, yogurt, spreads, frozen items, and deli/bakery items.

Some people say you can use a few items a few days after expiry but I personally value my health more than money. I would rather avoid buying such items in the first place. 

7Buy in bulk whenever possible

When it comes to non-perishable items, buy in bulk whenever you find something on sale. The items I usually stock up on are, cereals, tinned goods, rice, beans, pasta, coke, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, toilet paper, etc.

For such items, shopping at warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club can save you quite a bit of money- that is if you stick strictly to your shopping list when you shop.

8Buy generic products whenever possible

Does it really matter whether your cereal is made by Kellogg’s or is the store brand? Does it matter if your milk is Oak Farms or the store brand?

For a few things (like soda in particular), I prefer brand name products. For others, I do not mind generic store brands if they can save me money. Find what works for you and switch to generic brands for at least a part of your grocery list. 

9Use grocery store bags to line trash cans

This may not work if you use a massive trash can but we use a small sized one for which the grocery bags are a perfect fit. This not only helps us save some money, but reduces our environmental foot print. It avoids the kitchen from stinking from a huge overflowing trash can, too.

10Consolidate and pay off debt as soon as possible

If you carry any debt, focus on consolidating it to a lower interest and paying it off as soon as possible. Money paid in interest is money thrown away! Why spend your hard-earned cash to make the financial institutions rich?

See Also: Staying Out Of Debt: 3 Money Habits You Should Be Doing

11Pay your bills on time and avoid late fees

Get organized about your regular bills. If possible, automate the payments. Most utilities and other recurring bills can be set to be charged to a credit card or deducted from a checking account these days.

Also, many banks offer free bill pay programs. There really is no excuse for forgetting to pay a bill on time and forking out the late fees.

Say, by chance you do forget a bill, if you are a first time offender, call the company and request politely to waive the late fees. More likely than not, they will oblige.

12Be aware of your bank balance and avoid over draft fees

If you use your checking account often or have some bills that are paid automatically from your checking account, be aware of the balance and avoid overdraft fees. 

13Avoid ATM fees

Be aware of the ATM withdrawal fees charged by your bank. While some banks waive fees for all ATM transactions on any ATM machine, most don’t.

So, be sure to use only those ATM machines where your bank will not charge the fees or withdraw directly at your bank. 

14Avoid credit cards with annual fee

Credit cards with their cash back bonuses and reward points are a great way to save some money. Just make sure that the card does not charge you any annual fees. There is no dearth of cards that offer fee-free reward plans, so there really is no reason to pay the annual fees. 

15Disconnect land line if possible

Unless you have small kids in the house or older people to take care of, it is more than likely that you will be able to survive with only your mobile phones.

We have survived without any problems for over 4 years now without a land line. Our Internet comes via cable. 

16Instead of buying books, borrow books from the library

Whenever possible, borrow your books instead of buying them. The card to your public library is free and the libraries are generally well stocked.

In my city, the chain of public libraries is connected and the available books can be checked online. If there is some book that I cannot find in my local branch, I can make a request online for it to be brought in from one of the other branches to mine which is very convenient. 

17If you have to buy books, check if you can buy it used

Used books do not quite give the same feeling as leafing through the crisp pages of a brand new book. However, considering that you can get used books for almost as much as half the price of a new book, it is a small price to pay.

My favorite place to buy used books is a local chain called “Half Price Book Store”. Check if you have something similar in your city. For text books, look online on bulletin boards, and mailing lists and price compare on websites like addall.com. 

18Price check before buying anything expensive

For other items that are expensive, do a price check before buying the item. If you can wait for a while, you can track the prices and grab a great deal when it comes along.

Frequently available online coupons make it even more easy to save some money. This is especially true while purchasing any electronics. 

19Avoid impulse buying

Make it a habit to avoid impulse buying. Many of the things you want to buy do not seem all that necessary, if you only you wait for a day or two. Also, waiting means you will be able to check prices and make an informed decision to buy it at the best possible price. 

20Bottle your own water

Drinking water is good for your health. I always make it a habit to keep some at my desk at all times. Bottled water is the most convenient since it can provide protection against accidental spills. That said, buy bottled water only once in a while and then reuse that bottle to fill your own water. If you are not happy with tap water, invest in a Brita Filter – in the long run it can save a lot of money. 

21Avoid the vending machines

Almost everything that is dispensed via vending machines has a huge markup (and is rarely healthy). However, if you suffer from snack attacks at work, consider creating a secret stash of snacks.

If you like drinking soda and have a fridge at the workplace, save a refrigerator pack in the fridge with a post-it with your name on it. If you have a long commute, consider a stash for the car as well and avoid a quick drive-thru visit. 

22Keep your car as long as possible

When possible, try to keep your car as long as possible. Find the balance between the money spent on repairs versus the monthly installment on another vehicle. Choose to run your old car as long as the repair costs are low. 

23Do regular scheduled maintenance on your vehicles

Do not skimp on or forget to do regular oil changes. Remember to check the air in your tires often. Use the grade of fuel that the owner’s manual recommends. These small acts can significantly lengthen the life of your car, giving you years of use. 

24Avoid buying a new car

When you eventually buy a car, see if you can make do with a pre-owned vehicle. A new car depreciates significantly the moment you drive it out the dealership.

Is the new car small really worth thousands of dollars?

Pre-owned cars that are only a few years old with low mileage are the best bargains. Regardless of the purchase, learn to negotiate with car dealers. 

25Ride your bike or carpool whenever possible

In many of the cities in the US, it is hard to get by without a car. That said, just because you have a car does not mean you have to use it every day. Whenever possible, ride your bike or share a ride with a colleague or spouse and save both on gas and reduce the environmental footprint. 

26If you watch a lot of DVDs, get an online DVD store membership

Membership to online movie stores like Netflix or Blockbuster Online can save you a lot of money compared to buying DVDs or renting it from a local store. You need to wait once you order the movie, but if you watch a lot of movies at home, then you can easily get into the habit of ordering ahead of time so you always have something at home.

If you are patient and your library has the resources, check to see if they have a movie section. You won’t get anything very new, but they are free. 

27If you like watching movies at the theater, go before 6:00 pm

This is one of our soft spots when it comes to spending. We really like watching movies in the theater with the big screen and the great sound effects. But instead of paying $10 a pop for the ticket, we usually go before 6:00 pm when the tickets are a little less expensive.

Also, for movies that we don’t absolutely want to watch right away, we just wait until it screens on the discount theater where the tickets are $2 a pop. We avoid the temptation to buy snacks by usually going for a theater some time soon after our lunch. Sometimes, we sneak in our own snacks.

28Regulate your electric use

When not in use, unplug electric appliances. Apparently, unplugging the TV instead of just switching it off can save a lot of electricity!

When not in a room, switch off the lights and the fan. Use a programmable thermostat to control your A/C and heater usage. If that’s too much, at least know what each appliance uses and unplug a few of them. 

29Plan vacations ahead of time

Vacations are a necessary part of saving our sanity in the busy lives that we lead. But vacations are also a huge drain on the family finances.

You can cut the cost of a vacation significantly by planning and booking ahead of time. Bookmark travel sites for finding inexpensive airfare and hotel. Book at least two weeks in advance. 

See Also: How to Make The Most of Your Vacation

30Finally, keep distance from lavish, high-roller friends

If you have lavish friends who buy a new car every other year (or worse still, lease it), have large screen TVs and every other conceivable electronics gadget, eat out at fancy restaurants every other night and just live way beyond their means, keep the distance.

They may be nice people and mean you no harm, but hanging out with such people can often lead to a lot of unnecessary desires and discontent. What’s more important – your friends or your peace of mind?

Whoa, that article ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated. Hopefully, I haven’t put you to sleep! Despite the length though, it barely scratches the surface when it comes to ways to save money. Make it a sub-conscious habit to save money in things that you do every day, even if it is a few dollars. All that money saved can add up significantly and you can save it or spend it on things that really matter!

NOTE: I am not saying that you should follow *all* these tips. Trying to be too frugal can make both you and the people around you very miserable. So, pick out a few tips at a time that will work for you and make them a habit, before deciding if you can incorporate more money saving habits in your daily routine.

Written by Sam Baker of GradMoneyMatters.com – a site dedicated to providing students a choice of money making ideas so they can say no to debt.

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Author: Jay White

I started Dumb Little Man so great authors, writers and bloggers could share their life "hacks" and tips for success with everyone. I hope you find something you like!

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Using the auction house is one of the best ways to make gold for any player, but the problem is a lot of people do not know how to use it
    properly. Other than World of Warcraft, they also have other game.
    As with all types of investments, your overall success will be
    closely tied to how much time you’re willing to put in.

  2. Hm… Already seem to follow all these.

    But… What's with all the bottled water stuff? Is it normal to buy bottled water over in 'Murica? Cuz, well, here in Norway tap water tastes much better and fresher, it's straight from some nice lake, after all. The bottles are old, and often from the same lake anyway…

    • The tap water over here is horrible. The only places that have good tasting water are the rich areas. I myself use a filter because even bottled water can become pricey.

      FeedYourPiggyBank.blogspot.com

    • Tap water in the US is not very good. It tastes like chemicals. And they have found Chromium 6 in the water in many parts of the US. When I had cancer, I was told by my team of doctors not to use tap water because it had all kinds of stuff in it that was not good for my weakened immune system. So, yes, Americans do use bottled water.

  3. Yes, Americans buy bottled water all the time. Almost everyone I know drinks bottled water on a regular basis. It does taste very good, because even though our tap water is generally clean it’s got fluoride and crap in it more often than not.

  4. I saw this posted somewhere before and I think it really is some of the best savings advice I've ever seen posted. Most young people would benefit from it:

    Here's the path to retire on your own terms, in 7 steps:

    1) Pay off your debts as fast as you possibly can. If this means living in a crappy studio apartment and eating ramen everyday for a couple of years, do it. If you want to buy a car, get a reliable beater. Get insurance for $25/month from Insurance Panda. Forget about buying a house until your debts are paid off.

    2) Once you are out of debt, stay out of debt. The only exception to this rule is a vehicle and a house. If you want to get a nicer car, buy used and be able to pay it off in a year or 2.

    3) If you are going to stay in the same spot for at least 10 years, buy a house, preferably with at least a little bit of usable land. An acre is good, 5 acres is better. Take the amount you are pre-approved for and cut it in half – that's how much you should spend on a house. Come to the table with at least 20% down and make a couple of extra mortgage payments every year. If you're going to be transferred or relocate every 5 years, forget about buying a house and rent instead.

    4) Develop multiple revenue streams. Do contract work. Start a business on the side. Invest in a business as a silent partner. Raise chickens, breed dogs or grow apples. Build websites. Buy and sell antiques. Acquire rental property. Sell something that generates residual income. Learn to play the currency markets or trade stocks. Do whatever you can to generate income from multiple sources.

    5) Grow these multiple revenue streams to the point that they generate enough consistent and reliable cash flow to replace your current income.

    6) Make as much as you can. Save as much as you can. Give away as much as you can.

    7) Retire!- the sooner, the better. Be sure you understand that "retirement" doesn't necessarily mean you stop working, it just means having the freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to do it.

    Don't be foolish and fall into the trap of trying to measure your wealth by the value of your assets. Markets change. Valuations fluctuate. Instead, measure your wealth by the amount of cash flow your assets consistently generate.

  5. These are very common sense. There should be more tips for those too poor to even own a car, those who have to hand-wash their clothing, and eat spaghetti every week because there's little variety to food at Dollar General as that is the closest place in walking distance.

  6. I already do all of this except I have one low balance store card that I am paying off ( I have not bought anything in 2 years!). Still need more hints other than find ways to make money.

  7. Great read, I’m always looking for extra ways to save around the office. I just wanted to share something I’ve been doing recently. I run an office and have noticed that unused toner was piling up in storage. Looked into returning but that was no good. Tried out the site http://www.tonerconnect.net/ and was impressed. They had quick service and that payout was nice.

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