How to Save Money: 20 Insanely Simple Tips
Sometimes saving money requires hard work and intense discipline. And we applaud those that are fighting hard to pay off debt or build up their savings. But sometimes saving money can be easy!
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of super simple, easy-to-implement ways you can start saving money right now. Don’t worry—just because they’re simple and easy doesn’t mean they won’t have big impact, especially over time.
Give our tips a try and share your own ideas for saving money on the EveryDollar Facebook page.
Easy Ways to Save Money From the Comfort of Your Phone
For better or for worse, our devices are always nearby. With your phone, tablet or laptop handy, you can use technology in positive ways as you:
1. Download apps for savings. Look for apps to any stores you frequent. It shouldn’t cost anything and with minimal effort you can save a lot! The process may differ from store to store. Target, for instance, offers a rotating menu of items on sale through their Cartwheel savings program and includes app-only coupons.
The Walmart Savings Catcher, on the other hand, is a post-purchase, price-matching app. Scan your Walmart receipt after each trip to the store, and Walmart will automatically price match the items you purchased to other retailers online. If they find a lower price elsewhere, you’ll see your reimbursements tally up over time and you can redeem them whenever you want!
But don’t stop there! Try other savings programs like Ibotta, Ebates and Coupon Sherpa.
2. Purchase used goods online. For those things you need but don’t need to buy new, we suggest checking websites like Amazon, Craigslist, ShopGoodwill or eBay—each offer thousands of used items in good condition at great prices.
You can also try apps like Poshmark, OfferUp, and Facebook marketplace. They make it easy to view and buy used items right from your phone.
3. Snag discounted gift cards. On sites like Cardpool.com and Raise you can purchase restaurant, retail store, and even airline travel gift cards for less than face value.
That’s free money, people. Of course, you don’t save anything by piling up gift cards you never use. You do, however, get our vote for smartest shopper when you buy a discounted gift card to cover the wardrobe of your never-stops-growing preteen or necessary flights for an upcoming vacation.
4. Evaluate your TV choices. Do your research on comparable prices and then call up your cable company to negotiate your monthly fee. Or you could join the millions of other Americans who’ve said goodbye to cable in favor of streaming options like Netflix, Amazon Prime and others.¹ EveryDollar did the research for you to make cutting the cord easy with these cable alternatives.
5. Get your cardio on demand. For seasons in life when the gym seems out of reach due to a busy schedule, lack of childcare or an intentionally tight budget, hop on over to YouTube where you’ll find hundreds of exercise programs available for free.
Licensed instructors and fitness enthusiasts lead viewers through aerobics workouts, Zumba dances and strength-building exercises. Our favorite YouTuber might just be Yoga with Adriene for her laid-back, funny personality and array of videos.
Budget from the comfort of your phone: Want to know the absolute best way to save money? Follow a monthly budget. Making a plan for your money is easy when you download the EveryDollar app to your phone, tablet or computer.
Easy Ways to Save Money While You’re Out and About
Ah, retail therapy. We love it, but if we’re not careful, our bank accounts can suffer. But shopping is fun, so we don’t recommend stopping completely. Instead, simply shop smarter.
1. Buy generic instead of name brand. We’re not suggesting you substitute square orange crackers for Cheez-Its. After all, we do have some standards. Still, why not default to the cheaper option whenever possible? Generic medications, trash bags, paper towels, baking ingredients, and even—gasp!—beauty and bath products are a good starting point.
Chances are you won’t notice much difference when you make the switch from name brand to generic. But you’ll definitely spot the savings!
2. Practice some patience. Whenever we stumble on a good deal or a particularly gorgeous find, it can almost feel meant to be. “I have to buy it!” are the famous last words before buyer’s remorse sets in. Make it a habit to take a step away when you find a must-have item. Allow yourself to think more than you feel.
For big purchases we suggest waiting a day before making a decision. You might even try waiting a week or two, which gives you time to talk things over with a spouse or accountability partner, as well as conduct research on comparable prices.
3. Ditch your cards. A Carnegie Mellon study reports that credit cards numb the pain of spending.² That means if you have a credit card but make it a habit to pay your balance off each month, you’re still likely to spend more when you use credit.
If you find that a debit card provides the same freedom from reality, try carrying only cash when visiting your favorite stores or restaurants. By limiting yourself to the bills in your pocket, you’re forced to really consider how every item adds up—a wonderful practice for the days when you do bring the debit card along.
4. Sign up for a library card. Free books. Free movies. Free audiobooks or downloads for your Kindle. All because you filled out a form. Getting a library card takes little effort but delivers quality content for basically nothing. Saving money couldn’t be easier.
Just be sure to turn your stuff back in on time—those late fees can really add up!
5. Shop creatively for clothes. Browse your local consignment shop or thrift store to update your wardrobe at a huge discount. You can also check Facebook for neighborhood community group pages where members buy and trade clothing.
Treat these shopping trips more like an adventure and less like a mission. You probably shouldn’t set out to find the perfect yellow cardigan with embroidered flowers because you’ll likely end up disappointed. But you could enter the store with an open mind and a desire to find a unique, flattering piece that fits your budget and your personality.
Budget while you’re out and about: Keep track of how much you’re spending the old fashioned way, or let us do the work for you! With EveryDollar Plus we’ll list your transactions and all you have to do is drag and drop.
Easy Ways to Save Money at Home
You may not think you spend any money at all while lounging at home, but you do! That’s why we’re offering these simple tips to save you money every day.
1. Preserve energy. When you were younger, did your dad ever say to you, “Somebody’s paying for that!” when you left a light on or didn’t shut the door behind you on a cold day? Well, this list is for all the dads out there: Turn the lights off when you leave the room, wash your clothes in the machine with cold water, close exterior doors completely, and adjust the thermostat every morning when you leave for the day and when you leave town for the weekend. These small changes could add up to big savings over time!
2. Make your own coffee. You can brew your own cup of coffee and add all the cream and caramel you want for a lot less than what you pay at the coffee shop. A cold brew concentrate comes together with relative ease and lasts in the fridge for up to two weeks!
At the start of your day, fill a cup with ice and add equal parts concentrate and water (or milk). Now you’re saving money and time. Go you!
3. Keep a shopping list on your fridge. Pick up a small notepad with a magnet on the back from your local dollar store. Next time you run out of paper towels, don’t make just a mental note—write it down.
A list like this one saves your sanity, and also saves money because you can easily and clearly see what you need. This is an especially good thing if you’re prone to grabbing cumin every time you make a grocery run—you know, just in case.
4. Shop your home. Just like it helps to know what you need, it also helps to know what you don’t need. We all have those hidden recesses of our homes where either mountains of junk or great treasures reside (maybe both!).
Before you make a purchase, learn to shop your own home. Venture to the back of the pantry, the dark corners of your basement, and the top of your guest bedroom closet. Use what you can and donate or throw away the rest.
5. Learn a new skill. Is there anything more “adult” than paying for a repair on your home? There sure is: completing the repair yourself! Call up a relative for advice or do a quick search on YouTube for step-by-step instructions on how to get the job done. You’ll be surprised by how much money you can save when you’re only paying for materials!
Budget at home: Schedule a weekly check-in to sit down with your budget—and your spouse, if you have one—to see how your money goals are coming along and to make adjustments as needed.
Save Money While You’re Having Fun
Yep, you read that right. We don’t subscribe to the idea that in order to save money life must become total drudgery. So go ahead and have your fun . . . and save money too.
1. Plan creative dates. Surprise your love with a “stay-date.” Encourage her to relax while you put the kids to bed. Sit by the fireplace and chat over your favorite card game or fire up the grill, choose a movie from Netflix, and enjoy your kid-free, babysitter-free evening.
If you’d still like to go out but don’t want to pay the high cost of a meal, eat dinner at home and then go out for ice cream or even to that fancy restaurant to split an oversized slice of cake.
2. Take advantage of the great outdoors. Unless it’s raining—yes, even on sweltering summer days or cold winter evenings—you can probably find some way to appreciate nature with your friends and family.
Replace restaurants, coffee shops and shopping sprees with picnics in the park, walk-and-talks in the neighborhood, and long meandering afternoons at the farmer’s market or flea market. You’ll enjoy the experience and save money!
3. Tweak your entertainment options. Tickets for concerts and professional sporting events can get pricey, so look for less expensive but equally entertaining options. See if there’s a minor league baseball game near you, a themed festival in town, or a theater group performing close by.
If you can’t live without going to the movies, one easy way to save is seeing a matinee instead of an evening movie.
4. Don’t pay to play. Kids these days have a world of non-stop activities available to them—activities you can pay an arm and a leg for if you’re not careful.
Our go-to for free children’s activities is the best the planet has to offer: a park, sunshine and a nice breeze. For days when the outdoors just won’t do, let your little ones loose in free indoor play places like at Chick-Fil-A, McDonalds, or the mall.
5. Host a game night. Inviting friends over feels daunting. You have to clean, buy groceries, and cook dinner. This might cause you to avoid entertaining until your home—and your finances—are pretty much perfect.
Can we encourage you to embrace imperfection? Ask your friends to join you on a Friday night around 8:00, when your kids are snoozing and their children are too—either in your guest room or at their own homes with a sitter. Guests can each bring a snack to share and their favorite game. Grab a stack of plates and you’re ready to host!
Budget while you’re having fun: Talk with your friends or family about what they’d do with more money. Where would they travel? What would they buy? Who would they help? Share your answers and motivate each other to go after those money dreams!