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200 Easy Ways to Reduce Costs and Save Money

Updated on January 21, 2016

You too can save money!

A penny saved is a penny earned!  And, pennies add up quickly!
A penny saved is a penny earned! And, pennies add up quickly!

200+ Ways to Save Money

Finances can be confusing. There never seems to be enough money to meet our basic wants and needs, and knowing where to begin can be confusing when it comes to paying down debts, saving for retirement, saving for kids' college funds, buying insurance, getting a mortgage, and investing.

To help, I've created a list of more than 200 simple day-to-day ways to save money. I plan to continue to add to it as time passes. If you have additional ideas please leave them in the comments.

Each idea may only save some change or a few dollars at best, but these savings can add up quickly! Especially when several strategies are employed over a long period of time.

Along with the savings ideas you'll find brief videos on organizing financial goals and understanding the how to implement some of the tips, like how to winter proof your home to save on energy costs.

Smart Shopping and General Tips

  • Get a change jar
  • Sign up for the Sunday (coupon) edition of the paper.
  • Start a coupon email account. Sign up for every free customer loyalty program you can. Check for useful coupons regularly, but ignore coupons for things you don’t really need or won’t really use.
  • Write a shopping list and learn to stick to it.
  • Avoid the mall.
  • Sit on big purchases for 30 days. If you still want it after 30 days, then consider the purchase.
  • Ask yourself why you’re buying something. If you don’t have a good answer, don’t buy it.
  • Ask yourself whether you’d rather have someone give you the item or its cash value in cash. If you choose cash, don’t buy it.
  • Don’t sacrifice quality for cost on big ticket items.
  • Cancel memberships you don’t use.
  • Purchase generic instead of brand-name.
  • Skip fads.
  • Don’t keep up with the Joneses.
  • Barter to trade services with friends and family.
  • Ask companies to wave fees.
  • Call into customer service lines, reasonably and logically complain about costs, and ask for discounts.
  • Check your bills for mistakes or hidden fees.
  • Sell Collectables.
  • Get paid to recycle.
  • Borrow rarely used tools, appliances, media and books.
  • Sign up for birthday clubs and be sure to enjoy as many perks as you can

Dave Ramsey on Getting Out of Debt

Financial Services

  • Don’t pay monthly or annual credit card, checking or savings account fees. Replace accounts that charge fees with accounts that offer perks to new members and better interest rates.
  • Take advantage of balance transfer offers.
  • Pay credit card payments on time to avoid late fees and allow yourself to negotiate interest rates.
  • Don’t use credit cards
  • Plan out your debt snowball
  • Consolidate student loans
  • Utilize online bill pay with your bank and monitor your spending
  • Keep track of all the online trial subscriptions you give your credit card information.
  • Use a one-time use card for subscriptions that have auto-renew policies, especially if they renew after long periods of time.
  • Track your spending
  • Carry emergency cash and only use your bank’s or credit union’s ATMs
  • Check your credit score annually
  • Budget and monitor your money
  • Pay a double mortgage payment in December to maximize tax benefits

Utilize Your Benefits and Company Perks

  • Learn about ALL the benefits and perks provided by your job
  • Automate money from your paycheck to your savings account every month so you won’t be tempted to overspend
  • Max out employer-matched 401k plans

Weather Proofing Your Home By Colorado Realtor's Association

Around the House

  • Turn off the lights and turn down the AC or heat.
  • Replace AC filters monthly
  • Replace light bulbs.
  • Install a programmable thermostat.
  • Do basic home and auto maintenance on a regular schedule
  • Air seal your home
  • Install window coverings to reduce energy costs
  • Ask your local electric or gas utility for a low-cost (maybe free!) home energy audit
  • Dry clothes on a clothesline
  • Switch to all-cotton napkins (no ironing necessary!)
  • Make your own cleaning supplies
  • Use rechargeable batteries
  • Cut down on dry cleaning (use home dry cleaning kits or handwash instead)
  • Reuse containers instead of buying new ones
  • Arrange your own planters and landscape design
  • Sell whatever you don’t have room for and skip the cost of storage units
  • Don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine unless they are full, but don’t over fill
  • Organize your fridge and freezer
  • Run your fridge and freezer on the warmest settings you can
  • Use your heating fan to reduce heating and cooling costs
  • Don’t have an empty freezer (full freezers are cheaper to run)
  • Lower the temperature on your water heater
  • Plant perennials that bloom year after year
  • Wash your clothes in cold water when possible
  • Unplug appliances when they aren’t in use
  • Seek thrifty décor
  • Be your own interior designer or make it a project with a close friend
  • Invest in space heaters and warm blankets so you don’t have to heat unused space
  • Plan transplanted plants
  • Shorten your dryer hose
  • Close closet doors to save on heating and cooling
  • Ask your utility company if they have a time-of-use plan where they cut prices if you use water and electricity during non-peak hours. If so, sign up and wash your clothes and dishes at night.
  • Use laptops over desktops and unplug them when the battery is charged to lower energy costs
  • Replace grills, lawn mowers and patio furniture at the end of fall when stores mark prices down to make room for snow blowers and holiday gear
  • Appeal your property tax assessment yourself.

How to Save Money on Homeowners Insurance by ExpertRealEstateTips

Insurance and Home Ownership

  • Call your insurance company and ask if they’ll match a competitor’s price or offer a loyalty discount.
  • Re-finance 30 year mortgages to a 15
  • Raise the deductibles on auto and homeowners’ insurance. Put the money you save on your monthly insurance bill into a high interest money market account and use this money to pay deductibles if you have to file a claim.
  • Pay for insurance in 6-12 month increments instead of month-to-month
  • Don’t pay for house or apartment you don’t need.
  • Live near your workplace or school

Healthcare

  • Walk every day
  • Practice preventative dental care
  • Brush and floss twice a day
  • Get an annual physical
  • Ask providers for discounts
  • Check all bills for errors
  • Compare costs for lab tests between testing sites
  • Ask whether tests, prescriptions or procedures are really necessary
  • Take prescriptions as prescribed
  • Know what your insurance will cover and ask your doctor to consider it when prescribing medication
  • Ask your doctor to consider generic prescriptions
  • Look at store brand over-the-counter medications
  • Try mail-order medications if available through your insurance
  • Visit the drug manufacturer’s website to look for coupons and discounts
  • Ask physical therapists to teach you exercises you can do at home so you can space out your appointments and reduce the total number necessary
  • Get copies of all medical test results and records; bring them with you to all future appointments
  • Ask for itemized bills before leaving facilities; double check it and then ask the billing department for discounts for paying cash or prepaying

How to Save on Car Insurance by the Insurance Information Institute

Cars and Transportation

  • Clean your car’s air filter
  • Buy used cars
  • Buy fuel-efficient cars
  • Inflate your tires
  • Utilize public transportation
  • Carpool
  • Drive safe and don’t speed
  • Unload your car to improve gas mileage

Food, Beverage and Grocery

  • Drink more water.
  • Pack your own snacks and avoid convenience foods and fast foods.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Make your own coffee if you can’t eliminate it
  • Plan your meals around coupons
  • Do a price comparison on groceries
  • Eat Breakfast
  • Plant a Vegetable Garden
  • Get a crock pot
  • Buy staples in bulk
  • Eat less meat
  • Don’t drink alcohol or smoke
  • Don’t buy what’s at eye level at the grocery store
  • Pick your own fruits from a local orchard for low prices
  • Don’t go to the supermarket hungry
  • Skip organic labels (Most of them aren’t really organic anyway; it’s a fad label, not a scientific label)
  • Buy in-season produce to save
  • Replace delivery with take out
  • Replace take out with home cooking
  • Plant an indoor herb garden in your window sill

Spend on Beauty and Function not Brand Name or Convenience

Spend on Beauty and Function not Brand Name or Convenience
Spend on Beauty and Function not Brand Name or Convenience

Clothing, Beauty and Fashion

  • Learn to buy clothes you can mix and match
  • Cut your own hair
  • Do your own nails
  • Don’t overspend on hygiene products
  • Assess clothing for quality before purchasing.
  • Learn to mend clothes
  • Rent formal dresses
  • Seek out the services of students for salon and spa services

Raising Kids

  • Start a mom-swap with neighbors, families on friends on children’s toys and clothing.
  • Share hand-me-downs amongst kids.
  • Buy clothing in February and August when clothing is typically on sale.
  • Find free activities to entertain children (like make believe).
  • Negotiating staggering your work schedule with your spouse’s when possible to avoid child care fees.
  • Hire college kids to nanny instead of paying a local daycare.
  • Utilize Couponmom.com to find coupons for local and online stores.
  • Breastfeed when possible.
  • Utilize farmer’s markets.

Fun Doesn't Have to Be Expensive

Replace going out to eat, expensive concerts and new electronics with neighborhood potlucks and game nights.  Still a lot of fun, but a lot easier on the wallet!
Replace going out to eat, expensive concerts and new electronics with neighborhood potlucks and game nights. Still a lot of fun, but a lot easier on the wallet!

Entertainment and Media

  • Downgrade your cable package.
  • Only buy video games with replay value.
  • Find free events and entertainment opportunities
  • Utilize your local library
  • Swap babysitting instead of hiring a babysitter
  • Use a surge protector
  • Drop magazine subscriptions. You can find comparable content for free
  • Consider dropping your smart phone for a “dumb one.” Get an inexpensive tablet or use an old smart phone as a wi-fi only device. (Don’t pay for cell-based data plans)
  • Get rid of unused land lines
  • Get rid of unneeded features on your cell phone plan
  • Listen to music for free
  • Consider game nights and pot lucks to nights out and restaurants
  • Skip extended warranties. Put the money saved into a savings account and let it grow interest to help cover costs that would have been covered by a warranty. More often than not you won’t make a claim.

Miscellaneous

  • Keep visual reminders of your debt and savings.
  • Organize so you don’t buy duplicates because you can’t find what you need
  • Exercise outside of a gym
  • Plan trips early
  • Get pets neutered and spayed at a shelter
  • Organize a neighborhood yard sale.
  • Buy decorations after the holiday.
  • Talk to the people that know you. Ask them for personalized suggestions that you might overlook.
  • Buy cheap gifts in bulk to avoid paying for the convenience of last minute gifts
  • Save weekly
  • Stay on top of mail and email so you don’t miss bills and incur fees
  • For every dollar spent on credit cards, set an actual dollar aside so you pay your bill in full at the end of the month
  • Maximize cash back reward offers
  • Read the small print on all contracts

College Students

  • Sell back your textbooks
  • Buy or rent used textbooks
  • Compare campus bookstore prices to amazon, ebay and local textbook exchange stores
  • Borrow or rent books from friends who have taken the class previously
  • Avoid expensive college meal plans
  • Coordinate dinners with roommates to reduce the cost and waste
  • Use campus gyms instead of commercial gyms
  • Don’t buy unnecessary school supplies
  • Sell things you don’t need
  • Don’t get a pet
  • Test out of classes

Weddings Don't Have to Break the Bank

Carefully balance the dream wedding you've always wanted, your budget and your willingness to DIY!  Consider cutting some of the bells and whistles of your big day to increase the funds you'll have as you start your life together.
Carefully balance the dream wedding you've always wanted, your budget and your willingness to DIY! Consider cutting some of the bells and whistles of your big day to increase the funds you'll have as you start your life together.

Wedding

  • Cut the guest list
  • Get married in the off-season
  • Don’t get married on Saturdays
  • Choose less known venues
  • Find a venue that doesn’t require you to use their vendors
  • Hold your ceremony and reception in one spot
  • Have bigger tables so you need fewer centerpieces
  • Make your own centerpieces
  • Choose seasonal flowers
  • Choose local flowers
  • Use lots of greenery in your flowers
  • Stick to one or two kinds of flowers
  • Choose less expensive flower varieties
  • Serve appetizers and drinks instead of a meal
  • Serve comfort foods
  • Don’t allow guests to serve themselves
  • Limit alcohol options
  • Serve a signature cocktail
  • Skip champagne toasts
  • Order a small cake and supplement with a large sheet cake
  • Replace layers of your cake with Styrofoam and supplement with sheet cake
  • Shop wedding dress sales
  • Rent your wedding dress
  • Take advantage of the talents of the bridal party and other friends and family
  • Have favors double as place cards
  • Make your own favors
  • Have a friend DJ
  • Check out non-wedding retailers and grocery stores for flowers, cakes and decor
  • Sell what you can after the wedding
  • Prioritize your wants and cut corners you don’t really care about

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    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 months ago from Brazil

      This is a thorough list. I didn't understand the shortened dryer hose though. Which is okay because I line dry everything.

      I always thought I was frugal until I moved to Brazil and saw what frugal living was really like.

      Now I am right there with them. I can stretch a chicken to make it last a week.

      When I look at the lifestyles of some people, mainly in first world countries, who complain they don't have enough money, I shake my head. They would have a better quality of life if they read your list and implemented changes to their spending habits.

      Well thought out and formatted list, great job.

    • kbdressman profile image
      Author

      kbdressman 2 years ago from Harlem, New York

      Glad you enjoyed it, Paul! I hope you'll share it with others you think might enjoy it as well!

    • Daddy Paul profile image

      Daddy Paul 2 years ago from Michigan

      Right on!