25 Easy Ways to Save Money
Have you used any easy money-saving methods recently?
Although it's always great to save money, in times like these with a slumped economy and many families coping with job loss, it becomes much more critical.
After coming into hard times myself, I started to research easy ways that I could put more cash in my pockets.
I use most of these methods myself, and I can say that they've really helped me save money without too much added stress or putting too much of a damper on my fun.
Here's a list of 25 easy ways we can all save some money! With a little awareness we can cut hundreds off of our monthly bills just by playing it smart.
Hopefully these 25 ideas will make you re-think your lifestyle and make little changes each day to increase your economic situation.
If you come up with more ideas, please leave them in the comments section below.
1. Watch Less Television
Consider the cost of electricity, time wasted where you could be more productive, as well as the cable or satellite bills, and things really start to add up fast.
Alternatives: Hobbies, reading, writing, hulu.com, going outside, sports, recreation, Wii, etc.
It's amazing what happens when you stop watching, or at least cut down on TV. For a period of a few months I didn't have access to a TV, and the end result was that I was a lot more productive with my time, and also my money.
Instead of vegging out in front of the tube, I had more time to read or work, and picked up my old hobbies again.
2. Write a Grocery List
That's right! Write down what you need on the list, and then a section for what you don't need but want.
Make a rule that each person in the household can buy one item that isn't "necessary" and the rest of the items will be what's actually needed.
Follow the list, and don't bow down to impulse buying. Stick to the list, check each item off as you get it, and you'll be amazed how much money you can save.
After a while this becomes a habit, and everyone knows to write things on the list. Of course kids will probably write down that they "need" donuts or candy bars, but that goes with the territory. When you stop buying these things, or limit them to once per shopping visit, they will eventually get the idea.
3. Brown Bag Your Lunches
The cost of buying restaurant, junk food, or vending machine foods every day really adds up quickly.
Making food at home will save you a lot of money, and is also very rewarding. If you can't do this every day, try to do it at least a few times per week and see how it goes.
Cheap, nutritious, and easy-to-make meals not only save you money, but they probably also save your health.
Save even more money by not buying brown paper bags, but one cloth or nylon-type lunchbag that you can re-use for years.
What I've seen a few people do very successfully is to make the entire week's worth of brown bag lunches once a week. This makes it easier to just grab and go during the week.
4. Make Your Own Coffee
Obviously this applies to people who drink it. And those people I think will know how much their coffee is costing them each day.
Forget the $7 Starbucks coffee and make your own at home. When I started doing this, I saved an average of $30/week, and I wasn't even buying Starbucks, but that cheap vending machine kind.
Depending on how much of a connaisseur you are, you can buy instant coffee, which is super cheap, or more what I like to do: Get beans at store and grind them, use a French press, then pour it into flask for the day.
Not only is it 100% better, but way cheaper, too.
5. Go to the Library or Use E-books
If you read a lot of books (or just a few), consider getting them from the library instead of buying them. That'll save space on your shelves, and save a lot of money. Books are really expensive!
A more modern idea is to invest in a Kindle or other e-book reading device because there's a large selection of free books, and many that are at a much reduced price from the printed versions.
Buying a Kindle is like buying a few books, so depending on how much you read, this might be a good bet.
6. Turn Off the Lights
Yes, it actually does save you some money, and it's so easy to do!
Start going around your home and notice how many lights are on everywhere, and for how long, and you might be surprised.
They may use minimal energy, but little things add up quickly. It's a super easy money saver that is also environmentally friendly.
I know that when we consciously started turning off all the lights we weren't using, our electricity bill went down noticeably.
Read my article on Eco Bulbs for information important to your health.
7. Don't Pay an Annual Fee for Credit Cards
There is no reason to give credit card companies more of your money than they already take through their fees.
There is absolutely no purpose to paying for a credit card, ever, but especially if you're on a budget and trying to save money.
There are lots of credit cards offered that have no annual fees, so do a Google search and see what you can find.
8. Don't Buy Bottled Water
While drinking lots of water throughout the day is good, if you've been buying water, that's got to stop. It's insanely expensive, and the bottles pollute the earth. We have tap water and water fountains everywhere, and you can buy necessary filters.
Bring your own water wherever you go, and keep some in the car during the warm months in case you decide to go for a spur-of-the-moment hike through the countryside.
There are also inexpensive water bottles that filter as you drink; just fill with tap water wherever you are. It's cheap, reusable, really convenient, and BPA-free.
9. Don't Window Shop
This is something I've learned the hard way. If you want to save money, stay away from stores and temptation!
And if you really need something, go in, get it, and come straight back out. Stick to this.
Another solution is to buy things online whenever possible. The problem with going to stores is there's a tendency to buy impulsively.
When you touch something, you form a bond to it and are much more likely to buy it. Instead of shopping, do something more interesting with your time.
10. Make Your Own Bread
There is no question that the smell of freshly-baked bread is worth making it alone. It also happens to be about 300% more delicious than store-bought bread. The texture is so much more airy and moist, it's to-die-for.
My mom's been making bread in a breadmaker for years. It's a simple machine; all you have to do is dump the ingredients in and switch it on. All of the machines come with bread recipes included. It's also pretty easy to make traditional bread at home the old-fashioned way.
Saving $$$ and tasting the best bread in the world (your own)--how can we go wrong here? There's nothing like it.
11. Buy Generic Products
I'm not sure what the aversion to generic or store brand items is, but for some reason there seems to be a stigma attached to them. Sure, they ignore the artwork for the most part, but who cares anyway? It makes them cheaper.
I've bought lots of no-name products in my lifetime, and I've gotta say that for the most part, the products are good quality. Some items I'll always buy the name brand of, but a lot of items it doesn't really matter if it's a generic brand.
For example I bought store brand Swiffer mop cloths for half the price of the name brand. They do exactly the same thing, but are much, much cheaper!
12. Use the 30 Day Rule
When about to purchase something at a substantial price (which you need to set), wait 30 days before purchasing it.
This will allow you to get past the impulse buying, do some online research about other, possibly cheaper products, and allow you to question your decision over time.
After a while the "need" to buy this item may fade. I've done this myself many times and what I've found is that half the products I was about to impulse buy are either not necessary or not the best product for the best price.
13. Have a Yard Sale
Go through your closets, the garage, and all the nooks and crannies where old junk tends to end up. You don't really need half this stuff, and it's just sitting around collecting dust.
These unwanted items are cluttering up the place while they could instead be making you some extra money.
A yard sale is a great way to make some extra cash while making your living space more inviting. If you haven't used something in a year or two, it's time to let go and put that money back into your pockets.
14. Re-use Grocery Bags
If you're still getting paper or plastic bags at the store (and not bringing your own bags), consider re-using them!
I've lined my small wastebaskets for years with plastic grocery bags, and it makes everything so much more simple.
The plastic bags are also good for packing fragile things when you're in the process of moving. Save money while recycling!
15. Get Rid of the Landline Phone
I personally do not know anyone who has a landline phone these days, but I bet there are lots of people out there who still have them (and answering machines.)
Obviously if you live in the middle of nowhere, your cell phone won't work, and you actually *need* a landline. But that's about it.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is no purpose to landline phones anymore; the technology is outdated now.
Even if you don't want to buy a smart phone with a contract, Tracfones are cheap and readily available, and leave landlines in the dust!
16. Don't Spend Lots of Money De-stressing
Obviously de-stressing is an important part of everyone's life, and I'm not going to say to stop using money to de-stress when needed.
But there are lots of ways to de-stress that are free, so consider these the next time you feel the need to relax, pronto.
Take a bath with epsom salts, light some incense, go for a walk, punch a punching bag, go jump in a lake.
17. Give Up Expensive Habits
Collecting things is great when you have money, but it's a definite waste when you're trying to live frugally.
Stop collecting when you're worried about saving money.
Other expensive habits include drinking, gambling, smoking, recreational drugs, etc.
You don't have to cut these things out completely, but focus on moderation to help save money. These things add up quickly, and they're extraneous, believe it or not.
18. Wash Your Hands
There is no simpler, cheaper, or more effective way to avoid getting sick than by washing your hands often.
Make sure to use an anti-bacterial soap or liquid sanitizer after using the bathroom, after hiking, before eating, after shopping in any store, etc.
A great way to save money is not to get sick. Teach your kids to wash their hands often!
19. Don't Go to the Mall for Entertainment
Some people love going to the mall to hang out and walk around.
There's nothing wrong with this of course, except for the added enticements surrounding you while you're there.
Instead of going to the mall when you're bored, do something active or creative and save some money in the process.
Go for a walk, learn a new sport, play free games online, blog about how bored you are, try out a new recipe.
20. Invest in a Bulk Freezer
Buying items in bulk is an easy way to save lots of money, but the problem is that you need somewhere to store them.
A bulk freezer will house these bulk purchases and will pay for itself pretty rapidly, depending on how large of a family you have.
Places like Sam's Club are perfect for getting huge items at cheap prices. Especially if you eat meat, buying it in bulk will save you hundreds of dollars per year.
21. If You Watch Movies, Get an Online Account
If you tend to watch a lot of DVDs, consider becoming a member of Netflix or some similar online rental place.
Instead of buying DVDs, try them out first and see if you really want them. There's not much reason to buy them anymore unless your internet connection is bad.
There are also a lot of free movies available on Netflix, which you can watch from any computer as long as you have an account.
You can also watch lots of shows (full seasons, etc.), and it's easy to hook your computer up to your TV to make viewing more comfortable.
22. Don't Buy Paper Towels
Everyone loves paper towels; they're so easy to use, and you just toss them when you're done with them.
But we also know that paper towels are really expensive for what they are.
To save a wad of money, try to stop using paper towels as often, or getting rid of them altogether.
Instead use a cheap re-usable sponge (or cloth) that can be kept clean by washing in the dishwasher on the top rack every couple days.
23. Keep Your Tires Filled
Partially deflated tires on your car, motorcycle, or scooter can add up to increased costs at the gas pump.
Even as little as 2 PSI can make a big difference.
Each vehicle has a recommended tire PSI level, usually noted inside the driver's side door frame in a car or truck.
Check your manual for more information on filling tires. As tires deflate, the resistance increases, and this burns extra fuel and adds wear and tear to your tires and vehicle.
24. Buy a Crock Pot
Spending a little money can often end up saving you a lot more in the long run. Buying a crock pot is a good example.
Toss everything into it before you leave for work in the morning, and when you get home dinner will be ready, and not only that, but it'll be tender and delicious.
Crock pots use extremely low/regulated heat, the food is healthier, and it's a lot cheaper than eating out!
25. Wash Dishes By Hand
Dishwashers are extremely handy, but jeez do they use an astronomical amount of water for a few little dishes, pots, and pans!
There's no getting around the fact that dishwashers are convenient yet extremely wasteful of water, heat, and electricity.
Try washing dishes by hand a few days a week and see how it goes. It's a lot faster, more efficient of resources, and will save you some moolah!
© 2011 Kate P