Saving money can be overwhelming for many families and individuals. It conjures images of clipping coupons and wearing piles of sweaters to save on a heating bill.
In reality, saving money as an individual is less about huge drastic measures that you can make and more about the small, gradual measures that you can integrate into your life to bump your savings without changing your lifestyle.
If you are looking for easy ways to save money fast, this is the list for you. We have created a list of our favorite ways to save money, broken down into the different areas of your life where you can save money.
Maybe this is your first time thinking about how to save money, and maybe you have been thinking about this for years. No matter what your situation is, your first step toward saving money should always be adjusting your mindset.
Let’s start with 9 tips to get in the money-saving mindset:
Sometimes it’s good to give ourselves a challenge just to see what we can do. Commit to spending nothing for a day or a week, using only the resources you already have. This can be more fun if you frame it as a chance to try no-cost activities. If you already have bikes, head out for a ride. Or maybe use up some of those craft supplies you have hoarded over the years.
You should start with small savings goals first. Achieving these little goals will give you the confidence to save in the future. Think of goals that you could scale later if you succeed on a smaller scale first.
It can be so tempting to spend the money we get from an inheritance, tax return, or prize. Don’t. Instead, save the majority of it or use it to pay off a debt.
Create an achievable savings plan with a few concrete steps that you can take in the next few months to stay on top of your savings. There are many websites with savings plan templates where you can input your data, and the website will help you create a plan to reach your goals.
It’s not always bad to treat yourself, but when you do, you should match that splurge by depositing an equal amount in your savings account.
Looking at a new backpack? Think about the amount of money it costs in terms of the hours you would need to work to pay it off. Sometimes, it will be worth it, and in that case, you should go ahead and make the purchase.
Credit is essential to financial health. Make use of any free credit check to make sure you will be able to qualify for cell phone plans, credit cards, and rentals. Keeping good credit is a fantastic way to ensure that you are able to meet future financial goals.
If you have significant debt that you are trying to pay off, get free debt counseling to make sure you are moving in the right direction. This might feel embarrassing for some, but debt counselors are professionals whose main goal is to help you meet yours. In addition, you don’t have to tell anyone, this is your own journey.
When it comes to saving, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay are your best friends. Look at some of the most valuable things you own and reflect on whether you use them enough to justify keeping them.
More and more, people are getting help from their banks in finding creative ways to save money. Banks will often help individuals create savings plans that will boost them toward their financial goals.
Most banks have features that will automatically deposit money into your savings account every month. Start small and increase your monthly savings slowly. If you have debt you want to pay off, you can also consolidate your debt and automate your monthly debt payments.
Home, auto, and tech loans are all eligible for refinancing. Even if it seems like a lot of trouble, it usually saves you a lot of money in the end. This is one of the fastest ways to stop throwing money away and re-allocate it to an asset that is productive.
Find the right financial tracking app for you so that you can easily look at your spending trends. Find the right app to meet your spending needs and remember, even if you fall off of your spending plan a few times a month, that is much better than having no plan at all.
Emergency funds are absolutely essential. They don’t have to be big to be helpful. Start with the goal of $500. The effect of an emergency fund is both physical and psychological. If you have an emergency fund, you will be less anxious that something will go wrong.
If your income sets you below the poverty line, you are eligible for savings-matching programs that help you put away money twice as fast.
Pay off your credit cards every month to avoid accruing new debt. Find fun and creative ways to send yourself a monthly reminder to pay off the cards, whether that is an alarm with a fun ringtone or a desk calendar.
If you have more than one card, look at each interest rate per card, and if you can pay more to the higher interest rate card first and the minimum payment on the rest. Once you have paid this off, hit the next credit card with the next highest interest rate.
Those $3 transaction fees for transactions at other banks add up over time. Look into which banks are in-network with our bank in case you are traveling and need to use an ATM.
If you have many different debts, start by paying off smaller debts first to get you motivated to pay off larger debts. Once you have paid off ONE small debt to get you started, find the debt with the highest interest rate and start paying that one-off.
Your employer can deposit part of your paycheck into a savings account every week or month so that you can save without thinking about it.
19. Increase Tax Withholding
Prevent yourself from spending by increasing your tax withholdings and pledging to put them into savings when they come in. This is a great tactic if you do not trust yourself to regularly put a small amount of money away into savings.
All insurance is not created equal. Do not be afraid to shop around to find the best rates. The best way to get the real scoop on insurance rates is always to talk on the phone. Do not be afraid of the hold music.
Try to reduce your renters insurance, condo/house insurance, and health insurance rates every year if possible.
401(K) plans only work if you pay into them, so be sure to never skimp on retirement payments. Once you reach your threshold, remember that your employers will start paying into your retirement. This should be your motivation.
If they match at all, at the very MINIMUM, you will want to put in the percentage they match up to. For example, if they match up to 10% of your contributions, then put 10% of your money as your contribution.
There are many easy ways to save money fast in the household, especially if you use a few of these techniques in connection with each other. When you think about saving money as a household, you should think a lot about cost-per-use. Make sure that you are buying things that save you time and money in the long run rather than things that will collect dust on a shelf.
When you pay in cash and get change, don’t just put the money in your pocket and forget about it. Make a change jar and count it every once in a while.
Let it accumulate over the year and then go to the bank and have them sort it. Most banks have sorting machines, so it is super fast. You may be shocked at how much you actually have saved. It could be enough for a family vacation!
Monitor your electric bill online and change your habits if you see charges increasing unusually. If you find that you are spending too much on electricity, consider cost-saving measures like installing double-pained windows.
Make sure you aren’t paying for any subscriptions that you do not use. Do you really need 3 streaming services? If you subscribe to magazines or the newspaper, consider switching to online subscriptions.
26. Try Cash Budgeting
If you have trouble sticking to your budget, take out your budget in cash so that you can see when you are overspending. You can do this with your whole budget or just a fraction of your budget, like entertainment costs.
Avoid late fees by enrolling in auto bill pay with your bank. Auto bill pay is a great way to make sure that you are not stressed out by bills so that you have time to think about other aspects of your financial life.
Consider completely unenrolling in streaming services and using library rentals and streaming for entertainment. Many libraries have Kanopy, a free streaming service that specializes in classics and independent movies. This can also be a great chance to watch all of those classics you’ve been meaning to see.
To have fun on a budget, look for local free events that you can go to. Many municipal parks hold free concerts in the summer and classes that you can attend for cheap.
At many events, you can volunteer to subsidize your ticket cost, which is a great alternative to paying. This can also be fun because it gives you behind-the-scenes access to venues.
Don’t just go with the first insurance company you talk to. Homeowners’ insurance should not cost a bundle and should cover all of the potential accidents that could occur in your home. Online comparison sites are a HUGE asset at this point. It is worth using them to save you time and money.
It is always surprising how much you can lose in heating bills if your weatherstripping is damaged. Consider installing a heat pump, a cheaper alternative to conventional heating and air conditioning.
On the other hand, think carefully about ways to keep your home cool in the summer and save costs on air conditioning. Save on air conditioning by planting deciduous trees outside of your windows.
Most laundry detergent is much more concentrated than we expect. Use half as much. This will also be helpful for your skin as detergents can be irritating.
35. Install LEDs
LEDs are the most energy-efficient lightbulbs. With their long lifetimes and new warmer colors, they are a no-brainer.
Always think used first when it comes to buying furniture or clothes. Thrift stores, consignment stores, and used websites are all great for buying different goods. Plus, that nice new smell is actually the chemicals from the new item, and you shouldn’t be around it much anyway.
One of the most creative ways to save money is through your pantry. Food us also a fun place to save money because it is a great place to focus on increasing your creativity while decreasing your spending.
Even if you cut your food budget drastically, make sure that it is not at the expense of your health. If you take care of your body by eating well, you will save on doctors’ bills in the long run.
Choose one grocery store and find out the best ways to save through that grocery store’s system. If you collect points, make sure you use them.
Restaurants are about the experience, not the amount of food you eat. Consider splitting your entree. You can also decide to go out for appetizers rather than a full meal if you just want the restaurant experience.
In this day and age we tend to OVEREAT when we go out as a “treat”. The treat feels much better if you aren’t exhausted from eating to much when you leave. Plus it saves money!
Bring a brown bag lunch with you to work and save hundreds of dollars every year. Think about the aspects of packing a lunch that are hard for you, and find ways to meal plan and make those aspects easier throughout the week.
Think about this as an opportunity to hone your cooking skills and try new recipes. Rather than eating out, invest in fancy ingredients. It will still be cheaper than eating out. Depending on how well you cook, it could even taste better!
Make a meal plan and stick to it. Don’t get swept up in the romance of the chip aisle. If you can’t find something on the list, think hard about whether it is a necessity before reaching for the more expensive alternative.
Save time and money by doubling up your recipes and saving half of the food for leftover lunches.
If you struggle to stick to a grocery budget, have someone else do the shopping and pick up your groceries at the curb. In the online world, this is easier than ever now. Also, your time is worth something, so you save on the time side of things too.
The generic brand of food is usually just as good at a fraction of the price. Generic brands often have larger packages, which makes it easier to buy in bulk. Buying in bulk is a great way to save a bit on food too. Places like Costco are around for a reason!
45. Try Meal Prepping
Look up YouTube videos from folks who prep an entire week of meals on the weekend and try that. It can be a fun challenge and an opportunity to save yourself time throughout the week.
46. Avoid Coffee Shops
Invest in better coffee to brew at home instead. Think about what you love about the coffee shop and replicate it at home for less. You can get great coffee and make it in a french press and it is better than most coffees you would buy outside.
How to Save When Shopping
When thinking about how to save money, recreational shopping is often our first thought. And for good reason. Recreational shopping is one of the biggest villains when it comes to credit card debt.
It is even pushed off as “retail therapy” as an excuse to purchase things we don’t need. When we are in a shopping mindset, we are willing to make big long-term sacrifices for the sake of our short-term happiness. Do not fall into this trap.
47. Wait For Sales When Purchasing Big
Let’s say you know your family needs a new sofa. You can wait until it goes on sale to make that purchase. Take it a step further, there are predictable holiday sales every year that you can plan around.
This is the same concept with winter and summer clothes and buying them for the next year at the end of the season. Ever want new Christmas lights, go to buy them on Christmas or the day after and you will pay significantly less. This concept just takes a little discipline and planning.
Online shopping can feel like a fun video game, and it’s hard to see the real consequences it has on your bank account. Shopping with cash can also help you avoid feeling like you are playing a video game. This concept puts you in touch with your spending more and may curb the impulse to buy too much online.
Commit to making homemade gifts for your friends and family. They (and your bank account) will feel the love. Cards especially can be surprisingly expensive. There are a lot of ways that you can create simple handmade cards for your friends and family even if you are not a very crafty person.
Saw something at the store that you just have to have? Give the purchase 24 hours to see if it’s really worth it. It can also be helpful to talk a purchase over with a frugal friend or family member to see if you can convince them that the purchase is a good idea. If they are on board, then go for it.
A little piece of masking tape with “is it worth it?” on your credit card is all it takes. This gentle reminder can really help.
52. Stay Away From Advertising
Figure out what type of advertising works best for you, and try to avoid it. If Instagram is your weakness, unsubscribe from creators who consistently create content that is sponsored.
If you are a student, teacher, veteran, or person with a disability, you should always ask about discounts at events. Sometimes these discounts even extend to family members, so it is always good to check.
The easiest way to save money fast is to get your whole family involved in the project. If you have kids, do not frame it as an issue of trying to make sure you have enough money–this will be stressful for them. Instead, frame it as your family deciding to try new things and focus on spending quality time together rather than spending money on things.
At the holidays, agree on a budget for gifts and stick to it. $20 is a good starting place for most families. Frame it as a fun challenge to see how much you can buy with $20. You can also do a handmade gift challenge where everyone in the family has to make a handmade gift for someone else.
55. Save For College Early
Even if your child is still in diapers, you should think about the financial steps that they might want to take in the future and plan for them. If you start saving for college or at least making a plan for how you will pay for college, that will take a lot of stress off of you and your family. Not to mention, if this is done correctly, you will have the power of compound interest on your side.
Think critically as you buy shoes, clothes, skis, and bicycles for your children. How long will they be able to use this thing? Will they be able to pass it down to a younger sibling? Make your purchasing decisions based on these two questions.
Getting together a group of families to swap children’s clothing or household items can be a great way to clean out the closets and get new clothes for growing children.
If you involve your children in the process, you can encourage them to donate to the swap meet by reminding them that if they give up some of their outgrown toys and clothes, they can get new, more age-appropriate things from their friends.
Choose one day of the week where your family commits to spending nothing and focusing on fun, free activities like going to the park. “Spend nothing day” can be a great chance to work on fun family projects like gardening or building something.
Remember that there are lots of free social things that you can do with your friends. Have a barbecue or go for a hike with your friends.
Try to do as much home renovation yourself as you can. You will learn a lot and feel very proud of your work. Youtube is a fantastic resource when it comes to teaching people how to repair and build their own furniture.
Buying used things from the thrift store and learning to spruce them up with sandpaper and paint is a great first step in a DIY career.
Next, you can try to do things on your own. Just remember, don’t invest in a ton of expensive tools before you know that you have found the right hobby for you.
Try being a tourist in your hometown this year. Visit all of the museums you have never made time to go to and save money.
Break up your staycation between family members and let each person choose an activity for a day. You will be surprised by what your family members want to do. Who knew that Grandma just wanted to go to see the new Batman movie?
Do you have a friend with kids who are slightly older than your children? This is a great chance for you to find used clothing for your children that might even be sentimental if your children like their friends.
If you do not have family friends or families with children to hand down clothes, Facebook Marketplace can be a great way to get lots of inexpensive second-hand clothes for kids.
Although you don’t want to risk your health for your bank account, there are a few ways you can make sure you aren’t wasting money on healthcare.
Sometimes, the healthcare industry can feel very intimidating because doctors and pharmacists are highly trained professionals who seem to know much more than us.
Put away this fear and learn to advocate for your health while you advocate for your financial wellbeing.
Generic brand drugs with the same active ingredient are always cheaper than their name-brand counterparts. This works for both prescription and over-the-counter medications. Learn the names of the active ingredients of your favorite drugs and use those names as you shop for medicine. Also, look for labels that say “compare to.”
This may sound counterintuitive but go to your annual dental cleaning and doctor’s check-up. This is a great way to avoid huge healthcare costs in the future. Some doctors have lower fees if you book far ahead of time, so make a clear schedule for your health care appointments.
Another perk of scheduling appointments is that it means that you do not have to foot the cost of all of your doctor’s bills in one month. Choose one visit every month and factor it into your budget.
64. Comparison Shop For Perscriptions
Not all pharmacies price their prescriptions equally. Visit a few to see where you get the best deal. You can also call around to the pharmacy departments at big-box stores like Walmart or Target because these big-box stores often do not charge as much for their prescriptions as their smaller counterparts.
Increasingly, families are spending more and more on tech. Thinking carefully about your tech is a great way to save money. One of the biggest issues in tech spending is the issue of planned obsolescence.
Machines are created to break rather than last because businesses can make more on tech if their clients are consistently buying new tech. Look at reviews and find ways to invest in tech that is easy to repair or will last a long time.
If you have both and are paying for different providers, stop. You are wasting money that you could be saving for a rainy day. Some companies also let you bundle in your cell phone plan, so that all of your costs are under one roof. This is a great feature if you are someone who is worried about missing a payment.
Make sure you are paying for a family cell phone plan. Paying for a cell phone plan independently is usually incredibly expensive. Even if you don’t have a family, get a group of friends to share a plan with you.
Another option is to call your cell phone provider and tell them that you are thinking of switching to another carrier. At this point, ask them if they have any other programs that can save you money from the plan you currently have.
Also, many times even if they do not have another plan, they could STILL drop your rates. At the end of the day, closed mouths don’t get fed, so ask!
They’re not worth the temptation. Unsubscribing is easy, and it’s not preventing you from looking up products if you’re really interested. An added benefit is that your inbox will look much neater and more professional when it is not filled with marketing emails.
Cut your hydro bill in half by installing low-flow showerheads and faucets. When you are making investments like this, it is important to think about how much lower your bill will have to be to pay for the investment. And if the investment will pay for itself within a year, then it’s a worthwhile investment.
70. Lower Your Hot Water Heater
Most of us have our hot water heaters turned on too high. Turn down the heat to save. Many people do not know that they can change the temperature on their hot water heater and worry that if they change the temperature they will have to have cold showers. Fortunately, this is not the case. If you turn your hot water heater down a few degrees, you will hardly notice the difference.
If you want to have Netflix or Hulu, consider sharing your subscriptions with another family. Many times if you simply “add a member” it is less than a full subscription. You should also consider only keeping one subscription at a time.
You could keep one for four months before switching to another so that you get the content from three different streaming services over the year. Remember that online rentals are always an option for movies too.
If you only want to watch movies from a certain service every once in a while, cancel the subscription and choose to rent instead.
With the rise of streaming services, most people don’t actually watch cable TV as much as they think. Keep track of how often you use your cable subscription and decide whether it would be more worthwhile to simply cancel the subscription and pay for everything separately.
If you can take big steps toward saving in terms of your technology, health, family expenses, shopping, food, household, and mindset, you are well on your way toward financial success. Remember, keep your eye on the prize and set up a series of small goals that will lead you there!
Paul Martinez is the founder of BendingDestiny.com. He is an expert in the areas of finance, real estate, and eCommerce.
Join him on BendingDestiny.com to learn how to improve your financial life and excel in these areas. Before starting this blog, Paul built from scratch and managed two multi-million dollar companies. One in the real estate sector and one in the eCommerce sector.