Are you dreaming of a luxury vacation, a home down payment, or an early retirement? Saving can help you reach financial goals and use the resources you have today to create the life of your dreams. With a little creativity, you may be able to save more and have fun doing it. Read on to get started with clever ways to save money this year.
Why should you save your money?
Saving money is a powerful tool to create prosperity and long-term financial freedom. A dollar saved at age 25, invested and compounding with an interest rate of 7%, will be worth nearly $15 in 40 years. If instead of $1, you can save $100 per week or even $1,000 per month, the savings can become much more significant. Saving what you can, especially in creative ways that don’t create a pinch, can help build financial security.
23 creative strategies to save money
Ready to hit savings goals? Even $10 per week is an extra $520 a year for a big goal or something fun. Here are 23 creative ways to adjust spending habits and save money:
1. Declutter and sell unused items
Instead of hanging onto things you might need someday, declutter and consider what you don’t use or need.
Consider clothing, shoes, bags, luggage, sports equipment, tools, musical instruments, appliances, and furniture. Also, consider unopened, unused products from a skincare routine that you could sell online. Sell items on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, eBay, or other online resale websites, or consider holding a yard sale.
2. Plan meals in advance
Planning meals in advance doesn’t have to involve elaborate menus, although it can. One option is to list quick meals you enjoy making at home.
Start with a basic plan and shop for the foods you’ll need for each meal. Whether you prep meals over the weekend or simply keep the fridge and pantry stocked for fast weekday meals, meal planning can make it easier to ditch the takeout and save $20 to $100 or more per week.
3. Create a grocery shopping list
A grocery shopping list can help you spend less when you’re shopping. Keep a running list in the kitchen where everyone in the household can add items as they run out. When it’s time to go shopping, focus on inexpensive, whole-food ingredients that can be the basis of fast, cheap, healthy meals. Try to avoid expensive exotic ingredients or specialty foods, other than for treats, to keep costs lower.
4. Keep the change
Every time you pay cash, take the pocket change and put it into a separate purse or bag where you can later add it to savings or even a piggy bank. Likewise, some credit or debit cards allow you to automatically transfer the change on each transaction into a savings account. Or, move the difference for each check into a separate checking account or savings account. Little amounts add up over time.
5. Organize your bill due dates
Double-check all the due dates on your credit cards, electricity, water, cell phone bill and cable bill. Try to negotiate your bill dates to be after you’re expecting a paycheck. Some people prefer to have all bills due on the same date, making it easier to remember. Others choose to spread bills out over the month.
You can also speak with utility providers to see whether you can switch to a lower-cost plan or subscription with fewer features to save $10 to $50 per month.
6. Try a money-saving challenge
Money-saving challenges are where you challenge yourself to spend less and save more for a certain period of time. Popular money-saving challenges include the envelope challenge and the 30-day saving challenge.
With the envelope challenge, you’ll take 100 envelopes and number them from 1 to 100. Then, mix up the envelopes. Each day, you’ll randomly select one envelope and put that amount of money into the envelope. For example, if the envelope is number 10, you’ll put in $10. At the end of 100 days, you’ll have saved $5,050. As a variation, you could also use pieces of paper and deposit the money directly into a savings account.
With the 30-day saving challenge, make a goal to save a set amount each day. Or start by saving $1 on day one and $2 on day two, adding $1 a day for 30 days.
Alternatively, make a 52-week saving challenge, where you save $1 the first week, $2 the second week, and continue adding $1 a week for the year. By the end of the year, you will have saved $1,368.
7. Start going to thrift shops or discount stores
Thrift or discount stores can be great ways to get gently used or like-new items you need for very little. Consider thrifting for clothes, shoes, serving dishes, planters for the garden, sports equipment, tools, appliances, furniture, and anything else you need.
Check Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Savers, Thrift Town, or other national chains. You can also search for local thrift or discount stores and Facebook Marketplace for cheap or free local options. And for anything you can’t find used, you can search online sites like eBay or wait for sales and combine them with coupons to save more.
8. Automate your savings
Whether you choose the 70-20-10 budget or the 50-20-30 budget, automating savings can make it easier to save more. Set up an automatic transfer to a high-yield savings account with each paycheck, or use the principle to “pay yourself first” before making any other payments.
MoneyLion offers a convenient marketplace to compare high-yield savings accounts from our trusted partners that could help grow your money.
9. Compare insurance rates and adjust your policy
Health insurance, life insurance, property insurance, and car insurance can all add up. Check your premiums and coverage and then shop around. Even reducing each bill by 10% per month could mean an extra $25 to $50 in savings monthly.
10. Consider zero-based budgeting
With zero-based budgeting, your budget starts at zero each month. Then, you analyze necessary expenses and allocate a percentage of the budget to that expense.
11. Reevaluate your subscriptions and memberships
Reevaluate whether you need email subscriptions, streaming services, gym membership programs or other subscription programs. Are you using them, and do they add value to your life each week? If not, consider pausing or canceling memberships to save $20 to $ 200-plus a month.
12. Buy generic brands instead of name brands
Nearly everything is available in off-brand offerings, from clothing and medicine to adhesive bandages, tissues, and food. Often, the off-brands are just as good quality or will do the job but could net you savings of $1 or more per item.
13. Use loyalty programs and rewards cards
Store loyalty programs or rewards cards allow you to earn points, cash, or discounts for future purchases.
14. Buy in bulk
Consider buying grocery and household items in bulk. This can be at a store like Costco Wholesale, Sam’s Club or other big-box stores for items like cleaning supplies, toilet paper, dry and frozen foods, and fresh produce you’ll use.
In addition, consider whether a local grocery store has bulk bins. Bulk bins typically sell everything from dried beans and grains to cereal, granola, snack mixes, peanut butter, and nuts at a discount. Some even offer a discount for bulk laundry detergent, hand soap, and other cleaning supplies.
15. Use a water filter instead of buying bottled water
Bottled water can add significantly to your family’s total budget, even if you’re buying in bulk. Consider switching to a water filter to start saving from the first month. Costs for water filters start at about $25, and you can get an under-sink water filter for about $200, plus installation costs. Over the filter’s lifetime, this could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.
16. Grow your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs
Gardening is good for your health and good for your wallet. Whether you plant a large garden or only have space for a few pots, consider growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs to save costs and create a healthy food supply. Herbs, in particular, are easy to grow, costly to purchase, and add lots of flavor to simple meals.
17. Track your expenses
Consider tracking your expenses for 30 days to get a handle on current expenses and future budget goals. You can do this via an app or by hand. To make expense tracking easier, try to choose one payment method, like a debit or credit card, so the total is readily available. Once you see where your money is going, consider more ways to save.
18. Attend free events for entertainment
Once you start looking, most areas have many free events. Look for free museum days, concerts or theater in the park, art walks, walking tours, or other free entertainment. Check Meetup or other apps to search for free local events..
For other free activities, you can get outdoors, go hiking, or spend an afternoon in a local park.
19. Use cashback apps
Cashback apps can help you earn more with every purchase. Some apps will automatically search for coupons for regular purchases. You just download them, sign up, and start saving. Digital wallets or certain credit cards also offer cash back.
20. DIY everything that you can
Do-it-yourself (DIY) is a way to save more while learning new skills. Mow the lawn, build garden beds, or do other simple repairs. Consider altering clothes you already have, repairing broken furniture, or making what you need rather than buying it new.
21. Try out digital budget apps
Digital budget apps allow you to link your credit cards, bank accounts, and investment accounts together. Then, you can set budget categories and categorize expenses you’ve already made. This can help keep you accountable and delegate more to savings.
22. Look for an accountability partner
Sticking to budget goals is easier when you’re surrounded by other people with similar goals. Find a family member, friend, or online communities where you can find inspiration and more clever ideas to save money. They can share budgeting tips, inspiration and cheer you on.
23. Build your emergency fund
An emergency fund is money you’ll use in case of unexpected expenses, like a medical emergency or car breakdown. As part of a budgeting strategy, building an emergency fund means you’ll have better chances of sticking to your budget regardless of what life throws your way.
To build an emergency fund, put a portion of each paycheck or amount you save into a savings account. Most standard savings advice suggests having three to six months of expenses in emergency savings.
More clever ways to save money
Saving money doesn’t have to be monotonous. Make new free traditions to bring together family and friends. And if you don’t find free groups for the hobbies you love, make a Meetup group and invite others to join you. You can also consider a side hustle, online shop, or other income streams to bring in more to use toward savings. Once you start saving, it’s easier to build momentum, and you may find new ways to save even more.
How can you save money without feeling like you’re missing out on fun activities or experiences?
To save money without feeling like you’re missing out, find or make free or low-cost fun activities.
Are there any clever ways to save money on groceries without compromising nutrition?
Cheap, healthy, staple foods, including beans, rice and other grains, seeds, frozen fruits and vegetables, and eggs. Use these ingredients as the foundation of a healthy diet, and then supplement with higher-cost items. Also, consider shopping at farmers’ markets and purchasing in-season produce at lower costs.
What are some unique ways to save money on personal finance and banking fees?
You can save money by choosing a free or low-fee bank account. Consider also saving a little more each month, automating saving transfers, saving small amounts, or even trying to delay purchases for 30 days.