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50 Quick & Easy Ways to Save Money

50 Quick & Easy Ways to Save Money

If you think that budgeting and saving money is hard, think again! These days, there are so many easy ways to save a buck or two. Whether you’re using the best websites to score great deals or simply being more money-conscious, you can easily slash hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars from your yearly expenses by learning a few of the tricks and tips we’ve listed below.

1. Start a piggy bank. Emptying your pockets into a piggy bank every day is a great habit to get into to save money. Sure it may seem childish, but storing your change away can really add up.

2. Get savvy with coupons. Coupons are a great way to save money on grocery and everyday items. Start clipping them from the insert in your Sunday paper or go to a website like www.Coupons.com and print them out.

3. Carpool to work with a friend. Carpooling saves tons of money in gas, and it’s also good for the environment.

4. Eat a few vegetarian meals every week. Chicken and ground beef are expensive to buy. Try cooking spaghetti without the meat, or make a vegetarian lasagna, and save a few bucks along the way.

5. Call your car insurance agent. It only takes a few minutes to give your car insurance company a call. When you do, you can ask them about any current sales or deals. Many of them have discounts for seemingly small reasons that you can take advantage of.

6. Turn off your lights. We as a society have become much better at conserving energy, but it’s always helpful to have a reminder to turn off the kitchen lights when you’re in your bedroom and vice versa.

7. Shop at thrift stores. Thrift stores are great places to purchase clothing, luggage, and even furniture for less. You’d be surprised at the high quality of items that people donate.

8. Learn how to refinish furniture. If you learn how to refinish furniture, then you’ll be able to give all of your pieces a fresh, new look without spending a fortune decorating.

9. Buy designer clothes on Ebay. If you love designer clothes but still want to save some money, start searching for them on Ebay. There are tons of auctions on there every day, and you can get great deals on very nice clothing.

10. Get a roommate. It doesn’t matter how old you are, getting a roommate is a great way to save significant money on your expenses. If you’re worried about sharing your space, be sure to rent to someone who is mature and will respect your belongings.

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11. Grow a vegetable garden. Growing your own vegetables means less money spent at the grocery!

12. Avoid going out to eat. This might be hard to avoid altogether, but it’s been proven time and time again that cooking at home saves you significant money in the long run.

13. Buy used cars. Buying a car that’s only one or two years old is a much better investment than a brand new one. They don’t depreciate as quickly.

14. Use your own herbs. Small herb gardens are easy to grow, and you can keep them inside you home or in a windowsill. This can save you several dollars throughout the year, and fresh herbs taste better too!

15. Shop Etsy.com for handmade gifts. Etsy is a great online marketplace where crafters go to sell their goods. You can find beautiful pieces of jewelry and accessories for affordable prices.

16. Give up alcohol. A glass of wine can definitely be nice at the end of a long workday, but alcohol is quite expensive, and going without it can save some people thousands throughout the year.

17. Sign up for a gas rewards card. Many grocery stores partner with gas stations to get you discounts on gas for every hundred dollars you spend at the grocery. Be sure to research the stores in your area so you don’t miss out on these great opportunities.

18. Try having a “no spend” day. You’d be surprised how hard it is to go an entire day without spending money. Give it a shot and see how well you do!

19. Dye your hair back to your natural color. If you spend a considerable amount of money dyeing your hair or getting highlights every few weeks, try going back to your natural color to save significant bucks.

20. Check out Groupon. Groupon.com and other deal sites are a great way to save money in your area whether your find a restaurant coupon or a free movie pass.

21. Order water at a restaurant. Some restaurants charge exorbitant amounts for cokes, let alone mixed drinks. By just ordering tap water and making it a habit, you can save a lot of money throughout the year.

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22. Learn how to sew curtains. If you learn how to sew curtains, you can save hundred of dollars furnishing your home.

23. Buy in bulk. Buying your canned goods in bulk is a great way to save money over the long term.

24. Print pictures at home. Instead of using gas to drive to a print shop, print your pictures at home using your own ink cartridges. The cartridges are expensive, but you can get a lot of use out of them.

25. Borrow from the library. Why buy books when you can borrow them from your local library for free?

26. Consume all of your milk. There’s nothing worse than wasting food, especially milk. Make sure to only buy a half-gallon if you don’t use it frequently or use a lot of recipes that require it that week.

27. Use generic prescriptions. So many prescriptions come in generic form now. You can save a bundle by using them—just check with your doctor first.

28. Try e-books. You don’t have to have an e-reader to benefit from e-books; you can download the programs onto your computer for free and read them right there. They are significantly cheaper than paper books if you are buying, and you can still get them for free from the library at most locations.

29. Upgrade to first class if you have a lot of luggage. Luggage and overweight fees on airlines these days can cost even more than a first class upgrade. When you ride first class, you often get to take 70lbs of luggage and 3+ bags free of charge, so it’s a better deal.

30. Repair versus buying new. Sometimes it’s less expensive to replace a part on an item instead of buying a new one. For example, buying a new watch battery is much cheaper than buying a new watch.

31. Buy a water filter. Filtering your own water is so much more cost effective and eco-friendly than buying water bottles.

32. Get the flu shot. Getting the flu shot is very inexpensive, and preventing the illness can save you from taking too many days off work.

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33. Train your dog. Training your dog is relatively simple and just takes a little bit of time every day. A trained dog won’t ruin furniture, shoes, or your floor, thus saving you money.

34. Buy quality not quantity. A nice, quality pair of shoes can last you 10 years whereas a cheap pair will break easily and cost you more in the long run.

35. Learn to say “no.” Telling yourself no regularly is the best way to save money. Simply passing on the candy bar you want in the checkout line at the store can save you a few dollars, and doing this regularly can save you hundreds over the course of a year.

36. Use a clothesline. Drying your clothes on a clothesline instead of your dryer is a great way to save money on electricity.

37. Protect your assets. It’s easy and cheap to buy a surge protector and a bike lock. These inexpensive items protect more costly items and can save you significant dollars in the long run.

38. Use a pre-paid phone. There are many pre-paid phone plans that are significantly less expensive that the contract plans. Plus, they don’t come with all the strings attached. For example, Wal-Mart just announced they will be selling the iPhone pre-paid plans for half the price of regular stores.

39. Buy refurbished products. Many refurbished products, like computers, come with warranties so they are less expensive and safe to buy.

40. Learn how to hem pants. Hemming pants doesn’t require a sewing machine. You can actually do it by hand, and save a lot of money that you would have spent at the tailor.

41. Hand deliver notes. If you know you’re going to see your mom or best friend, hand them a thank-you note in person instead of purchasing a stamp.

42. Use hand-me-downs. Hand-me-downs aren’t just for kids: get a group of your friends together to trade clothes and accessories they don’t want anymore, so everyone can exchange them to get new things for free.

43. Make homemade pizza. For the cost of one delivered pizza, you can make several homemade pizzas and use them for a few meals.

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44. Get a cash-back credit card. This type of credit card will give you a percentage of your purchases back in cash.

45. Buy neutral clothing. Wearing black, white, and gray clothes means that you can mix and match easier without having too many different outfits. (Hint: Make them stand out with fun, bright accessories, which are more affordable than a bunch of new clothes.)

46. Exercise regularly. Staying healthy means fewer doctor’s bills.

47. Go on a picnic. Or, take a walk on the beach. There are likely dozens of free activities you can do in your city that don’t cost a dime.

48. Buy Forever Stamps. Buying Forever Stamps means that you can use those stamps without having to pay extra when the price of stamps goes up.

49. Use frequent flier miles. If you save up enough frequent flier miles, you can get flights for free.

50. Read several personal finance blogs. Google “personal finance blogs” to find a list of great bloggers who share their thoughts on a variety of different financial topics, including even more tips on saving money!

I hope this list helps you save a significant amount of cash this year. Please let us know in the comment section if there’s anything we missed!

 

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Catherine Alford

Catherine is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions.

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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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