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55 Practical Ways To Save Money Efficiently

55 Practical Ways To Save Money Efficiently

There are many ways to save money and as you start discovering more ways to save money, you will find that it becomes easier as the days pass. If you are efficient and wise with your money, you can probably save thousands each year.

Saving money does not have to be hard. I was able to save my money and pay off around $40,000 in student loan debt. You can save money to lower your budget, pay off debt, and increase your savings too.  Here are a few practical ways to save money efficiently.

Ways to Save Money on Food

1. Buy groceries in bulk. You may be able to save per item this way.

2. Bulk cook your meals. This can save you money because you are less likely to waste ingredients.

3. Make your food at home.

4. Know which grocery stores have the cheaper items.

5. If you eat out, bring a coupon.

6. Create a menu plan before you go grocery shopping.

Ways to Save Money on Insurance

7. Ask if you can qualify for any further discounts.

8. Shop around for the best insurance rates.

9. If you are confident that you can save money, raise your deductibles. You can raise it from $500 to $1,000 and save some money. I’ve seen some people have $0 deductibles who are wasting a lot of money.

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Ways to Save Money on Transportation

10. Know when to buy airfare. Certain days are cheaper, and flying on certain days are cheaper.

11. Do you really need all of that car insurance coverage? When you have car insurance, there are usually a lot of extras in there, such as towing, rentals and so on.

12. Determine how many cars you really need. Cutting out one car can lower your transportation expenses significantly.

13. Know where to buy gas. Near my house there is a gas station that is almost always 20 cents cheaper than everywhere else. It’s not a large savings, but I don’t even have to go out of my way to go to this gas station, so I might as well go there.

14. Get your tires rotated. Tire rotations are cheap and can really extend the life of your tires.

15. Get an oil change. You might not need one every 3,000 miles though.

16. Clean out your car. Extra weight can mean worse gas mileage.

17. Buy a better air filter. Some air filters have a lifetime warranty and can also improve your gas mileage.

18. Know when to buy a car. There are good and bad times to buy.

19. Use public transportation to save even more money.

20. Ride your bike. If you already have the bike, then everything else after this is nearly free (except for bike maintenance of course).

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Ways to Save Money on Personal Items

21. Ask for generic drugs.

22. Buy store brand. When it comes to medications, store brand is almost always identical to name brand.

23. Buy clothing when it is on sale. Clothes almost always go on sale.

24. Buy second hand. There are many second hand stores that carry the latest styles.

25. Take care of the clothing that you buy. Washing something incorrectly can cost you money because you may have to buy the same item again.

Ways to Save Money on Your Home

26. Keep your furnace in good condition. Have someone check it if you do not know how.

27. Buy efficient windows if yours are no longer efficient. If you have old windows, then you may just be throwing money away because cold air is just flowing right inside.

28. Buy the house that you need. Do you really need 8 bedrooms when there are only the two of you?

29. Shop around for the best interest rate.  1% difference in an interest rate can be a big difference for your monthly mortgage payment.

30. Before you buy, know what the property taxes will be like. There were many homes that we were thinking about buying until we saw how much there property taxes were. A similar house at the same price would only have taxes of around $3,000 per year, but some houses that we found at the same exact price had taxes of nearly $7,000 or $8,000 each year.

Miscellaneous Ways to Save Money

31. Keep track of what you spend. If you are not good with your budget and always spend more than you make, then you need to closely keep track of what you are spending.

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32. Start a budget. Make it realistic and know exactly what you are spending in each category. You will probably be surprised.

33. Little amounts add up. If saving an amount such as $200 per month seems too high for you, aim for something such as $50 per week. A different mindset can help a lot.

34. Don’t spend money on interest. Remember to pay your bills.

35. Avoid ATM fees. Look online to see where you can use an ATM for free.

36. Check to see if you are allowed any discounts. If you belong to any organizations, then you may be able to get a discount on certain items. We receive a 20% discount on our AT&T bill, which is nice and it only took 5 minutes to do, and that was over 5 years ago.

37. Save your coins. Throw all of your coins into a jar and empty it out after it is full.

38. Before you buy something, think about how long you have to work in order to actually buy it. Is that $100 dress worth hours of your time?

39. If you are a bad credit card spender, then leave your credit card at home and only carry cash.

40. Round up. Each time you spend an amount such as $1.33, round up to $2.00 and save the rest.

41. Before you buy something, put it down and think about it while you are shopping for other things on your list. If you still want to go back to it, then maybe you should buy it.

Ways to Save Money when Having Fun

42. Find a coupon before you go out. There are entertainment books available in most cities with many coupons.

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43. Look for free festivals in your area. In many cities and towns, there are plenty of them.

44. Go for a bike ride.

45. Camp out instead of staying at a hotel.

46. Use Netflix instead of cable.

47. Visit the library. You can borrow books and even the latest movies at some libraries.

48. Look for free tickets. For many events, you can find free tickets being handed out.

49. Do a secret Santa this year instead of exchanging gifts with everyone. Buying just one present instead of 10 can easily save you money.

50. Have dinner at a friends instead of going out to eat.

51. If you go out, drink during happy hour.

52. Watch amateur sporting events instead of professional ones.

53. Watch a movie early in the day instead of at night.

54. Have a babysitting group if you had children.

55. Buy season passes. Yes, the upfront cost may be high, but you may be able to save a lot of money as well.

More by this author

Michelle S.

Founder of Making Sense of Cents, a blog about personal finance and traveling.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

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. And 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 on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

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

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) 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 is for. It could be anything like kid’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, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them 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 out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for 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”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

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

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as 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.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

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

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 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. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation 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 monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

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

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

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 then manage all the expenses from the rest.

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

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

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. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. 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 counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So 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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6. 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. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

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

7. Maintain a Journal

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

So 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.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

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

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is 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.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

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.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So 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 as compared to equity instruments.

10. 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.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

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

11. 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; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do 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

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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