It's easy to say you want to save more money. It's harder to know where exactly to start. But it's easier than you think. Here are 25 ways to start saving you can work on right away.
1. Focus on paying down your debt
Debt is expensive. Interest rates can keep you mired in that debt for years, costing you more and more over time. Know the difference between good and bad debt, and tackle bad debt as soon as you can.
2. Learn to fix things
There are a lot of services we pay for that we could do ourselves if we made the time or learned the skill. Think changing your own oil, grooming your dog, hemming seams and sewing buttons. Chances are there’s a YouTube video that will walk you through whatever it is you’re about to pay someone else to do.
3. Use coupons
Finding coupons for goods and services is easier than ever. Before you buy, check the company website for promotions, and search the internet for coupons.
4. Take your lunch to work ...
You can save serious money doing this, even if you’re spending just $5 to $10 each day on lunch. Just $5 a day adds up to more than $1,000 a year. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Consider this lunch that can cost less than $1. Chances are making your own lunch is probably a healthier option as well.
5. ... & make your own breakfast
That’s also true for your breakfast. The drive-through sandwich you grab on your way to the office is probably filled with sodium, fat and more calories than you need. You can make your own breakfast for probably less time than you spend in the drive-through line, and definitely less money.
6. Cut back on drinking & smoking
Another healthy way to save money is to cut back on drinking and smoking (or to quit altogether, which can help you save money in other ways).
7. Consider your commute
If you’re jumping in the car most mornings when you could be taking public transportation, walking or riding your bike, you may want to do a cost analysis. Chances are you could save significant money grabbing the bus, train or subway or walking or biking, not to mention saving wear and tear on your vehicle.
8. Do it yourself
Just like learning to fix things, doing things yourself can save you heaps. Mow your own yard, clean your own home, do your own laundry and by all means, cook your own food.
9. Sign up for membership programs
Are you 50 or older? Join AARP for a nominal annual fee and reap the benefits, like discounts on your monthly cell phone bill. Too young? Consider joining affiliation clubs like alumni associations and similar groups that offer discounts for members.
10. Get a cash-back credit card
It’s hard to beat saving money by getting cash back on your purchases. Look for cash-back credit cards that offer more cash back for the things you buy the most, like groceries, gasoline, or restaurants.
11. Fix your credit
Of course, cash-back credit cards require decent credit, so if your credit scores aren’t as high as they should be, start working on improving your credit. Doing so can save you money on everything from car insurance premiums to mortgage interest rates.
12. Cut the cord
Are you still paying for cable television? Just quit it already. You can save a lot of money by buying a digital antenna or a device like AppleTV or Amazon’s Fire Stick.
13. Review your ongoing expenses ...
Just like going to the dentist or doctor for routine checkups is a good idea, it’s also wise to check up on your spending every now and then. It’s easy if you already have a monthly budget.
14. ... like your cell phone contract ...
For example, are you using all your minutes and data each month? If not, can you downgrade your service for a cost savings?
15. ... your insurance policies ...
Likewise your insurance policies. Are you benefiting from having a higher deductible? Reviewing your policies with your agent or carrier each year is super smart. You can use this free insurance checkup tool to get started.
16. ... & even your subscriptions
Do you have apps, magazines or other subscriptions you aren’t really using anymore? Get rid of them. It’s easy to do this if you just add these items into a spreadsheet. You can run through the sheet, determine if an item is still worth paying for and either keep it or sweep it.
17. Try shopping at a cheaper grocery store ...
Sometimes shopping at your nearest grocer isn’t always your best option, especially when it comes to saving money. Try a new grocery store this weekend. Compare their prices to your current grocer and see if there’s a significant difference on the items you buy most frequently. Even check out Amazon for items you can have shipped to you routinely, often at a solid savings.
18. ... watch for double & even triple coupons ...
Some stores offer double and even triple coupon days, increasing the savings on those manufacturers coupons you can clip or online. The savings can really add up.
19. ... & definitely join your grocer’s rewards program
Not only will you get updates on the most recent deals and discounts, you may be privy to specials that non-members can’t get.
20. In fact, join all the rewards programs
Don’t just limit your savings to groceries, join airline, hotel and even car rental programs that reward you for your loyalty. Some of these may be connected to the cash-back credit cards we mentioned earlier.
21. Test your green thumb
You can save a ton of money on fresh vegetables and herbs by growing your own. If you have neighbors, you can swap and save for even greater savings (and you won’t end up with 10 pounds of tomatoes you don’t know what to do with).
22. Practice patience
In this age of instant gratification it’s easy to see something you want and just buy it. But if you wait at least 30 days after the itch to own something hits you, you may find you don’t actually want it at all, that it was just an impulse buy. If you want it after that 30-day waiting period, you’re less likely to end up with buyer’s remorse.
23. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, bargain & haggle
Does it make you feel cheap to try to get a lower price for goods and services? Get over that if you want to save money. Everything from credit card interest rates to the cost of home repairs and the price of automobiles can often be negotiated down. Remember, the answer is always “no” if you don’t ask.
24. Get lean & clean
If you have a lot of stuff around your house you rarely or never use, it may be time to do a purge. Go through your stuff. If you haven’t used something in a year and it doesn’t hold significant sentimental value, let it go. Have a yard sale or consign your items.
25. Buy quality
Just because you pay more for something doesn’t mean it’s better, but it can pay off to make sure you’re buying quality items that will last instead of the least expensive option. This is particularly true when it comes to big-ticket items like appliances, mattresses and even some articles of clothing like coats and shoes. “Planned obsolescence” is a real thing, and knowing that can save you loads in the long run.
Image: Sam Edwards