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Money doesn’t grow on trees. And unless you’re a lottery winner or trust fund baby, you probably work very hard for what you have.
Doesn’t it make sense then to try to save as much of your hard-earned money as possible? The less you spend, the more you have.
There are many things you can do to save money. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity to make it happen. And many of these things are very simple, too.
Here are 30 brilliant money hacks you can use to save big on many of your expenses…
Table of Contents
1. Use the Ibotta App
Using the Ibotta app when you shop for groceries is a great way to get cash back for many of the things you buy on a regular basis. The app is completely free to download and use. It’s great for grocery shopping, but it also works for other stores too (Target, Walmart, CVS, etc.).
The way the app works is simple. You just unlock cash back rebates in the app before you go shopping. After your shopping trip is completed, you scan your receipt to see if you qualify for cash back.
2. Compare Insurance Rates
Do you remember the last time you got some insurance quotes and did some comparison shopping? It could be insurance for your home, vehicle, or anything else.
Things change. A great rate you got from a company a decade ago may not be so competitive these days. By checking with other companies, you can compare costs and go with the company that gives you the best rate with the best coverage.
3. Lower Your Thermostat
You may be able to lower your electricity bill by lowering the temperature on your thermostat by one degree during the winter. It costs a lot of money to heat a home with electricity, and most people won’t be able to tell much of a difference with a one-degree temperature change. If you do happen to feel a chill, put on a sweater, sweatshirt, or light jacket.
On the flip side, during the summer months, you may also be able to save electricity by setting your air conditioner one degree higher than normal. If you happen to feel a little warm, just run a fan in your general direction to cool things down.
4. Stop Buying Sugary Drinks
Most people don’t have any idea how much they spend on sugary beverages (soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, etc.). The tab can really add up if you aren’t careful.
Instead of drinking sugary beverages, try drinking water instead. Most restaurants offer free water with meals. By dropping the sugary drinks and switching to water, not only will you save money, but you might just lose some weight, too. Your body will thank you.
5. Pack Your Lunch
If you have to eat out a lot, you probably already know how expensive it can be. Even if you just eat out twice a week, that’s eight times in a month. You can very easily save a lot of money by packing your lunches instead of heading out to a restaurant when it’s lunchtime.
When you pack your lunch, you can eat foods that are both healthier and more affordable. You’ll be able to know all of the ingredients that went into your meal, and you’ll have full control over how it was prepared.
Another advantage of packing your lunch is that it helps you avoid temptation when you are at a restaurant and everything on the menu looks delicious. This is an important consideration for those who are on special diets, like those trying to lose weight or those with dietary health concerns.
6. Cut Back on Dining Out
Everyone likes to dine out on occasion, but prepared meals can be very expensive. It almost always costs much less to prepare meals at home than it does to eat out.
To see how much you spend in a month on dining out, keep a written record of each meal you purchase for a month. Be sure to include tips. At the end of the month, tally everything up to see how much you spent. If you are shocked by the amount, it might be time to cut back.
If you like to dine out once or twice a week, try cutting back to just once a week or once every other week for a while to save some money. The savings can really add up fast!
7. Eat Less Meat
Meat is expensive (in case you haven’t noticed). A very easy way to save a lot of money is to eat less meat. One idea is to limit eating meat to just one or two meals a week and eat vegetable meals the rest of the time.
Another idea is to buy meats that are on sale at the grocery store. These meats are usually still fine (otherwise the stores couldn’t sell them), but the stores know they need to be sold soon. That’s why they put them on sale. These meats are often heavily discounted to ensure a quick sale.
8. Buy Used Whenever Possible
You can potentially save a lot of money on many of the things you purchase by buying them used instead of new. It’s now very easy to find used items thanks to Craigslist, OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, and other places online that list used items for sale. Don’t forget to check thrift stores, auctions, and yard sales, too!
Many people sell things all the time that have been gently used, and they are often listed at a substantial discount over the original price. You can easily take advantage of this by checking the used listings first for whatever it is that you need before paying full price at a store.
9. Shop for Groceries at Discount Stores
You can buy the exact same groceries at discount grocery stores instead of the big, flashy chain stores and realize big savings. All of those fancy product displays, special lighting, and other features cost money.
Guess who pays for all of that stuff? That’s right, you do. The cost is passed on to you in the form of higher product prices.
Discount grocery stores are usually very simple and plain. They don’t have fancy product displays. Most of the products are stocked right on the shelves in the original boxes they were shipped in. This is how these stores are able to offer lower prices – they keep things simple.
10. Skip Name Brands
If you are shopping for groceries, you may be able to save a lot by buying generic or store brands instead of name brands. Grocery stores don’t make their own products. They make arrangements with companies that produce or manufacture grocery items to have their own brand and label applied to the product. In some cases, generic or store brands are actually name brand products with different labels.
Consider testing a generic or store brand product with your family to see if anyone notices a difference in quality or taste. For example, you could substitute a can of generic green beans in a meal to see how it works out. Don’t tell your family anything is different until they’ve finished eating. Then ask them if they noticed anything different. If not, then you’ve got a winner on your hand.
11. Do It Yourself
Are you thinking about hiring someone to paint a room in your home? Maybe you are looking for someone to do some landscaping in your front yard. Or maybe it’s time to call a plumber to fix that leaky faucet that’s been bugging you for weeks.
Whenever you hire someone to do a service of some kind for you, you can expect to spend a lot of money to get the job done. Good help doesn’t come cheap. You can easily save a lot of money by taking care of small repair jobs and other tasks around your home yourself.
These days, it’s very easy to figure out how to do many repair jobs thanks to the internet. If you want to know how to build a pergola, for example, detailed instructions are just a few mouse clicks away. In addition to website tutorials, YouTube is a treasure trove of information. One woman, for example, built a home for her family by watching YouTube videos.
12. Cut the Cord
If it seems like it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to find anything to watch on TV, it’s not your imagination. Despite cable TV packages having hundreds of channels, it’s often hard these days to find anything worth watching. Because if this, many are saving big by canceling their cable packages for other options.
You may be able to find local channels to watch for free by using an antenna. You may also be able to stream content from the internet with a Roku, Fire Stick, Chromecast, or other device. Don’t forget about renting video content from your local library. Most libraries now have good selections of movies, TV shows, and documentaries that you can check out and take home with you.
13. Switch Your Cell Phone Plan
Cell phone companies are in constant competition with each other to lure customers. And over the years, cell phone plans have been offering more service for less money. If you haven’t updated your cell phone plan in several years, it’s definitely worth taking the time to do a little comparison shopping to find a more affordable service that meets your needs.
In addition to checking plans with other companies, be sure to check with the service provider you are currently with. Sometimes your provider will offer special promotions.
If you do switch cell phone carriers to take advantage of a better plan, it’s important to point out that you may be required to agree to a new contract. Don’t forget that there are many cell phone service providers that don’t require contracts at all, like Ting.
14. Track Your Spending
Do you know how much money you spend each month on your living expenses? Most people don’t. It can be shocking when you see a written tally of your monthly expenses for the first time. Knowing how much you spend on groceries, eating out, entertainment, gasoline, utilities, and other things is a powerful way to motivate yourself to cut back.
As an exercise, just keep a simple notebook. At the start of a new month, write down everything you spend money on – every time you eat out, every bill you pay, even that new pack of socks you need. At the end of the month, tally everything up to see where you are. See if you can identify anything you can either cut back on or eliminate to save money.
15. Drop Bad Habits
If you smoke or drink alcohol on a regular basis, you can very easily save a lot of money by ditching bad habits. According to the CDC, if you smoke just one pack of cigarettes a day, you are spending $2,292 a year on tobacco products. That’s a lot of money!
Not only will you save a lot by ditching alcohol and tobacco products, but your health will improve, too. Your body will thank you!
16. Install a Programmable Thermostat
Do you really need to keep your thermostat set at 72 degrees all hours of the day and night? What if nobody’s home for hours at a time – like when you’re at work?
You may be able to save money on electricity by installing a programmable thermostat. You could program it to change the temperature to a higher setting during the summer while you’re at work and then lower the temperate 30 minutes before you get home to give it time to cool things down.
You could do the same thing at night when you go to bed during the winter. It usually isn’t necessary to keep the heat set at 72 degrees when you’re underneath several blankets. Why not lower the temperature while you’re sleeping and then program the thermostat to start warming things up about 30 minutes before you get up?
17. Buy Quality Appliances and Vehicles
Not all brands offer the same degree of reliability. Some brands of appliances, TVs, vehicles, and other things are definitely better than others. If you are in the market for a new big-ticket item, it’s always a good idea to check Consumer Reports and other publications that evaluate product reliability.
If you purchase products that are better made and more reliable than other brands, you can save money on expensive repairs and keep them longer.
18. Cancel Unused Gym Memberships
At the beginning of each new year, many people make New Year’s resolutions to get in shape. They then join a gym, go a few times, and then stop going when life gets in the way.
If you have a gym membership that you are no longer using, you can very easily save money by canceling it before it renews.
What if you still want to get some exercise? There are many ways to get a lot of exercise without spending money on gym memberships. You could take up running or go for walks. A good pair of running shoes is a lot cheaper than what many gyms charge.
19. Give the Gift of Labor
Presents can be expensive. And if you’re expected to give presents on birthdays, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and other events, the tab can really add up.
One thing you can do instead of giving an expensive present is to do something for that special someone instead. You could, for instance, offer to clean that person’s house or wash and wax her vehicle. There are many who would much rather receive the gift of labor than a store bought gift anyway.
20. Make Sure Your Tires Are Properly Inflated
If your tires aren’t properly inflated, you may be using more fuel than necessary to get to the places you need to go. For every five pounds per square inch (PSI) of tire pressure you lose, your gas mileage gets about two percent worse.
When inflating your tires, be sure to inflate them to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. This information can be found in your owner’s manual, and it is also often printed on the inside of the driver’s side door.
21. Buy in Bulk
Buying products in bulk is a great way to save money on things you use on a regular basis. Sam’s Club and Costco are two of the most popular places to find these deals. Just a few examples of things that are ideal for buying in bulk include canned foods, toilet paper, diapers, dog foods and treats, laundry detergent, personal care items, office supplies, and cereal.
You do have to be careful when you shop in one of these stores. In some instances, you can actually get a better deal on items by shopping somewhere else. You also have to resist the temptation to buy more of an item than you really need. Do you really need 50 sticks of deodorant?
22. Pack Food for Road Trips
Road trips are fun. Paying a lot to eat out during your excursion isn’t. You can easily save a lot on a road trip or other vacation by taking food with you. You could, for instance, take enough food for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks and then eat a nice dinner at a restaurant each day. The savings really add up!
23. Make Your Own Cleaning Supplies
The detergents and other items we use to wash our clothes and clean our homes are expensive. You may be able to save money by making your own. These are great DIY projects, and instructions for making your own detergents are easily found on the internet.
Another great advantage of making your own detergents is that you will know exactly which ingredients were used to make them. You can avoid harsh chemicals and only use natural ingredients if you want.
24. Downsize Your Home
Many people end up buying much more house than they actually need. You may be able to save a lot on your monthly mortgage payment by downsizing your home. This is especially true for empty nesters. How much home do you really need when it’s just the two of you?
In addition, with a smaller home, you can also save on electricity and maintenance expenses. The more house you have, the more it costs to heat and cool it. And the more yard you have, the longer it takes to mow your lawn. Small homes have their advantages.
25. Buy Used Vehicles
New vehicles are very expensive, and as each decade passes, the average price of a new car keeps climbing higher and higher. Not only that, but new cars depreciate very rapidly in their first two years of ownership. Just by buying a new vehicle and driving it off the lot, your new ride will be worth less than what you just paid for it.
You can very easily save a lot of money by buying gently used vehicles instead of brand new cars and trucks. These vehicles can be bought for much less than what they cost new, and they still have the majority of their lives remaining. Just look for a vehicle that’s at least a couple of years old with low miles.
26. Ask for Fees to Be Waived
When a company charges a fee for something, like a signing fee to join a gym, you may be able to have the fee waived just by asking. These fees aren’t always written in stone, and it never hurts to ask about them.
You may be able to have fees waived by proposing an extended contract. In our gym membership example, just ask to have the fee waived for signing up for two years instead of one. Or you could just ask to have it removed without offering anything.
You may be able to have a fee waived in some cases for no other reason than a person is in a good mood. Sometimes you really can save money just by asking.
27. Go on Affordable Vacations
Vacations can be very expensive – but they can also be very affordable. How much you spend on a vacation depends on many different factors like how far you want to travel, mode of transportation (flying vs driving), where you will be staying, what you will be doing, and other things.
If you want to save a lot on a vacation, consider going on an affordable excursion – like on a camping trip. If you stay in a tent and pack your own food, camping doesn’t cost much at all. It’s also very relaxing to be out in nature away from everything.
28. Shop for Clothing at Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are great places to shop for clothes at rock-bottom prices. Most of the clothes they sell are still in great shape. They typically don’t accept clothing that can’t be resold. And they also usually go through all donations to make sure the products they sell are in good condition.
Shopping at thrift stores can also be fun. It’s a lot like treasure hunting. You never know what you’re going to find. And since thrift stores constantly receive donations, it’s worth checking out the same stores once every few weeks to see what new goodies they have.
29. Check Out Free Events
Instead of going to see a movie, concert, or other event where you have to buy expensive tickets, check to see if there are any free events in your community. You might be surprised by what you discover.
Many communities host free concerts, comedians, beauty pageants, car shows, and other events. And if you live in a large metro area, there will be many free events for you to choose from.
Other things you might consider include visiting a free museum, going for a walk in a park, taking your dog to a local dog park, or sitting in on a lecture at a local university. Most communities have many free things you can do. If you aren’t sure of what your options are that doesn’t cost money (or is low-cost), just ask a local for suggestions.
30. Start a Garden
Growing your own vegetables isn’t just a great way to make sure the food you eat is fresh and free from chemicals, it can also save you a lot of money on groceries. Many people also find gardening to be very relaxing. And you can also experience a great sense of accomplishment and pride when the seedlings you planted and nurtured produce delicious vegetables that your family and friends can enjoy.
If you grow a garden, it’s also possible to can vegetables and eat them through the winter. Many like to grow extra tomatoes, for example, and make pasta sauces and salsa from them.
The vegetables you grow can make a major dent in your grocery bill. Fresh vegetables aren’t cheap. Even if you live in a place where you can’t grow a large garden, you may still be able to grow a few plants on your back porch in a planter.
31. Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals in advance is a great way to save a lot on groceries, and it’s not as difficult as you might think. If you plan all of your meals in advance, it makes it much easier to stay within a certain budget when shopping. It means you won’t be winging it on your grocery shopping trips and end up buying much more than you actually need.
In addition to potentially saving a lot of money, planning your meals is also great for those who are on diets or have certain dietary health restrictions due to medical issues.
32. Use a List When Shopping
If you go to the grocery store with a list of things you need and force yourself to stick to it, you can potentially save money by resisting impulse buys. With a list, you only purchase the things you need and exclude those things that are unnecessary.
There are some exceptions to forcing yourself to use a list, of course, like when you forget to add something to your list and you suddenly remember it at the store. A list should be a guide and not something that’s written in stone. If you suddenly remember you need toilet paper when you are at the store and it’s not on your list, by all means, get it!
33. Plan Your Meals Around Sales
Once a week, grocery store managers put things on sale. The most common day of the week for these sales is Wednesday, but it can vary depending on the store. If you are unsure of a store’s markdown or sale day, just ask a store manager.
When products are put on sale at grocery stores, sales fliers are usually put out at the front of the store for you to pick up when you first walk in. Definitely take one of these fliers and see if there’s anything on it you can use.
34. Get a Second Job
Paying down debt is a great way to save money on interest payments. There are many places that will hire you part-time and work with your schedule to help you earn some extra cash.
Another option you might consider is to freelance on the side. There are many who do freelance writing, for example, to earn extra money. Flipping products on eBay sourced from flea markets, thrift stores, auctions, and garage sales is another way to earn extra cash.
There are some who enjoy their side hustles so much they end up quitting their jobs to freelance full-time. Where will freelancing take you? Courses are available on both freelance writing and flipping products to help you get started.
35. Get Savvy with Coupons
Coupons can be very valuable. Surprisingly, many don’t take the time to cut coupons and use them when they are shopping. It just takes a moment to scan the coupons that arrive in your mailbox to see if any of the products they are promoting interest you.
There are some who even make a sport out of collecting and using coupons to see how much they can buy for as little money as possible. While extreme couponing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it is amazing to see how much can be purchased for surprisingly little money with a little bit of planning.
36. Review Your Credit Card Statements
If you use credit cards, it’s definitely a good idea to review your statements each month to make sure there are no extra charges on it that you didn’t make. Credit card fraud and identity theft are major issues these days, and if someone steals your information, you might end up with a surprise on your statement.
Many credit card companies offer free fraud protection to their cardholders. If you see something on your statement that you don’t recognize, definitely call the credit card company to see if they can help you identify the charge. And if it turns out to be fraudulent, see what they can do to help you resolve the issue.
37. Use the 30-Day Rule with Major Purchases
Are you thinking about buying a new vehicle, television set, washing machine, or any other big-ticket item? If so, force yourself to wait 30 days before purchasing it to see if it’s something you really, truly want and need.
Put yourself in timeout.
Sometimes people’s wants and needs change in a 30-day time period. If you still want that special item after waiting 30 days, you can then give yourself permission to buy it. The purpose of following the 30-day rule with big-ticket items is to keep yourself from buying things spontaneously based on excitement.
38. Refurbish Instead of Replacing
Are you thinking about replacing your kitchen cabinets, an old piece of wooden furniture, or something else? If so, you might want to consider refurbishing instead. Many items can be painted, for example, to look brand new.
There are also some specialized paints on the market now, like chalk paint, that gives furniture a beautiful antique look. A can of paint and a paintbrush is a lot more affordable than buying new things.
Gasoline is expensive. If there’s someone who lives near you who works at the same place you do, you may be able to make arrangements to carpool. You could drive one week, for example, and the other person drives the next. Just keep switching back and forth. The savings can really add up.
40. Bring Your Own Coffee
Do you drink a lot of coffee throughout the day? Do you need a t-shirt that says “fueled by coffee?” If so, you can potentially save money by brewing your own coffee at home and taking it with you in a thermos instead of buying coffee at restaurants and convenience stores.
If you don’t have a lot of time in the morning to brew some coffee, you can prepare your coffee maker before you go to bed at night. In the morning, just turn it on a few minutes before you leave for work. It’ll be ready for your thermos in no time.
41. Add Curb Appeal to Your Home
You may be able to increase the value of your home before you sell it by making a few strategic changes to the exterior. These changes don’t always have to be expensive, and they can also make great DIY projects.
For example, you could do a little bit of landscaping – maybe plant some trees, bushes, or other things to make your home more visually appealing. Don’t forget about pruning existing trees and bushes.
Does your mailbox look like it’s seen better days? Get a new one. Outdoor lights and shudders can also be added to improve appearances.
In some cases, there are some more expensive projects you can do to add even more value to your home. It just depends on your unique circumstances.
Talk to a real estate professional for an opinion before investing your money and labor. Examples of things that may add value to your home include new siding, a deck, having your driveway resurfaced, painting your door red, or adding walkways.
42. Automatic Savings
One very clever way to put saving money on autopilot is to ask your bank to automatically transfer a small amount of your deposits to a savings account. A bank representative can help you set this up. You can designate how often the transfers happen and how much is transferred.
If you transfer small amounts into a savings account every time you deposit money, you may not even miss it. But it doesn’t take long for it to add up. You can then keep these savings for a big-ticket item you need to purchase (like a down payment on a home or vehicle) or keep it for an emergency fund.
43. Sell Your Old Junk
The things you buy can accumulate over time and end up in closets, basements, attics, and storage units. If you have a lot of unused stuff sitting around your home, consider going through everything to see if there’s anything you can sell.
You could have a yard sale, for example, to get a few bucks from your old stuff. You could also consider listing things for sale on eBay, Craigslist, OfferUp, or Facebook Marketplace. You may even be able to sell your scrap metal.
That old VHS player that you haven’t used in years and is just taking up space may seem like junk to you, but to someone else, it might be highly valuable. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
44. Save Your Loose Change
One way to save money for something you want to buy is to get an old-fashioned piggy bank. You know, the one that looks like a child’s toy that you deposit change in. Every time you come home, deposit any change you may have in your pockets in the piggy bank.
When the piggy bank is full, you can then empty it to see how much you have. You might be surprised by the total. You can roll your coins and take them to the bank to deposit in your account or trade them for paper money.
45. Get a Roommate
If you live by yourself, you may be able to dramatically cut down on your living expenses by getting a roommate. This one is a little tricky since you don’t want to let just anyone move in with you. It’s best if it’s someone you know – like a friend or family member.
With a roommate, you can split your living expenses evenly. Each of you pays for half of everything including the rent, utilities, groceries, and any other expenses.
46. Sign Up for a Gas Rewards Card
Many convenience stores offer rewards cards you can use to earn points for purchases that you can redeem for merchandise. It’s usually free to sign up for these cards. You just swipe your rewards card when you fill your tank with gas or buy something inside. Who doesn’t like free stuff?
There are also many grocery stores that have partnered with convenience stores that allow you to earn reward points for free gasoline just by buying groceries. In other words, you can get some free gas just for buying things you need and are already buying.
47. Designate One Day of the Week a “No Spend” Day
Pick a day of the week – any day will do – and make it a “no spend” day going forward. You might be surprised by how hard it is to keep from spending on that one day, and it may require a bit of planning to make it happen.
Having a “no spend” day forces you to think about your purchases and resist impulse buys. It’s a great way to train your brain to be more aware of your spending.
48. Exercise Regularly
If you take care of your health, watch your weight, and exercise on a regular basis, you may be able to save on doctor’s bills.
Exercising doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to join an expensive gym or buy a lot of equipment. You could just take up running or go for walks around your neighborhood on a regular basis.
49. Take Advantage of Employer Matches to Your Retirement Planning
Many companies match your contributions to your retirement account (up to a certain amount). If you aren’t taking advantage of employer retirement matching, you are leaving money on the table.
With the magical power of compounding interest, you could build a very nice retirement nest egg for yourself by regularly contributing to your retirement account. The sooner you start contributing to your retirement account, the better.
50. Take Advantage of Employer Tuition Assistance
Many companies offer free money for college tuition each year as a benefit. If you are interested in finishing your college degree or would like to earn a graduate degree, you may be able to take advantage of this benefit to pay for either part or all of your degree program.
If you are unsure of whether your company offers this benefit, check with a human resources representative. The information may also be found on the benefits section of the company website.
Hacking Your Way to Massive Savings
Did you realize there were so many ways to stretch a dollar? Just think of the incredible savings if you implemented several of the strategies on this page.
Saving money is just as good as earning money. It’s like giving yourself a raise when you find ways to lower your expenses and keep more of the money you make.