50 Simple Money Saving Tips
Maybe you are trying to get out of debt, maybe you are living week to week or perhaps you have a dream of retiring early, whatever your reason for wanting to reduce your spending you have come to the right place
Using some or all of the following tips will ensure you improve your financial situation and in some cases very rapidly.
The most important thing before you begin is to have the right mindset, set your goals and stay positive.
Here are our 50 simple money saving tips
1. Know where your money goes
For the period of one month keep track of every single cent you spend. You can do this on a spreadsheet or with a simple pad and pen (which I prefer to use). Every time you spend money, even on a packet of chewing gum, enter the amount you have spent and what it was on.
At the end of the month tally up your spending and take a look at where your hard earned money has gone. This will allow you to identify where your money is going and where you can cut back on unnecessary spending.
2. Separate needs from wants
This is possibly the most important money saving tip in the list. Knowing the difference between our needs and wants can be a great starting point to saving a huge amount of money. A need quite simply is something you require in order to live: food, water, shelter and clothes are all needs, however two pairs of jeans may be your needs but 20 are most definitely wants.
It may help to make a list of your monthly needs costs and deduct this from your monthly income. This allows you to see how much money you have left over for spending on wants and for savings.
3. Anticipate your needs
Once you have identified what your needs actually are then you are in a better situation to begin anticipating what you are going to need in the future. This allows you to start looking for your needs in advance and hopefully get the best deal. If we don’t know what we may possibly need we end up going out and purchasing an item at full cost because….well we NEED it.
4. Don’t use shopping as a hobby
If you are bored or feeling down try going for a walk or phoning a friend. Using shopping as a way to make you feel better is a sure fire way to put huge holes in your budget and blow out your spending. Shopping should be done when we need to buy groceries or when we are replacing one of our needs that we identified in the last point. Shopping is a very expensive hobby and unfortunately the feel good moment of buying something new is fleeting.
5. Dress as a minimalist
Buy classic pieces that mix and match easily. This way you can make multiple outfits from a few pieces and always look great without having to spend a fortune.
I keep a wardrobe of 2 pairs of jeans, a few shirts, a couple of jackets, a couple of scarves, a couple of casual tops and 3 pairs of shoes for wearing out. I also have a few outfits for home use only. This suits my lifestyle and I only ever replace items as they are wearing out, making my clothing cost very small.
6. Stop buying name brand clothing
Buying name brand clothing is not for the frugal unless of course you can pick up a great piece used for dirt cheap.
Take a look at these two new plain white t-shirts
One of these t-shirts is priced at $120.00USD and the other $4.77AUD ($3.40USD). Can you guess which is which?
Did you guess correctly?
T-shirt A is Kanye West’s designer t-shirt and t-shirt B I found on Ebay Australia by performing a search for “plain white t-shirt”. What is unbelievable to me is that Kanye’s t-shirt sold out. People were actually willing to spend $116.60 more just to buy a brand name.
7. Repair your clothing
If you get a small tear in your t-shirt or lose a button from a work shirt don’t toss them away. Get out a needle and thread and repair them. If you tear a hole in your jeans, patch them up and wear them for doing jobs around the home.
Learning some basic sewing skills can extend the life of your clothing which keeps money in your pocket. A small sewing repair kit, consisting of a few basic coloured threads and needles is an inexpensive investment that will save you lots of money over time.
8. Sell the car
If you are a two car family, consider whether it would be possible for you to drop down to just one car. If you are a one car family can you do without it all together? Owning a car is a large expense. If you have bought new you may have loan repayments, then there is insurance, registration costs, upkeep and fuel.
If you don’t think you can get rid of the car completely then perhaps you can try to find something more affordable.
9. Buy a used car
New cars are incredibly expensive and lose about 20% of their value in the first year. Considering this you may be able to pick up a car just a few years old for a bargain price. Try to save cash for your purchase if possible as paying expensive monthly interest makes having a car so much less affordable.
10. Choose a fuel efficient car
A compact fuel efficient car is going to save you hundreds of dollars a year in fuel. When buying your car do some research onto the most reliable, fuel efficient models on the road. Sites such as Car Advice make doing the research easy.
11. Practice fuel efficient driving
Get the most out of your fuel dollar by practicing these Top 10 Tips for fuel efficient driving. Just driving slower can have a huge impact on your fuel usage so practice these tips and watch your savings add up.
12. Use public transport for work
If you need to commute for work consider using public transport rather than driving your car. There are no fuel or parking costs and it’s a lot more environmentally friendly.
The other bonus is it gives you some downtime after a busy day at work. You can read, do puzzles, play a game, nap or even write a blog post .
13. Drink water
Drinking water is basically free and has plenty of health benefits also. Clearer skin, better digestion, regular bowel movements and better concentration are just a few of the benefits you get from drinking sufficient water.
So make water your main beverage and watch your savings adding up.
14. Stop eating out
Restaurant meals and even takeaways are an expensive way of eating. You are often paying exorbitant amounts for lower quality ingredients just for convenience. Use restaurant meals as a way of celebrating special occasions like birthdays or anniversary’s if you like but as a weekly event it is a very expensive outing and by cutting this one item out you will save thousands of dollars a year.
15. Pack your lunch
Packing your own lunch is a much cheaper and often healthier alternative to the costly canteen and lunch bar alternatives. You can take leftovers from dinner, you can make a sandwich or roll, or you could even bulk cook your lunches on the weekend and freeze individually for a quick and easy alternative.
16. Cook from scratch
Making food from scratch is both cheaper and healthier than buying your food pre-prepared, whether that’s in the form of takeaways or pre-packaged foods in the supermarket. Not all home cooked meals take hours to prepare and some can be in fact be quicker than driving to pick up your favourite takeaway.
If you don’t know how to cook then learning can be fun. You may feel a sense of accomplishment at being able to feed your family a home cooked nutritious meal and the financial savings will be huge too.
17. Eat more plant based food
Although we here at It Makes Cents follow a vegan diet, we are aware that this type of eating may not be appealing to everyone. However try have a couple of meatless meals a week and you will notice a significant savings in your grocery bill. Check back on our site soon as we will be adding some vegan recipes if you would like to try something different.
18. Cook in bulk
There are many dishes that can be cooked in bulk and frozen or eaten again the next night. Casseroles, dals, curries, pasta sauces are just a few of the meals that freeze well.
When you cook in bulk you are saving money on power usage as well as ingredients. I cook in bulk regularly and often find I do not require double the ingredients to make double the batch.
Having home cooked meals in the freezer means on those nights when you don’t feel like cooking you can have a convenient, healthy meal instead of take away.
19. Meal Plan
Taking ten minutes a week to sit down and plan your meals can save you a ton of money at the supermarket. Make a list of what you will be eating for dinner, lunch and breakfast during this week. Then write a grocery list of what you will require for these meals.
Most people throw away a large amount of food weekly that they have purchased and have not got around to using. Meal planning solves this issue. You are buying only for the meals you are going to prepare that week and therefore you should eliminate food wastage and save a lot of money in the process.
20. Stick to the list
Using the meal plan you have made, make a list of what you need to purchase for the week. Now when you hit the supermarket buy only the items that are on that list. Make sure you never go shopping when you are hungry as you will be tempted to buy all of the yummy looking treats in the store.
21. Stop throwing away food
If you are meal planning you should have eliminated a good amount of food wastage. However there may be times when you have served too much and there are leftovers on the plate. Do not throw them out but rather save them as a lunch for the next day. If you don’t have a sufficient amount to eat alone then try using them a sandwich filling. Throwing away leftovers is akin to throwing away cash.
22. Buy in bulk
When a staple item you use regularly goes on sale it is a good idea to buy a large quantity of it. Make sure you only buy what can be used before the item goes bad. There are a lot of ingredients that have long shelf lives that we buy in bulk when they come on special. Rice, pasta and beans are just a few few of these items. You can shave a few hundred dollars a year from your food bill just by using this one simple tip.
23. Make homemade cleaners
Rather than purchasing the expensive cleaners from the supermarket you can make your own for a fraction of the cost. Bicarbonate soda and vinegar alone can clean almost anything.
Bicarbonate soda can be used to clean stove tops, sinks and ovens. Vinegar can be added to hot water to wash floors. The two can be combined to clean out drains and toilets as it removes odors and stains.
24. Clean your appliances and gadgets
A very simple way to extend the life of your household appliances and gadgets is to clean them. By extending their lives you are ultimately saving yourself a lot of money.
An annual clean of your dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine and any other appliance is all it takes.
Keeping the inside of your PC clean will also extend its life. The easiest and most cost efficient way of achieving this is with a high pressure blower like the DataVac, which Mr Cents used. The Datavac can also be used for cleaning the dust from the coils of your refrigerator.
Just spending a few minutes of your time to clean and maintain your appliances and gadgets is financially worthwhile.
25. Buy used
Most items that you require can be purchased second hand. Of course there are those items like underwear and bathers that you may prefer to buy new but for the rest you can try to find what you need used.
There are a multitude of ways to find used items. EBay, Gumtree, Craigslist, garage sales, swap meets are some of the main ones.
When you buy used you are not only saving yourself a ton of money but you are also reducing the amount of resources being used so it’s a win-win situation.
26. Buy on sale
For items that you cannot acquire used or you would prefer to buy new shop sales. The best bargains for clothing can be found at the end of a season so once you know your needs you can purchase sale items for the following year for at least 50% off.
Most items you need will come on sale if you are patient. Once again knowing what you need ahead of time means you are in the best position to purchase it when it’s at a great price.
27. Pay cash
Paying cash for items means you are far less likely to overspend as you cannot spend money you don’t have. If you take out the set amount of cash you require for your shopping trip and leave the cards at home it will eliminate the temptation of impulse buys as you just won’t have the funds to cover it.
It wasn’t so long ago we payed cash for every purchase and the average household’s debt was a lot less than it is now. By paying cash we can reduce our debt and increase our savings.
28. Employ the 24 hour rule
The 24 hour rule is quite simply waiting 24 hours before purchasing anything outside of your absolute needs. If after the 24 hours you still think the item is a good buy then you can go back to the store and purchase it. However more often than not you will decide that you don’t really need that item and the money stays in your hands.
The 24 hour rule can eliminate all impulse purchases and save you a load of money on the process.
29. Get off your phone plan
Most of us own a mobile phone and most families have one each. A lot of us buy our phones on a plan and this soon adds up to a lot of money each month just for the convenience of having a phone wherever we go. But maybe there is a cheaper way. If you cannot forgo the phone altogether, which is the cheapest option of course :), perhaps you could take a look at prepaid options.
Prepaid phones are where you buy the phone outright or use the one you already have and just pay for the credit you use. There a number of options available starting as low as $30 for a years credit to $50 for a months credit. It all depends on how much you need to use your phone.
30. Keep the phone until it dies
It wasn’t so long ago that we had a mobile phone just for the convenience of being able to be contacted while we were out of the office or home. Now days they are used as a source of entertainment but that doesn’t mean you have to keep up with the Jones’s.
Stop having to keep up with the latest smart phones to hit the market. Holding onto your phone until it no longer works is an easy way to save you hundreds of dollars without any pain.
31. Cut the cable
Paying for cable is an expensive way of watching television shows when there are so many cheaper and advertisement free options out there. If you don’t want to give up television viewing altogether there are a number of options you can choose instead.
For a multitude of free programs youtube is an unbeatable source. For cheap and ad free viewing there is a huge choice on offer and below are just a few:
Not only do these sources save you money but they also save you from watching almost a weeks worth of advertising a year. Really there is no reason to continue paying expensive cable bills when you have access to the internet.
32. Frugal or free entertainment
Just because you’re frugal it doesn’t mean you don’t want to have fun and enjoy life. There are plenty of low cost or no cost options available to keep you entertained.
Spending time with friends doesn’t have to be costly. How about a potluck dinner? Or a movie night with air popped popcorn and drinks? What about a walk together?
Having fun with the family can be frugal and fun. Organise a board game night or a card game. Pack a picnic and head out of the city for awhile. Take it in turns to choose a movie and make one night a week movie night.
33. Join your local library
Try heading over to your local library for plenty of free entertainment. Libraries offer more than just free books, they have DVD’s, CD’s, and magazines for your use. They cost nothing to join and are one of the best resources for frugal folk.
34. Buy rechargeable batteries
Replacing batteries is ridiculously expensive particularly if you have children. Purchasing rechargeable batteries and a charger will save you a ton of money in the long run even if the initial outlay seems like a lot of money.
35. Make homemade gifts
Making gifts not only saves you money but is a much more personal approach to celebrating events. There are a number of gifts you can whip up in the kitchen such as cakes, food mixes, sweets, or biscuits. You can make your own soaps, candles or melts fairly easily or how about sewing a quilt or knitting a scarf if you are craft minded.
36. Make you own greeting cards
The greeting card industry is already struggling to stay relevant in the digital age.
If you like giving greeting cards then a home made, personalised greeting card with your own message will mean a lot more than a store bought greeting card. If you are unsure what to write try googling a poem and using that in your message.
The recipient is sure to be touched by the time and effort it took in making your own and it will save a lot of money also.
37. Stop smoking
If you are a smoker try to give up as soon as possible. Smoking is an extremely expensive and unhealthy habit. If you can’t quit cold turkey try one of the multitude of quit smoking products on the market and see your doctor for help.
If you can give up smoking both your bank balance and your health with be so much better off.
38. Reduce your alcohol consumption
Alcohol is expensive and adds unwanted calories to your daily consumption. Try to limit your alcohol intake to a couple of glasses a week or just a drink with friends. Your wallet and your waistline will thank you for this.
39. Exercise for free
Get rid of those costly membership fees and get out and about walking. If you live close enough to the shops walk there to run your errands and pick up your groceries. Do your own housework, you will work up quite a sweat when you vacuum and mop your entire house. Get out in the garden and pull the weeds, rake the lawn and prune the bushes. As long as we are moving and using our bodies we are getting the exercise we were designed for.
40. Cut your own hair
Mr Cents shaves his head with electric hair clippers saving $100’s of dollars a year on this one tip alone. The hair clippers he uses are the Wahl Chrome Pro which cost $22.99 USD from Amazon which is about the cost of one haircut.
For trimming hair there are plenty of online tutorials to help you out and with a bit of practice you can get it looking quite professional. This wikihow link shows how to do it yourself, for both men and women.
A chart below gives you an overview of the average price of a haircut in the U.S.A., prices are pretty similar here in Australia. Where we live it’s about $22.00 for a trim for males and about $30.00 for females.
41. Use an alum stone after shaving
It doesn’t hurt, is 100% natural and one block lasts you for 5 – 7 years at a low cost. Alum stones are far gentler on the skin and don’t sting like an aftershave does. Mr Cents has been using the same stone for about 4 years now and he is sure to get a few more years out of it yet.
Alum can also be used as an antiperspirant.
42. Grow your own produce
If you have enough land then how about trying to grow some of your own fruits and vegetables. The taste and quality is by far superior to the store bought options and the cost is far lower.
If you are living in an apartment or you don’t have the desire for a large vegetable garden then how about trying to grow your own herbs in pots. There are also a few fruits and vegetables that are relatively easy to grow in pots such as tomatoes, chilies, lemon tree, lime tree, or strawberries to name a few.
43. Use less of everything
One quick and painless way of reducing spending is to start to take notice of how much you use of everything. Do you really need to place toothpaste the entire way along the brush just becasue that’s the way it’s shown in advertisements? Try doing your teeth with just half the amount. Use this logic with all the products you consume and you will find yourself needing to replace these items less frequently which will results in the money staying in your purse or wallet.
44. Take shorter showers
Do you use your shower as a place to think or do you get in there get clean and get out? It costs money in water and power every time we shower, so get in there, get yourself clean and get out. Find somewhere else that’s free to do your thinking.
Consider setting a timer to remind you it’s time to get out and this is particularly useful if you have children, you can make it into a game.
45. Reduce your power usage
One of the least painful ways to save money on your power bill is to turn off all appliances at the wall when they are not in use.
In one U.K. study it was estimated that between 9% and 16% of electricity consumed in homes is from appliances on standby mode. If your electricity bill is $1000 a year, which about what ours averages to, this means that $90- $160 can be saved straight away just by doing this one simple thing.
Other ways to reduce your power bill are taking shorter showers, as mentioned above, turning off the light when you leave a room, not turning on the air conditioning unless it’s a very hot day, not turning on the heating but layering your clothing instead, bulk cooking and using a microwave instead of the conventional oven are just a few ideas.
46. Fix things yourself
When things breakdown around the house have a go at fixing them yourself. With the plethora of online videos and tutorials get you can find a step-by-step guide on fixing just about anything these days. It will cost you a fraction of the price that getting a professional in would and as a bonus you will be learning a new skill.
47. Rent out a room
If you have a spare room in your home, why not turn it into cash? If you don’t mind having a roommate then this is a simple, fairly painless way to make a few extra dollars each week.
This option may not be for everyone but if you are trying to pay down debt or save for something special then you can look at it as an inconvenience for a limited amount of time.
48. Declutter your house
Go through your home room by room, drawer by drawer and throw out or sell anything that you have not used in the past year. Chances are if you haven’t used it within this time frame you are not going to use it ever again.
By going through all of your stuff you will also have the opportunity to take inventory of what you have and get it organised. Organising your things means you will always know what you have and where it is which will save you both time and money.
You can also make money by selling the goods you no longer need.
49. Move to a smaller house
If possible consider moving into a smaller home. There are multiple cost saving advantages to the small house. Firstly is the cost of the house itself, which will be significantly less than the a larger home. A small house also costs less to run as there are less rooms and often smaller rooms which are cheaper to heat and cool. Then there is the amount of furniture that is required for a small home. Once again this is significantly reduced in comparison the the bigger home.
If you are downsizing, you can make money on the sale of your current home and the sale of the excess furniture you no longer need. If you are starting out you will save money on both the cost of the home itself and the furnishings.
Small homes also make it more difficult for you to over acquire stuff as there just isn’t the storage space. The space you have is at a premium so you have to think carefully before making any purchases. This will help keep a reign on your spending and make it easier for you to save.
50. Be inspired to save money
Having both short and long term goals is a great way to stay inspired for saving money. Perhaps you want to retire early or maybe you want to take a European vacation. Whatever your goals are, it’s much easier to save money when you have a clear reason for doing so.
Keep your goals in mind by placing a picture of them on your fridge, in your bedroom or in your purse or wallet as a daily reminder of where you are heading. Think about them as much as possible and know that everything you are doing today is taking you towards those goals.
If you have anymore simple money saving tips to add please write them in the comments below.