You’ve probably read loads of money saving tips - right? I thought it would be helpful to gather all the best ones into one handy reference. For shopping, for home, for saving – here’s my ultimate list of money saving tips:
1. Walk and Use Your Bike
Transportation takes a large chunk out of household budgets, so why not walk or bike whenever possible? Strap on a helmet and pack waterproofs and commute to work, to the supermarket, to your friends' houses. Just think: you'll get fit without the need to pay for gym membership - and save money on gasoline and public transport.
2. Join a Carpool
If walking or cycling to work isn't possible, consider joining a carpool, which could save you about $1,000 on gasoline each year. Talk to co-workers about carpooling. It saves not just money on gas but also on car maintenance.
3. Limit Trips in the Car
Don't waste gas by cruising here, there and everywhere in a disorganized fashion. By planning ahead you can combine errands to once-a-week and stop en route to shop at drugstores, supermarkets, hardware stores and stationery shops. Useful by-product: you use your time more efficiently, leaving you more leisure time.
4. Use Public Transportation
Whenever possible, use public transportation instead of the car. In cities, it's far cheaper to travel by subway instead of owning your own car or travelling by cab. Taking the bus to work could save you around $100 a month, when you consider the cost of gas, parking, insurance and car maintenance. It's also less stressful to take a long-distance bus than driving to visit relatives in another state. Look out for special off-peak travel offers (after 10.00 am) and book in advance whenever possible (usually 7 days in advance provides the greatest discounts).
5. Trawl Coupon and Exclusive Deal Sites
From meals for two at restaurants to haircuts to wet-wipes, you'll find a coupon or exclusive deal site somewhere on the Internet. Try sites like Groupon, Living Social and Yipit, but be sure to read the fine print before buying anything, or you might discover the special deal isn't that exclusive after all - and only use coupons for stuff you use every week. Before trying restaurant deals or haircutting services, check on Yelp what reviewers say.
6. Join Free Exercise Classes Online
There are numerous ways in which you can avoid paying for expensive gym membership. Many governmental health-related sites feature exercise videos that you can download for free and show diagrams for exercises you can easily learn for your home gym. Look around locally - there may already be a group of walkers or joggers you could join for free. Other benefit: you might make new friends and will certainly boost your social life. Have a look at YogaToday, Daily Burn, and GaiamTV.
7. Get a Free Hair Cut
Beauty academies and colleges running hairdressing courses offer free or heavily discounted haircuts to "models" who don't mind getting their hair done by students in training. Be sure to be specific about the type of hairdo you want to end up with and speak up during the procedure, if the student does anything that is likely to result in the hairdo from hell. Students need to learn from their successes as well as their failures, and won't do so, unless you tell them.
8. Make Your Own Beauty Products
Download information on how to make your own environmentally and healthy beauty products and start indulging in DIY lotions, shaving creams, leg wax and shampoo treatments that cost a fraction of the shop-bought stuff. From beer, olive or coconut oil as hair conditioner to oats, honey, yogurt and bananas for face masks, there's stuff around your house that can double up as food and beauty product.
9. Quit Expensive Habits
OK. Perhaps not your chocolate addiction. A step too far, clearly. But quitting smoking is good for your health and can save you more than $2,000 a year! Leaving the taps running in the bathroom instead of turning off the hot water can also save a lot on water metered household bills and energy bills. Take showers instead of indulging in daily baths, which aren't so good for your skin anyway. Wash most clothes at 40 degrees Celsius instead of using the hottest temperatures for everything. Reduce the number of times you use the dryer and dry clothes naturally on a washing line or the back of a chair, if you don't have a garden.
10. Get Prescriptions for 3 Months
If you are taking prescription drugs, ask your doctor for a 3-month supply instead of making a purchase every month. It's often cheaper to buy in larger quantities and it saves on time and transportation, too.
11. Take Advantage of Corporate Discounts
Employees of large companies are often entitled to amazing corporate perks and discounts, such as cell-phone data plans, cheaper hotel accommodation, discounted gym membership, concerts and ball games.
12. Have Regular Treats
Treating yourself regularly takes the pressure off living in constant self-restraint and gives you something to look forward to - apart from counting your massive savings one a month. Keep it small - don't splurge on designer shoes when a bottle of nail varnish will do. A regular treat will keep you from binging and boost your confidence in your own ability to show will power.
13. Choose a Bank with Perks
Banks are in fierce competition with one another, which means you can shop every so often for a new bank account that comes with better perks, such as no ATM fees, no overdraft fees, starting money of $100 or high interest on savings accounts. Look at smaller banks' offers first, they are often more generous. If it's not in the brochure, ask them what they are prepared to do for account switchers.
14. Use Credit Cards and ATMs Sparingly
Avoid using your credit card, but if you do, be sure to pay off the balance each month, not just the minimum to avoid paying interest. Use cash whenever possible, but budget sensibly, so you won't run to the ATM all the time. Paying in cash feels far more real for most people, making them more aware of expenditure than when they're using plastic cards to pay for goods/services.
15. Split Your Paycheck
If possible, ask your employer's accounts or human resources department to split your paychecks between checking and savings accounts. Set a particular amount or percentage to automatically deposit into your savings account, because what you don't see is less likely to get wasted on stuff you don't need.
16. Use a Budget-tracking App to Set Goals
Using an app will help you to stay on track when you pay off credit card or overdraft debt. Ste up a realistic plan and stick to it. Finance-tracking apps like BUDGT, Learnvest and Mint allow you to see how far you've come financially.
17. Check Your Account and Credit Rating Regularly
Keep a beady eye on your checking account. Did that bank of yours add charges where they shouldn't have or did you go overdrawn when there was no need for it? Checking your credit rating regularly will also show you what others, like credit card companies for example, think of your creditworthiness. It's a great tool and reminder to get your finances into order and to remain vigilant.
18. Draw up a Proper Household Budget
Instead of using some app or gadget, have a jar or envelope with adequate money for "food", "rent", "transport to work" and "social life" ready each month. When the jar or envelope for a specific heading is empty before the end of the month, it's time to tighten your belt, not using your credit card to top up your "social life" budget.
19. Avoid Charges on Household Bills
Use a calendar, spreadsheet or app to help you stay on top of paying household bills. Many suppliers of utilities these days charge interest or surplus charges if your payment is late. Miss a credit card payment or don't repay your overdraft on time and the interest and penalties charged are significant.
20. Don't Waste Water or Energy
Instead of turning up the thermostat, wear a woolly cardigan or sweater to stay warm. Use a throw to keep your toes warm when curling up with your beloved to watch TV. Make a cup of tea in a pot rather than individual cups or mugs - you save on electricity that way, if each member of the household wants a hot drink, but you also save on tea bags/loose tea. Don't let the water run and run when washing dishes. Turn off the tap while scrubbing, then rinse when done. Hand wash dishes once a day rather than using the dishwasher, because you can save between 200 to 500 gallons of hot water per month that way. Good for Mother Earth, good for your checking account.
21. Choose Energy Efficient Appliances for the Home
They may appear to be a bit more expensive at first glance, but appliances with an Energy Star rating are well worth the extra money, for they really are more energy efficient, saving you lots of money in the long-run. Look for the highest energy efficiency ratings next time one of your appliances needs replacing.
22. Turn off the Lights
Why leave all the lights on in every room of the house, when you're sitting for hours watching TV? Turn off the lights when you leave a room. It saves not a huge deal but every cent counts in the battle of the budget.
23. Make Your Own Cleaning Solutions
Vinegar, lemons and lime are first rate household cleansers that are natural, safe and quite cheap to buy. Baking soda, olive oil, even fresh herbs are also used in home-made cleaning solutions for which you can download online. They often get the job done much better than conventional shop-bought stuff and cost a fraction of the price.
24. Ensure Your Home is Well Insulated
Try plugging doors and windows in the cold months with towels or draft snakes you can make yourself, stuffing them with all those odd socks you're left with at the end of the year...you can also get draft excluders from DIY stores that are inexpensive but save you a lot on energy consumption.
25. Avoid Using the AC
For those lucky ones who live in hotter climes, the AC can be a life saver, but using it is costly. Try using it only when absolutely necessary. You can ice down your pulse points with actual ice cubes or by using cool cotton sheets at night. Avoid wearing tight synthetic clothes and wear loose cotton, linen or silks instead, as they will allow your skin to breath and prevent build-up of perspiration. You can cut the AC costs by setting your thermostat to between 74 and 78 degrees and keeping the air filter clean (which means replacing it every few months). Keep windows and doors closed and locked while AC is running and you should see a pleasing difference in your next electricity bill.
26. Turn off Appliances
Most people leave their TV, sound system and laptops plugged in, but this means they continue to use small amounts of electricity. Turning everything off when you leave the house or go to bed saves not just on energy bills, it helps prevent house fires from power surges and sparks.
27. Review Your Viewing Habits
Do you really need 500+ cable channels? How much TV can one sane person possibly consume? Ditching your cable account can save up to $500 a year, not to mention increase your chances of becoming a healthier person with a social life. Sites like Hulu Plus and Netflix cost jless than $10 per month and you can make movie-watching a social event at home, saving money on going to the cinema.
28. Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
Switching to energy efficient bulbs can save you $75 a year, even though the switch may work out quite expensively at first. LED bulbs and compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use less energy to illuminate your home and last longer than conventional light bulbs, so they pay off in the long-run.
29. Socialize for Less
Get organized and check out the neighborhood for happy hour drinking specials and discounted restaurant meals. So what if you have to meet your friends at 5.00 pm instead of 9.00 pm? After cheap drinks you can always have a pizza at your place and watch Hulu Plus or Netflix movies...
30. Look out for Free Events
Many counties offer festivals, arts events, shows and workshops for individuals and families that are entirely free and fantastic fun. Discover your city or home town and see it from a different perspective - saving on holiday costs right away, because you don't need to go abroad to have a good time and a change; it's right there on your doorstep.
31. Make Your Own Greeting Cards
Get creative! It's really easy and very cheap to make your own greeting cards these days. For under $10 you can buy huge amounts of colored card and paper and cute things to stick on the front of each card: from teddy bears to bunches of flowers, from beaded jewelry to pretty ribbons. Consider that bought cards cost $5 each and get chucked away after a few days...and your DIY card will be treasured a lot longer than that.
32. Enjoy Potluck Evenings
A potluck dinner comprises of lots of different dishes, because each guest will bring along a dish of food which is consumed by all. You can either delegate specific recipes to be prepared among the guests to create one menu or have lots of different dishes with a theme, for example Chinese, Italian or Greek cuisine. Not only is this a cheap and fun way to eat, eating with friends is good for your soul and your health. Everybody also saves on food and energy costs, since none have to prepare a whole family meal.
33. Cook More at Home
Meals prepared from scratch are not just healthier because they use less salt, fresher ingredients and less fat, they are cheaper than prepared frozen meals. Why not prepare a picnic in a park, a beach near you or even your friend's backyard? It's far more special than a microwave dinner on a tray!
34. Visit BYOB Restaurants
Bring your own bottle eateries offer great value for money food, a fun night out and a far more affordable social life. Call ahead to check there really is no corkage fee, then save lots of money on inflated alcohol prices by bringing along your own bottle.
35. Create Gifts for Birthdays and Holidays
Hand-made chocolates, calendars, face scrubs, fancy oils and perfumes, pickles and preserves are easily made, look amazing when boxed up and are really cheap to make. Look at Pinterest for homemade gift ideas for example or consult a few cook books on baking muffins, tea cakes, banana bread or making chocolate. There are lots of instructions and recipes you can download from the Internet, too, from DIY candles to kids' clothes.
36. Try Going to Matinees
Going to the movies or the theater during the day is usually far cheaper than going to evening performances. Avoid paying for their expensive drinks and snacks and sneak in your own wine gums or popcorn!
37. Apply for a Library Card
You local library allows you not just to download tons of eBooks for free, you can hire discounted movies and borrow books for free, join reading and book clubs, knitting circles and discussion groups and you can even bring your laptop and plug in, as most have free Wi-Fi these days.
38. Create a Home Theater
Make popcorn, stock up on chips and gummibears, keep plenty of soda in the fridge and watch movies at home with your friends. Switch off the lights. The great thing is you can sit around for hours afterwards and discuss what you've seen without the cost of paying for drinks in a bar or coffee shop.
39. Create Your Own Library for DVDs, Books and Music
You can create your own library by swapping books, music and DVDs with friends and relatives. Be sure to lend only to people who are inclined to returned borrowed items - keeping a spreadsheet or notebook will help you keeping track of what's where.
40. Cancel Unwanted Subscriptions
With each cancelled magazine subscription you can save at least $10 per year - and if it's a paper version of the magazine, you're also saving the environment. Favorite specialist subjects are often covered by free online subscriptions, so all you need to invest is a little of your time to replace print matter with online stuff that comes for free and will hold your interest just the same.
41. Become a Smart Sightseer
Museums and art galleries often have specific free-admittance days or evenings, or discounted times when you can see their collections. Some museums offer a compromise with a pay-what-you-can option that is available throughout the year. If you're going on vacation abroad, be smart and buy a city pass or city card that will entitle you to free public transportation within city limits and free of heavily discounted admittance to museums and attractions (for example Palma Card in Mallorca's capital in Spain or the Leipzig Card in Germany).
42. De-clutter Your Closet Regularly
At least twice a year go through your wardrobe and organize your clothes. Once you know where everything is and what's actually there, decide what you want to keep and what can be sold at car boot sales, on EBay or what can be sold by the kilo to organizations that recycle clothing.
43. Look after the Clothes You Want to Wear
If you bought quality clothes to start off with, you want to make sure they keep in as good condition as possible. Read the labels as to what washing requirements they have, sew buttons back on, replace broken zips, patch rips in jeans and take shoes to be mended.
44. Avoid Dry Clean Only Purchases
When you do buy new clothes, be sure to avoid clothes that require dry clean only treatment. Not only are they expensive to maintain, they are harmful to the environment, because the chemicals used in the process are pretty nasty. Delicate fabrics like silk, rayon or wool can be hand washed in mild soap flakes and hand-warm water. Drip dry, or flat dry, don't spin or wring.
45. Avoid Using the Dryer
Not only do dryers cut the life expectancy of your clothes, they cost money energy wise. Hang stuff up in your bathroom, on the balcony, in the backyard or drape it over your radiators if you must in winter, but avoid using the dryer, as they damage clothes.
46. Does This Shirt Really Need a Wash?
Before piling everything you own into the washing machine on laundry day, do the sniff test and assess, whether or not a shirt, blouse, pair of jeans really needs washing that week. Less laundry means not only less hot water used and therefore smaller energy bills, your clothes last longer, if washed less frequently or at least washed in cold water or water not heated above 40 degrees Celsius. Using cooler water saves around 50 cents per load on heating bills, and if your clothes aren't soiled or stinky, why endure the expense of hot water?
47. Shop Smarter by Leaving Your Wallet at Home
If you're going out for a walk or to window-shop, then do so without your wallet or purse. There's always that temptation to splurge on a slice of cake in a coffee shop or indulge in a specific sale one happens to come across.
48. Become a Coupon Champion
Online coupon codes will allow you to take advantage of numerous sales and find stuff you need to look great and feel confident. Try thekrazycouponlady.com or coupons.com, where you don't have to trawl through pages and pages of stuff that's no interest to you.
49. Make the Most of Reward Cards
Checking account and credit cards these days come with numerous rewards that present points towards cheaper travel, hotel accommodation, cut flowers, dining out, theater, concerts or movies. But there are also the reward or loyalty cards offered by supermarket chains and coffee shops. There are various apps that will consolidate cards so you won't have to carry them around with you all the time and don't miss out on great offers. Savings can be substantial if you shop responsibly with your reward cards.
50. Shop until You Drop during Sales
On Boxing Day, in the New Year or other Public Holidays most shops around the world cut prices by as much as 70%. Shop for new electronics or clothes during the official sales periods or on "Black Fridays" and you can save at least 50%.
51. Stick to the 30-Day Rule
When your fingers begin to itch for purchases that are not strictly necessary, write down the item on a sticky note, keep it on your fridge door or pin board for 30 days and decide if it's still absolutely imperative that you buy the thing. Remember, you've lived without it for a whole month...so it's unlikely your life depends on owning it!
52. Remove Credit Card Numbers from Online Accounts
Do it right away so you won't forget! If you have to type in the numbers and answer security questions each time you fancy buying something...it will give your brain time to consider if the purchase is strictly necessary.
53. Buy Bulk Items
Make the most of your storage space - be it cupboards, larders or freezers - and buy in bulk, using those lovely coupons. Things like tissues, toilet paper, deodorant, hand soap won't go off and you can save money on unit prices when you buy in bulk. Food bought in bulk, especially fruit and vegetables in season, needs to be labelled and sometimes cooked before you can freeze it for future consumption. Be sure to write the date you freeze the stuff on the label and go through the stored food day by day, or your saving will be wasted.
54. Grow Your Own Food
Converting part of your backyard or front garden into a fruit and vegetable patch is quite easy - and it's great fun to bring in your own harvest and cook it! With your library card you have access to numerous garden books that will tell you how to plant and grow stuff. A packet of seed costs usually less than a dollar, and presents you with dozens of cabbages, bags full of runner beans and sacks full of tomatoes. And you'll know exactly what's in the stuff you're eating. Freshly harvested food tastes zillion times better than bought stuff, too. What's not to like?
55. Generic Brands versus Supermarkets' Own Brands
It's often impossible to guess which is which in a blind-folded test of commonly purchased products. The branded baked beans you've been buying for years may be cheaper and taste just the same, when sporting the supermarket's own label. With medications and organic food, however, it's best to be smart and read labels carefully, because they are regulated by the FDA and USDA, which alternatives may not be.
56. Don't Go Shopping without a List
Make a shopping list of all the items you realistically need for the week and stick to it rigidly. Don't be tempted by so called "special offers", they usually work in favor of the grocery store not the shopper!
57. Don't Go Shopping Hungry
Before heading to the stores for your weekly grocery shop, be sure to eat something. Doing grocery shopping on an empty stomach leads only to impulse purchases and you'll come home with stuff you didn't really need. It's also best to shop for groceries on your own - those pesky partners will always sneak treats into the trolley!
58. Check out Grocery Circulars
If you're not subscribing to a local newspaper, look up each store's weekly specials online to find out if whether or not any of your favorite purchases are on sale. Stuff that will keep can always be bought in bulk and stored.
59. Use a Small but Beautiful Basket
Instead of piling groceries into a cart large enough to feed the occupants of an ocean liner for a week, use a basket for the few items you really need. Advantages: you'll save money and get a mini work-out for your biceps while you wander around the store.
60. Avoid Coupon Misuse
Just because you happen to have a coupon for it, doesn't mean you have to buy the item on special offer. Beware of "two-for-the-price-of-one" offers, which tend to work out in favor of the store not the customer. Make coupon clipping a once a week or once a month task but only clip stuff you will really use, not because it's an irresistible offer.
61. Buy Seasonal Fruit and Veg
Seasonal produce doesn't just taste better, it's usually cheaper, especially when there's been a glut during harvest time. Look up recipes online that will make use of seasonal ingredients before you draw up your shopping list. Farmers' Markets often provide better value for money than supermarket food that's been shipped in from long distance destinations. Advantages: you save money, have tastier food and do something good for the environment.
62. Don't Forget to Bring Your Own Bag!
Take along a fabric or reusable store bag, which not only cuts down on plastic and paper carrier bags, but also saves you small amounts of money. Various stores, among them CVS, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and Target, offer customers incentives for reusable bags, such as money back, about 5 to 10 cents, or entering a customer's name into a draw for a gift certificate.
63. Keep Your Eyes on the Cashier at All Times
Don't even think about reaching out with one eager paw to grab those handy treats at the checkout! Impulse buyers tend to load up their baskets and carts at the last minute, when they get to the checkout queue. That's where the stores keep their marked-up stuff, the items that hurt your wallet.
64. Recycle and Get Paid for It!
If you recycle glass and aluminium empties, you can receive a little bit of money for them - see bottle bills for more details, but you can potentially redeem 5 to 10 cents per returned bottle or can.
65. Eat Frozen Vegetables
Don't let price stickers on fresh produce put you off your greens. Frozen vegetables are often cheaper but they are just as nutritious and delicious.
66. Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water is not only good for your health because it keeps you hydrated and flushes out toxins - it helps you to snack less, because it makes you feel full. It also helps you to save money on canned and bottled soft drinks.
67. Cooking Double Quantities
Why not cook double the quantity and freeze some for later in the week, when you're too busy to cook a fresh meal? It's a good way of preserving bulk bought fresh ingredients and save on cooking time as well as saving you money on take-out meals. If a once a month "cook-off" is too daunting a concept, do it once a week or a couple of times a week.
68. Prepare Your Own Coffee
Buy a cheap coffeemaker, prepare it in the evening and then simply flick the "on" switch in the morning to brew delicious coffee while you're in the shower or putting on your make-up. If you buy a Thermos flask as well as a coffeemaker, you can take freshly brewed coffee to work instead of spending considerable amounts of money on buying coffee at coffee shops every day. The cost of coffeemaker and flask come to no more than $30 - $35, money that you will have made back very quickly by saving on shop-bought lattes.
69. Ask for a Crock-Pot or Slow Cooker for Your Next Birthday
Slow cookers are amazing money savers in kitchens. They are cheap to run, because they only use 100 watts of electricity, which amounts to less than one dollar per week on your electricity bill per every meal cooked. If you use the pot to prepare those double portions for the freezer, you'll have saved even more.
70. Prepare Your Own Snack Foods and Packed Lunch
Instead of buying expensive "health food snack bars", why not make your own flapjacks or oatmeal and fruit bars? It takes no more than 30 minutes to make a batch. Or prepare small fruit pots to take into work with you, together with a packed lunch. You'll save between $10 and $15 per day on lunches from the corner deli and you can eat far healthier food, controlling your weight issues at the same..
What's your best money saving tip?