Recently I put out the following query:
What is your #1 tip for saving money, that you’ve found especially helpful in your life? Looking to hear interesting/new ideas on saving money beyond banal advice most people have heard of. Please share 1 thing only.
In response, I got some fantastic, easily-actionable and very effective money-saving tips, which I’ve shared below. Many of these were submitted by finance bloggers and people who have done quite well for themselves, and I’m confident there will be at least a few things here that will be worth considering for you.
Here’s a summary of the best comments people have sent (I strongly recommend having a read through these!):
- Consider the cost per use for each item you purchase (link), which is more important than just the price by itself. As the author comments: “Spending money on cheaper items that you don’t use really adds up!”
- Divide the cost of an item by your hourly rate (link). An $80 pair of shoes isn’t so appealing if you make $10/hour and it’d take you a full hard days work just to buy them
- Similarly, it can be better to purchase a high-quality item that’ll last years over buying multiple cheap products that don’t last long (link) (EDITORS NOTE: on this topic, check out buy it for life on Reddit – it’s cool to see people post items that they’ve owned for decades)
- Negotiate with providers for charges of services like credit cards, gym membership, cable, cell phone, and car insurance (link). If you save $20/month here, for example, is $240/year — well worth an hour or two of negotiation
- If you live close enough to your place of work, see if you can bike to work instead of owning a car and driving (link)
- For DIY projects like painting walls or installing mounts on walls, often it’s not necessary to hire professional help. You may be able to do it yourself, and even have fun doing it (link). That also applies to changing oil on your car (link) which also makes mechanics less likely to cheat you
- Focus on “The Big 3 Expenses” (housing, cars and food). Get these right and don’t sweat the small stuff so much (link)
- Don’t store your credit card info on your phone or computer, so if you’re prone to impulse purchases you’ll have to dig your card out of your wallet and manually enter the numbers, making you less likely to purchase (link). Also, get rid of shopping apps on your phone (link) so you actually have to open a web browser to start shopping
- Follow a three-day rule. Whenever you’re making an unplanned purchase, think about it for 3 days first (link). During this time, consider whether it’s required for your fundamental existence (link)
- Set aside a week or month not to buy new groceries, which forces you to use any surpluses you have in your pantry or freezer (link)
- Set aside a certain percentage of your salary to be automatically transferred to a separate savings account each payday. A common tip, but you can go even further by locking that savings account so you can’t spend the money (link). Otherwise, just limit your card or access to money so you only have enough to buy what you need (link)
- Be organized so you know what you’re spending, pay bills on time, know what you have and what you need to buy, do maintenance at the right times and plan ahead (link)
- Save all your coins and when you have a huge amount, deposit them to your bank account (link) (EDITORS NOTE: I did this and saved hundreds of dollars over a period of a couple of years. It’s not hard to deposit them: my bank had a machine where you could unload coins on a tray and it’d automatically calculate the amount, and deposit it to your account. Coins are a PITA to carry with you anyway)
- Save your savings. If you buy things at a discount, when you go home transfer what you saved to your savings account (link)
- Decide what you’re saving for, and make it your desktop background (link). That’ll act as a deterrent to spending money on anything that’ll take you further away from being able to buy it. This means prioritizing your spending according to your biggest goals (link)
- Use price comparison sites (link)
- Don’t buy a house larger than you need, and get an energy audit to see if you can conserve more energy (link)
The number one tip I can offer is to live small and frugally when and where you can. Even if you can afford it, don’t live in an excessively large home if it isn’t necessary.
Even if you’re already living in a larger space that you may not need, you can still find ways to minimize. Get an energy audit from your utility company to see where you can conserve more energy and invest in energy efficient electronics and light bulbs (like CFL or LED bulbs). Also make sure to unplug electronics you aren’t using- they still draw energy when they aren’t in use!
--Jeff Rose, Good Financial Cents
I would recommend that before you embark on selling or buying ANYTHING, you see if there is a price comparison site that can compare the market for you and ultimately save you money. For higher value goods there can be hundreds of dollars difference between providers and price comparison sites will identify in seconds the best deals out there for you. There are many comparison sites that are specialist in their own field like Kayak. These specialists have done the hard work in finding the best deals and companies that offer this service. So rather than spending weeks searching the web for the best price, these platforms have done it for you.
--Sarah McConomy, SellCell.com
If you're considering making a purchase that you don't necessarily need, a great strategy I've used to help me determine if it's really worth it is to divide the value of the item by your hourly work rate (after tax).
Say I'm looking at a pair of $80 shoes and I take home $10 an hour. This means that I've had to basically do a full work day just for this one purchase. After a particularly stressful day at the office, it may not seem worth it to devote an entire day's salary just to this one item.
And the bigger the item, the more this can become a deterrent, making it far easier for you to consider putting this money towards your financial goals instead.
--Anna Barker, LogicalDollar
I personally find that one of the best ways for myself to save money is to limit my own cash flow. If you go out shopping with your bank card that is filled with money, and a wallet with extra cash – then you are sure to go home with unneeded things. This means you are wasting money.
See if you can create a sub-account at your bank – but make sure you cannot use your card to directly access its funds. Make a list of your expenses and deposit just enough money into your card. You can also decide to always leave your card at home and only carry just the right amount of cash with you.
Bottom Line: Limiting your cash flow to only what is needed can help you avoid making unnecessary purchases, saving you money in the process.
--Thomas Bradbury, GetSongkey
Prioritize your spending according to your biggest goals. This means you won't go out to buy another dress or phone if you know you want to move to another city or country, build a house, get a car, or whatever your overarching goal is. For instance, I'm planning on starting a digital nomad life. So there's no use in me starting to buying home decor, furniture, extra clothes and things I won't be able to carry around with me. Even if this is a goal I'll only achieve in a couple of years, this prioritization helps me save as much as half my salary just from not buying the things I don't truly need. I don't save money on the basics such as quality food though because health is always first.
--Alexandra Cote, mktodyssey.wordpress.com
Decide what you're saving for - a house? A car? A holiday? Take that image and make it your desktop background. Having the image right there in front of you throughout the day will act as a deterrent when you're thinking about purchasing unnecessary items. Plus, it will seem motivating, rather than as though you are punishing yourself.
I've found it's useful to ask myself the question, Is this purchase required for my fundamental existence? 9/10 we trick ourselves into thinking we 'need' something when really we're just looking for a temporary hit of dopamine. I've found that asking myself the above question and answering in a conscious manner has helped stopped spending money in unnecessary areas and actually spend more on items such as organic food, contributing to my overall wellbeing.
--Amit Gami, Business Waste Guru
My favorite tip is to save my savings. What I mean by this is after I go shopping, I make it a point to take 5 minutes and transfer the money I saved over to a savings account.
For example, when I go grocery shopping, the receipt saves you saved $8.25 today'. When I get home, I transfer that $8.25 over to my savings.
Most receipts clearly show your savings, so there is very little math involved. And while this trick takes a little time when you get home, you grow your savings quickly, especially if you tend to shop sales like I do. In an average year, I easily save $1,000.
Most people just leave the savings in their checking account, which then only gets spent on other things. By moving the money to savings, you actually save the money.
--Jon Dulin, CompoundingPennies.com
At first, it may look silly to many people to save money in the shape of coins. But this “rule of you” really works. Just aloud the slogan of “Say No to Coins” in your mind and put all your coins in the Mud Piggy Bank (without any access area in it) so that your pulse would be in your control. Whenever you get coins, either through shopping or find lying in the home or, in any way, whatsoever, put it into your piggy bank. Become an enemy of coin hating to see it wandering here and there. Finally, break the piggy bank exact at the end of your committed time to become a Richie rich. This is now something that I'm advising you, it's what I personally do.
Before breaking the piggy bank, also inform your banker in advance to be prepared to count all the coins.
--Muhammad AmmarShahid Hussain, SuperHeroCorp
I love helping people save money by getting organized.
Living an organized life saves money every day in so many ways. A few examples:
1) Organized people keep track of paperwork and pay their bills on time, saving them a ton in late fees and fines. They keep track of and cancel subscriptions they don’t use rather than pay monthly for years on end.
2) Organized people know what’s in their pantry and refrigerator, and don’t accidentally over-buy food or ingredients they don’t need. They don’t have to throw out expired or spoiled food because they store food in a way that makes it accessible and visible, using it before it goes bad.
3) Organized people keep a home and car maintenance schedule that prevents costly expenses due to neglect.
4) Organized people plan ahead for purchases, taking advantage of sales and coupons because they don’t have to panic buy and pay full prices.
--Jen Breitegan, Organizenvy
I have a great tip for saving money, but it's a little drastic. I can say with confidence it works like a charm. This strategy involves opening up an account with a second bank. Let's say all your money comes into bank A. This is the account you're having trouble saving money with.
You would go opening up a savings account with bank B, and send 5-10% of your paycheck to this new bank account. The amount of money you decide to save ultimately depends on how much you're making.
Once you're set up with bank B, lock the account so you can't spend the money, or send it out. At this point, the only way to access the money would be to physically go into the bank and request that they unlock your card. Every time you get paid, send small amounts of money into your new savings account. The key here is to send small enough amounts to make sure it doesn't disrupt the spending of your day to day life.
--Lucas Aylward, SkySoar Marketing
One of the best ways I've found to save money on groceries is to set aside a week a month to NOT buy any new groceries. This forces us to get creative with the food we already have in our pantry and freezer. Not only does this save us on a week of grocery bills, but it also cuts down the amount of food waste due to food spoiling.
--Sharon McCaskill, The Helpful GF
By far, the biggest tip that has allowed me to save money is following the three day rule. This rule states that if you are making an unplanned for purchase, think about it for three days. Often times, we end up making an impulse decision at the store or online checkout. By giving yourself time to think, you take the initial excitement out of it and really reflect on whether or not this is something you need in your life.
--Ryan Scribner, investingsimple.com
I have found it especially helpful to save money by deleting shopping apps off of my phone. When I have to actually open a web browser to search for something on Amazon or other shopping apps, I am more likely to think twice about doing that and usually save myself money by realizing that I really don’t NEED what I was going to search for in the first place.
--Jenni Madsen, Roots of Truth
Since I'm home everyday and a breastfeeding mom, I found myself spending a lot of money on Amazon during our 3am nursing sessions. The way that I was able to eliminate that was by not storing my debit card information. That meant I had to get up and find my purse anytime I wanted to make a purchase which is an inconvenience 99% of the time.
--LaCresha Sims, No Guide For Mom
By far, the best tip for saving money is to focus on what I call The Big 3 Expenses. According to government surveys, the average consumer spends 70% of their money on just three things - housing, cars, and food. By focusing on just these three expenses, you can easily and drastically shift how much money you're saving.
Personally, I've used this strategy to regular save over 60% of my salary each year. I purchased a house a far below my means, and I bought a car so cheap that I paid it off in a month. Since then, those two decisions have allowed me to save hundreds of dollars every single month, without even trying.
Tons of savers get discouraged because they beat themselves up over all sorts of expenses that don't move the needle in the grand scheme of things. But the great irony is that it would literally take thousands of $8 burritos or $5 coffees to equal just one decision to drive a cheaper vehicle. Focusing on The Big 3 opens up a freedom to spend money much more enjoyably on other areas, while still saving tons of money.
--Sean Potter, My Money Wizard
My absolute number one tip for saving money: change your oil in your car. Do the actual work yourself. While it may be only a few bucks saved at first, especially if a place is running an oil change special or you have a deal on oil changes from a dealer, changing your own oil gets you in tune with auto maintenance. Maintaining your own car can lead to thousands of dollars in savings. It can make your cars and trucks last like nothing else. When you change your oil, you'll be likely to check your tires and fluids. You'll be likely to rotate them and to keep everything else topped off.
When you change your own oil, mechanics suspect you know more about cars than you do. They'll think twice about trying to cheat you.
There's a proliferation of deals on oil changes. Say no thanks to all of them. Many shops use it as a gateway to unneeded services. When you initiate the services you do need, they'll look at you with more respect if you change your own oil.
Sure, you get a little dirty. Use a pair of rubber gloves and some good soap when your done. It's well worth it.
--James Cobb, The Dream Recovery System
When someone asks me how to save money, what immediately comes to mind is some kind of a DIY project.
These days people are overly eager to let the professionals handle things for them, even when they don't exactly need professional help in their day to day life.
There is a number of smaller projects that I see people hiring pros instead of just looking at some particular problem on the internet, and getting the issue resolved with a bit of research.
For example, painting walls is a skill that most people pay professionals to do, and in my opinion, they do so even when they aren't necessary. The raw materials for getting the job done by yourself won't cost you much money, and the learning process is a fun experience. Of course, you'll save a lot of money too.
Other, similarly simple things I see people hiring pros for are installation of TV and monitor mounts on walls if you can believe it. These are also easily solved with patience, research, and a few basic tools like a drill.
I know the problems I mentioned don't happen too often, since once done both quality TV mounts and good paint can last for years. Even so, I felt the need to point them out since I believe money can be spent better, even if it's rarely spent on those two things.
--Bryan Stoddard, Homewares Insider
When saving money is the primary concern, nothing can be more beneficial than reducing daily expenditure. With a few lifestyle changes, it is possible to save money and live a better life.
I have reduced my daily expenditure to 40% just by changing the mode of commuting. Now I am using a bike instead of a car as regular transportation and my spending decreased significantly.
Living in a big city is always expensive. Starting from the rent to the food and transportation, one has to spend extra bucks every day. However, being smart, one can save money in different ways. And one of the great ways is to use a bike but a car for commuting.
Research says, owning and driving a car regularly can cost around $10000 per annum. Moreover, the price of fuel and parking are also increasing day by day. With the renewal fees and maintenance, the cost of owning a car is ever-growing.
Biking, on the other hand, can be considered as a cheaper and smart option for commuting. Operating a bicycle can cost less than $500 in a year. It is green transportation as it has different environmental and health benefits. Along with spending less, one can also contribute to the environment and health greatly using a bike.
So, my #1 tip for saving money and living healthy is to use a bike instead of a car. I have benefitted financially and physically using it.
--Daniel Atlas, Rydoze.com
To save money, you should not go for the cheap products that will not last long. On the contrary, buy products or services that are of high-quality even if they are quite expensive because by doing this, you’ll still end up saving money in the long run. I guess what I’m trying to get at is, be smart in your purchase decisions - that’s my number 1 tip to save money.
--Scot J Chrisman, THE MEDIA HOUSE
Here’s something that gets overlooked often, and in my experience, can help people save more almost instantly: negotiating with providers for charges of services like credit cards, gym membership, cable, cell phone, and car insurance. With a quick phone call, you can get these costs lowered, putting more money directly in your pocket and essentially earning back money. Even if you only save $20 a month, that’s still a saving of $240 per year. This small saving makes a big significant in the future.
--Simonas Steponaitis, Hosting Wiki
My savings tip is to calculate the cost per use for every single item you purchase. This tip has completely changed the way I shop, as well as my perspective on the value of money, and it has saved me so much money in the long run!
If you buy a $100 coat that you will wear 100 times, the cost per use is $1.. A $30 coat that you only wear once has a cost per use of $30. Spending money on cheaper items that you don't use really adds up!
For example, instead of buying five $10 shirts that I will only wear once, I invest in a really good quality shirt for $40 that I will wear over and over. Not only is this approach saving me money, but it has also freed up so much space in my house (and especially my closet).
I don't waste money and space on little gadgets from the dollar store that I'll never use. My house no longer looks like it could feature in Hoarders!
--Laura Chawke, Makeup Scholar