Saving money is hard. The thing is, we could all use a little extra cash and saving is crucial for our financial goals. Whether it’s a fun trip, saving for a car or house, or simply building up a safety net, saving is a constant.
Here are 20 creative ways to save money that will get you one step closer to whatever your goal is.
Have a No Spend Weekend
One or two weekends out of the month, plan a no spend weekend. Go out to museums. Go to the beach. Have a bonfire, or host a game night at your house for your friends.
There are tons of activities you can do for free or very little that are super fun and cost effective when you’re working with a budget.
Allowing yourself a weekend or two to go do activities that cost can help balance this out.
Find your perfect no-spend activity here.
This is one of my favorite creative ways to save money! Buying out of season can help you get the lowest cost for particular items.
Just like buying in season can help with others. Buying produce in seasons is often cheaper than buying out of season.
However, buying winter coats can be cheaper out of season than it.
This takes preparation and foresight but can help yield some great savings.
Check out this super helpful chart to find out the best time to buy throughout the year.
This isn’t an effort to push a vegetarian agenda, but if you eat meat, then you know it’s expensive.
Cut your grocery bill down by going meatless a couple times a week. There are a bunch of nutritious veggie meals which are completely cost effective.
Food is a great category to save money in. Many of us spend on lunches out or picking up a quick dinner on the way home from work.
Eating out is expensive, and meal prep can help curb unnecessary spending on food. I usually meal prep so that I have lunch and dinner ready for the work week and then let myself eat out on the weekends.
This means I can still enjoy dining out, which I love, but without breaking the bank.
Cash Only Budget
If you’re apt to whip out your credit card a little more often than you should consider switching to a cash budget. At the beginning of the month, withdraw a certain amount of cash that you are able to spend on certain non-essential categories like beauty/healthy, eating out, entertainment, etc.
When you use cash, it forces you to confront how much you’re spending. This can help bring awareness to spending habits and curb your spending. When you’re out of cash, stop spending.
Cable is outrageously expensive, and half the time there’s nothing decent on anyway. Cable is a dying form anyway. Streaming is where it’s at because you can watch what you want when you want.
Get Netflix, Hulu, Amazon or any number of streaming services. It’s cheaper and is more satisfactory because you have control of what you watch. Just be careful—there are so many streaming services now that it can get pricey if you subscribe to all of them.
Sign up for free trials first and then choose one or two services that best fit your tastes.
Consider making your own DIY personal and beauty products.
Pinterest has tons of tutorials for making everything from DIY shampoo, toothpaste, bath bombs, makeup, etc.
This can be a really fun activity and a great way to make items you need cost effectively.
Repurpose old items when you can instead of buying brand new. Repurpose old clothes and household items.
Stain your old coffee table. Buy couch covers instead of a new couch.
Get creative and work with what you have to save a little dough. Of course, repurposing items won’t work for everything, but when you can get away with it, it’s a great way to save.
Or buy second-hand. When I need furniture or a lamp, I’ll look through my old University’s For Sale Facebook Page. Then, I’ll paint it or spruce it up if I really feel like I need to.
College students throw out almost new stuff when they move each year. Snag stuff for free or cheap, or buy from a yard sale.
So much second-hand stuff is in great condition.
Eliminate Subscriptions You Don’t Use
So much of the time we sign up for free trials that turn into paid subscriptions, or just sign up for subscriptions we need for something and then completely forget about them.
Even a few subscriptions that you don’t actively use can add up—and it’s basically throwing money away.
Two or three times a year, just go through your email or credit card statements and check your subscriptions. Are there any that you don’t use but are still being charged for?
If so, unsubscribe in order to save that money for a better use.
Use Your Credit Card Instead of Your Debit Card
This is a tricky one. If you’re heavy handed with your credit card and end up spending impulsively, this probably isn’t the best money saving tip for you.
However, if you can manage your card spending just fine, using a credit card helps you rack up reward points and cash back. If you’re going to spend on something anyway, you might as well earn cash back for those purchases.
Check out different no fee credit cards. Many of them offer higher percentages of cash back for certain item categories. This way you can make a choice that earns you the most cash back based on your expenses.
Be A Coupon Lady
Coupons aren’t just your grandma’s game. With the digitization of coupons, there’s no excuse not to use them. They’re a simple and easy way to cut down on your shopping bill.
Use apps like honey when shopping online, or look up coupons when shopping in the store.
Grocery stores still print coupon booklets. Target has the Cartwheel app that lets you scan items and looks up any coupons automatically.
World market emails coupons all the time and you can usually find available promotions online.
Embrace the coupon life. Stash the cash.
Brand name isn’t always where it’s at. There are plenty of grocery and home items that can be purchased via a generic brand without a noticeable difference in quality.
Many generic items have the exact same formulas and ingredients as brand name products.
Sure, there are some items that you should spring for, but in general, try swapping out products for generic to save cash.
Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk for items that you need a regular basis is a great way to save a little money. Often, buying in bulk is cheaper on a price per item basis.
I usually buy things like razors, food staples like rice or lentils, spices used frequently, a big bulk bottles of shampoo or conditioner.
Toilet paper and paper towels are also bulk items that can save you money. Take a quick inventory of items you use frequently and buy in bulk next time to save in the long run.
Sign up for Email Lists
If you buy often from a certain online store or brand, sign up for their email lists. Often, they’ll send promotions, discount codes, or first alerts of big sales via email.
Signing up can help save you money, or you can plan your spending for a sale period or around a promotion vs paying full price.
Some sign-ups will even allow you to earn points to redeem for free stuff in the future.
Make Coffee at Home
I love lattes too! Don’t get me wrong. Coffee is life, I get it. And grabbing a cup of coffee at a coffee shop is an awesome little treat.
But it’s always overpriced and buying coffee out every day or even multiple times a week can add up.
Consider buying coffee out as a treat to have once or twice a week and then bring your coffee from home.
You can find lots of recipes for homemade lattes that can be made without fancy equipment.
Carpool/Public Transit A Few Times a Week
Commuting is expensive. Save on mileage and gas by carpooling a few times a week.
Or consider taking public transportation or biking if you’re fortunate enough to live in an area where biking is a plausible means of transportation.
List Food Expiration Dates
Many households end up wasting a large quantity of the food they purchase. Produce particularly is a big culprit and gets tossed before we get a chance to eat it.
But it’s not the only thing. When you buy things like milk, cheese, produce or anything that’s perishable, write down the expiration date. That way, when it gets close, you can make sure to use it up before it goes bad to avoid wasting purchased food and money.
Spending can be a crime of opportunity in a sense. You’re in the car, you go to a meeting, you get stuck in traffic and bam, you’re starving.
I’ve been swayed many a time by not properly planning and then buying a snack out of desperation.
Keep a stash of snacks in your bag or car for emergencies. This can help dissuade you from making impulse purchases.
Set Up Automatic Direct Deposit For Savings
You can set this up with your bank. It usually means that whenever you make a purchase with a certain card or account, a designated amount is deposited into your savings account.
This is a great way to automate savings and make sure you’re making deposits into that saving account on the regular. It could be as little as a dollar whenever you make a purchase.
Use a Budget App
Budget apps are the easiest way to track your spending. There are a slew of budget apps out there that do everything from track spending to automate savings.
You can visually see how much you’re spending, allot money for specific expenses, and automatically track purchases.
This can help you realize where you reduce spending and stay on top of your money from your phone.
Find the right one for you here.
Now, you have a whole repertoire of creative ways to save money. Want more of the down low on money madness? Check out 8 manageable ways to get out of debt here.