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A quick Google search for ‘save money ideas’ brings up hundreds of articles, all promising to give you new tips and tricks for saving money, but there’s a problem – a lot of these tips just don’t work for everyone.
For example, “make your own clothes” sounds great on paper – and I’m sure it would indeed save you a lot of money – but unless you’re an experienced seamstress with years of sewing experience, this tip probably isn’t going to help you all that much.
If you’re like me, you’ll probably accidentally end up making something that looks more like a Halloween costume that something you could actually add to your wardrobe.
That’s why, in this article, we’re going to focus on only those money saving ideas that actually work – for everyone. These are all real, actionable steps you can take today to start saving money, regardless of who you are or what skills you have.
All you really need is some self-restraint and a can-do attitude!
Now that’s covered, let’s jump into it. Here are our top 30 tips on how to save money…
1. Use Receipt Scanning Apps
Receipt scanning apps are apps that pay you take pictures of your receipts from your smartphone. Expect to earn anywhere between $.25 and $5 per product that matches with what’s on the app.
There are now quite a few of these apps, but here are some of our favorites:
- Ibotta ($10 bonus when you scan your first receipt)
- Trunow ($2 sign-up bonus with promo TOF19 and scan your first receipt)
- Fetch Rewards ($1.50 sign-up bonus when you use promo code HH3MN)
2. Rent Out Your Spare Bedroom
If you have a spare bedroom in your home that you’re not using, you can rent it out on websites like Airbnb to make a little extra money from it. You can then take the money you earn and put it straight into a savings account so you can’t spend it.
3. Go Through Your Payments and Direct Debits Carefully
Call your bank and ask them to list all your direct debits, standing orders, and recurring card payments. Then, decide which ones you need and cancel any that you don’t. You might find that you’ve got payments going out for services that you’re no longer using.
Recurring card payments are the trickiest of these as they’re often not listed on your online banking, so they may be taking money out of your account each month without you even being aware!
3. Get Cash Back On Your Purchases
You can use cash back shopping apps and credit cards to get money back on the purchases you make. Once you’ve spent enough to withdraw a substantial amount of cash, put it straight into your savings account.
4. Use Coupons
If you’re someone who regularly shops online, you’ve probably already noticed that little ‘promotional code’ box on the checkout page. If you’ve been leaving that blank until now, you’ve been missing out on a great opportunity to save money on your purchase.
This can save you anything from the delivery charge to 50% or more off the cost of your order. You can then take the extra that you’ve saved and put it straight in a savings pot.
It’s not just online either – there are plenty of in-store coupons too. You can often find them in and cut them out of newspapers but, to make things a little easier, some coupon sites will let you download and print coupons to use in store.
5. Take Advantage of Sales
A lot of the purchases you make each year are probably for non-essentials, like clothes, gifts, home decor, etc. You probably don’t need any of these items urgently, so why not wait for sales and buy them then?
You can usually predict when sales are about to happen: they usually come at the end of a season or post-holidays, such as the infamous boxing day sales after Christmas. Hold out for these times and buy all your non-essentials in these sales.
6. Switch to Budget Supermarkets
If you’re a supermarket snob, there’s no time like the present to drop your prejudices and switch over to budget supermarkets!
If you live in the UK, that means shopping in stores like Lidl and Aldi, where grocery prices are as much as 20-50% cheaper than in stores like M&S. If you live in the US, it means shopping in places like Costco and Wholefoods.
For the most part, the products you can get at budget supermarkets are every bit as good as those that you can buy at more expensive alternatives but, if you’re hesitant, start with just the basics like toiletries and biscuits and keep buying your meat and vegetables from your supermarket of choice
7. Buy at the Right Time
Whilst we’re on the topic of supermarkets, let’s talk about buying at the right time. A lot of supermarkets and grocery stores will hugely discount their products at the end of the day. This is especially true for freshly-made sandwiches and other products that might be nearing their sell-by date.
Stores would rather sell the products for pennies than be forced to throw them away the next day, so they can be reduced by as much as 75%. The best time to find these reduced products is late evening, an hour or so before the store closes.
8. Consolidate Your Debt
One of the best ways to save money is to be smarter about how you’re managing your debt. If you have multiple credit cards or other loans, it might be worth consolidating them into one loan with lower interest rates.
9. Make Water the Only Thing You Drink
Water is great for two reasons: it’s healthy and – even more importantly – it’s free. Why waste money on other drinks when you can just turn on your tap and get an almost unlimited supply of free water?
I’m not a big fan of water myself, so a huge part of my weekly shopping budget used to get spent on beverages like soft drinks, alcohol, and fruit juices. Eventually, I realized that I was throwing money away, so I bought myself a water filter and made the switch. Over time, I learned to love it – and you can too.
Drinking water has the added benefit of helping you to live a healthier lifestyle too, as well as a more frugal one.
10. Cook Inexpensive Meals
A great way to save money is to rethink your weekly meal plan and start making meals that cost less. A great option is to focus on meals which include a lot of staples; things like eggs and rice make great, low-cost ingredients.
You don’t have to skimp on nutrition either, just download a healthy budget meal plan and you should be able to make nutritional meals without breaking the bank. Plus, you can check out our list of meal planning hacks for even more ways to save money on your weekly meals!
11. Buy in Bulk
Generally, the more you buy at once, the more you save. By buying products in bulk, you can access wholesale prices and get a better deal, allowing you to cut down on expenses and save more money.
This works well for things like toiletries if you have the space to keep it all in your home. If you have a big freezer, it can also work well for food products. You can buy meat in bulk and freeze it to keep costs down.
12. Turn Off Your Appliances
Before you leave your home, get in the habit of turning off all lights and electrical appliances. Not only is this better for the environment, but it will also help you to save money by keeping your electricity bills down.
You can pat yourself on the back for reducing your carbon footprint and reward yourself when your next month’s electricity bill is cut in half!
13. Switch to Energy-Saving Lights
Another way to reduce that electricity bill is to invest in some energy-saving lights. These can be pricey, so it might not help you to save money in the short-term but, over time, you’ll likely see returns on that investment as you use less energy.
14. Be Smart About Your Heating
On a similar topic, another way to save money is to start being smarter about how you heat your home. Your gas bill may be a monthly expense that you could reduce dramatically if you become less reliant on central heating.
To achieve this, make sure your home is properly insulated. The heat that escapes through doors and windows might as well be your cash, so, if you live in a cold area and use central heating a lot, invest in some double-glazing so that the heat stays trapped for longer.
15. Stop Comfort Spending
A lot of people spend money as a tool to de-stress. After a bad day at work, it can be tempting to console yourself with a shopping trip, or by ordering take-out food.
This is a negative cycle to get into, and it’s better for both your wallet and your mind if you find healthier and less expensive ways to de-stress and overcome your spending addiction.
Consider meditation or exercise as a tool for de-stressing or, if all else fails, take a nap! You’ll probably wake up feeling mentally refreshed.
16. Buy Used Items
Ok, so this doesn’t apply to absolutely everything. No one expects you to buy used underwear, for example! However, there are some things that it just makes sense to buy used. There are times where buying used makes little difference but can save you a lot of money.
Electronics and games are a great example of this. Pre-owned games are available for much cheaper than new games but you’ll probably never notice the difference. The same holds true for things like laptops, where refurbished models are often up to 25% cheaper than brand new models.
17. Shop In Advance
There are certain times of year where prices tend to be hiked. The Christmas period is the most obvious example of this, where retailers cash in on the rush to buy last-minute presents.
To save money, buy out of season and months in advance. Get your Christmas presents for next year in the January sales, and buy your summer clothes during the Autumn months when they’re much cheaper!
18. Stay Away From Temptation
It might seem obvious, but one of the best money-saving tips I can give is to avoid spending temptation. Putting yourself in situations where your willpower is likely to crumble is a sure-fire way to sabotage your money-saving efforts.
There are a few simple steps you can take to avoid temptation:
- Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry
- Don’t spend a lot of time in shopping malls
- Avoid going on nights out and invite your friends to your home instead
Just be careful when using cash back credit cards that you pay off the balance in full before you get charged interest or late-payment fees.
19. Use Club Cards & Rewards Programs
Try to get in the habit of taking advantage of loyalty rewards programs whenever you shop.
A lot of stores – particularly large chains or big-name brands – offer club cards or other rewards programs that reward you with points whenever you shop. Over time, you can accumulate enough points to redeem them for cash or exclusive discounts.
As you only accrue a small number of points with each purchase, it can be tempting for lazy shoppers to forgo using their club card to make the checkout process quicker. However, this is a mistake as every little helps and those points all add up eventually!
20. Comparison shop
Comparison shopping is when you compare the prices for a product or service offered by a range of different stores or service providers. It can help you to save money on everything from airfare to life insurance and everything in between.
Effective comparison shopping is an art, and our ultimate guide to comparison shopping article will explain everything you need to know to do it well!
21. Stop Buying Gifts
Gifts are one of the biggest drains on expendable cash out there. It’s not just birthdays either – there are so many holidays that make us feel like we have to buy gifts for family and friends: Christmas, Easter, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving… the list goes on and on.
It seems like every year, retailers find more excuses to slap a label on a day to make it a day for gift-giving. Of course, this is great for them – more people are buying their stuff – but it’s not so great for us.
We buy gifts for others and they buy gifts back for us, usually of an equivalent value. The problem is that most of the time, these gifts are things that we don’t want or need. In a way, we’re all just throwing money down the drain.
So, instead of buying gifts, why not make them? This will save you money and make the gift more personal and meaningful. Here are some ideas for great hand-made gifts:
- DIY soap or candles
- A handmade photobook
- A batch of personalized homemade cookies or jam
- A handwritten card and babysitting coupon
- A knitted scarf or jumper (if you can knit!)
You can find lots more ideas on websites like this one.
22. Eat a Big Breakfast
They don’t call it ‘the most important meal of the day’ for nothing! By eating a large breakfast, you’ll fill yourself up for the day ahead and won’t be tempted to indulge in expensive snacks because you’re hungry.
Breakfast is also often the cheapest meal which means it makes sense to fill up early as opposed to spending more on lunch or dinner. Here are some cheap breakfast options that will leave you feeling full:
- Overnight oats
- A 2-3 egg omelet
- Wheat cereals
- Avocado toast with egg
- Peanut butter pancakes
23. Take On a Side Hustle
As well as minimizing your expenses, a key part of saving more is maximizing your income. Taking on a side hustle can be a great way to do both, as it will fill your spare time so you’ll spend less on entertainment and allow you to earn extra cash at the same time.
Here are some great ideas for side hustles that pay well:
24. Start an Allotment
You can cut down on your grocery shopping budget by growing some of the produce yourself. If you have a large garden space and you live somewhere with a suitable climate, it’s pretty easy and cheap to start your own allotment.
If you feel up to a challenge and want to try something new, you could even consider building a chicken coop and buying some chickens for a free supply of eggs!
25. Ditch the Car
Gas/petrol is a big monthly expense for many people. A great way to save money is to cut this down by walking, riding a bicycle, or getting public transport where you can. If you choose to walk or ride a bike, it might help you to live a healthier lifestyle too.
26. Learn How to Cut Hair
Instead of spending money on a haircut every few weeks, why not learn to cut your own? There are plenty of online tutorials on YouTube and other websites where you can learn how. All it takes is some basic equipment like a razor and some scissors and a little determination!
If you’re good enough at it, you might even be able to turn your new skill into a side-hustle by cutting the hair of your friends and family!
27. Read More
The great thing about books is that it tends to take a while to read them – a few days, at least, for most people. By taking up reading as a hobby, you can spend your free time reading instead of on more expensive habits like shopping and eating out.
While reading is relatively inexpensive, books do still usually cost money too. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get free books and save even more money.
28. Turn Off Your TV
Remember how we already talked about turning off appliances to save money? Well, turning off your TV helps with that too, but that’s not the main reason to turn it off.
The real reason you should turn off your TV is that it will stop you from being exposed to advertisements determined to convince you to spend your money on things you probably don’t need!
29. Sell Unwanted Items
If you have old clothes, books, games, or anything else lying around that you no longer need, sell it and put the cash you earn into your savings account.
There are lots of different ways you can sell your unwanted items, but here are a few ideas:
- List them on eBay
- Sell them in a garage or car-boot sale
- Set up a stall at a flea market
- List them on the Facebook marketplace
30. Set a Savings Goal
A lot of people overlook the importance of having something to look forward to. Setting a goal allows you to have something to work towards – a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.
Your goal might be to save enough for a family vacation, wedding, or anything else that you’d like to be able to afford. If there is a reward at the end of your saving period, it will motivate you to stick to your budget and live more frugally.
Negative motivation, such as the fear of not being able to pay your debts, is often less effective than positive motivation, so keep your goal in mind and look forward to rewarding yourself for all your hard work.
A good way to keep that goal at the forefront of your mind is to put up little reminders of it around the house – perhaps a poster of your vacation destination on your bedroom wall.
There you have it – 30 how to save money ideas that anyone can use. The only thing left to do now is to start using them! For more great tips and tricks for saving money, browse our save money articles here.
Good luck and happy saving!