When you’re trying to save money, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There are so many complex tools, confusing financial jargon, and scattered statistics.
But don’t let any of this discourage you. There are some truly simple ways to save money that suit everyone
In this post, you’ll find 15 money saving tips that anyone can do. They are geared toward everyday people like you and me. In fact, I implement all of these tips on a regular basis.
I’ve included examples of how they help me, too. Read on to learn how you can easily start saving money today.
1. Download A Money Management App
Money management apps can seem overwhelming, but many are incredibly easy to use. Even if you’re frugal, I suggest downloading one. It’s easy to lose track of how much you spend on bills, household items, and more.
Spending a few extra dollars here and there seems harmless. But it can impact your savings and other financial goals.
Check out these free apps for easy money management:
- Mint – Mint is an all-in-one tool to keep track of your finances. I recommend this if you want something simple and very convenient. You can track bills, set budgets, view your credit score, and so much more. My favorite feature is seeing which areas I spend the most money on. This makes it easy for me to create realistic budgets.
- Personal Capital – If you want something a bit more sophisticated, I recommend Personal Capital. This financial software is great for focusing on savings and retirement goals. You can also see “what if” for investments. There is a free and paid version, but the free version is pretty comprehensive.
I personally use Mint because it offers everything I need. Explore both websites and read about the features they offer. Then you can choose the one that’s right for you.
2. Find The Lowest Gas Prices
As of September 2018, AAA reports that the average price for one gallon of fuel is $2.83. This is up from $2.59 at this time last year. It’s easy to see that filling up your car is getting more expensive. Fortunately, there are free tools you can use to find the lowest gas prices.
Trunow is a newer gas price app, but it definitely has a lot to offer. Trunow is a cash back app, too. The company partners with various gas stations to help you find the lowest prices in your area.
You simply need to turn on the location setting on your smartphone. You choose your gas station, fill up, and get 2% cash back.
All you need to do is scan your receipt to get your cash back. You can even get a $2.00 signup bonus by using the referral code TOF19. This bonus is deposited into your account when you scan your first receipt. To learn more and get helpful tips, read our recent Trunow review.
3. Don’t Pay Full Price For Gift Cards
Gift cards make excellent presents for pretty much any occasion. You can save money on them by buying used gift cards online. The concept is pretty simple.
People with unwanted gift cards sell them at a discount to the websites below. For example, someone can sell a $25 Amazon card they don’t want, and they’ll receive $22 for it.
The discounted gift card price is passed on to you when you buy. Each used gift card site has a vetting process to ensure you’re getting the real deal. Here are some helpful examples from reputable gift card selling platforms.
- Gift Card Granny – Gift Card Granny shows you gift card prices from several different sellers and boasts up to 50% discounts. You’ll find listings from eBay, Card Cookie, Cardpool, and more. Each listing shows the value of the gift card, the price you’ll pay, how much you’re saving, and the name of the seller. There are over 120 listings for Target gift cards, and you can save up to 18%.
- Raise – Raise is a gift card marketplace where anyone can list their gift cards for sale. Sellers set their own prices, and you can choose the price that suits your budget. Raise offers gift card savings up to 30% for thousands of different retailers.
- Cardpool – Cardpool is a popular and user-friendly place to buy and sell gift cards. You can save up to 35% on digital and physical gift cards. Your purchase comes with a one-year guarantee. As an added perk, you can earn $5 when you refer a friend to Cardpool.
These sites are some of my personal favorites because they offer a great selection. The buying process has always been easy, and I never pay full price for gift cards anymore.
4. Find A Better Bank Or Credit Union
Do you pay monthly fees for your checking or savings account? Are you looking to earn more interest on your savings? If you can say yes to either, it’s time to start looking for a new bank or credit union. There’s no reason to pay monthly fees when plenty of excellent free options are available.
One popular bank charges a $12 monthly maintenance fee for checking accounts. Members are charged this fee if their balance is lower than $1,500 or if they don’t make at least one $250 deposit per month.
So if you don’t meet these criteria, you’re spending $144 per year just to have a checking account.
I suggest taking the time to explore your options. Many banks and credit unions offer sign-up bonuses to new customers. New customers may get access to special interest rate deals, too. Look around to see what banks in your area have to offer. You’ll save money while getting excellent perks.
5. Use Cash Back Portals When Shopping Online
Online shopping is very convenient, so it’s my main choice for making purchases. That’s why I make sure to use cash back portals every time I shop. These allow me to get a certain percentage of cash back based on how much I spend. If you shop online, there’s no reason not to use these. They’re 100% free to use, and the platforms offer coupons as well. You’re essentially getting paid to shop. The three cash back portals below are very popular picks.
- TopCashback – TopCashback partners with over 4,380 merchants, and you can get up to 60% cash back on your purchases. Signup bonuses are offered periodically.
- BeFrugal – BeFrugal offers up to 40% cash back on purchases from over 5,000 stores. New users get a signup bonus of $10.
- eBates – eBates gives you up to 40% cash back from over 2,500 retailers. New users get a signup bonus of $10.
I personally love TopCashback and BeFrugal, but I usually check each site before I buy. This allows me to get the most cash back possible. The cash back is fairly small per purchase, but it really adds up. Give it a shot next time you shop online.
6. Shop Around For The Best Insurance Prices
Different types of insurance are mandatory for most people. Some examples include auto, life, and home insurance. You have to pay for this insurance, but you don’t have to overspend.
It’s smart to periodically look for the best insurance prices. I do this annually to ensure I get the most affordable yet high-quality option.
You can easily get quotes by using free insurance rate comparison tools. Some popular choices are Compare.com and Insurance.com. You’ll spend about five to ten minutes putting in your demographic info.
You’ll answer questions about your home and car, too. Then you’re presented with several options in different price ranges.
Alternatively, you can talk to a representative from your current insurance provider. Tell them that you’re shopping for new coverage, and ask if there are any deals they can offer you. Companies certainly don’t want to lose paying customers, so this is always worth a shot.
7. Join Free Reward Programs And Mailing Lists
I’m a huge fan of free reward programs and e-mail subscription lists. They don’t cost me a penny, and I get discounts and perks when I shop. Free reward programs are offered by clothing retailers, grocery stores, and more. Most popular online retailers have e-mail subscription lists, too. These are a few that I have used:
- Forever 21 – Get 10% off your first purchase when you subscribe to e-mails.
- Starbucks Rewards – Get a free birthday drink and free in-store refills on coffee and tea. You’ll also earn two stars per $1.00 you spend. Stars are points that earn you free items.
- Ultamate Rewards Program – When you sign up for this program, you get a free birthday gift. You also one point per dollar you spend. 100 points get you $3 off your purchase, 250 points gets you $8 off your purchase, and so on. You can save up to 2,000 points for a whopping $125 off your purchase.
- Bloomingdales – Get 10% off your first purchase when you subscribe to e-mails.
To find what you’re looking for, simply visit the websites of your favorite online stores. An e-mail signup form often pops up, or it may be listed at the top or bottom of the page. If you’re worried about junk mail, simply create a separate e-mail address just for mailing lists.
For in-store rewards programs, just ask a sales associate or cashier to sign up. Most stores provide a plastic reward card that you swipe when you pay for a purchase. You’ll get access to freebies, discounts, special promotions, and more.
8. Use Receipt Scanning Apps For Cash Back
Receipt scanning apps are an incredibly easy way for anyone to save money. These apps give you cash back on specific items you buy. They commonly pair with major grocery retailers, so you don’t go out of your way to shop. One excellent app that I really love is Ibotta.
Ibotta is the top grocery receipt scanning app for many reasons. First, there are always dozens of different deals for many stores. Cash back amounts usually start at $0.25 per item, but certain items are worth $5 or more in cash back.
New users also get a $10 signup bonus by using the code qFTVA. You’ll also earn $5 when you refer new users.
Today, I used Ibotta during a grocery shopping trip. I received $0.25 cash back using the “Any Item” feature. I also got $0.50 for buying a certain brand of eggs, $1.00 for a bottle of local honey, and $2.00 for an organic coffee brand. I earned $3.75 just for buying items that were already on my grocery list.
Once you’ve earned $20 in cash back, you can instantly send the money to your PayPal or Venmo account. It’s very easy to cash out once per month or more based on your spending habits. This is a great way to save money simply by purchasing everyday items you need.
For more money saving options, check out Top 10 Free Apps That Pay You Money For Scanning Grocery Receipts.
9. Write A Detailed Grocery List Before Shopping
Before I go grocery shopping, I always write a detailed list. Many people jot down what they need to buy, but compiling a thorough list has many advantages. I started doing it a few years ago and quickly noticed I spent less while grocery shopping. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Start saving receipts from your favorite grocery stores. Use these receipts to make a list of their typical prices. I do this with my ALDI receipts and keep an updated price list on my computer. When I write my grocery lists, I can write the price next to each item. This shows me exactly how much I’ll spend on my grocery trips.
- Browse grocery ads at home versus in-store. Most grocery stores have their weekly ads available at the front of the store. You may see some great deals on items you weren’t planning to buy. This leads to overspending, so you aren’t really saving money at all. Instead, browse the ads at home while you compile your list. You can add items without impulse buying, and this easily saves you money.
- Stick to your grocery list 100% of the time. This tip definitely helps me the most, especially since I write down prices on my grocery lists. I always know precisely how much I’m going to spend. For items like produce, the price will change now and then. This makes it difficult to have an accurate total. I give myself an allowance such as $10 maximum for fresh produce. I add this $10 maximum into the estimated total cost at the bottom of my list.
- Put any leftover money into your savings account. Let’s say your estimated total is $95, and it includes a $10 allowance for produce. You end up spending $7.50 on produce. Other items on your list end up being on sale, and you spend $4 less than planned (not including produce savings). This leaves you with $6.50 leftover based on your estimated total. Transfer $6.50 into your savings account. If you do this every time you shop, you’ll save a lot of money over time.
You can easily implement one or all of these tips. Do whatever works best for you as long as you always have a detailed grocery list. This incredibly simple habit makes it easy to save money.
10. Switch To A Prepaid Phone Service
Prepaid phone services offer many benefits. There’s no contract required, your credit score doesn’t matter, and you can stop your service whenever you want. Prepaid plans are also called monthly plans or pay as you go plans. Some prepaid service providers include Boost Mobile and Straight talk.
Carriers such as Verizon and Sprint require customers to sign contracts. You’re obligated to pay your bill each month, and contracts usually last two years. Your credit score can determine whether or not you’re eligible for service, too.
The biggest benefit of prepaid phone plans is that they’re significantly more affordable. You still get to choose from modern smartphones and different unlimited plans. The following is an example of how much you can save by switch from contract to prepaid service:
- Contract – Verizon has unlimited talk, text, and data plans starting at $75 per line.
- Prepaid – Boost Mobile has unlimited talk, text, and data plans starting at $50 per line.
- Savings – Switching to Boost Mobile could save you $25 per month or $300 per year.
The only downside to prepaid plans is that you have to buy your phone outright. Contract plans allow you to pay a small amount of money for your phone each month. But since you’re saving $300 per year, your phone will quickly pay for itself.
11. Buy Generic Brands Versus Name Brands
Almost every major retailer sells a generic brand or store brand products. Store brand items cost less than name brand items, but you still get the same product. Check out the active ingredients of a generic product and a brand name product. If they’re identical, why should you pay extra money? Consider these statistics as well:
- According to Consumer Reports, generic brand groceries are 15% to 30% cheaper than name brands.
- According to the FDA, generic brand medications are about 85% cheaper than name brands. They also contain the exact same active ingredients.
- According to this Mic article, switching to generic brands you can save over $1,500 per year. This is a solid estimate, but your exact savings depends on your shopping habits.
The general consensus is that generic brand products are the way to go. The price difference may only be a few cents or dollars per item. But in the long run, the money you save will really add up.
12. Cut Out One Fast Food Purchase Per Week
Eliminating fast food altogether is a great way to save money, but it can be difficult to do. The same is true for convenience store trips. Instead, cut out just one fast food or convenience store purchase per week. Saving a few bucks every week doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up fast. Here are some examples:
- Cutting out one $2.00 gas station snack saves you $104 per year.
- Cutting out one $5.50 Starbucks drink saves you $286 per year.
- Cutting out one $8.00 Chipotle burrito saves you $416 per year.
These are just examples with price estimates, but these three changes would save you $806 per year. It’s an easy habit to start, and the money you’re saving is a great incentive.
13. Use Facebook Marketplace To Buy And Sell
If you like to save money by purchasing secondhand items, simply log onto Facebook to shop. Facebook Marketplace is a free platform for buying and selling locally.
The concept is similar to Craigslist, but it offers more security and the convenience of chatting via Facebook. This feature is very user-friendly for both buyers and sellers.
Listings typically feature photos of items, their condition, their price, and any crucial information. If you’re interested in buying, simply contact the seller using Facebook messenger.
You can arrange a meeting to pay for your purchase. Frugal secondhand shopping doesn’t get much easier than that.
Additionally, use Facebook to search for local buy and sell groups. I found several by searching “(my city name) buy and sell” and “(my city name) swap and shop)”.
These groups are often focused on certain neighborhoods or city/county regions. You can get alerts or simply browse the groups when you’re seeking out specific items.
14. Lower Your Monthly Subscription Fees
If you’re like most people, you likely subscribe to some type of monthly streaming service. Some examples include Hulu, Netflix, Spotify, and Apple Music. Most of these services offer different types of monthly subscriptions. You can quickly save money by choosing the basic packages. Here are some examples.
- Hulu – A Hulu subscription plan without commercials is $11.99 per month. The plan with commercials is $7.99 per month. Choose the less expensive plan and save $48 per year.
- Netflix – The same pricing applies to a Netflix Standard subscription and a Netflix Basic subscription. Basic plans stream in SD and limit you to one streaming device at a time. Choosing the second option saves you another $48 per year.
- Spotify – Spotify Premium is $9.99 per month for music streaming without commercials. The free service has commercials and a few other limitations. However, you can choose the no-cost option and save $119.88 per year.
If you use these three streaming services, you can cut costs and save $215 per year. I use the cheap and free options, and it’s totally worth it. The Netflix streaming quality is still excellent, and I don’t mind a few short commercials on Hulu and Spotify. It’s a truly effortless way to save money.
15. Make Your Own Gifts For Special Occasions
Making gifts instead of buying them is an instant money saver. And thanks to modern technology, anyone can try do-it-yourself gifting. Pinterest is my personal go-to for finding DIY tutorials and recipes.
YouTube is another great resource, especially if you’re a visual learner. Both of these free websites/apps will assist in you making creative homemade presents.
It’s surprising to see how much money you’re saving, too. For example, I enjoy making DIY body scrubs to give as gifts. I pay about $40 for the ingredients I need, and this allows me to make dozens of body scrub jars.
A single jar of body scrub is around $6 to $8 at Target. I easily save hundreds of dollars per year by making homemade gifts.
There are dozens of ways to save money, but the 15 tips above really stand out. They’re incredibly easy to follow with low effort and no confusion. Start using them now to instantly reap the benefits. For more excellent information, browse the Save Money section here at Frugal For Less.