Saving money helps create a sense of stability and control over your finances, especially as you get older. From being able to invest in your future to spotting the spending habits that eat away at your money every month, there are only benefits to learning practical and easy ways to save your money. Keep reading for some money-saving tips that will turn you into the financially savvy person you want to be, or jump to the section that’s most helpful for you:
1. Create a Budget
The first place to start when trying to learn how to save money is to assess how much you really have and where that money is going. Think about using the 50/30/20 rule to create a budget. The 50/30/20 rule states that 50 percent of your income should go to essentials like rent and food, 20 percent should go toward savings, and 30 percent should go to personal expenses like entertainment.
2. Track Your Spending
You may be surprised about where your money is going. Keep a record of what you spend to see how small expenses take away from your monthly savings. You may not think that coffee every once in a while impacts your ability to save money, but seeing the sum of your purchases may change your mind.
3. Make a Plan
Breaking your long-term goals into smaller, more manageable milestones for the month and year can help you save better. With an understanding of how to properly save money in the short term, you can plan how much you need to be saving to set yourself up for success in the future.
4. Automatically Save Money
If you’re used to manually transferring money into your accounts, you may be forgoing potential money savings altogether. Try having a portion of your paycheck automatically deposited to a savings account to keep you contributing consistently.
5. Use the 30-Day Rule for Saving Money
When you want to make a large purchase, think about it first. Write down what it is and how much it costs, and if after 30 days you still feel it’s necessary, purchase it. A good rule of thumb is that if you have to dip into your savings to make the purchase, you should wait a little longer until you save more money.
6. Consider Accounts and Equities
You should always thoroughly research your options or talk to a professional financial advisor before making any riskier investment moves. You may want to be aware of certain accounts that gain interest on your money through equities that will help you save more money every year. While things like stocks, mutual funds, and certificates of deposit shouldn’t be your only form of savings, they may provide attractive returns on your investment over time.
7. Consider Refinancing Your Mortgage
You may find that you can save money over time by changing the rate of your mortgage. Making beneficial adjustments to your mortgage rate, you could have thousands over year over year and put more money back into your pockets every month. Remember to talk to a financial advisor before signing any major financial contracts.
8. Avoid Debt
Pay off your credit cards every month to keep your debt from piling up. If possible, avoid going into debt in the first place by spending within your limits and keeping your credit card at home. Without a large credit card bill to pay off every month, you may be able to start saving money over time for a large purchase you’ve had on your mind.
9. Build an Emergency Fund
Some experts recommend setting aside six months’ worth of living expenses in case of emergencies. Save your money to create a padding that can help you avoid going into debt if you ever lose your job or have to pay unforeseen medical expenses.
10. Create a Savings for Retirement
One of the best savings tips we can give you is to save for your retirement. Some experts recommend saving at least 15 percent of your income each year. Determine how much you’ll need and break that down by decades to make sure you’re hitting your goals over time.
11. Switch to a Cheaper Phone Plan
With the prevalence of Wi-Fi hotspots, the standard smartphone owner today only uses 4.5 gigabytes of data per month on average. Interestingly, most service providers’ cheapest data plan provides more than that. Track how much data you’re actually using and stop paying for services you don’t need, allowing you to save more money every month.
12. Time Major Purchases Around Sale Periods
Because demand fluctuates by the season for certain items, you can time your big buys to rake in the money savings. For example, October, November, and December can be a great time to buy a car because dealerships want to meet end-of-year quotas.
13. Use Coupons for Money Savings
Not just in newspapers and junk ads anymore, coupons are available on company websites and apps, making them a convenient and easy way to save money when shopping. Before you go out shopping, check your phone or computer and increase your savings.
14. Plan Your Groceries
Making a list of what food you’ll need for the week is one of the things you can do to save more money. Keep in mind what meals you can make from the ingredients, and don’t buy anything that isn’t on your list.
Meal planning is another great option that can help you save money and time while making it easier for you to eat healthy. Use Mint’s grocery budget calculator if you need help determining a reasonable budget for your trips to the store.
15. Lower Your Utility Bills
Evaluate whether or not you’re being as conservative as you can with your utilities. Some quick tips to save money on your bills include:
- Insulating your windows with bubble wrap
- Unplugging appliances you’re not using
- Turning the faucet off when done using the sink
16. Share Entertainment
Similar to saving tips like swapping clothes, another one of the small ways to save money is asking your friends to split monthly streaming fees for subscriptions like Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and Apple Music.
17. Cancel Your Gym Membership
Many of the exercises you do at the gym can be done at home with a bit of creativity. Some money-saving techniques for those who want to prioritize their health on a budget include:
- Watching YouTube tutorials for ideas about home workouts
- Going for a run in your neighborhood
- Swimming laps at your community pool
18. Carpool to Work or School
One of the easiest ways to save money on commute expenses is by creating a carpool spreadsheet at work to see if anyone lives near you who you can swap rides with. If you have kids, enlisting nearby parents or friends’ parents to help lighten the burden of the school drop-off lines is a great way to save money on gas every month.
19. Buy Used
If you love money-saving deals, local thrift stores and online auction sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace offer everything from clothes to electronics at stellar discounts. You can get slightly used high-quality items at a fraction of the cost of their newer counterparts.
20. Think Twice About Sales
While some stores are great at offering money-saving deals that help keep more dollars in your pocket, there’s no sale that’s going to cost you less than not buying the item at all. When thinking about buying something, ask yourself if you would have bought the item if it were full price, and if the answer is no, skip it.
21. Buy Generic
A great way to save more while shopping is not allowing name-brand medicines and foods to influence you. If you can’t detect any difference in quality, you don’t necessarily need to buy the name brand.
22. Use the 24-Hour Rule for Saving Money
This is similar to the 30-day rule, but designed to help with saving your money on less expensive purchases. Wait a day before buying a small item and you may find you don’t want it after all.
23. Go to the Library
Some people don’t realize that going to the library is a great way to save money if you need something to entertain you. Many offer movies and games in addition to books, as well as free events and readings for kids on a regular basis.
24. Eat In
Eating in is one of the best ways to save money every month. And fortunately for you, if cooking at home isn’t the most appetizing thing in the world, there are plenty of ways to make it fun and appealing, such as:
- Cooking new recipes
- Setting up a picnic
- Simple meal prepping
25. Designate No-Spend Days
Challenge yourself and your family to go one day a week without buying anything, from your morning coffee to a movie ticket. You’ll learn to save better by reducing your spending and becoming more aware of how frequently you make small purchases.
26. Try Envelope Budgeting
Envelope budgeting can help you with saving money by forcing you to work with divided up cash allowances. This method makes you more aware of what you’re spending, and also ensures you don’t spend too much of your money in one area. Mint’s envelope budgeting printables are perfect for those looking to explore this incredibly useful money-saving technique.
27. Take Public Transportation
Try replacing your drive to work one day a week. You’ll be able to get other things done on the bus while saving money on gas and avoiding some wear and tear on your car.
28. Go Outside
Among the smart ways to save money is remembering that the world is your playground. With the great outdoors almost always free for people to use, there’s tons you can do to take up your time. Just think — instead of meeting your friend out for lunch next week, try making your own sandwiches and going on a nice picnic in the park.
29. Use a Budgeting App
Using an app like Mint can help you tremendously with not only saving money, but staying on track with spending goals, expenses, and budgets. This can also be an easy way to stay up to date on how you’re doing and get more familiar with your spending habits.
The key to saving money and budgeting successfully is having patience. You may not become rich overnight, but making an earnest effort to change your unconscious spending habits puts you one step closer to financial freedom. After all, patience is a virtue — and, in this instance, saving it also brings value.