With a quick search on the internet, it seems there are countless ways to save money. The saving money tips range from making your own soap to shopping around for car insurance. I have scoured the web and put together the 32 most comprehensive and reasonable saving strategies out there.
Cheap Restaurant Dining
1. Chose Your Days/Times Wisely
Many restaurants encourage people to dine during their less busy days and times. Check your favorite restaurant’s weekly deals. Some offer days when kids eat free or special happy hours. Plan ahead to make the most of your dining experience. Don’t forget to search for online coupons!
2. Sign Up For Restaurant Rewards
Restaurants frequently offer valued customer discounts if you sign up for their reward programs. One of the dangers associated with these rewards programs is their ability to entice you to spend money. Realize that their whole goal is to get you into the restaurant to spend money. Go out to eat with a plan of how much you plan to spend. Avoid falling for their up-sells which may include suggested add-ons such as guacamole, alcohol, or dessert. Make a plan and stick to it!
3. Pay With Gift Cards
A large number of restaurants offer gift cards at discounted prices. For instance, Costco and Sams Club routinely sell $100 worth of gift cards for $75 dollars. Use your budgeted money to plan ahead for these outings. There are various other scrip programs where you can buy discounted restaurant gift cards. Again, make a plan ahead of time so you are not spending more than you plan for in your monthly budget.
4. Avoid The Appetizer
With the large size portions we have in America, there really is no reason to purchase an appetizer. Often people believe that appetizers cook faster than the main meal so it’s needed when you’re most hungry.
I worked in a restaurant for 5 years and we would delay sending the regular food order in so that guests had plenty of time to enjoy the appetizer. Appetizers typically do not come out faster than the meal.
There is one appetizer I do give in to. Chips and salsa is normally a cheap appetizer and is all you can eat. By filling up on chips and salsa, you can take half of your meal home in a takeout box. Leftovers for the win!
5. Drink Water – Seriously
Restaurants make a ton of money off soft drinks. When you pay $3 – $3.50 for that soft drink, you are nowhere near getting your money’s worth. In addition, if you enjoy an alcoholic beverage at dinner, you are usually paying the same price for one beer that you would for an entire six-pack at the grocery store.
If you get into the habit of only drinking water at restaurants, your wallet and waistline will thank you.
In addition, if you are constantly buying bottled water because you hate the taste of tap, consider investing in a reverse osmosis system for your house. They are not that expensive and will not only save your wallet but the planet as well!
6. Is Your Birthday Coming Up?
Most restaurants offer some type of discount or special promotions for the birthday boy or girl. You may have to endure an obnoxious birthday song from the wait staff, but you will be rewarded with a free dessert or appetizer. Check your local listings to see if they offer anything for birthdays.
7. Check Out The Kids Meal
Have you seen the kid meals lately? It seems the portion size of kids meals is almost at large as the adult size. Depending on the restaurant, you may be able to order off the kids’ menu and save half the cost and the calories!
8. Pack Your Lunch
Truth bomb – I hate packing my lunch. I am not one of those people who meal plan and cook everything on Sunday to get me through the week. I’m just not that organized. I usually scrounge through the refrigerator to find something 5 minutes before I need to leave for work. Get in the habit of saving leftovers from last nights dinner to take to work the next day. The amount of money you save will quickly add up!
Grocery Store Hacks
9. Budget Your Grocery Money
Blindly going to the grocery store without a list or a plan for how much to spend will quickly put you in a bad position. At the beginning of each month, you should have a set amount of money you plan to spend on groceries. Depending on if you shop weekly or twice a month will determine how you should split up your funds. Make a plan for how much you are going to spend and plan your meals accordingly.
10. Use Cash
This is where you will see the biggest bang for your buck. Even with good intentions, most of us will not walk around the store with a calculator estimating our costs. By using credit cards for groceries, you will routinely overspend because it is much more difficult to track your spending. By using a set amount of cash for groceries each month, you will track your spending much more efficiently.
11. Shop For Groceries Online
By ordering your groceries online for pickup, you will see in real time how much money you are spending without walking around the store with a calculator. You can add and subtract things from your order to keep your food budget exactly where you want it. Most companies charge $4.99 for this service but you will save much more than that by using it.
In addition to seeing your real-time grocery bill, you can also use online coupons to save even more money! I highly suggest online shopping, because it saves both money and time.
12. Buy Things In Bulk (Within Reason)
Buying in bulk has the potential to save you a lot of money. It also has the potential to waste money as well. Understand that just because something is in bulk doesn’t necessarily mean that it is cheaper. Also, if you purchase a bunch of food items in bulk, realize that we end up wasting much of what was bought because it expires or goes bad. Toilet paper and laundry detergent are usually safe bets to buy in bulk.
If you have a SamsClub near you, it may be time to sign up! They have great prices on bulk items that can save you significant amounts of money over the year. If you need to sign up, use my link here to receive special offers and promotions.
13. Shop On A Full Stomach
This is a lesson I learned early on in my bachelor days. Shopping while hungry is an amateur mistake. I can’t tell you the amount of junk I buy when I shop while I’m hungry. If you plan to pick up your groceries, ensure you eat before you go!
14. Check The Price Per Ounce Label
Don’t be fooled into looking at the sale price of a food item, look at the price per ounce cost. This will quickly tell you if that sale price is really as good as it seems. However, avoid buying something that is in bulk if you are not positive you can eat it all. Often, produce is cheaper in bulk but will go bad before you can eat it all.
15. Shop With A List
If you are still brave enough to shop in a store, make sure you have a list in hand before you go. Plan out your meals for what you will make throughout the week. Don’t just wing it or you will end up with a bunch of items you don’t need.
16. Use Coupons – Within Reason
My wife and I tried the extreme couponing early on in our marriage. It included purchasing two Sunday papers to get extra coupons, finding the best way to triple the coupon, and scouring store and shopping strategies. We quickly learned that the amount of time we spend clipping coupons and strategizing was not the best use of our time. If you have a ton of free time, extreme couponing may be for you. However, if you are strapped for time, it is probably not a viable option.
Extreme couponing aside, we do still use coupons. A quick online search can find manufacturer coupons for many of the items we buy on a weekly basis. Couponing is smart, but weigh your time and money balance to determine how “extreme” you want to go.
We have been using SwagBucks for quite a while and you automatically get points when you shop that you can redeem for gift cards. In addition you can answer surveys for more points and more cash back! Sign up through my link here for special promotions!!
17. Generic Can Be Just As Good
Did you know that Target brand diapers are made in the same factory that makes Huggies? Or Kirkland Vodka is made in the same place as Grey Goose Vodka? Generic items are routinely name brand items with different labeling sold at a fraction of the price. Just because it’s generic doesn’t mean it’s not edible. Do your research before you discount generics!
Save Money At Home
18. Pay Attention To When You Do Laundry
What type of energy plan do you have? Do you have cheaper rates during certain days/times and more expensive rates on the others? Energy plans are usually cheaper if you select the plan that saves you money if you use the most of your energy during non-peak times.
If you are on one of these plans, do your best to only run your laundry or dishwasher during the cheaper times. Make a plan ahead of time to schedule these tasks when they will cost you the least amount of money.
19. Shop For Insurance Every Few Years
Many people stay with the same auto and home insurance company for decades. While you should receive major discounts for being so loyal, often they slowly raise your rates above the competitors. Every couple of years, shop around for insurance or call your current insurance company and request a loyal customer discount.
Insurance is similar to cable and other discretionary services. Ensure you are receiving the most discounts you possibly can, it never hurts to ask for them!
20. Consider Energy Efficient Appliances
This is a double-edged sword. If you have an old refrigerator or laundry machine, chances are it is using much more energy then a new energy efficient appliance would. However, if you have a paid for refrigerator, spending $2,000 on a new refrigerator may not be the most cost-effective choice. A quick online search will show you how much energy your current appliance uses compared to a newer energy efficient model.
When you find the difference in energy usage, find out how much money you would save in a year to determine how long it would take to pay for that new appliance. The math doesn’t always add up.
You can certainly change out inefficient cheaper items such as light bulbs before you start moving on to bigger purchases.
21. You Still Have Cable!?
For goodness sakes, cut the cord already! You could easily save yourself over $1,000 a year by dropping those 300 channels you never watch. Sign up for Hulu through my link here to save yourself a bundle this year. I can tell you from experience that once you cut the cord, you will not miss it.
22. Consider A Refinance
Examine your current home mortgage and find out your interest rate and the amount left to pay on the loan. If you can afford the monthly payments of a 15-year mortgage instead of a 30-year mortgage you will save yourself tens of thousands of dollars in interest.
If you are able to lower your interest rate by a point or two, this may also significantly reduce the amount of interest you will pay to the bank over the course of the loan. Keep in mind that refinancing also comes with administrative costs that can add a couple of thousand dollars onto your loan. Weigh the pros and cons of the refinance to see if it will really save you money.
If you have student loans with a high interest rate, it may be worth it to look into a refinance. Check out Credible.com or Lendingtree.com through my links to check your rates for special offers and promotions.
23. Sell Your Mansion
If you have a 3000 – 4000 square foot house, you are paying a ton of money in energy costs. Consider a downsize if you have more house than you really need. A smaller house can significantly lower your home price, taxes, energy costs, and upkeep. Avoid being house poor by paying for a mansion if you don’t really need it.
Save Money Daily
24. Cheap Date Night Ideas
We all know how important date nights are but some of us go overboard with our spending. On the opposite end of the spectrum are those of us who forgo date night because we don’t want to spend money. Find a healthy balance by choosing one of these cheap date night ideas!
25. Call Your Internet Company
Last year I called my internet company because I got into the annual tradition of calling them once a year. No, not because I was lonely but because each year they give me a special discount when I threaten to go with a competitor. The special discount stays in effect for a year and then the price jumps up 20 or 30 bucks. I then have to call them, threaten them with a competitor and they lower my rate.
For years it has been working but last year they told me they were no longer doing those promotions and now have a standard promotion going forward. The promotion was $45 a month for life. They promised never to raise my rates. Before my promotion ended, I was paying $38 a month for internet.
Rather than just rolling over and paying the $45 a month for life, I told them I would be unable to afford the $45 dollars. The truth is, I didn’t want to afford the $45 a month, but they didn’t need to know that.
After talking to a few supervisors, I was able to lock in a rate of $40 a month for life. Remember, it never hurts to ask – and I didn’t even use a single curse word!
26. Go To The Library
When was the last time you went to your local library? They have all types of events for free from tax preparation classes, toddler hour, lego time and other fun things. Check out books for free rather than buying them online to save money. Libraries have many of the new releases that you would pay $20 dollars or more for.
27. Don’t Pay The Pink Tax
Have you heard of the “Pink Tax?” An article in USA Today¹ detailed how merchants charge more for items sold to women compared to the exact same version sold to men. For example, girls clothing cost 4% more than boys and women’s clothing cost 8% more than men’s. The studies compared similar clothing that had no real difference other than who they were marketed to.
Personal care items also had a similar gap with women’s personal care items costing on average 13% more than men’s. Look at both gender items to see if the version marketed to men is cheaper and appropriate for your use.
28. Avoid The Coffee Shop
I love the occasional stop at a local coffee shop, but avoid the daily routine of spending your money out of convenience. Before you leave the house in the morning, pack your coffee in a container to enjoy when you get to work. Your wallet and money goals will thank you.
Save Money On Transportation
29. Get Rid Of Your Car Payment
Cars can run for many years if you keep up on the maintenance. For instance, my 12-year-old Nissan Sentra has 186,000 miles on it and it still running well. If you were paying $500 a month (the average car loan price) for 12 years you would have spent $72,000. I spent $13,000 on my Sentra many years ago which means I have saved myself $59,000 so far.
If you are still paying monthly vehicle payments, consider selling that car and buying something in cash. The amount of money you will save is amazing!
30. Consider Public Transportation
I squirmed when I first thought about this option as well until I found out that many of my coworkers take the bus to work. The amount of money they are saving by taking the bus is not something to scoff at, and they are saving gas and wear and tear on their vehicle.
31. Check Your City For Local Carpool Options
There are many programs for carpools that can also save you money. By carpooling with one or more people, you can easily cut your gas and vehicle maintenance bills in half. There are obviously many different scenarios that may not be conducive to carpooling, but don’t rule this option out without first exploring it.
32. Shop Around For Car Insurance
Similar to home owner’s insurance, shop around for vehicle insurance every couple of years. Often your current coverage may be offered at a discount at another company. Other companies want your business and may be willing to offer you big discounts to get it.
There we have it, 32 of the best reasonable saving strategies. No secret recipe to make your own soap or making your own toilet paper. Look through this list and implement as many as you can to start meeting your money goals that much faster! If you enjoyed this list, please subscribe below so you don’t miss any of my future posts. Keep at it my friends, you work too hard to be this broke!