I’m writing this in the middle of sky high inflation, miserable house costs, and trips to the grocery store that… well… hurt.
Wherever you are on the financial spectrum, chances are you’re feeling the pinch.
Or, even if the problem isn’t the economy – maybe you just want some extra for retirement or something important to you – saving money can be a challenge.
In this article, we’re going to do some creative savings and talk through clever ways to save money. From the little to the big, these ideas will help you scrape off you’re bottom line and increase that oh-so-sexy cushion of free cash every month.
And that extra cushion can help you in a ton of ways, from building wealth to investing in yourself to building out a passive income stream!
Here we go!
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- 1. Share accounts
- 2. Cut things you’re not using
- 3. Consolidate debt
- 4. Coupons
- 5. Money-saving apps
- 6. Discount grocery stores
- 7. Learn to cook
- 8. Eliminate food waste
- 9. Thrift
- 10. Make saving automatic
- 11. Hit the library or e-library
- 12. Look for write-offs
- 12. Wait to buy
- 13. Do the deep work on yourself
- 14. Debt snowball
- 15. Give yourself an allowance
- 16. Rent a room
- 17. Make Stuff
1. Share accounts
While they’re starting to crack down, there are still a lot of streaming services and other types of accounts that can be shared. As more and more companies go towards SAAS models, software as a service that is, you can expect more and more things to come with a monthly payment.
I remember the good old days when Microsoft Office came in a box for a one-time fee. Now I have to keep paying again and again. Damn you, Bill Gates.
When you can, whether you’re sharing with friends, family, or roommates, being able to share something like a Netflix account can add some to your bottom line every month.
2. Cut things you’re not using
This is sort of the same idea, but how many things have you got sucked into paying for every month that you don’t even use? Go through your credit card and bank statements from the last 2 months and see if there are things you are paying for that you don’t need.
Monthly payments get you because they seem so small, but they add up. That’s why one of the most clever ways to save money will always be cutting back on monthly payments.
Pro-tip, don’t just think about individual subscriptions. Think about parts of your subscription. Are you still paying for a bonus plan on your phone you signed up for that you don’t use?
3. Consolidate debt
Paying down debt is great.
But if you have a lot of debt, see if you can consolidate it into one payment, ideally with a lower interest rate.
For example, if you were paying two $5,000 credit cards debt at 18% interest, and you could take out a $10,000 line of credit at 7% interest, paying off your credit cards with your line of credit would save you money.
Then just pay that.
I’m not giving you financial advice here, so make sure to talk to your financial planner to find out if it’s right for you. (Jeez, I just sounded like a pharma ad.)
Coupons are still a thing. Full disclosure, I don’t have the patience to use them. But some of my friends do, and they can save a lot.
By this time, we’ve all seen shows on extreme couponing. You know, the ones about the people who get the groceries for free basically. That could be you!
Coupons work for just about everything, but one of the most obvious places is on your grocery bill. Groceries are sky-high right now with inflation, so getting that number down can make a big difference to your bottom line.
5. Money-saving apps
There are lots of different types of money-saving apps.
But I want to give a shout-out to Flashfood. It’s a fantastic app that lets you know when local grocery stores are getting rid of things, either because they’re about to expire, or they have too many, or the packaging is damaged.
You browse the app and make your payment, then pick up your food at the store! It’s a great way to save money on groceries.
6. Discount grocery stores
Since we’re talking about food here, what about changing grocery stores? I live in a pretty small town, and we have three grocery stores here.
The same basket of groceries at the high-end grocery store costs twice as much, and the stuff doesn’t taste any better for the most part. (There are a couple of things we splurge on at the ‘fancy’ store.)
If you don’t already shop at a no-frills grocery store, making the change to one can save a lot in groceries.
7. Learn to cook
You might think I’m talking about avoiding restaurants. But I’m not (necessarily).
This is not just about eating out. Learning to cook can save you in more ways than this.
Next time you’re at the grocery store, pay attention to what the most expensive things are. Often it’s the prepackaged meals, processed and ready to serve.
While it’s not 100% true all the time, often the raw ingredients, the stuff around the outside of most grocery stores, are often the cheapest. Veggies. Meat. Dairy. Eggs.
By learning to cook, you can save yourself a lot of money. Take a pack of ground beef and turn it into 4 healthy meals. A whole chicken has way more flavor and can serve you two family dinners.
And you can create a great meal for under $20 if you play your cards right.
And here are 10 Steps to Stretching Meat at Home
8. Eliminate food waste
Another great way to cut back on your grocery bill is to make sure you use your groceries.
There’s nothing worse than shelling out for nice fresh produce and having it go bad in the fridge. It’s a waste of money.
So learning to properly preserve your food to get as much life as you can out of it can be a clever way to save money.
There are some good tips here.
This might be obvious, but sometimes thrifting is a huge savings. And, thrifting can have the bonus of being good for the environment.
There are all different types of thrift stores. Some of them are more selective, filtering through their products and charging a bit more for it.
Some of them just throw whatever they have out and let you fill a bag for $5. When I was growing up, my mom particularly loved these ones.
Next time you think about buying a new outfit, why not check the thrift store? And it’s not just for clothes. You’ll find dishes, appliances, books, furniture, and even household rental materials at thrift stores.
10. Make saving automatic
One of the clever ways to save money that has nothing to do with spending has to do with banking. This is the tip given by personal finance writer David Bach in his book The Automatic Millionaire.
Bach recommends putting your savings on autopilot. Basically, set up your account to take out a pre-set amount every month and put it in savings, investments, or wherever. You won’t notice it’s gone, but it will add up.
Doing automatic saving is a neat little psychological trick too, because you will naturally adapt to the money you have leftover (within reason).
11. Hit the library or e-library
Instead of buying new books, hit the library to get them there. Most books don’t need to be owned. And, bonus, most libraries now have access to e-library books.
So you can often get books on a phone or eReader, check them out for a set period of time, then they will disappear. It’s a great way to save on buying books.
Make sure to check out these awesome books on making money!
12. Look for write-offs
This tip mostly applies to business owners, but is there a tax write-off you can take advantage of? I own my own business, so when I need to buy a computer or office furniture, the business pays for that. I end up with a tax write-off, so it costs me less in the long run.
And if you don’t own your own business, some tax jurisdictions will give different types of write-offs for expenses related to working from home, traveling to meet with customers, etc.
Do your research.
12. Wait to buy
It’s probably the oldest psychological trick in the book, and maybe it’s not a new money trick for you. But it is a clever one.
Can you wait to buy something?
That thing you really feel like you need today. Give it a couple of days, and see if it still feels as urgent. If it does, then maybe buy it. But a lot of the time you will find that you lose interest.
And, if you’re like me and don’t always have the discipline, leaving a debit and credit card at home and just bringing some cash in your wallet can be a great way to rein in quick spending.
13. Do the deep work on yourself
Let’s get philosophical for a minute here. A lot of us spend money for different reasons. Some people spend money to celebrate. Some people spend money to try to make themselves feel better when they’re sad.
That’s me. It’s not about spending money. But when I’m in a dark place, I have a tendency to drop money on things to try to cheer myself up. This can dig a hole pretty quick.
So if you can recognize your money mindset and identify some of your weak spots, try to figure out what it really is that’s making you want to spend. And confront that instead. It will cost less.
14. Debt snowball
This is an idea made popular by Dave Ramsey. The debt snowball basically means that you start with your lowest debt and pay it off in its entirety, then move to your next biggest, and so on.
Oh, and make sure you make your minimum payment on all your debts while you’re doing this.
Dave Ramsey says to ignore the interest rates, and just focus on getting the smallest debt out of the way. He likes the psychological boost that you get from paying one of them off.
And each debt you can clear creates a little extra cash flow for the next one, assuming you are not continuing to dig yourself into debt.
15. Give yourself an allowance
One of the hard parts about getting in control of your spending is that it feels like you’re being punished all the time. It can feel a little bit like when your parents told you not to do something.
You know, like when they told you not to watch that r-rated movie.
Didn’t that just make you want to watch it more?
One of the challenges of personal finance is that a budget can feel like a constraint, and sometimes we want to rebel against it. So one of the things that was a huge help to me was having a weekly allowance for spending on things.
We set the amount pretty high, more than I even usually spend. The result is that by the time I go out for coffee a few times and buy an occasional cheeseburger, I often still have cash left over.
Instead of feeling poor, I look into my wallet and see twenties left over and feel rich. It’s a neat psychological trick.
16. Rent a room
Since one of the biggest parts of any budget is going to be housing, are there ways you can cut your housing budget back?
One approach to creative savings can be to look at your place of living as a potential revenue source. Whether you own or rent, you can often look at renting out part of your house or even just a room. In fact, having a roommate can save you a lot.
17. Make Stuff
Last but not least for our creative ways to save money, make stuff. If you’re at all crafty, you could make things like Christmas and birthday presents yourself. Instead of buying something for everybody at the office. Maybe you could bake something. Or maybe share a handmade gift.
If you have the time and patience, this can be a good money saver.
If you were feeling a little bit short on cash, hopefully reading this article helped. And this is just a start. There are so many clever ways to save money out there.
The trick is to keep your mind open, look around at what you have, and don’t be too proud to do what you gotta do.
No keeping up with the Joneses. Put yourself and your wealth-building efforts first. You won’t regret it.
And while you’re at it, maybe you need to earn a little more. Creative savings is great, but so is adding a little more to the other end.
Here are some articles to help you with that.