If you have been trying to get out of debt and improve your financial situation, but doesn’t have the action plan to get it done…help is here! Take a look at the following list of ways to cut your spending. Not all will apply to you, but try a few of the ideas. Then come back and try some more.
Take the money you save and put it toward paying down your debt, and put some away in a good bank that pays decent interest as an emergency back up fund. You’ll be amazed at how much debt you can repay and money you can save over the course of a year, just by making little changes.
23 Ways to Save Money Around the House
- Line Dry your laundry. It will lengthen the life of your clothes and save energy.
- Set your thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer.
- Use a programmable thermostat, so you never forget to adjust the temperature.
- Use ceiling fans to reduce the burden on your AC.
- Paint your roof white. There are white roof coatings that work with certain roof. They are much more energy efficient than black roof coatings.
- Use CFL or LED lights instead of regular incandescent bulbs.
- Wash your laundry in cold water.
- Weatherproof your home to save electricity and heating costs.
- Stop using phantom power by unplugging your electronics at night. Using power strips makes this easier.
- In the summer, close East (morning sun) and West (afternoon sun) facing window blinds, reducing heat; and in the winter, open them.
- Get rid of cable TV or switch to basic cable.
- Or use Netflix and Hulu in place of cable. Netflix is less expensive than cable and Hulu (which is free), between them, you have a wide variety of TV shows available to watch.
- If you don’t want to get rid of cable, see if you can bundle it with your phone and internet service to save money.
- Get rid of the internet and use the library (assuming you don’t need it for work).
- Get rid of your land line, if you have a cell phone. Or get rid of your cell phone. Or use a prepaid cell phone, instead of an expensive phone with an expensive contract.
- Catch rainwater for watering your garden.
- Use pasta water for watering household plants.
- Turn off your water when you’re brushing your teeth, shampooing, or shaving.
- Recycle. You’ll save on your trash bill.
- Compost. You’ll save on your trash bill and help your garden.
- Haul your own trash to the dump, if you have a pickup truck or trailer.
- Try to do repairs yourself, before hiring someone. Use free resources at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and on the internet to help you.
- Challenge your property tax assessment, if you feel it’s too high.
8 Ways to Save Money on Transportation
- Sell one of your cars.
- Take public transportation.
- Walk when you can. You’ll be healthier, too.
- Rotate your tires regularly to make them last longer. Also keep up with other maintenance requirements.
- Fill your car up when you’re down to a quarter tank of gas. You won’t be stuck going to the nearest, most expensive gas station when your car is on empty.
- Use GasBuddy.com to search for the lowest prices on gas.
- Don’t use high octane gasoline, unless your car specifically requires it.
21 Ways to Save Money on Groceries, Cleaning, & Personal Care
- Use up what you already have before buying more.
- Fully leverage the return policy for products that you ended up not using, or products that doesn’t fulfill the promise.
- Use a member card from your grocery store of choice. For example,
- Target and Lowe’s offer 5% discount if you use their credit card
- CVS and other store offer discounts and deals when you use a member card at the check out.
- Use The Grocery Game or other deal sites to make effective use of coupons.
- Cook from scratch.
- Grow a garden.
- Eat less meat.
- Or buy a side of beef, instead of smaller packages at the store.
- Give up cold cereal. Eat oatmeal instead. It’s cheaper and healthier.
- Give up (or cut back on) junk food.
- Look for good deals on Amazon. Yes, it’s true. Amazon can be a good deal for groceries. If you buy something regularly, you can save even more by subscribing to that product. But know your prices before you shop.
- Keep a price book, so you you know when a deal is a deal.
- Shop at Costco or Sam’s Club, if you have the storage for buying in bulk. Have your price book handy, to make sure you buy the good deals.
- Bonus: warehouse clubs can also offer good deals on everything from insurance to tires to glasses and more.
- Plan a weekly soup night to use up leftovers. Wasted food is wasted money.
- Use cloth napkins. Buy them at yard sales or make your own from cheap linens you find at thrift stores.
- Use rags, rather than disinfectant wipes or paper towels.
- Make your own laundry detergent and household cleaners.
- Use vinegar as a fabric softener, or skip the fabric softener all together.
- Go no-poo. (That’s no shampoo, people!)
- Use crystal deodorant. It’s more expensive up front, but it lasts a year, making it cheaper in the long run. It’s better for you, too.
- Use alternative feminine products like the Diva Cup and cloth pads.
7 Ways to Save Money on Clothing
- Swap hand-me-downs with friends. This is really effective with kids’ clothing.
- Don’t be afraid to shop at thrift and consignment stores.
- Mend clothing, instead of tossing it.
- Borrow one time use items, like a formal dress or a snowsuit for a day in the snow.
- Coordinate new clothing with old clothing, so your wardrobe is versatile. You won’t need as many pieces.
- Carry a Tide-to-Go pen. When you get a stain, treat it right away, so it doesn’t set and ruin your clothing.
- Wear clothing more than once between washes. Your clothes will last longer, and you will save money by not running the washing machine as much. This doesn’t apply to two year olds after eating spaghetti.
8 Ways to Save Money on Entertainment and Eating Out
- Take a staycation instead of a vacation.
- Vacation in the off-season.
- Take your date for a walk in the park and a picnic, instead of dinner and a movie.
- Wait for movies to come out on DVD before watching them. Use Netflix or Redbox, instead of spending $7+ a person in the theater.
- Make your own mochas, rather than hitting Starbucks.
- Search for knock off recipes, so you can have your favorite restaurant food at home, for half the cost.
- Make a commitment to only eating out once a month…or not at all.
- Make a menu plan, so you don’t give in to the temptation of eating out, because you don’t know what’s for dinner.
- Consider freezer cooking if you tend to eat out, because you don’t have time in the evening to cook.
- Pack your lunch for work. And pack your kids’ school lunches.
- Watch your local newspaper website for free events. Many cities offer free concerts and movies in the park during the summer.
7 Ways to Save Money on the Kids
- Make your own baby food.
- Make your own disposable baby wipes. Better yet, use cloth.
- Use basic cloth diapers.
- Learn how to cut your children’s hair. If your brave, cut your spouse’s hair, too.
- Pick up a few toys when they’re on clearance. Store them on a “gift shelf” in a closet. When your child gets invited to a birthday party, have your child choose a gift from the shelf to give to his friend.
- Host your children’s birthday parties at home, rather than renting a place. It’s much less expensive and much more creative.
- Buy extra school supplies at back to school sales. The prices won’t go any lower, and you’ll be glad for the extra supplies, when the teacher asks you to send in more paper mid-year. Plus, school supplies like crayons can make great stocking stuffers or party favors.
7 Ways to Save Money on Health and Medical Expenses
- Ask your doctor to prescribe generic medicine. At many places, generic prescriptions are only $4.
- Practice healthy habits, like exercising. You won’t need to see the doctor as often.
- Give up unhealthy habits, like smoking. You’ll save the money you were spending on cigarettes, and you’ll be healthier, too!
- Ask your medical provider or hospital for a discount, if you’re paying cash.
- Make use of a flexible spending account, if your employer offers one.
- Cancel your gym membership. Take up running or use workout DVDs.
- Volunteer at the YMCA in return for a membership.
10 Ways to Save Money on Insurance, Debt, & Finance
- Raise the deductible on your insurance. But first make sure you can cover the deductible, if you need it.
- Combine your insurance needs with one company, so you can get a multi-policy discount.
- Ask for other discounts, like good driver and good student discounts.
- Review your insurance policies annually, to make sure they meet your needs. If you overbuy, you lose money every month on something you don’t need. If you underbuy, you’ll lose money when your insurance coverage doesn’t provide what you need.
- Consider putting your dependents on their own insurance plan. It might be less expensive than the plan offered through your employer.
- Consolidate your student loans to a lower interest rate.
- Transfer your credit card balances to a lower interest card. But make absolutely sure you can pay off the balance, before the introductory period is over.
- Stop using credit cards all together, if you’re not paying them off each month. Take them out of your wallet and cut them up or freeze them, to remove the temptation.
- Do your own taxes, rather than hiring an accountant. Programs like Turbo-Tax make doing taxes relatively easy.
- Make a budget. When money in a given category is gone, don’t spend anymore.
5 Ways to Save Money When You Shop
- Before making any purchase, ask if you really need it. If so, find out if you can borrow it, get it used, or wait for a sale, before you pay full retail price.
- Use the 48 hour rule. Make a commitment to wait 48 hours before making any unplanned purchase. Often the urge to buy will disappear after a few hours.
- Start shopping for next Christmas now. Aim to be finished shopping by Thanksgiving. You can shop for the best prices on your gifts, and you won’t have any holiday debt, come next January.
- When you shop online, use Ebates or MyPoints. You get a percentage back in the form of cash or a gift card. Make sure you look for codes, before you check out, too. Ebates has a list of coupons for each of the stores they work with.
- Sign up for Swagbucks and use their search engine. You’ll accumulate points that you can redeem for gift cards. If you start now, you may be able to pay for all your Christmas presents this year with giftcards you earn from Swagbucks!
So there you have it. 96 ideas to cut your expenses and save you money. Can you think of any I’ve missed? Leave your ideas in the comments!
About making your home energy efficient: make a second window out of plastic and attach it to a removable wooden frame. Make the frame just smaller than the window and wrap foam window insulation around the outer edge to give a nice tight fit in your window frame. Then hang rugs or blankets on your walls at the ceiling as inner insulation to keep the heat or cold out. Also, try hanging up a blanket over your window to keep out more heat or cold. I lived in rentals for many years so I know how to find ways to increase energy efficiency. Caulking inside with putty caulking helps keep out the drafts too, you would not imagine how much air flow there is even with no gaps between the window frame and wall.
I prefer to wash my own clothes with a rapid washer, plunger, or my own home made version of the rapid washer. The clothes come out cleaner, softer, and look and feel different. I can hand wash four loads in an hour and only need the washer to rinse. Plus I can wash several loads which require different temps or soaps/bleach/ammonia then rinse all in the same water. Or I use my spinner to spin out the water and hand rinse. When I do that I only need to rinse once and add fabric softener to the second rinse and use that same fabric softener water for all the wash loads. After a turn in the spinner I hang to dry and they are ready by the next morning to put away. I save a ton on laundry washing this way. When I pull my clothes out to wear two weeks later, or a month later, they still smell fresh and the fabric softener smells wonderful. For some reason the smell does not fade.
My room mates use the spinner then the dryer and the dry time is about 15 minutes or 20-30 minutes for towels and blankets.
I also thin down my shampoo and conditioner, add vinegar to drop the PH closer to 5.5 (which hair prefers), add mint and tea tree essential oils (mint to clean and tea tree to hydrate and condition) and my shampoo and conditioner lasts for months. Plus my hair is super shiny and healthy. I have not had to cut or trim my hair in over a year.
Hope someone can use some of these tips.
Deodorant???? I used that for years and was a smelly construction worker the whole time.
I learned from my daughter. Washing hands, say your ABC’s to make sure you washed them enough. Your armpits are no different, except it is 26 seconds X2, can’t wash them at the same time. Try it, smell better forever. Do us all a favor.
I agree with nearly every suggestion you make, although some are not possible in my current situation.
1) I can’t make my home energy efficient because I rent. I wish I could get the landlord to put better windows, doors, and more insulation into the house, but oh well.
2) No matter how little, or much, trash we put out, we still pay $35.00 every 2 months for trash pickup. There is a recycling center available, but you have to take your stuff there.
3) I love crystal deodorant. I have used it for years because it does not aluminum chlorohydrate in it. A bottle or stick lasts a long time. The last one I bought at Big Lots for only $2.00!
4) We have a lot of CFLs and a few LEDs in our house. They are great and do use less energy.
Another way to save money when dining out is to skip the soft drinks or tea and get tap water. A simple soft drink these days can add $2.00 to your lunch tab.
Awesome list! I’m going to add one for those of us who are soda drinkers :)
Brew a jug of ice tea in the morning to sip on throughout the day instead of drinking sugary soda for caffeine. Doesn’t just save money, saves teeth and waistlines too!
Great list! Pasta water is fine for watering your plants (and they like the starch), but not if you salt it. Salt water will kill you plants!
Great list! Of course I do a lot of those things already, but there were a few ideas that I’ll have to try to work into my life for 2010.
Very nice… I love #13 and #14 – glad to see I do many of the others, and many of those I don’t it’s because they don’t apply to me (I don’t have a TV or a car, for example)…
Elizabeth Warren, Harvard econ prof and co-author of “The Two-Income Trap” warns about locking yourself in to such high fixed expenses that any financial strain could push your family into the red.
If you are contemplating a life change that has financial implications, read her book and build in some flexibility by not taking on too much debt or failing to plan for a rainy day. We are all going to get sick and eventually die. Don’t assume you’ll be the exception. Plan.
Yipeee! I love a list loaded with money saving tips!
Overall, this is a great list. Of course, it’s a lot of things, I recommend people find where they can get the “biggest bang for their buck” (or lack thereof!) and take things one step at a time. Before you know it, they can do the whole list :) One of the biggest hurdles is knowing when to say NO. Knowing what you NEED to spend money on versus what you want to spend money on is a big step towards doing everything on this list.
Great ideas for saving money. I save so much money yearly by using the library – they have DVDs and CDs as well. I am going to see what other ideas I can take advantage of in this post!
Nice list! I would add making use of Freecycle, turning off the oven or stove for the last few minutes (things will still cook in the hot water or oven), commit to not using any cars one or two days a week, shop locally (meat, eggs, produce, honey — usually cheaper, healthier, more eco-friendly, and better for the local economy) and do one big grocery shopping trip once a month (or at least only twice a month) to avoid “extra purchases”.
Definitely some good advice and ideas in there. I hadn’t even thought of using the water from pasta to water my plants. So long as the starch won’t hurt them, then there’s really no reason not to.
I use a lot of these little ideas already, and in addition to saving money, when you reuse things you end up really surprised at finding out what you own and what you’re gaining by reusing things in the first place. I have two garbage bags of worn-out clothes that are waiting to be turned into blankets and rag rugs when I get a little more free time. I got use out of them when they were clothes, and with a little extra work, I’ll end up with new blankets and rugs, too, and won’t have to buy them!
It’s a shame that sites like Hulu are for Americans only. Up here in the frigid north (aka, Canada), we don’t quite as many options for free Internet TV. I still don’t have cable and don’t really miss it much, but it’s still a shame for the non-Americans who envy those who can watch Hulu.
Actually, using the water from pasta and vegetables (boiling frozen corn or making mashed potatoes) is GOOD for plants, they love it more than miracle grow. Just make sure you don’t add salt to the water–that would kill your plants.
Ok. I give up. Just when I think you could not possibly come up with any better posts…along comes this one. Thanks! I noted that we are already doing many of these things, but I did find a few that we are going to be using.
And who said saving money was difficult? ;)
I wouldn’t recommend the Grocery Game – it’s a service you have to pay for! There are TONS of frugal blogs out there that list the coupon deals for lots of stores, so you can find the best match-up deals FOR FREE without having to pay a subscription service.
Also, I get asked all the time why we still use Netflix when we can check out movies from the library for free. We don’t have a TV or a DVD player – we watch all of our movies on the computer, and the anti-theft bars that are stuck on each DVD prevent us from playing them in the computer. I think the disc drive is too small – they won’t even play and we could damage our computer. I like the convenience of Netflix being mailed straight to our home (I don’t have to do anything!) and we are on the 3-at-a-time plan, so my husband and I each have our own queue and we have a queue for the kids. I love Netflix.
This really is a great list! I’m doing a lot of these already, but we could definitely stand to add some more of these to our repertoire. Because this year, we need to seriously focus on cutting our expenses. Thanks for the awesome, useful tips that are actually doable!
Excellent list, Lynnae! Definitely going to bookmark a few of these. :)
“Volunteer at the YMCA in return for a membership.” Really?! I had no idea and would definitely be able to do this.
Wow, HUGE list! Great tips too.
My biggest tips would be to
a) Shop around. Never be afraid to look elsewhere.
b) ASK for discounts everywhere you go.
c) Yard sales.
1. Use the RedBox. It’s less expensive than Netflix and the first Monday of each month you get a free 1-day rental. Or why not use the library instead?
2. Breastfeed your babies! Breastmilk is practically free and saves a considerable amount not only over formula, but on doctor’s visits. I donated 22 gallons of pumped milk to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio and nursed my daughter for 3 years. I intend to do the same with my next baby.
3. In my city, we do not pay per the amount of trash. It’s a set fee. Recycling *does* have a fee. We still recycle at public bins at the grocery stores for that purpose. Large dumpsters in the grocery parking lot for anyone to bring recyclables.
4. Vermiculture. I have a worm farm in my basement- it’s almost 2 years old. Food waste except meat scraps goes in there, and castings for my garden come out.
5. Why pay for the grocery game when there are so many free online forums for grocery and drugstores across the country?
Stop have sex so you dont produce too many baies. Baby cost money!!!! Not cheap to raise one. Thank you.
Wow. Nice list, Lynnae. Imagine how much our spending would drop if we put all of this together.
Wow, that list must have taken a while to put together! Thanks for including me. Now I’m off to read a few of these others posts and figure out how to save a ton of money! :)
Combine #6 (netflix), and 77 (use workout DVDs.)
Netflix has the on-line watch instantly movies, tv shows, etc… they also have TONS of workout DVD’s available to watch instantly