If you ask for advice on how to save money, you’re likely to get a lot of responses about cutting your Starbucks habit and spending less money on entertainment. You’ll also probably get advice about only using cash, never buying things you can’t afford, and looking at your budget to find areas where you can make cuts. Of course, these common ways to save are all things you’ve heard before.
While all of those suggestions are effective, you can save even more money with these sneaky tips. Some of them throw common advice out the window. Others may be things you’ve never heard of before. Many might just be good reminders. In any case, if you put this advice to good use, you’ll be saving a lot more in no time at all.
- Wait for Better Deals
Online retailers have gotten better about tracking your browsing behavior. If you’ve been thinking about making a purchase online, resist the urge to buy it right away. Instead, add it to your wish list, put it in your online shopping cart, or simply browse the site while being logged in to your account. Often, you’ll get an email a few days later with a discount for the product you wanted.
- Think Carefully About Bulk Purchases
You often hear about how buying in bulk can save money. In some cases, you’ll get as much as a 50 percent discount. That’s great news when it comes to things you’ll use, but buying in bulk isn’t always the best idea. For instance, when it comes to perishable items like milk or fruits, you aren’t saving yourself any money if you have to throw it out because it went bad. You’ll also sometimes find that the per-item price of a bulk package of a brand name item is more expensive than the single-item price of the generic version.
- Drink Water from Your Tap
Bottled water can be expensive, especially if you’re drinking the recommended daily amount. The plastic bottles are also not very good for the environment. You can save yourself some money by drinking water from your tap. If you live in an area with bad tap water, a water filter could easily solve your problem, or you might be large bottles of water and divide them up on your own.
- Put Money in Savings First
The saying “out of sight, out of mind” is especially useful when it comes to thinking about saving up some money. If you’ve got your money sitting right there in your checking account, you might be more likely to spend it. Instead, set up automatic savings plans so that this money never even hits your spending accounts. You can usually ask your employer to make paycheck deposits into separate accounts, or you can set up your savings account to make the withdrawal.
- Know Prices and Shop Around
It’s important to know how much items cost at different stores and to take the time to shop at different stores, even if it’s a little inconvenient. For instance, one local grocery store might have a few great deals on things you need, but significantly higher prices on other items that aren’t on sale. In this case, you’d be better off purchasing only the good deals from one store and heading to the other for their cheaper items.
- Eat Less Food
Food can take up a large majority of any family’s budget, but you may be eating more than you really need. Cut out some unhealthy snacks. Use smaller plates to reduce portion sizes. While you don’t want to make your family go hungry, you may find that kids are just as satisfied with a half an apple for snack as they are with a whole one. You’ll also avoid throwing away small portions of food that you didn’t eat.
- Choose to Reuse
Reuse items rather than purchasing disposable versions. For instance, you can get reusable “plastic baggies” that are washable. These require a larger upfront cost, but save money in the long run. You can also reuse things that you might otherwise put in the recycling bin, such as large yogurt containers. These are often the perfect size for leftovers, and you can use them again and again by washing them.
- Seek Out Free Stuff
Before you purchase something new, ask around to see if anyone has one lying around. Friends are often willing to simply give away things they’re not using and you can save yourself big bucks. You should also look for “freecycle” groups in your area. These are groups where people can ask for something they want or offer up something they no longer need. Craigslist has a “free” section for each city, but there are often more active groups on Facebook or by email server.
- Unplug Your Electronics
Even when you’re not actively using your electronic devices, keeping them plugged in can drain some energy. Unless there’s a good reason for an item to be plugged in all the time, consider unplugging it. You can also purchase electronic strips that have on/off switches. This will have the same effect as unplugging the device but is often more convenient. You’ll see a drop in your electric bill.
- Take Care of Your Teeth
Dental problems can cost big money. Even if you have dental insurance, a root canal with a crown can easily set you back more than $500. Reduce the chances that you’ll need major fixes by taking good care of your teeth. Brush and floss after every meal to get rid of food particles. Get regular dental cleanings and checkups. Additionally, ask around for a dentist who is conservative in treatment recommendations. One dentist might recommend $10,000 in treatment while another dentist might see nothing wrong with your teeth. Don’t be afraid to shop around for dentists.
- Watch Out for Fees
Try to avoid paying fees for anything. Choose a bank that’s convenient for you so that you don’t have to worry about ATM fees. Rather than using an ATM, you can often get some cash back when making a purchase. You also want to avoid late fees on your bills. Always stay on top of things and know when your payments are due.
- Only Shop When Necessary
If you enjoy “window shopping,” there’s a good chance that you’re spending more money that you really want. Any time you go into a store, you increase your chances of spending money. If you’re looking around without anything specific in mind, you might end up purchasing something that happens to catch your eye. Even if you go into the store for something in particular, you might come out with a few extra things. The more you can limit your shopping trips, the less money you’ll spend.
- Use Rewards and Discount Programs
Many stores have set up special programs that reward their regular customers. If you have a store’s credit card, you can often get a discount on your purchases. Credit cards allow you to earn rewards and then cash them in. While you shouldn’t spend more to get these benefits, making use of them when you can helps save some money. If you’re worried about using the credit card to get the discount and forgetting to pay it off, ask the clerk if you can pay off the balance immediately after your purchase. Many stores allow this but don’t tell you about the policy.
- Fill Up the Freezer
The refrigerator and freezer are most efficient when they’re full. If you’re living alone or you have a chest freezer that’s half-empty, you’re probably using more energy than you need. To solve this problem, fill up a few milk jugs with water, remembering to leave space for the water to expand. This will freeze into a giant ice chunk that helps keep the freezer full.
- Reduce Usage of Common Products
Many people use for too much of common household items. For instance, the dishwasher soap holder doesn’t need to be completely full to run efficiently. If you look, you’ll probably see a “fill line” that’s only about halfway up the container. The same is true for the laundry soap cap. You don’t need to fill it to the top. Look for other ways that you can use less around the house. Dryer sheets cut in half will work just as well as full-size sheets. Your teeth will get just as clean with a pea-size dot of toothpaste as they will when you put the paste over the entire brush. These little things all add up to a big difference.
- Use Your Library
Your local library is free to use – as long as you remember to bring items back on time. Most libraries have a wealth of resources that go beyond borrowing books. For instance, many are stocked with DVDs, audio books, and CDs. Some libraries even have unique programs that allow you to borrow wall art or toys in addition to the usual items. Check out the library’s activity schedule to find fun and free activities for your family to enjoy. It’s a good way to stay connected.
- Quit Unhealthy Habits
Unhealthy habits can eat up a lot of your paycheck. Many people often recommend quitting smoking if you want to save money, particularly with the cost of cigarettes so high. However, there are other unhealthy habits you might want to give up as well, such as drinking soda, eating junk foods, and buying yourself a little treat every time you go out. Playing the lottery is often a waste of money too, since your chances of winning are almost negligible. If you’re trying to save, these are some sacrifices you may need to make.
- Know When to Spend More
While everyone is out to get a great deal, you can sometimes save more money in the long run by spending a bit more for a higher-quality product. For instance high-quality clothes, furniture, bags, and cars are all likely to last longer than cheaper versions. If a $100 pair of shoes can last 10 years, it’s better to buy that than a $20 pair of shoes that only lasts a couple of months. Of course, you can still get good deals on these quality items by buying used or looking for sales. Just remember that cheaper isn’t always better.
- Make Your Own “Snack Packs”
The more convenient an item is, the more you’ll have to pay for it. This is especially true when it comes to little snack packs like the ones you put in your kids’ lunches. Rather than getting the prepackaged items, purchase a large size and make your own portion-controlled baggies. Doing this also allows you to better control serving sizes because you’re not just eating out of the box. A box of crackers that might have normally been finished in a few days often lasts longer when everyone’s only eating a single serving.
- Make Your Home Enticing
If your home is a nice and comfortable place to be, you won’t mind staying in more often rather than going out to the movies or to a restaurant. Take time to create the home you want. Get the supplies you need to cook your favorite restaurant recipes. Create a nice outdoor patio space for hanging out with friends. These little things might cost money, but you can also look for discounted ways to get the things you need to make this happen.
- Shop at Discount Stores
Do most of your shopping at discount stores. For groceries, stores like ALDI and Trader Joe’s offer great deals on good foods. What’s best about these stores is that they’re smaller and don’t have a lot of extras, so you end up spending less. When it comes to clothes and home furnishings, give TJ Maxx, Marshals, or other stores like this a try. You can score quality items at a deep discount at these stores.
- Buy Damaged Goods
While you certainly don’t want to spend your hard earned money on things that are broken, you don’t need to get new things in pristine condition. For instance, at “dent and scratch” stores, you can buy appliances that have minor dents or scratches at a big discount. Even Amazon has a section of warehouse deals that offers discounts on returned items. In most cases, it’s just something that another customer decided they didn’t want.
- Change Your Lightbulbs
If you haven’t yet made the switch from incandescent bulbs to fluorescent or LED bulbs, you’re spending a lot more money on energy costs. These other bulbs are more expensive, but they last longer and use significantly less energy. Explore your options at a home improvement store to get just the right amount of light for your rooms.
- Cut Your Cell Phone Bill
Take a good look at your cell phone bill to determine if it’s right for your needs. Many people make a guess about their usage when they first sign up, then never change it. You may be paying for more minutes or data than you really need. To discount costs even more, look at alternative carriers like Ting or consider getting a prepaid phone rather than paying a monthly charge.
- Wash Clothes in Cold Water
Many people have this idea that using hot water in the washing machine will get clothes cleaner, but this simply isn’t the case. You can switch the settings to use cold water instead. Since it takes more energy to heat up the water, you’ll save on these energy costs. You shouldn’t notice any difference in the cleanliness of your clothes. Additionally, bright colors are less likely to fade in cold water, so you won’t have to worry about that.
- Buy Energy Efficient Appliances
When it’s time to buy a new appliance, look into models that have higher energy efficiency. Newer models tend to be even better than models that are just 5 or 10 years old. Tankless water heaters are a good idea when you need a new water heater. Tank style water heaters have to constantly use energy to heat up the water in the tank. Since you don’t have that problem with tankless styles, you use far less energy. You also never have to worry about running out of hot water when you’re taking a shower.
- Weatherstrip Your Home
Ideally, you want your home to be as “tight” as possible, meaning that no air is seeping in around the windows or doors. This helps your home stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. At a home improvement store, you can buy materials that go around the doors to prevent draftiness. In the winter, you can place plastic over your windows to prevent the cold from getting in. It’s heat-sensitive, so you can remove any wrinkles after you put it in place, allowing you to see clearly through the window.
- Turn Off Your TV
Many people keep the TV on all day as background noise, even if they’re not really watching it. The TV can use up a lot of energy. Instead, only turn it on if you’re planning to watch a show or movie. Turn it off while doing other activities or when leaving the room. As mentioned before, it’s smart to unplug it as well, fully cutting off the electricity being drained by the device.
- Wear Weather-Appropriate Clothing
With the ability to adjust the temperatures in our homes, we’ve grown accustomed to wearing our favorite clothes no matter what the weather is. If you’re turning up the heat in winter while wearing shorts and a t-shirt or turning up the air conditioner in the summer while wearing pants, you’re needlessly increasing your energy costs. The clothes you wear inside should be appropriate for the season. You don’t need to sit inside with your winter jacket just to avoid turning up the heat, but you also shouldn’t be sitting there in a tank top.
- Use Blinds to Keep Your Home Cool
If you want to keep your home cool in the summer, consider adding white blinds any windows that get direct sunlight. This will prevent the sun’s rays from heating up your home. On the other hand, you can also use the sun to help warm up your home in the winter, leaving the blinds open to let the sun in.
- Reduce Your Debt
Of course, the best way to save money it to reduce your debt. Any interest you’re paying on debt is money that you’re essentially throwing away. With all the money you’re saving now with these tips, you should have extra to put toward your debt. However, you can also consider options like transferring the balance to a card with a lower interest rate.Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore. By making a few small tweaks to your behavior, you could see a lot more green in your bank account.