Money is such an important topic – it’s unfortunate, but we live in a world where money is the central focus of our lives and is often the reason behind a lot of stress and anxiety. The less money you have, the more stressful life can become.
Personally, I’ve been all over the place in my own money journey from having a lot of it (relatively to my lifestyle and age at the time) and then being reckless with it by living a lifestyle beyond my means, to the other end of the spectrum of having absolutely zero dollars to my name, having a negative net worth and struggling daily to make ends meet.
While the deeper reasons behind money struggles are complex issues rooted in the system itself, on a more surface level, it’s necessary to make the best of what we have and learn the essential skills of budgeting and money-saving.
The first rule of the money game is of course, to increase your income – this may involve picking up a side-gig or extra hours at your current job. Secondly, you must master the art of sticking to a budget. Regardless of where you are in your money journey, I hope the following 10 simple & easy money-saving tips will help you as much as they help me and also provide inspiration for getting some extra dollars into your emergency fund!
Tip 1: Shopping Second-Hand
This is one of my most favorite tips ever! Rampant consumerism helps no one aside from the corporations and is incredibly harmful to the planet. By choosing to buy second-hand, not only do you help the planet, but you also help yourself by finding amazing deals and saving a ton of money!
You can shop at thrift stores, on craigslist, through many apps, or even participate in clothing swaps, etc. For an in-depth guide on how to shop second-hand, check out this comprehensive post that I recently wrote which covers everything you need to know to get started with second-hand shopping.
Shopping second-hand is almost like a treasure-hunt – no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll most likely end up finding something even better and if that isn’t exciting enough, you can literally save yourself hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year by simply shopping second-hand!
Tip 2: Local Libraries
My love for libraries can barely be put into words! I would honestly live in a library if I could because I love everything about them – the books, the resources, the coziness, the peace, and the quiet. But, seriously, so many people underestimate how amazingly useful libraries can be – especially when it comes to saving money.
Libraries are an amazing source for books – you can check-out physical books, e-books, or even audiobooks from your local library. Additionally, libraries also carry all sorts of movies, including the latest and the greatest ones. You may have to wait for some books and movies sometimes, especially popular ones, but it’s well worth the wait if you can save yourself some money in the process.
Some libraries even have 3D printers for use. Libraries also offer tons of fun events such as movie nights or dance lessons or useful events and programs which can come in handy. For example, one of my local libraries offers a short consultation with a lawyer for general legal questions once a month.
Every library is unique, so take the time to familiarize yourself with a couple of your local libraries and definitely get yourself some library cards so you can start utilizing them to your heart’s content while fattening up your wallet a bit!
Tip 3: Minimalism
I can’t possibly write a blog post about saving money without touching on one of my favorite topics, minimalism. Learning how to live simply and then falling in love with living a simpler life is one of the best ways to reduce your expenses and save more money. When you cultivate and grow your hobbies and passions, you find that you no longer need as many material items to live a full and happy life.
When you pare down to the things you truly love, you become more intentional in what you bring into your life and home and as such, you end up with more high-quality and well-researched items that last longer and bring you more joy. And buying less things and things that don’t break down as quickly usually results in more savings.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of minimalism, here’s where I share some of the amazing benefits of minimalism that I’ve experienced! And if you like the concept of minimalism, but don’t know where to start, check out my post on how to get started with minimalism.
Tip 4: Meal Prepping
I know I’m not the only one who spends wayyy too much money on food and eating-out when I don’t keep myself in check. Eating out is a huge waste of money and worse, it can be super unhealthy. It’s just one of those bad habits that we fall into because it’s fast and convenient even though deep down we know it’s not the best decision both health-wise and money-wise. Whatever your reasons for eating out are, do your wallet and health a huge favor by learning how to cook if you don’t already and switch over to eating home-cooked meals.
A lot of people think that eating at home equates to a lot of time spent in the kitchen, however it doesn’t have to be that way if you don’t want it to. The solution is meal prepping.
By setting aside 1-3 hours per week, you can prep all your meals for the entire week in one sitting. I usually put 3 days worth of meals in the refrigerator and freeze the meals for the rest of the days. Or, sometimes, when I’m in the mood to cook more or eat fresher-tasting food, I just prep all the ingredients instead of the meals such as cutting up all my vegetables, preparing sauces and dips for the week, cooking up a big batch of rice, and seasoning my protein. This way, all I have to do when it’s time to eat is quickly whip everything up in a frying pan and pop it into a pretty bowl.
There are a million and one simple & easy recipes out there so try your hand at experimenting with different meals and methods – your wallet will thank you!
Tip 5: Freezer
If you’re one of those people that take your freezer for granted, it’s time you learn about what an amazingly useful companion your freezer can be if you just give it a chance!
You can save so much money on groceries by simply stocking up on certain items in the freezer. For example, a lot of times you might come across an amazing deal or a limited sale on a grocery item you frequently purchase. Instead of passing up on the deal or only buying a small quantity, you can purchase a larger quantity and save it in the freezer!
This can also be used for things like vegetables or in-season fruits which you can cut up and then store in the freezer. A great way to save on time in the kitchen while still adding a lot of flavor to your food is freezing cut up herbs such as cilantro and parsley in ice cube trays and then adding a cube or two to your dish when you start cooking.
Of course, the simplest way to save money using your freezer is by buying frozen fruits and vegetables. Nothing beats fresh produce, but frozen produce is a very close second since the produce is picked and frozen at peak time resulting in nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.
Since one of the biggest expenses is groceries and eating out, your freezer can be a huge aid in ramping up your savings!
Tip 6: Cell Phone Bill
A lot of people don’t realize that they may be paying far more for their cell phone bill than they have to! Over the years, in my quest to save on my cell phone bill, I’ve tried out almost every single provider out there and I’ve learned quite a lot from my experiences.
The easiest way to save on your cell phone bill is to switch over to a prepaid plan. With prepaid plans, you often get more gigs of internet usage with unlimited talk and text for way less money than the post-paid equivalent.
If you want to take your money savings to the next level with your phone bill, the next step is to switch over to a reseller such as Mint Mobile (there are tons of resellers out there!). With Mint Mobile for example, you buy your service in bulk (6-12 months) but save a huge amount of money in the process for the exact same service as the name brand provider whose services they’re reselling.
If you’re worried about losing your phone number, don’t be – you can port over your number to any carrier you switch over to for free. Over the past 8 years, I’ve switched carriers countless times while keeping the same number.
This tip can save you hundreds of dollars a year by making one small switch so set aside some time to bust out your phone bills and do some research on the best and cheapest providers in your area.
Tip 7: Online Banks
You should never, ever, EVER, have to pay any sort of fee to maintain a bank account. Banks in general are pretty disgusting enterprises but thankfully there are a few bank accounts out there that don’t make me want to store my money under my mattress (never do this btw! Always put large sums of money in an FDIC insured bank account). These banks fall under the category of online banks.
I used to have accounts with the big-name banks out there but with the countless fees, monthly maintenance charges, minimum deposits, and minimum transaction limits, I finally reached the end of my patience and ditched big-name banks for good. These days, I exclusively rely on online bank accounts which charge absolutely zero fees.
The only drawback of online bank accounts is the inability to deposit cash – but there ARE a ton of great work-arounds for this and I’ve perfected my own system of dealing with cash on the rare instances that I need to. You just have to spend some time researching the options out there and figuring out an efficient method that works for you.
However, the effort is well worth saving yourself tons of money annually in corrupt banking fees!
Tip 8: Reusable Items
Single-use disposable items such as bottled water or having to pay extra money for paper bags while grocery shopping can really cut into your savings over time! Save yourself the extra money and hassle by switching over to reusable items.
Common disposable item swaps that can be made include switching over to reusable water bottles instead of buying bottles on the go, carrying your own reusable bags with you whenever you go shopping, packing your own lunch for work, switching over to a menstrual cup in place of sanitary pads and tampons, switching over to fountain pens, and many more.
It’s amazing how many small things we waste our money on due to the culture of convenience that exists today. Over time, all these costs add up and our everyday mini decisions harm us financially. Worst of all, they harm the environment too. Make a commitment to observe yourself for a week and make a list of all the disposable items you use often, then figure out how you can switch over to reusable equivalents. Then, over time, watch the mini savings add up to amounts bigger than you anticipated!
Tip 9: Unnecessary Subscriptions
I know I’m guilty of keeping around unnecessary subscriptions when I should have cancelled them as soon as my usage dropped significantly. I’m pointing my finger at you, Netflix. So often, I’ve signed up for a specific T.V. show, finished watching it, but then ended up holding on to the subscription for a few months without using it enough to justify the monthly cost.
Television subscriptions are not the only guilty party, there are all sorts of subscriptions you can be signed up to such as music subscriptions, books, learning subscriptions, gyms, magazines, subscription boxes you no longer enjoy, etc. Often, deep down we’re so afraid of facing where exactly our money has been going that we choose to just sweep it under the rug and stay in the dark about it instead.
This is one of the worst financial mistakes you can make and actually increases your money-related stress and anxiety instead of relieving it. Audit your own finances and carefully comb through every expense to make sure there isn’t any money that’s going down the drain every month unnecessarily. If you find such subscriptions, call the company immediately to cancel. If you haven’t used the service in months, try asking for a refund for the unused months, sometimes companies are willing to credit those funds back to you!
Tip 10: Maintenance
This is perhaps, the most important tip out of the whole list. Taking care of the things we already own is a fundamental step in saving money. Whether it’s your car, your clothes, or your everyday possessions, maintenance helps elongate each item’s life and also ensures your continued emotional investment in the item.
In one of my recent blog posts, I talked about Eisenhower’s Urgency/Importance Matrix and how many of us spend most of our time in crisis mode, focusing only on the things that are very urgent instead of important tasks that will have a longer-term impact. Maintenance is one of those priorities – neglect it and you pay for it later on, but keep it at the top of your priority list and you ensure long-term benefits and financial savings.
So, take care of each and every one of your possessions whether it’s your car or your pen and put in the time & effort to maintain them – it’ll go a long way in saving you money and your future self will thank you!
All of these tips continue to help me save money every single month and I can attest to the effectiveness of them all. I’ve come a long way from the days of being a financially irresponsible version of myself, but I still have room for improvement, so if you have some tips of your own, I’d love to hear about them in the comment below!
Also, while I never want to repeat the mistakes I made when I was younger, I don’t beat myself up when I slip up because we’re all human and it’s not all about saving every penny while depriving ourselves of actually living. Rather, it’s about creating a healthy balance between saving and actually spending the money I earn to indulge myself.
I hope this post inspired you on your personal savings journey and helps you in creating a healthy and hefty savings account!