Money Saving Tips and Tips for Frugal Living
There are 100 plus easy ways to save money on common purchases and everyday expenses. Here is a list of simple, practical money saving tips that can help you maximize your budget, and have more money left over at the end of each month to add to your savings or to help pay off your debts (or to buy yourself something special!):
Tips for Saving Money on Energy and Utilities
- Turn off the lights in rooms that are not in use.
- Planting a tree to provide some shade for your house can save you money on air conditioning during those scorching summer days.
- Don’t leave your tap running when you brush your teeth.
- Install vents in your attic. They can significantly reduce your cooling costs by keeping the attic cooler during summer months.
- Unplug your cell phone and other portable electronics chargers when they are not in use. They usually use several watts an hour even if they are idle. Unplugging them can save some money on your electricity bill.
- Install a low-flow shower head in your shower to save water and money.
- Insulate your home. The initial investment will pay off in savings on heating and cooling.
- Don’t procrastinate on repairing dripping faucets. It is estimated that even one drop per second can waste as much as 48 gallons of water per week. That is money going down the drain.
- Fill a bottle with water and place it in the toilet water tank. It will save you a little bit with every flush and over time it will add up to significant savings.
- Having faucet aerators in bathroom sinks will reduce your water usage. The aerator separates water into smaller drops, thus using less water while keeping the perceived size of the stream the same.
- Turn off your ceiling fan when you are not in the room. It will not help cool other areas of the house.
- Don’t take baths; shower instead. Showers use less water than baths unless you plan on taking a very long shower.
- Don’t over-dry clothing. It is pointless and is a waste of energy and money.
- Adjust the thermostat before leaving the house or going to sleep at night.
- Insulate water pipes where they are exposed. This can save you around $20 a year.
- When purchasing a water heater, buy one that suits your needs. One that is too large will cost more to operate since it will use more energy.
- Run full loads in dishwashers and washing machines. The machine uses the same amount of energy whether it contains a full load or not, so it’s best to maximize its efficiency by maximizing its allowable load.
- Don’t water your lawn as much.
- Close your blinds and curtains on hot summer days. It will keep your home cooler.
- When using the garbage disposal in your sink, run cold water instead of hot water.
- Clean the filter in your air conditioning unit.
- After you’re done baking you can leave the oven door open during the winter months to provide heat for your house and save a little money on heating bills.
- Turn up your thermostat 2 degrees F during the summer, and turn it down 2 degrees during the winter.
- Use a microwave instead of a stove, it will save the energy normally wasted on heating the stove and the pan.
- Shut air vents in rooms that you don’t use. There is no need to keep them warm or cool if they are unoccupied.
- Make sure your refrigerator has good seals. A break in the seal will allow heat to enter, causing the refrigerator to work more to keep the food cold.
- Vacuum your refrigerator coils. The dust that builds up on them can cause it to perform less efficiently.
- Make sure your outdoor lighting turns off at dawn and isn’t on pointlessly during the day.
- If you have a room air conditioner, make sure to seal the area around it to prevent heat from entering the room.
- Don’t open the oven door to peek in; that significantly lowers the temperature and requires more energy. Instead, if your oven has a window and an oven light, turn on the oven light and look through the window.
- Boil water in a container that’s covered because it traps more heat and thus brings the water to a boil faster, using less energy.
- Keep your thermostat and the area around it clear of any devices that produce excessive heat.
- Clean the lint filter every time you dry your clothes. Lint buildup only restricts airflow and prolongs the drying time, thus wasting energy.
- When it gets cold enough outside to not use the room air conditioner, remove it from the window.
- Turn off your computer and monitor when they’re not in use. If you have a laptop, put it in hibernate mode when not using it.
- If the area that you live in generally has hard water, consider using a water softener to reduce buildup on coils and pipes.
- If you have an attic, make sure to properly insulate it.
- Try not to use the oven during hot summer months. It will save you money on air condition bills.
- Change your light bulbs to compact fluorescent. They may cost more, but they last longer and use significantly less energy. Plus, the cost of producing them is dropping, leading to cheaper prices.
- If you have a dehumidifier, use the water produced to water plants.
Tips for Saving Money around the House
- Wash and reuse plastic bags like Zip-Loc bags.
- Don’t use so many disposable things. Try to use reusable alternatives instead. For example, instead of paper napkins you can use cloth napkins and wash them.
- Dry your razor blade with a towel after each use. Corrosion caused by moisture is one of the main causes of dull razor blades.
- Instead of buying long matches, you can just use spaghetti. It burns as well as a match and costs much less. You just need a flame to light it.
- Baby food jars can be reused to store kitchen spices.
- Instead of buying special plastic containers, you can use old shoeboxes for storage of various items.
- If you use liquid soap, putting a rubber band around the base of the soap pump will cause less soap to be released, but it will still be an adequate amount. This will make the soap last longer.
- You can add a little water to an almost empty detergent bottle to get the last bit out.
- Keeping nail polish in the refrigerator prevents it from getting thick, thus making it last longer.
- Clean out your closet! Remove anything that you rarely or never use. Give these items to family and friends, hold a garage sale, sale, or donate them to charitable organizations (you could get a charity tax deduction for your donation).
Tips for Saving Money when Shopping
- Collect coupons and use them when shopping. Even if it saves you only several dollars per grocery store visit, the savings will pile up over the year.
- Learn to cook and make homemade meals from fresh ingredients instead of going out to eat. Even semi-prepared foods are significantly cheaper than food at restaurant. Plus, you can control your potions better at home than at a restaurant, which prevents overeating.
- Buying store brands is cheaper than buying name brands, and usually the quality is about the same.
- If you use a lot of something, buying it in bulk will save a significant amount of money.
- Add tax to the cost of things you buy; it can make a difference.
- Avoid buying things like candy and batteries from the checkout line. Items there are often marked up because they are more convenient to find. You might be able to find a similar product in one of the isles but for a cheaper price.
- Make your own coffee instead of going to a coffee shop to get it. Even if you have to buy a coffee maker, if you drink coffee often, it will pay for itself soon enough.
- Keep an eye on the prices as your items are being scanned. Sometimes register scanners make mistakes.
- Don’t be afraid to haggle where appropriate.
- Pay attention to the unit price of the product in the grocery store. One product might seem cheaper, but it may also contain less and end up costing more per unit.
- Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Buying them out of season can add as much as several dollars to the price tag because they are shipped from another part of the world.
- If you can, go to the grocery store when the kids are in school. That will prevent them from asking you to buy junk food that can be both unhealthy and overpriced.
- Avoid buying things like party supplies, kitchen utensils, toiletries or batteries at your local supermarket. The same products can be found at other stores for much cheaper. Same generally goes for school supplies.
- Make a list before going grocery shopping and follow that list. Not making a list may not only make you forget to buy some things, but also will likely case you to buy some things you don’t need.
- Shopping at outlet stores can save you a lot of money without seriously sacrificing quality of the goods you buy.
- Shopping for produce at the farmer’s market can be cheaper than buying fruits and vegetables at a supermarket that have been shipped from hundreds of miles away.
- It is a well-known fact that many supermarkets place the more expensive items at eye-level. Looking at products on the bottom shelf can lead to some cheaper alternatives to the products you’re looking for.
- Drink water instead of soda. Not only is water cheaper, it is also healthier.
- Instead of buying baked goods at the supermarket, buy baking mixes and bake at home.
- Instead of buying small snack packs, buy a large bag and some snack-size Ziploc bags. Then proceed to divide the contents of the bag into small servings in Ziploc bags.
- Eat leftovers. Throwing them out is like throwing money in the trash.
- You can buy clothing much cheaper at the end of the season or the beginning of the next one.
- Instead of spending money on bottled water, buy a reusable bottle and a water filter to filter your tap water and fill up your bottle.
- After major holidays, stores sell dirt-cheap candy, gifts, and decorations. Halloween or Valentine’s Day candy is still just candy the day after, so you can buy it for yourself instead of paying the regular price for candy that’s not holiday-themed.
- Avoid going to the grocery store when you're hungry. The fact that you’re hungry will make any food item attractive and will likely make you buy more than you need to.
Tips for Saving Money on your Car and Transportation Expenses
- Washing your car is cheaper than going to the carwash.
- Check your tire pressure.
- Buy a used car. Not only are they cheaper, but older cars are cheaper to insure because they are not as expensive.
- If the local climate allows, ride a bike to work. Not only will you save money on gas, you will also be in better shape, potentially saving you money on health bills. Just make sure to wear a helmet.
- Don’t accelerate or brake abruptly.
- Remove anything in your car that you don’t need, including things in your trunk. Carrying less things will not only free up space but it may also slightly increase fuel efficiency.
- If your grocery store has a gas station, chances are it gives discounts to customers that spend a certain amount. If you get that discount, take advantage of it. Even saving several cents per gallon once or twice a month will add up by the end of the year.
- Squeegees for cars can be more expensive than ones used in bathrooms. Buying a bathroom squeegee instead of one in the automotive section will save you significant money.
- Carpooling saves money.
- Take advantage of public transportation in your area.
- If your work allows it, try to avoid arriving and leaving during rush hour.
- Shop around for gas prices. Keep tabs on which gas station has the cheapest gas in your area. There are even websites that can show you where the cheapest gas is.
- Rotating your tires regularly can prevent excessive tire wear and save you money.
- If your job allows you to telecommute or work from home, take advantage of it. It will not only save you money on gas, but will also save time you spend stuck in traffic.
- Try buying a car at the end of the month. Dealers have quotas and if they are not met by the end of the month, they would be more willing to negotiate with you so they can meet the quota.
- When filling up, tighten your gas cap until it clicks to prevent gas fumes from evaporating.
- When renting a car, keep this in mind: by the end of Spring car rental companies move their cars from the South to the North, and in the fall the opposite happens. If you time it right, you can get an incredibly cheap one-way rental without any dropoff fees because you'll be doing their work for them.
Tips for Saving Money on Entertainment Expenses
- Use the public library. Most have a great selection of books for any age, and some may even have DVD’s that you can borrow. Best of all, it’s free, so you won’t need to spend money at the bookstore or rent movies.
- If you have a magazine that you always read, opt for a subscription instead of buying it off a newsstand.
- Websites like Hulu.com have plenty of free movies and shows that you can watch, including new episodes of popular basic cable shows.
- When going to bar, eat before you go, or go during happy hour to save money.
- When eating out, skip dessert.
- If you or someone in your family plays video games, don’t buy those that can only be played once and will then get boring. Buy only ones that have a high replay value, opt for renting ones that don’t if you really want to play it.
- Instead of going to a professional football game you can go to a high school football game, which can be just as exciting, but much, much cheaper. Same goes for other sports.
- Try to avoid concessions at movie theaters; they are usually overpriced.
- Instead of buying books at a bookstore, first search for books online on sites like Amazon.com and eBay.com. Some books are sold for significantly lower than you can find at your typical bookstore.
- Go to the movie theater during the day. Matinee ticket prices are cheaper.
- When going on a trip keep an itinerary. This will allow you to stay within your budget.
- Get your news online instead of from a magazine or newspaper.
Tips for Saving Money on Everyday Expenses
- Bringing your own lunch to work instead of going out to eat will help you save money.
- When it comes to repairs around the house that you can do, skip on calling a repair service and do it yourself instead. Not only will it save you money, it will also help you master a new skill. Hire outside help only on big or dangerous projects like electrical work.
- If you’re friendly with your neighbors, ask your neighbors to babysit your kids and offer to babysit theirs in exchange. There are a lot of parents out there willing to do that to save money on babysitters. You can also ask your friends that live close by.
- Quitting smoking won’t just save money on cigarettes but also reduce the risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease, potentially saving thousands of dollars in the future.
- Beware of impulsive purchases like 99 cent downloads. They don’t seem like much but if you do it often, all those songs will add up.
- Instead of calling a carpet cleaning service, rent a carpet cleaning machine and clean your carpets on your own, it will save you a significant amount of money.
- Cut your own hair or get someone to cut your hair. If your hairstyle is not too complicated it shouldn’t be difficult for a friend or family member to cut your hair successfully.
- Periodically shop around for services like cell phone, cable and internet services. If you’re not tied to a contract, you might benefit from looking at competing providers and their services because they might have better offers.
- If you don’t have much use for your landline phone and have a cell phone, consider getting rid of the landline phone. Not using a landline can save you at least several hundred dollars.
- Avoid rent-to-own services; they generally cost at least 50% more than the sales price of the product you’re buying.
- When buying a new computer, avoid financing plans if you can afford to, they will end up costing significantly more in the long run.
- Extended warranties offered by stores on electronics are often a waste of money. More times than not you will end up paying more for the warranty than for repair or replacement of the product. That is especially the case if you are very careful with your electronics.
Tips for Getting Your Finances on the Right Track
- Avoid debt. Most debt carries an interest rate, so not having debt will save you the interest payments.
- Optimizing your tax withholding on your W-4 form can leave more money in your paycheck each month.
- An online savings account often has a higher interest rate than one at a traditional bank. If you don’t mind the fact that there is no brick and mortar neighborhood location, consider putting some of your money into an online savings account whose interest rate can be several percent higher than one of a traditional bank.
- Pay off your credit card debt. Paying it off is like saving because you won’t have debt, and plus you won’t lose money on interest payments.
- When investing, you can invest in index funds instead of actively managed funds. It can save you a lot of money on fees, and many actively managed funds were found to not have much of a difference in gains from index funds.
- Avoid banking fees. Shop around for the bank that has the lowest fees, or no fees at all. Getting something for free is always better than paying for it.
- Make a budget, it will help you keep track of your expenses and help you eliminate unnecessary spending.
- Know how much taxes you will have to pay to the IRS this year, or if you will get a tax refund. Use our free tax calculator for an estimate!
Money Saving Tips for College Students
- Apply for scholarships. Even getting a small one will be helpful because any amount will reduce your tuition and other expenses.
- Take advantage of the books offered at the library.
- Avoid buying books from your college’s bookstore. They are generally more expensive than at other stores or online. Also, consider buying used books, they can be significantly cheaper.
- Take advantage of free samples.
- Optimize your meal plan. Don’t pick one that’s too big or too small.
- If you think that it is likely that you won’t need the book after you’re done with the course, sell the book, you can get a significant amount of the money you spent on it back.
- Don’t sign up for credit cards you don’t really need. Student credit cards often have high penalties for missed payments and high APR’s.
- Buy school supplies at the beginning of the school year, they can be found really cheap during special back to school sales that many big stores have.
- Don’t go for cash advances. They accumulate interest from the very start and will end up costing you more than an alternative in most cases.
- Optimize your cell phone plan. Pick one that’s not so large that you will waste a lot of minutes, texts and data each month and make sure it’s big enough so you will avoid overage fees. Perhaps consider joining a family plan if it suits you, it can often turn out to be cheaper than stand-alone plans.
- Enjoy cheap or free activities like hanging out with your friends and playing sports outdoors.
- Take advantage of free streaming music services like Pandora.
- If you have a meal plan, make sure to use all of it before it expires. This will save you money on purchases at grocery stores.
- Invest in a bicycle for transportation. It’s significantly cheaper than the cost of having your car parked on campus, so if a bicycle mostly satisfies your transportation needs, why not do it?
Find helpful tax filing information and tips for college students.
Miscellaneous Money-Saving Tips
- Make your own greeting cards.
- If you have a pet, don’t take him or her to a pet salon, instead do it yourself.
- Baked goods can be gifts too.
- Buy refill kits for ink cartridges, it’s cheaper than buying a new cartridge.
- Adding improvements to your home like smoke detectors or burglar alarms can save you some money on your homeowners insurance.
- Instead of paying for a gym membership you can work out for free. Pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and squats can all be done with minimal equipment. And for a cardiovascular workout, you can go for a run in your neighborhood if the weather allows, a much more pleasant alternative to the treadmill.
- Instead of stopping monthly payments when you pay off your car loan, keep making the payments into your savings account. It’s an easy way to save, and you can then use that money to buy your next car upfront or make a significant down payment and thus save money on paying interest on the loan.
- Buy only what you really need.
- You can go to dental schools to get something simple like a cleaning done, and it will often cost you little or no money.
- Getting a flu vaccine at a drug store or pharmacy is cheaper than going to the doctor’s office.
- You can save money on prescriptions not only by buying generic but also by buying larger supplies, like a 90 day supply instead of a monthly supply.
- If you have a gym membership but don't visit the gym often; try switching to a per-visit payment plan if it's cheaper. There is no use spending money on a monthly plan when you only go to the gym once or twice a week.
- Avoid buying airline tickets on a weekend; that is often when the prices are highest. Instead buy them on a Tuesday or Wednesday because new deals go out on Monday, and competitors would rush to match them by the next day, producing a choice of cheaper tickets.
- Dryer sheets can be cut in half and still work fine, thus saving you money.
- If you make frequent long-distance phone calls; consider using VoIP services; they offer phone calls to landline phone numbers that are either free or cheaper than those offered by traditional long-distance phone call providers.
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