Whether you’re getting ready for retirement, planning to buy a home, or dreaming of a vacation, saving money is important. And while we all know we should try to save, it can be tough—especially when you’re only making enough to cover your basic expenses each month. Without saving, you might feel like your financial goals are drifting further and further away. If you don’t have savings stashed away and a financial emergency happens, you could end up in heavy debt.
Finding ways to save more money isn’t always clear, but you should evaluate your current spending habits by looking at your budget. The following tips are ways to save more money each week, month, and year.
How to save more money each week
Many of the savings you can find in a weekly budget align to the small amenities that are pleasures—not necessities. Making small changes to how you spend each week may save you a lot in the long run. Here are some money saving tips to help you reduce your weekly spending:
- Skip the coffee shop: For many folks, coffee or tea is a morning necessity; however, lots of people spend $4 or more each weekday just on the morning cup o’ joe. Throw in a breakfast pastry and your budget quickly balloons. Even at $20 every week, that’s just over a thousand dollars a year. If you’re particular about espresso drinks, it might be worth considering a countertop espresso maker. Usually, you can make three fancy drinks—with milk, if you so choose—for the cost of a single drink at your local coffee shop.
- Enjoy the ride: If you live somewhere with decent public transportation, it may make sense to forgo the car to save on gas and parking. Plus, getting out of traffic can free you up to read, listen to a podcast, or even catch up on work emails. Another way to save money (while also minimizing the stress of driving everyday) is to carpool; mobile apps make it easier to find people to carpool with.
- Be an “in-house” foodie: By dining out less, you can eat equally as well at a fraction of the cost (and often with greater health benefits). If you find yourself going to restaurants on weeknights because you don’t have enough time to cook yourself a meal, consider signing up for a meal-prep service or getting a slow cooker.
- Create a meal plan: According to a study from William & Mary, each year, the average American family spends $1,300 on food that is wasted. One way to save more money is to make a meal plan that helps you shop only for the food that will be eaten, minimizing waste. Plus, when buying groceries, consider the store-brand version, which can be up to 10 percent cheaper (when comparing items of similar quality).
- Use money-saving / investment apps: There are a number of mobile apps that allow you to periodically invest small amounts of money or add it to your savings. One of the most popular apps in this category is Acorns, which adds your “round-ups” of purchases to a diversified, exchange-traded fund of stocks or to a savings account. For example, you pay $7.21 for lunch, but your account is charged $8.00 and the extra 79 cents gets invested or put into savings for you.
The average American family spends $1,300 on wasted food every year.
How to save more money each month
Some expenses are monthly payments that may not even be used that often. If you can take one thing from each of the ways to save more money below, then you’re likely to save more money each month.
- Just do it: Gym memberships can be a solid chunk of change of each month. If you go two or more times per week—bravo! But if you go less than that, it might not be worth it. There are lots of great ways to exercise for little-to-no-cost, such as running or bicycling outside, or online exercise videos.
- Subscribe shrewdly: The plethora of entertainment subscription options means you could easily spend a ton on monthly services that are barely touched. These subscriptions include viewing options on Netflix, Hulu, or even traditional cable TV, and music services such as Spotify or Apple Music. Throw in gaming subscriptions, and it really can add up. Figure out which services you use the most for viewing, music, and gaming—then cancel the others. As an experiment, try to get it down to one for each category for at least three months. This way you’ll know if having only one category provider can meet and satisfy your entertainment needs.
- Save the earth: One of the best ways to save more money and save the earth is to reduce your energy bills by giving your home an audit. There are multiple ways to save on energy costs by managing air drafts, adjusting hot water heaters, and monitoring the washing/drying of clothes. For example, to save on air conditioning in the summer, try opening all the windows at night and closing the windows and curtains first thing in the morning. During winter, insulate drafty windows and doors. Also, lowering the water heater temperature to 120 degrees or can save up to 10 percent of energy costs, while still providing enough hot water.
- Empty your storage unit: The average monthly fee for a 10’x10’ storage unit is $100. Evaluate what you need versus the “maybe we’ll use that … someday” items—and as you hold each item ask yourself: “Is holding on to this thing worth $1,200 (or more) per year?” If not, then consider if you want to bring it home or give it to charity.
- Search for coupons: As internet shopping becomes a bigger and bigger part of our lives, always take a moment to search for an online coupon before checkout. Often you can get free shipping or save 10 percent off the total before taxes, all for just a few clicks.
Lowering your water heater temperature to 120 degrees could save you up to 10% each year. You can save money and the planet at the same time.
How to save more money each year
This where you start to create long-term savings habits. Whether it’s planning ahead or learning new maintenance skills, by adopting these money saving tips you can cut your costs throughout the year.
- Be your own handyperson: New homeowners eventually learn that the cost of home ownership is much more than the monthly mortgage payment. If you’re proficient with a basic set of tools, then you can do many home-repairs yourself. With YouTube, you can find instructions for how to fix nearly everything. However, you should know your limits and avoid tackling a project that’s above your skill level; you don’t want to create a bigger (and more expensive) problem for yourself.
- Shop strategically: Most retail categories follow a seasonal calendar. A great way to wave more money is to figure out what you might need to purchase and buy it during clearance sales. For example, wait until the end of summer to buy a new set of patio furniture and get next year’s back-to-school supplies at the end of September.
- Call your insurance company: See if there are discounts available for having multiple policies with the same insurance provider. If you have enough savings on hand to cover expenses for filing a claim, consider raising the deductibles on your policies as this will lower the annual premiums.
The best money-saving tip: get rid of debt
Debt is the biggest obstacle to saving money. That’s why one of the best ways to save more money is to find ways to reduce your monthly credit card payments—or, even better, get out of debt altogether. Here are some money saving tips that could help with your debt.
- Pay less in interest: If you can move credit card debt to a 0 percent interest balance transfer card, you have the opportunity to save big on interest in both the immediate and long-term future. Keep in mind that there is a fee for the balance transfer, so do the math to make sure the numbers work in your favor. Also, these are limited-time promotional offers, so you should pay off the debt before the rate rises again.
- Get a debt consolidation loan: Moving debt from high-interest credit cards to a lower-rate consolidation loan could help you get out of debt faster and save on interest. Since you may need a high credit score to qualify for the best rate, this solution may not be right for everyone.
- Refinance your home: Depending on whether interest rates are higher or lower than your current rate, you may be able to refinance your mortgage and reduce your monthly payment. Any savings you find can go toward paying off other debts or go toward your savings. Since home loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards, you could also consolidate your debt with a cash-out refinance or home equity line of credit.
- Work with a debt settlement company: Get out of debt altogether by working with a debt settlement company, which will negotiate with your creditors on your behalf. Once your debts are paid off at the negotiated rate, you’ll pay a fee to the company. While there are some risks associated with this method, it’s a great option for those with higher levels of debt.
Saving money is just the start: take control of your financial future
Learning new ways to save more money will help your budget. But if you’re still struggling with a high level of debt or worried about making your monthly payments, you will want to take further action. Freedom Debt Relief is here to help you understand your options for dealing with your debt, including our debt relief program. Our Certified Debt Consultants can help you find a solution that will put you on the path to a better financial future. Find out if you qualify right now.