There are a lot of reasons to live frugally.
Maybe you're trying to pay off debt faster, perhaps you want to build a $1,000 emergency fund quickly, or maybe you just enjoy penny-pinching.
Whatever your reason may be, I guarantee these money-saving tips will help you live frugal to the fullest.
Before we get started though, I want to say one more thing:
If you're trying to save every nickel and dime because you think that's the way to get rich – I'm sorry but it's not. No matter how much you save, saving money alone will not make you rich.
That may be a hard truth to swallow but once you realize that you'll be a lot better off. The key to getting rich is to have a balance of saving and making money.
Luckily I write a lot about making money and side hustling on this blog, so you can always check out the make money section or check out this popular post:
Ok, time to get started with the money-saving tips.
1. Build an Emergency Fund
You've definitely heard of these before. An emergency fund is a sum of money that's saved strictly for emergencies. That means you have to save some money first to build your emergency fund.
Once you have your emergency fund, it's going to do exactly what it's meant to do: save you money when emergencies happen.
Since you'll already have enough cash saved to deal with most emergencies, you won't have to go into debt (and pay interest) to deal with them.
2. Start a Budget
Starting a budget and sticking to it is key to financial success. It's also one of the personal finance basics.
If you want to save more money you're going to need to at least have an idea of where your money is going each month and how much you're making each month. You don't need to become a budget fanatic, but at least set up a basic budget.
3. Make Financial Goals
Goals, in general, are great to have – they give you something to work towards and they're motivating.
When you're coming up with financial goals, follow these key points:
- Be specific – Instead of saying you want to save money, come up with an exact amount you want to save, like $1,000.
- Think short & long term – You want short-term goals to keep you motivated and long-term goals so you know where you're headed. Your short-term goals should be small wins that get you closer to accomplishing your long-term goals.
- Review and update – Every month you should be looking at your goals, measuring your progress and coming up with new goals.
4. Start Earning Cash Back
This is probably the easiest way to save money, and if you're not using at least one cash back app or website you're losing money you could have kept. Even if you barely shop, it's still worth it to take advantage.
So what are the best cash back apps? Here are my favorites:
- Ebates – This one is the most popular and allows you to earn cash back at over 2,000 stores online & offline. If you sign up here you'll get a free $10 bonus.
- Drop – With Drop, you can earn cash back at your favorite stores by simply linking your credit card – no receipt scanning required. If you sign up here you'll get $1 for free.
5. Save on Groceries
Groceries take up a big chunk of our budget but there are so many ways to save money on them that people don't know about.
One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries is to use a cash back app. Here are a few of my favorites:
- iBotta ($10 sign up promo) – Scan receipts for money.
- Checkout51 ($5 sign up promo) (Full review) – Another receipt scanning app with tons of unique and amazing offers
- Drop ($5 sign up promo) – Connect your credit card and earn cash back automatically, completely hands-off.
If you sign up for all 3 of those apps and use them each time you shop, your savings will skyrocket.
PS: You should be able to easily cut your grocery bill in half if you follow these 21 simple ways to save money on groceries.
6. Negotiate Your Bills
Bills, bills, bills. Doesn't it seem like all of your money just goes towards paying bills?
What if you could change that?
You can, but it will take a bit of your time and some negotiation skills. If you've got those two things, you can learn how to negotiate your bills with a few phone calls.
However, if you don't have the time to negotiate every one of your bills by yourself, let Trim do the negotiating for you.
7. Start a Cheap Hobby
Investing your time in a good – and cheap – hobby will help you build a new skill, and you'll be less likely to go out and spend your cash money on other forms of entertainment.
Here are some cheap hobby ideas:
8. Plan Your Meals
This one's an easy money saving tip that will not only save you money but also time and stress. The concept is simple:
Instead of planning your meals all willy-nilly, set a specific day to plan your meals and stick to it.
For example, each Sunday you could plan your next weeks worth of meals. By doing so, you'll save yourself time & money.
- You're saving money, time, and headaches by taking fewer trips to the grocery store
- You're saving more money because you'll be throwing out less food
- You're saving more time because you'll get all your meals planned in one day and you won't have to think about it again for another week.
Just think about all the things you can do with that extra time & money.
Now, I understand this whole meal planning thing can seem exhausting. That's why there's an easy solution for those who don't want to go through the hassle of meal planning themselves:
The $5 Meal Plan was created to provide you with an easy weekly grocery list and inexpensive dinners for every day of the week.
9. Do No Spend Weekends
Believe it or not, there are a lot of things you can do on the weekend that are fun AND free.
However, when it comes to thinking of free things to do, I always draw a blank. That's why I found some posts to help:
10. Use Groupon
No spend weekends and meal planning is great – but you've still got to treat yourself every once in a while.
Groupon is a great place to look for discounted activities and, well, basically anything!
Whether you're looking for a fancy meal out, a relaxing spa day, or an exciting day go-karting with the kids, Groupon will save you money.
11. Pay Off Credit Card Debt
Credit card debt is brutal for your bank account as the interest rates are typically around 15-20%.
If you want to save your money, pay off your credit card debt as quickly as possible.
12. Download a Personal Finance App
There are a ton of different personal finance apps available that make budgeting, tracking spending, and saving, so much less painful. Since there are so many though, it can be hard to decide on which one to use.
Here are my top suggestions:
- You Need a Budget – This one isn't free, but it's the most helpful and feature-filled budgeting app on the market.
- Mint – This one IS free, and it's excellent for tracking spending and setting up simple budgets.
- Personal Capital – Another free one that's great for tracking net worth.
- Trim – This one is also free, and it's the best for tracking subscriptions, spending, and more.
13. Use Paribus
Have you ever bought something online and then noticed the item selling for a lower price a week later?
This happens all the time and most online stores offer a price adjustment policy just for this scenario. If you notice a price adjustment, you can simply send the store an email, and they'll refund you the difference.
14. Quit Smoking
Smoking is not only a dangerous habit to have – it's also an expensive one.
According to SmokeFree, someone who smokes a pack a day is going to spend, on average, $177 a week on cigarettes which is over $9,200 each year!
Imagine having an extra $9,200 in your bank account right now. You can do a lot with that money, but instead, you're lighting it on fire.
15. Use Cash
Personally, I like using credit cards to build my credit and earn cash back, but credit cards can be dangerous if you aren't responsible with them.
16. Cut the Cable
The average cable bill is $99/month. That's over $1,100 per year and it's up to you to decide whether that's worth it or not.
There are a few ways to save money on your cable bill:
- Cancel it altogether
- Review your subscription package and make changes
- Negotiate your current bill with Trim (see #3 above)
17. Shop the Holiday Discounts
This is a genius trick to get a ton of holiday shopping done way in advance and also save a lot of money.
What you do is shop for your holiday items the day (or a few days) after the holiday is over.
For example, when Halloween ends all the stores heavily discount their Halloween decorations, making it the perfect time to scoop up new ones for next year. The same goes with Christmas, Mothers day, Fathers day (discounted cards), Easter and more.
18. Declutter Your House
How long has it been since you went through your house and did a thorough “Do I really need this s***” cleanup?
If it's been a while you should really get on it. It's a great way to relieve some stress, clean your house, and you might even find some things that you can sell for a bit of extra money.
If you find something you want to sell, you can sell it on:
- Facebook marketplace
19. Clean Your Closet
After you finish decluttering your house, it's time to move onto the closet. Give it a thorough cleaning front to back, and often times you'll find clothes you forgot you had or clothes you no longer wear.
With the clothes you forgot you had, you can rotate them to the front of your closet and start wearing them again.
20. Cut Your Own Hair
This one isn't going to work for everyone, but if you can manage to cut your own hair you'll be saving time and money.
If you don't want to cut your own hair but you want a cheaper cut, go to a salon with trainees. They will either give you a free cut or a very cheap one.
Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for any jacked up haircuts caused by this money saving tip.
21. Buy Used to Save Money
You won't be able to buy everything used, but when it's an option you should go for it. You'll be saving money and most of the time you won't be sacrificing much quality.
Just make sure if you're buying something used from a stranger (like a car) you inspect it thoroughly.
22. Workout at Home
On average, people are paying as much as $800 a year – or more – on their gym membership. Now I'm all for staying healthy and fit, but if you're not going to the gym HARD that price just isn't worth it.
Instead, look into ways to work out at home or outside. There are plenty of free workout apps and Youtube videos to get you started.
23. Pay Yourself First
This is a basic personal finance tip that is super important. It's also super simple:
Whenever you get a paycheck, take a bit off to pay yourself. You can start by taking 10% off, and then you can try taking off more as you get more comfortable with saving.
Fun fact: The term “pay yourself first” was coined by George S. Clason, who wrote one of the most popular personal finance books of all time, The Richest Man In Babylon.
24. Visit the Library
The library is full of surprising ways to save money, besides the obvious fact that you can read books for free.
Here are some unexpected ways the library can save you money.
25. Fix Things Yourself
You may not be the fixer-upper type but that doesn't mean you can't learn. Luckily with Google and Youtube, it's a lot easier than you might think.
You can learn how to fix electronics, repair clothing, and more. If something breaks, look for a quick fix on the web before you toss it.
26. Save Money Automatically
Ok, we already talked about paying yourself first, but this is another way to get some extra savings.
How it works is simple:
You download an app that rounds up your purchases and invests the spare change automatically.
For example, let's say you buy an avocado toast for $1.75. These apps would see that purchase, automatically round it up to $2.00, and invest the $0.25. It's awesome because you won't even notice the money leaving your account!
- If you're in the US or Australia, you'll want to sign up for Acorns ($5 sign up bonus).
- If you're in Canada you'll want to sign up for Mylo ($5 sign up bonus) (full Mylo review here).
27. Put Quality Before Price
Some people think saving money is all about finding the cheapest things, but that's wrong.
Think about it:
Would you rather spend $10 on something that will last a year or $50 on something that will last 10 years? I'd choose the latter.
28. Take Advantage of Promos
I'm not encouraging you to shop, but if you need to buy something anyway, take advantage of email signup promos. A lot of online stores will give you fat discounts if you sign up for their mailing list.
Before you go crazy though, I suggest creating a separate email for these promo emails otherwise you might be tempted to buy more in the future.
29. Unsubscribe From Retailer Emails
This one sort of contradicts the last money saving tip, but I specifically said to make a separate email for promotions.
Once you do that, make sure your primary email address is unsubscribed from all retailers. Then you won't be bombarded by promos all the time and if you need a nice deal you can hop over to your promo email address and see them all in one place.
30. Master the 24-Hour Rule
The 24-hour rule is a key tip to stop wasting money. If you're about to buy something, stop yourself and sit on it for 24-hours. At the end of the 24 hours you can then decide whether the purchase is worth it or not.
For more expensive purchases, upgrade to the 30-day rule. It's the same thing except you wait for 30 days instead of 24-hours. But you already knew that.
31. Avoid Fast Food
Back in Highschool, I wasted a lot of money on fast food. I can tell you it definitely wasn't worth it, and it was probably bad for my health, too.
Skip the fast food and make extra portions of your meals and freeze them. That way if you're ever in a pinch you can just heat up a leftover for a nice healthy homecooked meal.
32. Cancel Subscriptions
Spotify, Hulu, Netflix, Apple music, there are so many different subscription services nowadays it's hard to keep track!
I suggest going through all your subscriptions and figuring out which ones you need and which ones you don't.
If you need help, Trim can track your subscriptions automatically and cancel the ones you don't need for you.
33. Pack a Lunch
Buying lunch at work is awesome because it's delicious and convenient, but it's not great for your wallet. A typical take-out lunch could cost you twice as much – or more – than a home packed lunch.
34. Move Somewhere Cheaper
You're not doing yourself any good by living in too much house. More house means more money. You know what more money means? More problems.
The truth is you'll be just as happy – or happier – in a smaller house. If you find a cheaper place and you can afford to move, it could save you a lot of money in the long run.
If you can't afford to move, try renting out your spare room on Airbnb.
35. Read About Personal Finance
One of the best ways to save more money and become more financially independent is to learn more about how money works.
The best way to learn more about money is to read a book or two on personal finance.
This is the perfect opportunity for you to hit up the library as we talked about in money saving tip #24.
PS: If you want to read the best fiction books in quick 15-minute summaries, check out Blinkist. I use it to read a book every day.
36. Start a Garden
We talked about starting a cheap hobby earlier to save money, but gardening is more than just a cheap hobby. It's a way of life that could save you $600 a year or more on groceries.
Even if you're living in a big city, you could grow a few things on your apartment porch to get $100 or so in savings per year.
Best of all: gardening is fun. Once you start, it's hard to stop.
37. Take Public Transit
If you live in an area with a good public transit system then you're better off taking the bus instead of paying for a car, gas, insurance, and maintenance.
Sure, public transit can be noisy, annoying, and sometimes nasty, but it's also a great way to save money, and it's better for the environment.
Also, think about all the fun stuff you can do on your way to work since you're not driving: you could read a Blinkist book, play a game, listen to music, work on your blog, or you could even take a nap!
Ok if I didn't persuade you to hop on the public transit train (or..bus I mean) then this is the next best alternative. Find someone you work with that you (hopefully) like, and that also lives near you, and ask them if you can carpool to work with them.
Don't be a freeloader though, at least offer to pitch in for gas.
39. Update Your Phone Services
Did you know that the average phone bill is around $70 per month?
If you haven't looked at your phone bill recently, you may be paying a lot of money for services that you don't even use. It's a good idea to look through your services and figure out which ones you don't need, that way you can switch to a cheaper plan.
If you want to save a lot of money on your phone bill, check out Ting. The average Ting bill is just $23 per month, and they're super customizable.
40. Do It Yourself
There are a lot of little DIY things you can do around the house to save some money.
If you've got the extra time and a bit of handiness, head over here to get 50 nifty DIY savings tricks.
41. Think of Cost in Terms of Time
Have you ever seen that science fiction movie “In Time” with Justin Timberlake? In that movie, time is literally money. They pay for things with minutes and when they run out, they die.
Luckily we aren't going to die if we spend too much money, but it can be interesting to think of your purchases in terms of time instead of money.
For example, if you make $25 an hour and you want to buy a new car for $10,000, that's going to cost you 400 hours of work. That's over 16 days of your life.
If you start thinking of your purchases like this, you might be less inclined to waste your
money time on things you don't need.
42. Create a Saving Reminder
This is a simple money saving tip. All you need to do is put a saving reminder somewhere (mines in my wallet) that has something like “Are you saving?” on it.
Every time you pull out your wallet to purchase something you'll see that note, and it might help you from making a wrong spending decision.
43. Make a Christmas Fund
This is a money saving tip that a lot of people never think of, and it's a lifesaver.
If you're anything like me, you put off your Christmas shopping until the very last minute. You then go online or to a mall and you start buying everything you see because giving people gifts is a blast!
This is all very fun, but then you check your bank account, and it doesn't seem very fun anymore.
That's why it's best to have a Christmas fund. A sum of money set aside strictly for Christmas. You could do this for other big holidays as well.
44. Keep Your Car Maintained
When it comes to car maintenance, it's a lot easier to ignore that weird noise coming from your engine than it is to schedule an appointment with your mechanic.
However, ignoring a weird noise can cause a lot more trouble than it's worth. A few months of waiting could be the difference between a quick & cheap fix and a not-so-quick OR cheap fix.
Keep your car regularly maintained. Whether you do it yourself or bring it into a mechanic doesn't matter, just keep it maintained. It will save you money in the long run.
45. Check Your Credit Report for Free
Your credit report is an important piece of your financial identity. Whenever you apply for a new loan or credit card, companies will check your credit report to see how good you are at paying off debts.
Some employers will even check your credit report as part of the application process.
So as you can see, your credit report is pretty essential. That's why it's important to check your credit report regularly, but this usually costs money.
46. Save Money on Travel
Travelling can be super expensive, but if you're smart there are a lot of nifty ways to save big on travel.
Check out these posts to learn more:
47. Drink Your H2O
Not only is water great for your health, it's also great for your wallet. If you're out at a restaurant, avoid the soda or alcoholic beverages and opt-in for a refreshing, money-saving glass of water.
Also, if you're drinking water at home, try to avoid those big packs of plastic bottles they sell at grocery stores. They're more expensive and bad for the environment. Instead, buy a nice water filter and use a reusable water bottle.
48. Birthday Freebies
Your birthday is a special day. It's also a day for you to take advantage of freebies!
Lot's of companies will give you something for free if it's your birthday, so grab a document that proves it's your birthday, and start getting those freebies!
Here are 31 Birthday Freebies.
49. Work From Home
Working from home isn't possible for everyone, but if you can make it happen, it can equal significant savings.
Here are three ways working from home will save you money:
- No more commuting = less spent on gas and car maintenance. You'll also save time.
- No need to go out for lunch
- No need to go out for coffee
The downside of working from home is that it's lonely. If you love being around people, working from home may not be for you.
However, if you love working alone (or with your cat), check out these 20 work from home hustles.
50. Get a Programmable Thermostat
If you don't already have a programmable thermostat – get excited – this is an awesome money saving tip that could save you 15% or more on your energy bills. If that doesn't seem like much, think about it this way:
Let's say you spend $1,500 a year on gas and electricity. If your programmable thermostat saves you 15%, that's $225 per year in savings!
51. Eat Out Less
Going out to restaurants to eat is one of my favorite things to do. You get an amazing meal served to you, and you don't have to do any of the work.
However, there's a problem with eating out:
It fills your belly, but it empties your wallet. That's why I rarely do it.
If you want to save some money, try eating out one less time per month. If you're feeling feisty you can try going an entire month without eating out.
52. Refinance Your Student Loans
If your student loan interest rate is anywhere above 6%, you might want to look into refinancing. Otherwise, you could end up paying outrageous amounts of interest, like, over $10,000 worth.
If by reading this you've just realized you got a raw deal on your student loan, try refinancing with Credible. They save students an average of $218 a month.
53. Take Online Surveys
This one isn't really a money saving tip, but at the same time, it kind of is. That's confusing, let me explain:
Filling out surveys online is a nice and easy way to make a couple extra bucks every day. If you stay consistent with it and earn a decent amount of money, you can put it straight into your savings account. Bam. I just turned a money making tip into a money saving tip.
If you want to get started, these are my top 5 survey sites:
Sign up for as many as you can (with a separate email) to get more surveys and more money.
54. Take a Staycation
What's a staycation?
It's exactly what it sounds like. Instead of taking an expensive vacation to someplace far far away, take a look around you and explore your homeland.
Do what tourists would do, if they were you.
PS: If you're weird like me, a little bit of backyard camping can be fun as well.
55. Use Airbnb When You Travel
I use Airbnb whenever I travel because it's easy to use, I can preview different houses/apartments, and the prices are super tasty!
Last year I stayed in Whistler for a weekend with my girlfriend, and we got to stay right in the center of the village – it was terrific.
If you want to use Airbnb next time you travel, you can get a free $45 in travel credit here.
56. Start Investing
You're reading money saving tips, and you're successfully saving, but what's next?
A simple way to start investing is to use a robo-advisor, I use Wealthsimple to handle my investments for me, and it's been great so far. It's nice to be able just to set it and forget it.
57. Sign up For Swagbucks
I mentioned Swagbucks in money saving tip #53, but Swagbucks is more than just a survey site, it's a way to make extra money and save more money.
When you sign up for Swagbucks, you'll notice they have a discovery section and a shopping section. Those are the sections where they offer deals that could give you colossal cash back returns.
It get's better:
Download the Swagbutton extension and you'll be automatically alerted whenever a savings opportunity presents itself. It's awesome.
58. Stop Gambling
If you're living paycheck to paycheck, don't risk your money by gambling it. Your time spent gambling could be spent doing things that are much more worthwhile, like:
59. Review Your Transactions
Take some time every week or two, and look over your transactions. You'll then know exactly what you're spending and where you're spending it.
Also, if there are any mistakes you'll catch them right away.
60. Pay Your Credit Card in Full
Last but not least, this money saving tip is an important one. If you're going to keep using a credit card instead of cash, you need to pay it off in full every month.
The way I make sure my credit card is paid off is by paying it off every couple of weeks, that way I never forget.
By paying off your credit card balance in full every month, you'll be able to get extra cash back rewards and travel points, and you'll be building your credit. Win-win-win?
61. Try a Money Saving Challenge
Sometimes all you need to build the habit of saving money is a challenge to jumpstart your gears. Try these money-saving challenges out:
There you have it, 60 super actionable money saving tips.
Before you go I want to mention what I said above once more:
Saving money will not make you rich.
I want to make sure you understand that because it's a really important lesson. If you're going to get rich, you need to make more money. Once you learn how to make as much money as possible and save as much as possible, that's when you'll start to get rich.
The best way to start increasing your income is to create multiple income streams, and the best way to do that is to side hustle. Here are 20 side hustles you can start today. Be warned though, once you begin the hustle it's hard to stop!
What's your favorite money saving tip listed here? What's your favorite way to save money that I didn't mention?