One of the quickest ways to improve your finances is to reduce your expenses and find more ways to save money. This article is a compilation of various money saving ideas curated into one big list. The idea behind this list is that you can go down the list and pick out ideas and apply them to your own budget as needed — don’t try to tackle everything all at once, rather do a few each day or each week. Once you do enough of these, you should see a difference in your cash flow.
- Refinance your home loan to lower monthly payments. Make sure your lender shows you the total interest you’ll pay over the entire loan period on the new loan, and compare it against total interest you have left on the current loan. Only go forward with refinancing your home loan if the benefit of lower monthly payments outweigh the potential increase in interest amount.
- Appeal your property tax. If your property tax looks too high, submit an appeal to see if the county will lower your tax.
- Apply for tax break. Some jurisdictions offer tax break for homeowners. You have to ask around or find out to see if your program is eligible for one. For example, NY has STAR Tax Credit and MD has Homestead Tax Credit.
- Find a cheaper place to live. If you’re renting, move to a less expensive property or consider buying when your lease is over.
- DIY whenever you can. Learn to fix little things on your own, do your own yard work and cleaning.
- Check for energy vampires. Use an Electricity Usage Monitor (~$20) to test your electronics and see who has been sucking up all the power.
- Replace light bulbs with LED. Obviously, there is no need to replace your entire house all at once…just go as they blow.
- Replace appliances as they break with a more energy efficient version. Often, it is cheaper to replace than to repair appliances. You can save even more money by buying dinged and dented appliances that are new.
- Unplug electronics when not in used. You can also use a power strip with individually controlled on/off buttons.
- Use less air conditioning. Run less AC in the Summer and less heat in the Winter.
- Use shades and blinds. During Summer close them to block out sun light, and open them to let more light in during Winter
- Use ceiling fans to help with cooling.
- Seal drafty doors, windows, and chimney.
- Fix leaks.
- Add insulation in the attic.
- Change your air filters regularly.
- Clean your dryer lint filter before each load.
Cable and Internet
- Cut your home phone. When was the last time you get an actual phone call that is not a telemarketer or a robocall?
- Cut your cable service. You can keep internet only and subscribe to cheaper alternatives like Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video.
- Downgrade your package and reduce add-on options.
- Call another service provider whenever your current contract expires. Customer loyalty is not important to these providers and new customers often pay less than existing ones.
- Get rid of your car. Do you need a car? If there are alternatives that doesn’t cost you too much time or money, it might be worth getting rid of your car altogether. For example, living in New York City, it might be easier and cheaper to take the subway, bus, or walk. When you get rid of your car, you eliminate a lot of related expenses, e.g., car payments, insurance, repairs, registration, taxes, inspection, tickets, gasoline, etc.
- Switch to a less expensive car. If you use your car regularly and can’t get rid of it, it might be more practical to switch to a less expensive one.
- Use alternative car options. Instead of owning a car, you can use car sharing services, slugging, or carpooling when you need to.
- Stop using premium gas. Unless your car needs the higher octane, you’re just throwing away money. Higher octane doesn’t give you more horsepower.
- Keep your car well maintained. Stay on top of the service schedule. Change your oil as needed. Keep your tires properly inflated.
- Practice Hypermiling.
- Eat healthy. Being overweight or eating unhealthy food costs you money in the long run when you have to pay for it with higher medical bills.
- Exercise more.
- Don’t smoke, do drugs, or drink (too much). Smoking is expensive, and drugs do crazy shit to your brain and body. Not only are you paying for the goods, but you are also paying a higher premium for your health insurance. The long-term impact to your health is also terrible.
- Buy generic drugs instead of brand name medicines.
- Shop for new auto insurance. You can usually save money just by calling a few providers and shop for a better premium. Doing this every 2-3 years will almost always save you money.
- Shop for new home insurance.
- Take advantage of multi-policies discount. When you have multiple policies with one insurer, you often will save money.
- Increase your deductibles. Ask your provider how much you can save by increasing the deductible on each policy, and make changes according to your risk tolerance and risk exposure.
- Reduce options. Go through all the options and add-on options with your provider and see what you can cut back to save money.
- Switch to a cheaper plan.
- Switch to a different provider.
- Don’t upgrade your phone too often. Cell phones used to be fairly cheap or even free if you sign up for a 2 years plan. This is hardly true any more and the latest model phones can costs you a small fortune!
- Buy from Amazon Wireless. Amazon Wireless offers a lot of choices that are often cheaper than a store-bought phone.
Food and Household Items
- Eat out less or go to less expensive restaurants.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Avoid buying sodas and snacks.
- Make your own coffee in the morning.
- Pack lunch to work.
- Use up what you already have. Check your pantry and freezer before you buy. Use up what you have first.
- Start an edible garden. Instead of spending money maintaining flowers and bushes, use that effort toward growing a garden that you can eat, e.g., lettuce, tomato, and many herbs are some of the easiest edible plants to grown in your yard.
- Buy used items. When you making a purchase, check eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace to see if you can find used item for less. Or go out and visit your local thrift stores.
- Get free items. You can often find free items listed on Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor.com.
- Make a list of what you want to buy before you buy (stop impulse shopping).
- Buy items in bulk when it makes sense.
- Comparison shopping.
- Look for discounts and use coupons. For online purchases, check out Ebates (you can save money on your purchases and make money by inviting others to join)
- Buy store brand instead of name brand.
- Buy in bulk.
Memberships and Subscriptions
- Cancel your gym membership. You can use your unspent energy to do chores around the house and in the yard. If you need exercise, calisthenics and brisk walking are often good enough for most people.
- Ask for a discount. Whenever you can, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount. The worst they can say is NO.
- Improve your credit score. Things that depend on your credit, like mortgage and loans become dramatically less expensive when you have a good credit score.
- Don’t pay interest on credit cards. Pay off your balance in full each month. If you cannot do that transfer your balance (see below) and stop using your cards.
- Transfer your credit card balances to 0% APR cards. If you currently owe money on one or more of your cards, try transferring your balance to a lower interest or a 0% interest card.
- Set up Automatic Payments. Never pay a late fee again. Set up everything you can on automatic payment.
- Avoid bank fees. Set up your bank accounts so that you don’t have to pay monthly fee or ATM usage fee.
- Borrow books from the library. Check out your local library before you order your next book online.
- State and City Tax Credit. Search for the name of your state or city and the word “tax credit”. Some states and/or lower jurisdictions offer tax credit for eligible individuals.
- Wait before you buy. Wait at least 24 hours before you buy something that’s not essential. This way, you will have time to avoid impulse buy.
Do you have more money saving tips and ideas to add to the list above? If so, please leave a comment below.
Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance and a Realtor® licensed in Virginia and Maryland. Over the past 20 years, Pinyo has enjoyed a diverse career as an investor, entrepreneur, business executive, educator, financial literacy author, and Realtor®.