Top 20 Clever Ways to Save Money

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 26, 2023

Want to go on an extra vacation, hit your retirement goals sooner or feel more fulfilled about your finances? Saving money can create those possibilities and many others. Each dollar you save can go toward building assets and increasing your sense of financial independence. You get closer to your financial goals with every dollar you save. These clever ways to save money can ramp up how much you save. 

20 Clever Ways to Save Money for a Better Future

Making smarter choices with your money will make your expenses more manageable and get you closer to key milestones. Getting a head start and sticking with it can pay off in the long run. These are the top 20 clever ways to save money for a better future.

1. Create a Budget

Budgets give you an overview of where your money is going and can reveal opportunities to save. Tracking your income and expenses can help you avoid overspending. Create a budget around your financial goals and commit to it. 

2. Cut Back on Dining Out

It’s more affordable to make your own food and package your lunch the night before. You still get a meal, but it’s now at a lower price. The savings from dining out once a month instead of twice a month can compound quickly.

3. Cancel Unused Subscriptions

Subscriptions give us products and services for a monthly fee. Most people plan on using the service when subscribing, but it’s easy to forget about various subscriptions. Monitoring subscriptions and canceling your unused ones can save considerable money. Gym memberships, streaming services and magazine subscriptions are some of the common expenses in this category. 

4. Embrace the 30-Day Rule

The 30-day rule minimizes your discretionary purchases by forcing you to get more intentional with how you use your money. Before purchasing an unnecessary item, wait 30 days and then evaluate if you truly need the item. It’s okay to use some money for discretionary purchases, but turning it into a habit can hamper your financial goals. 

5. Use Cashback Apps and Rewards Programs

You can earn a little back on everyday purchases with cashback apps and rewards programs. The rewards and cashback may not be a lot for each purchase – typically 1% to 2% rewards or cashback for every dollar you spend – but purchases over your lifetime can add up. It’s realistic to earn back hundreds of dollars every year with these programs. 

6. Shop with a Grocery List

It’s common for people to go to the grocery store and buy more food than they anticipated. It’s also common for people to forget key items when making their trek to the store. Shopping with a list solves both of these problems. You won’t have to drive back to the grocery store because you forgot something, and you will be less tempted by snack food and other non-essentials. You can make yourself less prone to impulse buying if you keep a list with you.

7. Comparison Shop

Don’t rush to buy a product from the first seller you find. When you browse multiple shops, you get to see more prices and potentially come across discounts. Waiting a little bit before buying and comparing choices can help you save, especially if you consider buying used goods. Many used products function similarly to their new counterparts but have lower price tags.  

8. Automate Your Savings

Saving money and investing in assets will help you on the path to financial independence. However, it is easy for people to forget to make monthly transfers on their own. An automated approach removes human error and allows you to streamline your saving and investing. You can set up an automatic transfer that moves money from your checking account to your savings account each month. You can adjust automatic transfers based on changes to your income and expenses. 

9. Negotiate Bills

Bills keep coming, but it won’t hurt to negotiate them. Some internet, cable and insurance companies lower their monthly bill after the customer negotiates with them. You can point out how long you have paid the company and mention competitors who charge lower prices. It’s also possible to lower your bill by lowering your coverage on a plan. You can save a lot of money on cable by only having access to the major news channels instead of hundreds of channels. You may also get a loyalty discount if you ask for it. The worst thing that can happen is the company saying no.

10. Reduce Energy Consumption

Using energy costs money, and it is a necessary resource. However, you do not need to keep the lights on when you leave a room. Conserving energy saves money and will translate into a lower bill. Turning off the lights when you leave the room is a good start, but you can also consider adjusting your thermostat, insulating your home and investing in energy-efficient appliances.

11. DIY Projects

Hiring a professional for a project can save you time and get a better outcome. However, some projects are simple to do on your own and do not require a professional. You can watch video tutorials to get the gist of how to perform certain tasks. Learning how to do some tasks yourself will save you money. You won’t have to pay a professional to get the task done for you, and you can put the extra cash into your savings account.

12. Shop Secondhand

Secondhand shopping will score you great deals on furniture, clothing and other items. These items have less perceived value than new products, but they can be just as good. Some secondhand items are more durable than their new counterparts. You may want to compare thrift stores, consignment shops and online marketplaces before rushing to buy a new product.

13. Avoid Impulse Buying

You should plan your purchases in advance to avoid excessive spending. Before buying a product, reflect and consider if you need to buy it. Will you continue using that product for months or years, or will it quickly blend in with your other possessions? If you can keep yourself in check, you can save money. Impulse buying may occur when someone feels emotional or bored.

14. Use Free Entertainment

You don’t have to pay a lot of money for entertainment. Local parks, libraries, museums and community events provide free entertainment. You can meet new people and enjoy great experiences without traveling to another state or a big city.

15. Prioritize Saving

Long-term savings goals require a multi-year commitment. You have to stay true to your money habits over the long haul instead of only working on them for a few weeks. Treating your savings like a monthly expense and putting it into your budget limits how much you can spend on goods and services. Pay yourself first by moving funds into your savings account and then use the remaining funds as you desire. 

16. Plan Vacations in Advance

Supply and demand influence the prices of goods and services, including vacations. If you book flights and hotel rooms well in advance, you can capitalize on lower prices since there’s plenty of availability. If you try to make a booking the week before your vacation, you may find higher expenses because of the limited supply of hotels and airline tickets.

17. Minimize Credit Card Usage

Credit cards are great financial products because they give you access to extra funds and let you build your credit score with on-time payments. However, a credit card can also turn into a financial burden with its high interest rates. While on-time payments will improve your credit history, late payments on your card will have the opposite effect and hurt your score.

Paying off your balance in full each month eliminates the problems with credit card usage and lets you enjoy the perks. It is a good idea to minimize your credit card usage so you can pay off your balance in full at the end of each month. You can get away with only making the minimum payment, but if you turn it into a habit, the debt snowball can get costly. It’s better to pay your balance in full at the end of each month.

18. Declutter and Sell

As consumers buy more stuff, they end up with more clutter. It may have been a while since you last used certain products in your home. Instead of letting those unused items eat up space in your home, you can sell what you no longer use. A yard sale can help with local sales, and you can also use online platforms to reach a larger audience. This decluttering process will put extra money in your savings account and can also improve your mental health. A decluttered room can lead to a decluttered mind.

19. Carpool or Use Public Transportation

Riding to work with colleagues or friends can be enjoyable and increase your savings. You won’t have to pay as much on gas and parking fees if you carpool. If carpooling isn’t doable, you can also consider public transportation if you want to save money getting to your destination.

20. Buy in Bulk

Some businesses offer discounts if you buy several goods in one purchase instead of spacing them out. If you have to buy goods each week, you may want to buy them in bulk to reduce costs and trips to the store. It makes sense to buy water in bulk, for example, since you will always have a need for it and it doesn’t spoil. 

Trim Your Costs to Maximize Your Savings

Building up your savings gives you more choices later in life. You can stay where you are during your retirement years instead of downsizing. A large savings account can eliminate financial stress and make you feel more confident about your money and other parts of your life. Trimming your costs and looking for clever ways to save can help you reach your financial goals sooner.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

What are some clever ways to save money without sacrificing quality of life?

A

Consumers can review their expenses to see what they need and what they can remove. You can remove expenses that have no correlation to what you want in your life, such as an unused subscription.

Q

How do I create a budget that works for me?

A

You can create a budget that works for you by tracking your income and expenses. You can then make adjustments based on how much you want to save.

Q

What are some long-term benefits of practicing frugality and saving money?

A

The long-term benefits of practicing frugality and saving money include a quicker retirement, less stress about money and increased happiness. Having enough money in your account can contribute to your overall happiness.

About Marc Guberti

Marc Guberti is a personal finance writer passionate about helping people learn more about money management, investing and finance. He has more than 10 years of writing experience focused on finance and digital marketing. His work has been published in U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, InvestorPlace and other publications.