Wondering how to save money? From where you shop to what you eat to how you spend your free time, there are always opportunities to spend less while improving your lifestyle. Here are 10 excellent ways to save your hard-earned dollars and use them wisely.
There are plenty of ways to have fun without bleeding your wallet dry. Instead of buying dinner at a restaurant, stay in and enjoy a game night with the family. Skip the mall and head to the park for a game of Frisbee. Go hiking, play tennis, or open up a Bob Ross video and paint some happy little trees with friends. Look on social media like Reddit for free local events and activities. You'll spend less, bond with people, and create valuable memories that can last a lifetime.
Buying lunch daily can add up to hundreds of dollars per month. Even if you're not an award-winning chef, you can make delicious meals easily using a slow cooker. Just add the ingredients, set the cooker, and come back 4 to 8 hours later to scrumptious eats. The oven is another low-hassle option to make meals that will last you several days. You can find plenty of recipes online and get creative with your own.
Prepping your own meals saves you money and gives you more control over your diet. You can keep better track of calories, sodium, cholesterol, and other factors that affect your health. In doing so, you'll also reduce your risk of health issues down the road, which can otherwise become a huge expense.
Credit cards offer convenience and perks, but maxing them out can land you in debt with high interest rates. Know the terms and conditions of each of your credit cards. Some might charge you maintenance fees or penalties for exceeding your credit limit. Late payments will also result in penalties.
On the flip side, credit cards also offer rewards such as cash back and airline miles. Compare different offers to find the credit card that best complements your lifestyle and spending habits. It's okay to make big purchases to rack up the rewards, but make sure you're able to pay off the balance on time.
Timing is key to saving money. Buy tank tops and swimsuits in the winter and coats and scarves in the summer. Stores will likely have heavily discounted out-of-season clothing ripe for the picking. Speaking of ripeness, fruits and vegetables are best to buy in season when the supply is high. Visit your local farmers market for great deals on fresh local produce. If you absolutely must have peaches and strawberries in the winter, consider buying frozen. Prices on frozen produce are usually the same year-round and pack more nutrients than out-of-season produce sitting out in the open.
Cable, phone, Internet, gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, the list goes on. But how many of these services actually offer good value? Examine your monthly bills for recurring services that you don't use at all or use rarely. Perhaps you joined a new gym and forgot to cancel your membership to the old one. Maybe you signed up for a free trial that turned into a monthly subscription without your knowledge. How much time do you actually spend watching cable TV? For many Americans, Apple TV, Netflix, and YouTube provide a much better experience. Highlight the services you don't need and cancel them.
Now that you're left with the services you need, it's time to compare providers. Get quotes on your insurance, and compare Internet and mobile phone plans in your area. Did your current provider raise your rates without notifying you? If so, call them and ask for your original rate back. Chances are that they'll oblige.
Garage sales and flea markets are often chock-full of useful items at rock-bottom prices. These are great places to buy furniture, books, appliances, cookware, art, and other items for your home. Try to get there early before all the good stuff is gone. Another great option is your local Goodwill, which offers donated merchandise ranging from clothing to electronics to toys and more.
Since you never know what you might find at these vendors, it's best to come prepared with cash on hand and a vehicle with plenty of storage space. It also doesn't hurt to bring a few extra hands for lifting.
Wholesale outlets like Costco, BJ's, and Sam's Club offer great prices on bulk merchandise. With a membership, you can save big on household essentials like packaged snacks, toothpaste, toilet paper, cleaning products, and more. You can get months or even a year's worth of supplies for less in one trip.
You can also find bulk deals online on websites like Amazon and eBay.
Extreme couponing has been around for decades. You've heard the stories of coupon veterans saving 70, 80, or even 90 percent off a shopping cart filled with merchandise. While it's unlikely that you'll get a month's worth of groceries for $5, you can still save big with coupons. Many grocery stores will double the value of coupons up to a certain amount and some will occasionally have triple coupon specials. You can also combine in-store coupons with manufacturers' coupons for even more savings.
You can find coupons in weekly ads, online, and through various mobile apps. Some websites and apps also offer cash back on purchases of specific items. These are usually free to use and involve uploading a photo of your receipt. After your receipt is reviewed, the cash back amount will be credited to your account. You can request payout when your cash back reaches a minimum threshold.
An active lifestyle goes hand-in-hand with a frugal one. The more time you spend exercising, the less time you'll have to spend money on things you don't need. Physical activity also promotes clearer thinking, helping you make smart decisions. People who stay fit tend to make other healthy choices such as opting for water over soft drinks and cooking instead of eating out.
Staying active can also save you big bucks down the road. People who exercise regularly are less likely to get diabetes, heart disease, and other costly health issues. So, invest in your body and your future self will thank you.
Budgeting gives you a clearer picture of your income and expenses, and it's easier to do than ever before. You can create a budget using a spreadsheet program or one of the many budgeting apps available for free download.
You'll want to make your budget detailed yet easy to visualize and manage. Possible categories include food, rent/mortgage, utilities, transportation, healthcare, insurance, entertainment, and savings. Look at your expenses for the past few months to determine what percentage of your income to allocate to each category. If you find that you're spending too much in one category, make changes as needed. For example, you might need to limit how often you dine out, or switch to a cheaper insurance plan.
Creating a reward system can help you stick to your budget. If you meet all your obligations with money to spare, treat yourself to something nice (but don't go overboard).
From making small changes to rethinking your lifestyle, there are countless ways to save money. The most effective methods depend on your needs and goals. Take small steps today, and you'll save big before you know it.