Are you trying to pay off credit card debt, build an emergency fund, increase your retirement savings, or put extra money towards other financial goals?
Saving money can be tough, but setting some money aside regularly is important if you want to get ahead financially.
But it can be difficult to find savings when you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck and don’t have any extra money lying around.
Here are 35 creative savings tactics you can try when you’re low on cash and without giving up the things you love.
1 – Make your own gifts
One of the most creative ways to save money is to make your own gifts instead of buying them.
This can be as
2 – Declutter your house
Decluttering is a super stealthy way to save money.
Not only can you sell the stuff you don’t want anymore, but when you clear out the clutter, you need less space to store it.
Meaning you could potentially downsize your home or rent a smaller apartment, too.
Decluttering is also a great way to reflect on your spending habits and what might have led you to buy some of these things in the first place.
3 – Cut back on eating out
Eating out can be expensive, especially if you’re doing it often.
Start cooking your own meals at home.
You don’t have to eliminate eating out entirely, but just by cutting back, you’ll see significant savings.
Also, try meal planning to save even more money at the grocery store.
Grocery shopping can be a money-trap itself if you don’t have a plan when you go to the store.
By planning your meals in advance you can avoid impulsive and potentially unhealthy splurges.
If you tend to eat out because you’re short on time, give batch cooking a try.
You can make large batches of your favorite foods to eat throughout the week, that are both healthier and cheaper than eating out.
4 – Use cash instead of credit cards
Using cash is another easy way to help you save money.
Not only does it keep you from overspending, but it also makes you think about how much money is actually coming out of your bank account.
Try going a whole month without buying anything with a credit card to train yourself to live without plastic.
Or try a cash diet where you just start with a trouble area in your budget and switch to cash for those purchases.
You may be surprised at the difference in your attitude and the emotions you feel spending cash versus paying with a credit card.
5 – Drink water instead of soda
Have you ever stopped to add up the cost of the sodas you’re drinking?
Not only are sodas bad for your health, but they’re also bad for your wallet.
Invest in a good reusable water bottle and drink more water. It’s not only healthy, but it’s also free!
6 – Shop smarter by stacking the savings
Stacking your savings is another creative way to save money.
Sign up for store loyalty programs to get the best deal, then start stacking manufacturer and store coupons on top of store deals and member specials for even more cost savings.
Also, look into buying a discount gift card for the stores you frequent to save even more. You can find discounted gift cards online at Raise.com or in-store at wholesale clubs like Costco.
By stacking the savings you can put even more money toward your financial goal.
7 – Turn off the lights when you leave a room
Paying for energy you’re not using is silly and wasteful.
It may not add up to much in terms of monthly cost, but in the long run, every little bit of energy savings helps. Getting into the habit of turning off lights will help reduce your electric bill.
8 – Get rid of cable
Cable is one of the most overpriced monthly payments you likely have, and it’s probably not even necessary if you use a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon
Take a look at the channels you watch and consider ditching your cable or satellite service to save hundreds of dollars a year.
9 – Unplug appliances when not in use
Appliances may not account for a high percent of your electricity costs, but they can still add up.
Even when turned off, some electronics and appliances draw power simply by being plugged in.
This is called phantom power and it’s a
10 – Ditch the dryer
Dryers are expensive and waste a lot of energy. A cheaper alternative is to simply line-dry your clothes.
Wring out wet clothes and hang them to dry to reduce your dryer usage and energy costs.
11 – Ditch your car
If you live in a city, chances are there’s public transportation available that can save you hundreds of dollars in annual costs on new car payments, gas, and maintenance.
Depending on where you live, walking or biking may also be alternative options to driving.
If you do need a car, try to buy something used to avoid depreciation, as well as a car that has good gas mileage to reduce your fuel expenses.
12 – Use apps to manage your spending and save money
Being conscious of what you’re spending your money on is a great way to start saving more of it.
Budgeting software like You Need a Budget (YNAB) will help you track your income and expenses so you can see where your money goes each month.
And give the app Digit a try if you’re looking to automate your savings.
13 – Lower your thermostat
A programmable thermostat can help you save money on energy costs when you’re not home.
Program the thermostat to adjust the temperature based on your schedule to avoid wasting energy while you are out.
You can also adjust things based on the rooms you’re using at certain times of day too.
For example, you don’t need to heat or cool the downstairs when you’re upstairs sleeping.
14 – Pack your own snacks vs buying from a vending machine
Vending machines are oh so tempting in both their variety and seemingly cheap offerings.
But don’t be fooled by the voice telling you “It’s just $1.”
Not only do those dollars add up, but you could likely buy the same thing in bulk for a fraction of the price.
Packing your own snacks means you can not only make healthier choices but also save money in the process.
15 – Start investing now
The best way to build your savings over time is by investing.
Start investing some money away each month into long-term savings.
Relying on Social Security is a risky gamble, so make sure you’re putting at least something toward your retirement every month.
Even something as little as $10 per month can be a great first step and end up being thousands of dollars by the time you reach retirement age.
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16 – Automate your savings
Have trouble adding to your savings account each month?
If you’re in the mindset of saving whatever extra cash is leftover at the end of the month, you’re probably not going to reach your savings goal anytime soon.
Try to automate the process so that you save money before you ever see it.
Have funds transferred directly from your paycheck into different savings accounts based on your savings goals.
Or set up an automatic transfer from your financial institution to another one with more competitive rates for savings accounts.
The easiest way to get started is with an app like Digit that will do all the work for you.
17 – Start a side hustle
If you’re short on cash, a creative solution is to try trading your extra time for money with a side hustle.
18 – Buy items used
Buying things secondhand can save you a ton of money, while also giving you a sense of satisfaction that you’re reusing items instead of contributing to landfills.
You can find just about anything on Craigslist, eBay, or yard sales.
And when you’re done you can turn around and sell them again to make some money back.
19 – Save your change
Putting your spare change into a
You can even use an app like
If you’re looking to save even more, consider saving smaller bills as well. So instead of just saving your change, you may save every $1 and $5 bill.
20 – Carpool
Take turns driving with your classmates, coworkers, or neighbors instead of meeting up individually.
You’ll be able to split the cost of gas and save some money on your commute every day.
21 – Staycation
A staycation can give you a break from work and everyday life while still saving money on travel costs.
Find local things you can do that don’t cost you much but still give you a sense of rest and relaxation or the family fun that you’d normally associate with a vacation.
Things like local museums, parks, concerts with free admission, and other local events can lead to big savings over a typical vacation.
22 – Bring your lunch to work
Instead of eating out with coworkers, bring leftovers or prepackaged meals from home.
Not only will you save money by not buying expensive lunches every day, but you’ll also be able to control exactly what you’re eating and avoid unhealthy ingredients.
23 – Pack your own snacks for road trips
Car rides can get boring but stopping to buy snacks or fast food every few hours can take a serious toll on your bank account.
Save money by packing fresh fruit, granola bars, dried fruit, or other tasty snacks to have throughout your road trip.
24 – Use air conditioning sparingly
Air conditioners are expensive, but using them only when it’s absolutely necessary can save you a ton of money on your utility bill each month.
Try opening windows instead, or setting up fans to circulate the cool air through the house and save on air conditioning costs.
25 – Take advantage of free events in your area
Your city probably has plenty of free events throughout the summer, like outdoor movies or concerts.
Check out your library and the local Parks & Recreation website to find out what’s happening in your town.
26 – Stop buying bottled water
Bottled water is overpriced, wasteful, and not really any healthier (most brands are just filtered tap water).
Ditch your bottled water habit, and buy a reusable water bottle instead of the disposable plastic ones. Then fill it with your own filtered water from home.
27 – Eat vegan or vegetarian
Meat seems to get more expensive every year.
Try a Meatless Monday as a fun challenge to help you save money on groceries and find new recipes to try all at the same time.
28 – Switch from paper towels to cloth
Switching from paper towels to cloth can save you money over time, and it’s not as difficult as you might think.
Just make sure you have a good stash of cloth napkins and dishcloths that can be used for drying hands, wiping down counters, and cleaning up spills.
29 – Cancel subscriptions that you don’t use
Dozens of companies make it easy to sign up for recurring monthly subscriptions that you can easily forget about or never use.
Cut out the ones you don’t need to save money on things like monthly magazine subscriptions, a gym membership, and more.
30 – Make your own cleaning products
Making your own cleaning products is much cheaper than buying them in stores, and it’s easy!
Try using baking soda and vinegar for a multi-purpose cleaner that’s just as effective as what you buy at the store.
31 – Learn to sew
Invest in a sewing machine and learn how to use it, then make or alter your own clothes.
You’ll save on the cost of buying new clothes, plus you can turn that new skill into a profitable side-hustle by offering your services to others.
32 – Save your leftovers
Food waste can put a real dent in your wallet, but leftovers can be a secret weapon against increasing food costs.
Not only can you plan for leftovers as a way to make meal planning easier, but if you save the leftovers from when you eat out, you can turn that one more expensive meal into 2 (or more) reasonably priced meals.
You can also find new recipes to repurpose your leftovers into to keep things interesting.
33 – Use a cash-back credit card
If you’re going to use a credit card, make sure that you’re getting the most out of it.
Look for one that offers great rewards or cashback on purchases.
Just be careful not to spend more than you normally would in order to get the benefits from your credit card.
34 – Plan an at-home date night
Instead of spending money to go out somewhere, schedule a night in with your partner instead.
You can enjoy dinner and drinks at home, watch movies together on the couch, or even make it a craft night where you try something new like painting pottery or making candles.
35 – Plant a garden
Having your own outdoor space to plant food can save you some serious money on groceries every month.
Even if you don’t have enough room for an entire garden, try planting some herbs or veggies in pots or other containers.
You could even start an indoor herb garden using window sill planters.
It can be hard to prioritize savings when you’re used to spending.
The good news is that taking small steps and making incremental changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact on how much money you save.
Whether you want to save for retirement, pay off student loans, save money for special occasions, or simply get out of debt, the creative tips above can help you save enough money to reach your goals.
Consider what one change you could make in your household spending and try it this month.
You may be surprised by how effective even something as small as switching from paper towels to cloth napkins can be at reducing costs. Choose just a couple of clever ways to save money from the options above and start building your savings today!