When it comes to saving money it can be tough to cut back without feeling deprived.
We tend to adapt to the level of comfort and convenience quicker than we can afford it sometimes. But here are some easy ways to help you save money every month.
Ways to Save Money Every Day
The first place to look when you’re trying to save money every month is at your daily expenses. Here are some easy ways to save money on a daily basis that won’t feel like a punishment.
Use Cash Back Apps
Cash back and rebate apps are a great way to save money because you’re saving when you spend. So there’s no sacrifice at all!
By remembering to click through Rakuten or Swagbucks before you buy online you can earn cash back. Even if you forget, you can use apps like Ibotta and Fetch to scan your receipts for points and cash back. Or use a service like Earny to watch for price drops you can claim a refund on.
Use a Cash Back Rewards Credit Card
Cash back rewards credit cards work similarly to cash back apps, but require even less effort.
There are cards that offer a simple percentage back on every purchase and there are some that rotate or reward certain categories of purchase.
We use the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card for gas, groceries, and subscriptions and the Citi Double Cash Back card for everything else.
Your earnings will vary based on your spending, but if you’re responsible with your credit it’s a great way to save money without even trying.
Turn Off the TV and Lights
When I was growing up it felt like I was always being followed.
And I was.
My step-dad would follow me from room to room turning off the lights behind me.
I thought it was annoying at the time, but now I totally get it. It may not be as bad with modern light bulbs, but every little bit of energy savings helps.
Install Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
We’ve come a long way from the incandescent bulbs I grew up with.
Modern LED bulbs offer a much longer life-span at a much cheaper rate of energy usage.
If you’re trying to save money on your electric bill without having to sacrifice your comfort, install some new bulbs.
Use a Programmable Thermostat
One of the biggest energy expenses comes in the form of heating and cooling our homes.
A programmable thermostat can adjust temperatures when you’re away from home or even in a different section of the house so that you’re optimizing your usage.
I work and teach from home so instead of trying to remember to adjust the thermostat between homeschool lessons (downstairs) and working hours (upstairs) I can just schedule our thermostat to adjust on its own.
There’s no need to pay more to heat or cool the parts of your home you’re not using. A programmable thermostat will help lower your energy usage and save you money every month.
Nest Programmable Thermostat Your thermostat controls half your energy bill – more than appliances, more than electronics. So shouldn’t it help you save energy? Save up to 15% on your heating and air bills with the Nest Learning Thermostat.
Make Your Own Coffee & Pack Your Own Lunch
It may seem inconvenient or a nuisance at times, but this is probably the most valuable daily change you can make without feeling too much discomfort.
Eating out can get expensive…fast. The average “value” meal is still close to $10.
That’s $50 a week you could save just by bringing your lunches.
Add in coffee and snacks and you’re looking at significant savings.
Ways to Save Money Every Week
Now that you’re saving money on a daily basis, you’re gradually building up the amount of money you can save every month. But we’re not done yet.
Here are some areas to look to for finding ways to save money in your weekly tasks as well.
Use Less Laundry Detergent
When’s the last time you read the directions on your laundry detergent?
If you’re doing the same thing your mom taught you, you may be using too much.
Energy efficient washers in particular require less detergent than their counterparts.
Also, unless your clothes look like you went sliding into first base, you may be using more detergent than your clothes really need.
ProTip: Save even more money by making your own laundry detergent.
Use Wool Dryer Balls
Apart from the clunking noise, which I’ve gotten used to, I love our wool dryer balls as a replacement for dryer sheets.
They work just as well at reducing static cling and our heavy towels which used to need two or three rounds in the dryer now only need one.
Dryer sheets also gradually leave behind a film on your lint tray creating a fire hazard. Making the switch to wool dryer balls will eliminate that problem as well.
Meal planning is one of the biggest money savers our family has embraced.
It’s not only saved us money, but it’s saved me time and stress when it comes time to make dinner.
I used to panic around 4 o’clock every afternoon wondering what I was going to make.
Just by planning things out a week ahead, not only is the stress gone, but I can finally enjoy making dinner again.
Plus when you plan ahead you can take advantage of coupons and store sales much more easily.
Eat Out Less
Eating out can be a huge money drain.
It may not seem too expensive at first, but the costs quickly add up.
If you’re used to eating out a few times a week, cutting back to just once a week can save you hundreds of dollars a month.
Drink More Water
Soda and coffee habits can be as expensive as they are strong.
I recently bought a new water bottle on Amazon and I’ve noticed two things.
First, I’ve completely eliminated drinking anything else.
I’ve been trying to cut back on drinking soda for a while, but it wasn’t until I started using this water bottle that I beat my craving for an afternoon Cherry Coke.
Second, I’m eating less.
Or maybe I should say I’m less hungry.
Because I’m constantly sipping water all day long, I don’t feel the hunger of an empty stomach.
You don’t have to buy this exact water bottle to make a difference (though I highly recommend it). But simply making an effort to drink more water will help your wallet and your health.
Track Your Spending & Switch to Cash
If you don’t know where your money is going you’re a lot more likely to spend it on things you don’t really care about.
Just by gaining some awareness into you spending habits you’ll start to become more intentional with your decisions.
Once you’re spending more intentionally you’ll notice you’ve got more left over each week.
Try a cash diet for your eating out money this week.
I can almost guarantee you’ll be more resistant to spending your money.
Studies show it’s more painful to spend cash, but also seeing the limited resource dwindling each time you spend it will make you more selective.
One Week Spending Freeze
This is a little more extreme than a cash diet or simply tracking your spending for awareness.
With a spending freeze you stop spending money on all non-necessities.
You’ll still pay your bills and buy groceries and gas if needed, but with a little pre-planning, you might even be able to freeze those categories.
This is a great way to save and become more aware of your impulses.
Take it a step farther and actually take note of each time you’re tempted to buy something.
What is it? How much was it? What were you thinking and feeling?
You may be surprised to discover all the mindless purchases you normally make in a week. Trips to the vending machine. Swinging by Starbucks. The dollar items you grab as you walk into Target.
All those tiny expenses are a slow drain on your budget. A weekly spending freeze can help you stop leaking that cash.
If this sounds too extreme remember it’s only for a week.
If you’re worried about feeling deprived, keep that logbook of desires and when the week is over give yourself permission to buy whatever you want from it.
I’m guessing it won’t be much.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards Online
Did you know you can buy discounted gift cards online for the stores you regularly shop at?
The percentage discount for some of the larger stores like Target may not seem significant.
But if you’re able to shave 3-5% off your grocery bill each week those savings will quickly add up.
Ways to Save Money Every Month
You’ve got some tips for finding ways to save daily and weekly so your monthly savings should be starting to tally up.
But now we’re going to tackle some of your monthly bills. Monthly expenses can be rather large if you’re not optimizing so get ready for some big savings to add to your total.
Here are some ideas to help you save potentially hundreds of dollars every month.
Cut the Cord
Entertainment expenses are right up there with eating out expenses when it comes to the tendency to overspend.
We don’t often realize how much we’re actually spending.
A quick way to save hundreds of dollars this year is to simply cut the cord and get rid of your cable or satellite subscription.
Cancelling your cable doesn’t mean you have to go without. There are various streaming services you can get at a fraction of the cost, as well as HD antennas for the major networks.
Just be careful how many streaming services you sign up for.
The relative cheapness of all these streaming services can motivate you to sign up for more than you need. If that happens you may quickly approach the cost of the cable bill you’ve just left behind.
Try to be ruthless with your entertainment selections. Decide which shows are worth your time. Then subscribe to whichever service offers them.
Lower Your Cell Phone Bill
Do you know how much data you use each month? Or even how much you’re paying for?
Take a look at your current cell phone plan and compare it to your actual usage.
If you’re using your cell phone primarily on WiFi, you may be surprised to find you can lower your plan significantly.
You can also look into smaller 3rd party carriers.
They buy bulk packages from the major networks and resell those minutes/data to you for a fraction of the cost.
There may be some limitations on your usage, but it could save you hundreds per year if you aren’t using much to begin with.
Reduce Your Student Loans
You may not think there’s much you can do about your student loan payment, but there are some ways you can potentially lower your bill.
Consolidating your loans at a lower interest rate may help you lower payments as well as the total amount you owe.
Just be careful to do your research before consolidating government loans into private ones as you can lose some advantages.
Another easy way to lower your interest rate may be to set up automatic payments.
I was able to save almost half a percentage point when I was paying back my student loans simply by automating the payment.
When’s the last time you called around to see what the going rate for auto insurance was?
If you’ve been paying the same company for over a year, it’s time to do some research.
Even if you don’t end up switching, you may be able to negotiate a better deal.
We saved several hundred dollars by switching to Root for car insurance.
And unlike any other plan I’ve ever been on, the price has continued to go down every 6 months (even after we bought a brand new car!).
Cancel Memberships & Subscriptions
Do you get a newspaper or magazine you never read?
How about a gym membership you rarely use?
Or even more likely, phone apps you don’t even realize you’re pay for.
Take a little time to go over your credit card and bank statements to see what recurring monthly expenses you may have that you don’t need.
Try a Monthly Challenge
I love monthly challenges as a way to start saving more money.
They’re just long enough to be significant but still short enough to be achievable.
It’s like running sprints vs. a marathon.
One of my favorites is the no-spend challenge.
It’s hard to cut back on your spending when there’s no end in site, but a no-spend challenge for the month is much less daunting.
See how many days you can go this month without spending money. You may surprise yourself.
It’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re saving as much as we can or there’s no where left to cut.
But the truth may be you’ve gotten so accustomed to certain things that you don’t even question the expense anymore.
If you really need to save money quickly, question every expense, starting with the ones above, and see if you can’t find some extra money you didn’t realize you were spending.
Let me know in the comments how much money you manage to save every month!