Let’s be totally honest: Saving money can be hard. And if you feel like you can’t get ahead enough to start saving, you’re not alone. According to research by Ramsey Solutions, 45 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 saved for an emergency. Yikes! It looks like a lot of us could use some help when it comes to finding ways to save money.
But what if saving money was easy? What if there were tons of small ways you could make a huge impact on your savings goals? We want you to see just how effortless saving money can be. Seriously! It’s all about those small (but intentional) daily, weekly and monthly changes. Change the way you think, spend and save, and watch your savings go way up!
Daily Money-Saving Tips
1. Use cash-back apps.
Will it make you rich? Nope. But using cash-back apps can add up to some serious savings. Ibotta, Rakuten, Shopkick, Receipt Hog, Checkout 51 and Dosh are a few of the many coupon apps that will give you points (which add up to moolah) just for scanning your receipt or buying specific products. But be sure you’re not getting caught up in the temptation to spend money at stores just to get the cash-back points.
2. Turn off the TV.
Is Encanto still playing after the kids have left the room? It’s amazing how many times the TV stays on when no one is even around to watch it. Shut that sucker off! And make sure everyone knows to turn it off if they’re not going to watch it anymore.
3. Turn off the lights.
It’s like your mama always told you: Turn the lights off when you leave the room! It might seem minor, but those small expenses really add up. So, when you walk out of the room, just switch off the lights. Really—it’s that simple.
4. Install energy-efficient lights wherever you can.
Whether it’s LED (light-emitting diode) or CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs, making the switch to more energy-efficient lighting can really lower your electric bill at the end of the month. The U.S. Department of Energy says the average household can save about $225 a year by switching to LED lighting.1
5. Brew your own coffee.
The daily drive-thru seems innocent enough, but if you’re spending $4 on a coffee every day (and let’s be honest, most of us spend more than that), that’s $1,460 a year for your caffeine fix. Woof.
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So, grab some high-quality beans, turn on the coffee maker, and stick it to Starbucks. You’ll be surprised by how much money suddenly appears in your bank account!
6. Change your office hours.
Traffic jams cost Americans a pretty penny each year in gas and car wear and tear—not to mention that spending hours in a car majorly zaps your productivity level (even if you’re listening to a really good podcast). Plus, traffic jams are just downright annoying.
Save hundreds a year by changing your daily work schedule. If possible, drive to work either earlier or later to stay off the road at peak travel times. That way, you’re not burning precious fuel or wasting valuable time sitting in traffic. Bonus: Your overall mood will probably get a boost too!
7. Use a programmable thermostat.
We’ve all heard this one, but how many of us are actually doing it? There’s no need to run the air conditioning or heat if you’re not at home all day. A programmable thermostat can control the temperature of your home year-round and help keep your bill from skyrocketing.
Or if you don’t want to take the plunge to buy a programmable one, just manually turn down the heat or the air conditioning while you’re away from the house. When you’re too warm, open up the windows or use a fan instead of blasting the air conditioning. And when you’re chilly, just throw on some extra blankets or use a space heater. You’d be surprised at how much you can save by taking these shortcuts.
8. Pack your lunch.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that Americans spend an average of $2,375 per year on food away from home (aka eating out).2 Think about it: If you spend $10 on lunch every workday, that’s $50 a week—which adds up to $200 a month or $2,400 a year. Ouch!
Believe it or not, packing a lunch takes way less effort than calling in your order, driving there, waiting, paying, picking it up, and driving back. And you could save $10 a day just by packing leftovers or turkey sandwiches. Now that’s our idea of saving!
9. Ban bottled water.
News flash: Water is basically free. You don’t have to buy expensive bottled water just because you see other people with it in their shopping carts. In fact, the government is usually more of a stickler with its tests and regulations on public drinking water than it is on bottled water.3 That means tap water is not only way cheaper but is also just as safe!
If your tap water is downright disgusting or unsafe because of where you live, invest in a water filter to help you out.
10. Embrace the 24-hour rule.
Oh, delayed gratification—how we love (and sometimes hate) you. It’s amazing how much clearer our thinking can be if we take 24 hours to step back from what we want to buy. Make a habit of giving yourself a full 24 hours before you make an impulsive gotta-have-it-now purchase. (Psst—most millionaires practice delayed gratification and credit their wealth to long-term investing, according to our National Study of Millionaires.)
Weekly Money-Saving Tips
1. Split your paycheck and deposit a percentage into your savings.
It’s easy to make saving a priority when you don’t give yourself an option not to save. What in the world do we mean by that? Set up your paycheck to automatically deposit a little bit into your savings account every payday. That way, you don’t have to remember to do it and you can’t talk yourself out of it either (you know you would).
2. Use less laundry detergent and cut dryer sheets in half.
It might sound super cheap, but things like this really do add up. Cut back on the detergent and tear those dryer sheets in half (and be proud of it). You probably won’t even notice any difference in the clean quality of your clothes, but your budget will thank you for buying less!
3. Temporarily freeze your spending.
We spend a lot of extra money here and there on random things we don’t really need. Instead of spending $100 on impulse buys, try a spending freeze. How? Simple. Don’t buy any nonessential items for a whole week, month or until you hit a specific savings goal—you decide how long.
It might feel like you’re wearing a straitjacket, but knowing the spending freeze has a time stamp on it can actually make it a fun challenge. Just raid your pantry or fridge for meal ideas, avoid Target and Costco like the plague, and wait on any hot new items you just “have” to buy.
Not spending money is the best way to save it.
4. Start couponing.
Using coupons is a breeze, especially with all the digital coupons out there now. Still, a lot of people end up leaving those savings on the table just because they don’t go the extra mile. Take the time to look up a discount code, cut out a coupon, or download it on your phone. Believe us, this tiny bit of effort is worth it!
5. Eat out only once a week.
For some people, eating out once a week is a major splurge. But for others, eating out that little is a major sacrifice. Try to limit your restaurant visits to once a week and see what a huge change it can make in your budget!
6. Skip the drink at restaurants.
Did we mention water is free? That includes when you’re at a restaurant too. Skip the soda, the sweet tea or your adult beverage of choice and opt for the free H2O. This is a simple—but stellar—way to eat healthy on a budget.
Monthly Money-Saving Tips
1. Cut the cable cord.
Let’s be real. Cable television is expensive. And with so many alternatives to traditional cable, there’s really no reason to keep clinging to your precious cable cord—especially when it could free up an extra $200 a month. Cut it!
2. Switch grocery stores.
Instead of shopping at big-name grocery stores, try a discount chain like Aldi. As long as you don’t mind bagging your own groceries and renting a cart for a (refundable) quarter, you can save a lot of money. Even if you only save $25 a week, you’ll still have $100 extra in your wallet when the month is over! So, take a good look at your grocery-shopping habits and see where you can save.
P.S. Don’t forget to actually stick to your grocery list. That’s a big deal.
3. Buy generic.
If you’d rather stick to your favorite stores, at least go generic—especially when it comes to milk and juice, pantry staples (spices, flour, sugar), and even certain medicines.
Think your food won’t taste as good? Think again. Consumer Reports says most store brands measure up to the name brands in overall taste and quality—and they’re usually 20% to 25% lower in price!4 Worth it.
4. Cancel your subscriptions and memberships.
Are you paying for multiple monthly or yearly subscriptions? It really adds up when you’re shelling out $15 for Netflix, $20 for Stitch Fix and $119 for Amazon Prime. So, if you haven’t used one in a few months, cancel it.
If you really end up missing one, you can always order it again down the road. If not, you made the right choice and probably saved yourself a hundred bucks in the process.
5. Replace two restaurant trips a month with your slow cooker.
Heading out to eat with your entire gang can easily cost close to three digits. That’s ridiculous! Replace two restaurant trips a month with your slow cooker. It’s convenient, takes little effort, and makes tons of food for way less. Don’t believe us? Check out these delicious, budget-friendly meal ideas and then we’ll talk.
6. Save on insurance with a RamseyTrusted provider.
Are you paying too much for insurance? Are you sure? A lot of people don’t actually realize how much money they can save by taking a deeper look at their insurance expenses. Trying to make sense of it all on your own can be overwhelming, so give a RamseyTrusted insurance agent a call to see if they can help you save big.
7. Borrow appliances.
We’ve all heard about borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor, but how about borrowing a kitchen appliance? Now that’s really something!
Need a pasta machine to make some homemade ravioli? That sounds delicious! But how often are you going to be making your own pasta? See if you can borrow rarely used appliances from a friend or neighbor instead of running to the store to buy them. (Just be sure to send some of those leftovers back as a thank-you.)
8. Weatherproof your home.
If you feel like you’re always heating or cooling your house only to have all that precious temperature-controlled air leak out, you might just be right. Seal up your doors and windows to stop your air conditioner and heating system from having to work so hard. It could help you save up to 20% on your energy costs!5
9. Use low-flow fixtures.
If your water bill is always sky-high, look into low-flow faucets, toilets and shower heads. The U.S. Department of Energy says that installing low-flow fixtures can give you water-use savings of 25% to 60%.6
10. Pay with cash.
An amazing thing happens when you pay with actual cash and not just your debit card: You feel it in your gut in a different way. It might even be slightly painful to watch those green bills slip out of your hands. And when you’re rocking a couple twenties in your wallet, you’re probably going to hoard them for as long as possible instead of mindlessly spending them.
If you’re constantly overspending on certain categories in your budget, then give the envelope system a try. Just carry your budgeted amount in cash (let’s say $150 for groceries), and when the cash in the envelope is gone, that’s it! You can’t spend anymore. You’ll be surprised by how much easier it is to stick to the list and avoid putting impulse items in the cart when you have a set amount of cash to spend.
11. Save loose change.
Now that you’re using cold hard cash, you’re going to have some leftover coins. Remember that stuff? Dump all your loose change into a jar and see how much you can save up at the end of the month. And if you really want to get crazy with it, go and search your couch for some change too. You never know!
12. Wear your glasses.
Contact lenses can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,500 a year, according to the consumer site NVision.7 If you’re trying to meet a financial goal, wear your not-so-pretty-but-perfectly-fine specs for a few months instead. Hey, at least you’ll look smarter (and maybe even a little hip too).
13. Lower your cell phone bill.
You may be shocked every time you glance at your cell phone bill—and for good reason. The average monthly bill in 2020 was $127.37, so it probably clocks in right under your cable bill.8 Sheesh!
Call up your cellular provider and cancel the phone insurance, switch to a different plan, or jump to a different carrier. You’d be surprised by how quickly you could free up 30 to 50 bucks with just a few changes to your cell phone plan.
14. Make a budget.
This one’s super easy. If you really want to save money each month and slow down your spending, then you need to do a monthly zero-based budget—before the month even begins.
Already have a budget? Great! Now trim it up. Next month when you make your budget, shave five bucks from every budget category. That means your restaurant cash will be $45 instead of $50, and your clothing fund will be $25 instead of $30. It’s barely noticeable to you, but all together, it adds up!
Our super simple and free budgeting app, EveryDollar, makes it easy to see where your money is going and helps you stay motivated as you work toward your budgeting goals!