A penny saved is a penny earned. I write often about how much you might need to invest for retirement, college, and other financial goals. While I can help with the financial planning strategies and investment advice, it’s up to each client to save the cash required to meet these goals. And this crucial first step is often easier said than done!
There is some amount that each family is comfortable saving. Unfortunately, for many of us, the amount we need to save is often much larger than the amount we’d like to save. Here are 23 ways to save money, hopefully with little or no sacrifice on your behalf.
1. If you pay off your credit card monthly, use a cash back rewards card rather than a debit card, cash, or check. I put everything I can on the credit card – and have gotten back $907 so far this year.
2. Drop your landline and use your cell phone as your one and only phone. You still have a landline?
3. Drop cable or satellite for Netflix or another streaming service. We probably watch too much TV as a society, myself included. Read a book instead.
4. Buy used items online, from Craigslist, or at local sales.
5. Sell your unneeded items on Craigslist. Cash is better than a tax deduction of the same amount.
6. Wait to buy items on sale. Never pay full price. There are a number of apps that scan barcodes and will show you reviews and prices of that item.
7. Get a programmable thermostat. For every degree you adjust the thermostat, you may see a 3% change in your utility bill.
8. Replace light bulbs with LEDs. Prices have come down quite a bit in the last three years. They use a fraction of the electricity and will last for years. I’m a fan of the Cree floodlights.
9. DIY Home Energy Audit. US Department of Energy instructions here.
10. Compare your Texas electric rates at PowertoChoose.org. These tend to creep up after your initial guarantee period is over.
11. Shop your home and auto insurance every three years.
12. Save money on pets: 5 Ways to Save Money When Adopting a Pet.
13. Volunteer. Looking for something fun and interesting where you can make the world a better place? Find an organization doing great work and volunteer! You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have an interesting and satisfying weekend.
14. Prepare meals at home or eat at home. If you are going to eat at a restaurant, lunch is usually much less expensive than dinner.
15. Shop at Target? Get the Red Card for 5% off and free shipping. Sign up for the Cartwheel app for additional discounts.
16. Shop at Walmart? Download the Savings Catcher app. You scan your Walmart receipt and if they find a lower price elsewhere, they refund the difference to you.
17. The car advice I always give, the short version: Keep your current car for as long as you can. When you must buy your next vehicle, buy used and pay cash.
18. You don’t save much by doing your own oil changes. But if you are mechanically inclined, you can save a lot of money by doing your own brake jobs and other routine maintenance and repairs. Check YouTube for video instructions.
19. If your car is out of warranty, find a reputable independent mechanic rather than having all work done at the dealership. Develop a relationship with one mechanic.
20. Cheapest local gas prices: gasbuddy,com.
21. Do you need two cars? How often? Could you get by with one car plus using a Taxi or Uber a few days a month?
22. Don’t want to spend hours tracking a monthly budget? Read my tips about Reverse Budgeting and putting your savings on autopilot.
23. For inspiration, I subscribe to a number of frugality blogs which share ideas, frugal fails, and a chance to read about others’ journey. Media bombards us with a message of consumption, but not everyone buys into the materialism they’re selling. We all need a reminder from time to time that “more stuff” or the “latest and greatest” is neither the source of happiness nor financial independence! Make your goals the top priority for your cash flow.