Saving money. It’s probably something most of us want to do for one reason or another.
We are in the middle of paying off our house early. Hopefully that will happen within the next 15 months. This means we are always looking for ways to cut costs and save money. Every little thing adds up.
After the house is paid off we’ll still be trying to save money so we can put more toward retirement, take a vacation, and save some money up for kids’ college funds. Watching what we spend, budgeting, and making our money work for us is a part of life.
I have a list of 10 easy ways we save money.
Some of them we are doing for a season and others are a pretty permanent part of our lives but together they are allowing us to live on less so that we can put more toward our mortgage.
10 Easy Ways to Save Money
1. Lower Your Grocery Budget
This is one of the first things to look at when you are trying to save. It’s easy to gradually start spending more and more on groceries over time. If you don’t want to keep it super low forever, that’s fine but do it to help out while you income is lower or your are trying to reach a savings goal.
This is a big one in our house. In fact, our most popular post is on how I keep my grocery budget at $150 a month. Over the next year, these tips are especially important for us as our extra money that sometimes went toward grocery splurges is now all going to the house.
Some favorite ways to lower your grocery budget: cook from scratch, menu plan, and using meat as a condiment.
2. Simplify Birthdays, Christmas, and Holidays
It is super easy to go overboard. How often do we keep on finding one more present for our child or want to give them the newest and best gadget. The Easter basket has to be piled high.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but you might want to consider scaling back. Set a smaller budget and stick to it. Spend time with your kids and make memories with them instead of spending.
You or your spouse can consider doing without gifts altogether. As an adult, it’s easy to understand why and see the big pictures. Shaun and I aren’t giving each other birthday or Christmas presents and we keep things simple with the kids.
If you minimize your gift spending try using the next tip and you might be able to cover a good portion of your gifts without spending anything out of pocket!
3. Earn Gift Cards with Swagbucks for Presents
I love Swagbucks. It’s an easy way to earn points you can redeem for gift cards. If you follow tip number two and cut your birthday and Christmas spending down, the gift cards you earn will cover a good chunk.
If you work at using Swagbucks (and have a smart phone) you could earn over $300 in a year. This post has some of my favorite easy ways to earn Swagbucks on your computer and I’ll have another one coming on how easy it is to earn on your smart phone!
4. Drink Water
Forget the pops, juices, coffees, and teas for a while and just stick to water! Not only is it good for you, it’s also the most affordable! The costs of all those other beverages really add up. I promise your kids won’t die without milk at every meal and juice for breakfast.
Milk for drinking and juice are super rare purchases in our house and it really helps save money.
5. Skip the Vacation
Our vacations consists of trips to see family and a season tickets to a theme park 5 hours away. This year, since we knew we were going to be pinching pennies, we decided to forgo the season tickets.
We aren’t saving a ton on money because as vacation go, it really is quite affordable but the ticket purchase and gas costs for driving there several times save us hundreds of dollars. If you take bigger vacations, this could equal thousands of dollars.
We are still looking forward to a few trips to visit family though and having fun locally and frugally!
6. Shop Your Closet
Avoid the mall and all the clothing deal sites for a while and just wear what you have. I’m already a big fan of buying used clothes and shopping clearance racks but sometimes you just need to take a break from even that.
A perk of this, when you have some money to spend on clothes again and go through your closet you’ll know exactly what to get rid of.
7. Eat at Home
It’s nice to get a break from cooking, but restaurants aren’t cheap. You have the cost of a meal and then add the tip in and you could cook a lot of meals at home with what you just spent going out. Even at a fast food or fast casual restaurant things add up when you are buying for a family.
If eating out is something you love, put gift cards on your birthday and Christmas list (and use coupons when you go out to make them go even further). Otherwise, think about your big financial goal or view it as something you are giving up until your finances increase.
8. Cut the Cable
Get rid of your paid television service. No more cable or dish.
It’s okay. I promise you’ll survive.
When we got rid of it several years ago I think my husband was pretty skeptical. It really hasn’t been that bad. Then take it a step further and don’t replace it with Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime. How much TV do we really need to watch anyway? Utilize your library, free Hulu, and free streaming on network sites so you can keep up with a couple of your favorite shows.
9. Cheaper Cell Phone Rates
Cell phones are straight up expensive but there are a few things we’ve found to do to save money.
- Save money by negotiating lower rates with your cell phone provider. We saved an additional $15 a month by talking to the retention department.
- My husband has a smart phone and uses Google Voice instead of paying for a texting plan. It has its quirks, but it is fine for his needs.
- Use a dumb phone. I’ve occasionally thought about getting a smart phone over the years but it’s something I can’t justify doing right now. An extra $15 to $30 a month might not seem like a lot, but all those things add up so I keep my basic talk only phone. (Yes, I even have texting turned off). Maybe after we get our house paid off or our income increases I’ll reconsider, but right now it works.
10. DIY Lawn Care and Pest Control
Okay, so honestly weeds in the yards are something that don’t really bother me. Let them grow. (Bonus: it would mean no toxic chemicals I have to worry about.) My husband, on the other hand, can’t stand them. Plus it makes all your the people in your neighborhood upset if you don’t take care of your yard. Instead of paying a lawn care company to come take care of it, he went to the local lawn and garden store and got their recommendation on what to use and when. It takes a couple hours a few times a year but it saves a lot of money and we can put the money saved toward something else.
The same goes for spiders and insects. I’m not a lover of toxic chemicals being sprayed around the house, but I’m also really not a fan of venomous spiders (or actually any kind-of creepy crawly insect) in my house. You can pay someone or once again you can go to the local store and get recommendations for your area and do the spraying yourself.
This is just the start of the ways we’ve found to save money in our house. I think a part two might be coming.
Those little things that you don’t think make a difference really do add up. Put them together and you’ll find you are saving a decent amount!
What are some of your favorite easy ways to save money?
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