Jon and I started blogging in July, and we’ve written about a host of different topics. When I looked through the other day, I realized there were a lot of little nuggets of wisdom and simple ways to save money. I went through and collected the best tips from our articles and then we added a few more. It was a family project, and even our daughter came up with a couple of items.
It doesn’t take much to trim a little off your budget. There are things you can do to spend less that only require minor adjustments and don’t affect your quality of life at all. There are other things that take a little more effort, but may be worth it to you if you are trying to find some ways to save. Not everyone is going to change the oil in their car themselves, and that’s okay.
So here they are: 100 simple ways to save money:
- Check your freezer and fridge settings. Running too cold uses extra energy.
- Shut the heating and cooling vents in rooms that aren’t used often, like guest rooms, and open them only when the rooms are going to be in use.
- Use your blinds to help insulate your house properly. In summer, shut during the day and open at night. In winter, open during the day and shut at night.
- Try turning the thermostat down on your water heater a couple of degrees to use less energy. 120 or even 115 degrees may work for you.
- Change your air filters regularly on your heating and air ducts.
- Before buying a second refrigerator or freezer, ask yourself if you really need it. A second unit uses a lot of electricity and may not be necessary.
- Flow restrictors on sinks and low flow showerheads can do a lot to reduce the amount of hot water you use in daily activities, and thus the amount of work your water heater has to do.
- Is your house drafty? Adding insulation and making sure doors and windows seal properly can save a lot on your heating and cooling bills.
- Put chargers and other electronics on surge protectors so that you can turn them off when not in use (not to mention protect them from actual surges.)
- Dress appropriately for the weather so you can keep your house warmer in summer or cooler in winter. If it’s hot, wear shorts and light weight tops. If it’s cold, put on extra layers. If you (or your kids) are trying to wear shorts and tees when it’s cold outside, you’ll be making your HVAC work a lot harder.
- Make sure you’ve changed your lightbulbs to low energy fluorescents and LEDs, especially for the lights you use more often. You’ll make up for the higher cost bulbs with your energy savings.
- If you are going to be away from home for a few days, make sure you turn off your hot water heater and any other unneeded electronics (entertainment center, computers, etc).
- When possible, wash your clothes in cold water.
- If you can, string up a solar clothes dryer, aka a clothes line.
- Consider wearing clothes more than once before washing, since not all clothes need to be washed with every wear. (and then again, some do!) Washing less often will also help your clothes last longer.
- When you look for new appliances, pay attention to the energy ratings. Sometimes spending a little more up front saves a lot of money over the course of the appliance’s expected lifetime.
- When you brew coffee, turn off the heating element as soon as the coffee is brewed and use the microwave to reheat. Not only does this use less energy, it also keeps your coffee tastier. Carafe style coffee makers don’t even use a hot plate, so that’s a good option too.
- Consider using the microwave or convection oven instead of a conventional oven when possible. It uses a lot less energy.
Around the House
- Be a do-it-yourselfer. If you can do your own work, your own maintenance, and your own repairs (on your house, yard, car, etc) you will save a lot of money. You may not be able to do this every time, but try it where you have the skills and experience.
- For tools you only need once or every now and then, consider renting instead of buying.
- Painting is an inexpensive way to spruce up your home’s interior or exterior.
- Power washing can also make the outside of your home or your driveway look a lot nicer.
- If you feel your décor needs a little updating, try moving your furniture around for a new look.
- Watch out for leaky toilets and sinks. You can waste a lot of water (or worse, generate some repairs) if you don’t address the leaks.
- Buy used cars. A car’s value depreciates drastically the first time it leaves the car lot with a new owner. You can still find a safe, reliable, and attractive car even if you let someone else take the first hit on the car’s value.
- When you get a new-to-you car, consider the car’s expected fuel efficiency, the cost to insure the car, and the cost of maintaining the car. Not all cars have the same running costs.
- If you buy a car for a teenager, do not buy them a high performance car, at least without discussing with your insurer first.
- If you have an older car, save on your car insurance by upping your deductible.
- Carrying extra weight in your car, especially heavy tools and equipment you may not need on a regular basis, makes you use extra gas. Make sure you clean your car out regularly.
- Ease in to your starts and stops when driving. Don’t speed. Aggressive driving uses a lot of gas.
- Make sure your tires are inflated properly. Flattish tires wear out faster and reduce your gas mileage. They are also a safety hazard.
- Maintain your car. Maintenance is a heck of a lot less expensive than car replacement. It can also give you better gas mileage.
- If you have a warehouse club membership, consider tanking up at their gas station every time you go. They also tend to have good prices on tires.
- Wash your car at home instead of a car wash or automatic car wash. It saves money (and a clean car is more pleasant to drive around in.)
- If you are going to drink on a night out, use a designated driver. A DUI or DWI leads to a lot of expenses you don’t want to pay….over $10,000 over 3 years on average.
Food and Drink
- Shop your inventory before going to the grocery store to make sure you aren’t buying duplicate items and to make sure your purchases complement what you already have.
- Make a grocery list and stick to it.
- Make pantry and freezer inventory lists and keep them updated. Post them on your fridge. It will help make shopping your pantry easier and help with “What’s for Dinner?”
- Keep less stuff in your fridge and refrigerator. Research shows that people who have less stuff in their refrigerators and freezers waste less food.
- Give generics a chance! Sometimes there are quality differences, and sometimes there aren’t, but using generics and store brands usually saves a lot of money.
- Reduce the amount of meat you use. Veggie and grain based meals tend to be less expensive.
- Herbs and spices can change the taste of your old standbys. Change up your seasonings to add variety to your menu.
- Fresh herbs are expensive at the grocery store, but the plants aren’t and they grow well in pots even if you don’t have room for a garden. Consider growing your own basil, cilantro, chives, etc.
- End of a long day and you need a fast cheap meal? Make breakfast for dinner and cook some eggs. It’s the original fast food.
- Drink more water. It’s good for your health and costs a lot less than most other beverages.Unless circumstances deem otherwise, though, avoid bottled water. It’s bad for the environment and pricy per serving. Tap and filtered water are a lot more economical, and it’s just as easy to carry a refillable water bottle as to buy one.
- Order ice water at restaurants or water with lemon or lime.
- Carry a stash of snacks to avoid the temptations of convenience stores, fast food and vending machines.
- Soup is a great way of repurposing even small amounts of leftovers. So are pasta and pizza.
- Pack your lunch. Buying lunch at work on a regular basis adds up quickly. You may want to treat yourself to lunch out with the coworkers on an occasional basis, but you don’t want it to be a regular expense.
- Slow Cookers are great tools for making cooking more convenient and making inexpensive cuts of meat more delicious. A crock pot on low setting uses an extremely small amount of electricity.
- When you go to a restaurant, look at the cheaper options. Of those, which is the one you’d enjoy the most? Consider picking that as your meal.
- Good deals on food aren’t good deals if you don’t eat the food. Buying extra adds up if you end up throwing it out.
- When you go to a restaurant, ask for a takeout box as soon as you get your entrée. You’ll eat less and have more leftovers for later.
- If you want to experience a nicer restaurant without paying full dinner price, try heading there for lunch. Most restaurants have less expensive but still tasty lunch options.
- Farmer’s markets and produce stands are often better and less expensive sources of fresh local fruits and vegetables than your regular grocery store.
- Need something sparkly and alcoholic for a celebration? Try cava or prosecco. The Spanish and Italian sparkling wines are delicious and generally not too expensive.
- Drinking good coffee at home or pouring it into a travel mug in the morning makes it a lot easier to avoid the coffee shop. If your coffee maker has a timer, you can set it up to be ready first thing in the morning.
- Drinks at home are a lot cheaper than drinks out, plus you don’t have to worry about designated drivers.
- The difference between a premium liquor and a house brand is not that important in the quality of most mixed drinks.
- Waiting to see movies after have been out for a while can save you a lot of money. Second run movie theaters can run you $2 a ticket, and Redbox is an even cheaper way to enjoy a family movie.
- Bestselling items become very easy to pick up used after they’ve been out for a while, just because they are so common. That works for books, DVDs, and video games.
- Second hand and thrift stores often have eclectic selections of entertainment for a fraction of the cost of new stuff. Browsing them is entertainment in and of itself, and some stores will let you trade your unwanted stuff for credit towards the items you want now.
- Public libraries are great sources of reading material, and many let you check out movies, audiobooks and music. Most have a lot of free activities and downloadable e-books as well.
- Use your local parks and recreation department for inexpensive classes, nature programs, sports and other activities.
- Love sports but can’t afford college or pro tickets? Cheer on your local high school’s teams!
- Summer is a great time to seek out free and inexpensive outdoor concerts. Take a blanket, a few chairs and a picnic and enjoy some great performances.
- Try Freebooksy for a daily email of free downloadable e-books.
- High Speed internet + streaming video plan is a lot cheaper than cable TV.
- Want to learn a DIY or crafting skill? Check out craft and home improvement stores for free or inexpensive classes.
- Consider taking free online college classes on Coursera or edX .
- A walk in your neighborhood is always free.
- Borrow from your friend network to keep your supply of DVDs, board games and other entertainment options fresh.
- Try thrift stores and second hand shops for clothes, especially kid’s clothes. While you have to examine clothes to make sure they are in good shape, you can often find a few things that have never been worn.
- Don’t be afraid to take hand me downs, especially for kid clothes. Kids grow quickly and often don’t have time to wear out their clothes.
- Spend a little more for quality pieces that will last for years. Think about your cost per wear, rather than just out of pocket costs.
- Try clothes on before you buy them, and only buy clothes that fit well. If you insist on buying clothes that don’t fit or almost fit, you’ll find you have a lot of clothes that you never wear.
- Clothes on sale are only good bargains if they are clothes you would buy anyway. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale.
- Consider a one in/one out rule: only buy new clothes if you are replacing something you can no longer wear.
- Stain removers are your friends. It’s much cheaper to keep some Shout or Oxyclean around than it is to replace stained clothes.
- Resoling good shoes you already own is cheaper than buying replacements.
Toys and Kid Stuff
- Dollar stores are good sources of crafting materials and coloring books, but most of the toys don’t hold up very well. Be aware of this before you buy.
- Toys don’t have to cost money. Kids will play with boxes, kitchen utensils, rocks, and whatever else they find lying around.
- Kid’s parties can be expensive, especially if you rent a venue or bring in entertainment. Save money having a party at home. Search Pinterest for activity ideas and consider baking the cake yourself. If you want to do party favors, use the dollar store or do a craft with the kids that they can take home.
- Check the online price and review before buying toys in stores to make sure it’s a good buy. This applies to just about everything else, too.
- Let your kids be bored. It will make them appreciate the activities you pay for more and they’ll exercise their resourcefulness and imagination.
- Say no. Your child doesn’t need everything they want. Your inner child doesn’t either.
- Track your spending. You’ll find out exactly where your money is going, and make sure it’s not going where you don’t want it to go.
- According to Jon’s old consumer behavior professor in grad school, there is no relationship between price and quality. Give the inexpensive stuff a chance!
- Ask for discounts. You never know until you ask.
- Membership has its privileges. If you are a member of AAA, AARP, warehouse clubs, credit unions, friends of the museum, etc, you may qualify for reduced prices on all kinds of things, so know and use your benefits.
- Before you spend money on an item (or an activity), check online to see if you can find a coupon or discount.
- If you are going to make a major purchase, shop around. Comparison shopping can save you a bundle.
- Consider a waiting period before buying new things. If you have to wait a day or a week before your purchase, you may reconsider and decide you can do without.
- Spending money you don’t have is expensive. Interest is bad enough, but bounced check fees can be really devastating. Know your account balances and stay within your means. Keep an emergency fund and only use it when you really need it.
- Lump sums are cheaper than installment plans. If you want a new phone, furniture, TV or other big ticket item, save up until you can afford what you want or look for a cheaper option you can pay for up front.
- Some items have a one-time cost, but others have additional costs to consider. For instance, a boat may require a registration, fuel, launch fees, life jackets, maintenance, and storage space. Make sure you know and can afford what you are getting.
- Know your “frivolous spending” triggers, and try to avoid them or find another reaction to address the trigger. Do you spend out of boredom? Stress? Celebration? What other response can you make?
- According to my daughter, “If you save more and save longer, you can get cooler stuff. “ She’s right. Remember what it is you really want before you spend money, and you’re more likely to have money for travel, a house, concerts, retirement, or anything else your heart desires.
- Remember to be grateful for the things you have. It will keep you from wanting (and buying) the things you don’t.
What are your favorite simple ways to save money?
Bills Image courtesy of Michael Elliott at FreeDigitalPhotos.net with changes.
Girl with Piggy bank Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net with changes