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Many financial goals are tied to setting aside money. Goals like saving for retirement, buying your dream home, and taking that incredible trip.
But sometimes the costs of day to day living prevent us from saving as much as we’d like for our financial goals.
However, there are some simple ways to cut back on costs. Follow my tips below for ways you can spend less and save more money, and bring yourself even closer to your financial goals and dreams.
1. Use your library card for ebooks. Did you know that you can use your library card to get ebooks online? Simply visit your local library’s website to browse their ebook collection. You can reserve, checkout, and download books all from your sofa.
Many libraries also have requests forms where you can request that the library purchase an ebook that they don’t have in
2. Take a spending sabbatical. My mom thought of this great idea. We take sabbaticals from work. Why not take a sabbatical from certain types of spending? You could take a month-long sabbatical from buying clothes. Or maybe a weekday sabbatical from going out to eat. There are lots of different options, but the end result is great – you save a lot of money in a short period of time by temporarily cutting a cost entirely from your budget.
3. Use your library card for videos. In addition to ebooks, many libraries have extensive video collections. Check out your local library’s collection before clicking “purchase” on that next new release.
4. Try online grocery shopping. I absolutely love online grocery shopping. You can search for discounts and track the dollar amount of your cart as you shop. This cuts back on impulse buys and encourages you to stay within your budget. Try out Boxed or Peapod. You can learn more about online grocery shopping in this article.
5. Use Bing.com as your search engine. Bing is Microsoft’s search engine. To encourage people to use it, they have a rewards program. You accumulate points for your searches. Accumulate enough points and you get your choice of a number of rewards, including gift cards from places like Starbucks and Target. I get $5 Target gift cards every few months just by using Bing as my search engine. It’s not a lot of extra money, but I certainly appreciate it!
6. Research free or discount days. Many museums, parks, and attractions have free or discounted days throughout the year. At George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, the entrance fee is free two days a year. While it’s very busy these days, it’s also a great way for people to visit the estate without the hit to their budgets. Find opportunities like this in your area to save costs this year.
7. Use your credit card discounts. Do you have a credit card? If yes, then you might have access to a discount program for percentages off at certain stores. With my credit card company, I can follow links to retailers through the credit card company’s website. By clicking on that link, I get a percentage off at that retailer. Go to your personal page on your credit card company’s website and see if your credit card includes a discount program.
8. Use your membership discounts. Do you have a membership to a gym, AAA, AARP, or any other type of program? These types of memberships often provide discounts at certain stores. For example, AAA members often have reduced hotel room rates. I regularly use the AAA discount rate for Amtrak tickets. Check out your membership website to see what discounts are offered.
9. Use work discounts. Many employers offer discount programs to their employees where employees get a percentage off of purchases at certain retailers. Check with your HR department to find out what discount programs your employer offers.
10. Find free forms of entertainment. Instead of purchasing a ticket to an expensive movie or amusement park, is there something you can do for free?
One of my favorite free ways to spend my time? Volunteering. Volunteering is an opportunity to give back and use your time in a worthwhile way. I volunteer at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. I can give back to the community and also have an amazing experience at absolutely no cost.
11. Take full advantage of benefit & insurance programs. Do you know all the different work benefit and insurance programs that your employer offers? Health flex spending accounts? Transportation reimbursement? Tuition reimbursement? If you’re not familiar with these programs, talk to your HR department right away. Otherwise, you may be missing out on valuable discounts.
12. Subscribe to retailer email lists. Before making a purchase, see if you can get a percentage off that purchase by signing up for the retailer’s email list. You can continue to subscribe to get future discounts or immediately unsubscribe after taking advantage of the discount. I use a “junk” email account when I subscribe to these retail email lists. This helps keep my regular email box free from clutter.
13. Find happy hours and discount nights at local restaurants. If going out to eat is an essential part of your lifestyle, cut costs by finding restaurants that offer happy hours and discount nights. Half-price burger night. Dollar taco night. You name it, there is a restaurant out there that has some type of discount for it.
14. Cut back on going out to eat. Even if you love going out to eat, is it possible to cut back a little? I used to eat out only on special occasions. Then any random Tuesday became a special occasion. I had to cut back. Is there a way you can cut back on how often you eat out? Maybe you cut it back to only special occasions or only a set number of times per month. As fun as it is to eat out, it can get really expensive.
15. Reduce the cost and amount of gifts. Many of us want to be known as the person who is incredibly generous with gifts. But that can have serious consequences on the health of your finances.
Instead of buying gifts for all your friends and family on their birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, can you agree with them on ways to cut back? Maybe only kids under ten get a birthday present from the family. Or maybe your friends do a Secret Santa so you only need to get one friend a gift at Christmas. It can be tough talking about money, but to cut costs, you need to set clear guidelines with your friends and family.
16. Cancel memberships and subscriptions. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, SiriusXM, magazines, wine of the month, gym memberships – they all seem so innocently small, but together they can add up to be big costs. If you can’t bring yourself to cancel them altogether, see my next tip about temporarily canceling them in months when you’re not using the service.
17. Shorten membership and subscription periods. If you can’t go cold-turkey and eliminate all your memberships and subscriptions, is it possible to cancel them in months that you’re not using them? I subscribe to HBO only when Game of Thrones is playing. Netflix and I reconvene when Stranger Things is released. Once I’ve watched the shows I want to see, I cancel the service. It takes a little extra organization to set-up calendar reminders to cancel the subscription before you’re charged for the next month, but it can save big money.
18. Raid your pantry. You likely have a number of items in your pantry that aren’t going to use right now. Use recipe websites like FoodNetwork.com to search for recipes for the black beans or tomato sauce that are just gathering dust in your pantry. Using what you already have will help you cut down on future costs.
19. Reduce your banking or credit card fees. Do you pay fees for any of your bank accounts or credit cards? If so, give your bank or credit card company a call and ask if the fee can be waived or reduced. I’ve done this with two different banks and they waived the fee both times!
20. Find low-cost meals to make a home. After I resolved to eat more meals at home, I discovered that I wasn’t saving any money. That’s because I was making complex meals with lots of ingredients. Plus, I’d have steak and seafood multiple times a week. All that added up to a lot of money spent on meals. Now I take advantage of Pinterest to find meals in the “cheap meals” category. I also rely on online grocery shopping to track my costs so I stay within my budget.
21. Meal plan. Another option to cut food costs is to meal plan. This is another place where Pinterest comes in handy. Search for “weekly meals” to find lots of different weekly meal plans. You can also take advantage of programs like the $5 meal plan that will send you plans with meals that average $2 per person. It costs $5 per month, so you spend a little to hopefully save a lot. For me, it makes sense, because I’m terrible at sticking to low-cost meals when I don’t have a meal plan.
22. Reduce coffee costs. I’m not going to tell you to give up your Starbuck’s. That would be cruel. But is there a way you can cut back on your coffee costs? Maybe make one less trip to Starbuck’s per week and use your work’s free coffee or make your coffee at home? Is there a less expensive beverage you could order or maybe a smaller size? Pennies matter when cutting costs and they do add up, so even saving a little bit per week on your coffee will add up over time.
23. Cut back on drinks at dinner. As delicious as that glass of wine or cocktail is at dinner, they’re charging you a huge premium on that drink. Exchanging an alcoholic drink for tea or even water is an easy way to cut costs.
24. Stop paying late fees. Late fees are a bummer. Set-up calendar reminders to remind yourself to pay your bills on a set date every month. Maybe you’ll be like me and even look forward to it!
25. Stop buying water bottles. Water bottles: Enemy of the environment and enemy of your paycheck. Buy a colorful water bottle and fill up with water at the soda fountain instead of buying a water bottle.
26. Take advantage of free offers. I subscribe to Netflix’s email list. On occasion, I get an offer for a free month of Netflix. I sign-up for Netflix during that free month and then cancel before I’m charged for the next month. I track all my retailer emails in a “junk” email account and make sure I take advantage of free offers when they pop up.
27. Renegotiate your phone bill. My brother James is a pro at this. It’s a favorite hobby of his to periodically renegotiate his phone bill. And he’s successful every time. You don’t need to renegotiate as frequently as he does to see cost savings, though. Set-up a calendar reminder every year to call your phone carrier and ask what options they can give you. And don’t be afraid to switch carriers. Even if you switch right back, you’ll can take advantage of new customer discounts.
28. Reduce your cable & Internet costs. This wouldn’t be a list about cutting costs without some mention of “cutting the cord.” But in my area, you don’t save much money by getting rid of cable because stand alone Internet is so expensive. Plus, my friends who do make the switch end up subscribing to so many alternatives (Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) that they’re spending just as much on entertainment as before.
Instead of outright recommending that you ditch cable, I recommend that you check out the websites of the cable carriers in your area. Are there cheaper packages that would work for you? Do they offer seasonal plans where you can cut your costs in exchange for reduced plans in months when you work or travel a lot? Can you switch to a new carrier and get a new customer discount? You can reduce your cable and Internet costs without ditching cable entirely.
29. Reduce impulse buying. I love online shopping. So convenient. So expensive. To stop impulse buying, I set-up a private Pinterest board called “Future Purchases.” Whenever I see something I want to purchase, I save it to that board first. Then I come back later and reassess whether I really want to purchase it. Usually, the answer is “no.”
You can use a similar technique by bookmarking something you’re interested in buying and waiting at least a day before making the purchase. You’ll likely discover that you don’t want to purchase many of those items.
30. Use coupon sites. Before you make a purchase online, search coupon sites for potential promotional coupons. I often use RetailMeNot and Ebates to search for coupons and discounts before making purchases.
31. Don’t buy clothes that require dry cleaning. I have wasted so much money on dry cleaning bills in the past. So much money and only ironed shirts to show for it? Not cool. That money is staying in my pocket from now on. When purchasing clothes, check
32. Install a programmable thermostat. I installed a programmable thermostat because I don’t like being uncomfortable. It had the added bonus of saving me
33. Try buying clothes second-hand. There are some amazing online second-hand stores out there. ThredUp and Poshmark not only offer inexpensive second-hand clothes, but you can also sell your own clothes and get some extra cash.
34. Do preventative maintenance. Sometimes you have to spend some money to save some money. Do preventative maintenance on your car, furnace, and HVAC. Missing preventative maintenance may mean a huge price tag down the road if one of them breaks down.
35. Reduce transportation costs. Are there ways you can reduce your transportation costs? For example, if you drive to work, can you arrive earlier to get early-bird discounts at the garage? Or maybe take public transportation instead?
In my area, the Metro, commuter bus, city bus, rental bikes, and rental scooters are just some of the transportation options. Plus, many work programs offer transportation reimbursement or discount programs to offset the cost of transportation. Take some time to brainstorm on how you can reduce your transportation costs.
36. Refinance your loans. Do you have a high interest rate? Are you paying private mortgage insurance (PMI)? Are there any other unfavorable terms to your loan? Talk to a loan officer at your local bank to find out about refinancing options. Just be mindful of refinancing fees and make sure the renegotiated loan terms more than offset the refinancing fees.
37. Cut back on salon services. I love pedicures. But pedicures are expensive. So it’s my goal this year to learn how to do at-home pedicures.
Do you have salon services you could cut back on? Maybe you could delay a haircut one week each month, so over time, you eventually have one less haircut a year. If you get monthly manicures, could you do one at home every other month? Try to think of ways you can cut back, but still treat yourself on occasion.
38. Create a budget. One of the best ways to spend less and save more money is to create a budget. A budget is a great way to establish your financial goals and stick to a spending plan. Check out this article for tips to create a budget.
39. Track your spending. It’s difficult to stick to a budget if you’re not tracking your spending. Online banking now makes it really easy to track your spending. Check out this
40. Make extra income. While you’re cutting costs, are there also ways you can make extra income? Here are just a few ideas:
surveys. I find taking surveys to be a great way to earn a little extra cash. Here are some of my favorites:
- Temporary or part-time jobs. Simply enter any of the keywords below into Google, and available jobs in your area will pop up:
- Seasonal jobs
- Dog walking
- Mystery shopper
- Start a money-making blog. Starting a blog can be a great way to earn extra money on the side. Read this article for
step-by stepinstructions to start your own blog.
- Sell items around the house. If you’re like me, you likely have some items around the house that you don’t use and could be sold for some extra cash. ThredUp and Poshmark are websites that make it easy to sell your items.
- Sell something on Etsy. I often use Esty to buy downloadable templates for invitations and art around the house. You can make a downloadable template once and sell it multiple times on Etsy as an easy way to earn funds this holiday season.
Cutting costs can be tough, but spending less and saving more also means we get that much closer to achieving our financial goals. I hope these cost-cutting tips help you to get even closer to your financial dreams this year!