10 Easy Ways to Save Money Today

person holding change and money in hands, learn lifestyle tips to save money
1. Know Your Budget and Expenses - Needs vs Wants

The most important step in determining how you can save money is to know your budget. Your budget is the total monthly net income (take home pay) from all sources minus your monthly expenses. 

Use an Excel spreadsheet or another budgeting application and make a list of your income from your regular job, passive income, jobs on the side, etc. Make another list of all your essential expenses (housing: rent or mortgage, car payment and insurance, gas or transportation, monthly utilities (electric, heat, water), internet and phone bill, child care, groceries, loans and credit card payments.

What does your budget look like? Are you living withing your minimum income for survival, or are you living outside your means?

See how your living expenses compare with your monthly income, and make another list of recurring non-essential expenses like television or streaming services, dining out, drinks such as alcohol, soda or coffee, entertainment, monthly memberships, etc.

It’s time to set a realistic goal for how much you want to save, and make the necessary adjustments towards that goal. You need to have an idea on what it is you want to accomplish in order to succeed in reaching it. Look through your list of non-essential (wants) expenses and decide if there’s any you don’t need or can live without, and maybe don’t even use. You may even find things like subscription memberships you didn’t realize you still have. 

Once you know your budget and cut out the non-essential items in your expenses, you are one step closer towards savings and financial freedom. To learn more about creating your budget, view our in-depth article Budgeting 101: First Steps to Building a Budget that Works for You.

Below are 9 more tips and easy lifestyle changes you can make to maximize your savings potential and set up success for your financial future.

2. Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate

Credit card interest rates in 2019 have skyrocketed. The average interest rate for new accounts is 19.21% and 15.10% for existing accounts, according to WalletHub’s Credit Card Landscape Report. As of June 2019, the average credit card debt per United States household is $8,398. If your credit card is 19% interest, that equivilates to a minimum monthly payment of $335.92, taking 159 months to pay off, for a total of $13,760.59 in payments. You end up paying over $5,000 more than you owe, which could have been saved. Ouch. 

Check your account to see what the APR of your credit card currently is. Call your credit card company to negotiate a lower interest rate. If they don’t seem likely to work with you, tell them you are switching to another company for added leverage.

Look online at websites like creditcards.com for a current list of 0% balance transfer offers. Paying 0% instead of your current rate can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

If that is not an option, you may be able to get a  personal loan, or home equity line of credit (HELOC) through your bank, which have extremely low interest rates in comparison, saving you money. 

Get up to $15,000 cash

3. Get Discounted Insurance Rates by Using the Same Company

Shopping around for insurance can be a tedious task, whether it’s homeowner’s, automobile, life insurance or health insurance. You may have individual policies for each insurance, but did you know that you can often save when bundling your policies with the same company?

Insurance rates change over time, and if it’s been over a year since you changed policies, it’s a good idea to shop again. Having your policies with the same company affords you the discounted rates for credit score, or safe driving credit, and an additional discount for bundling them together, saving you extra money. Plus, you get the benefit of only making one payment instead of multiples for each policy.

4. Make Smarter Food and Grocery Choices

We all need to eat to survive, but that doesn’t mean our food bill has to empty our wallets. Use these best practices when buying food or groceries:

Shop once per week. Make a list of what you already have in your pantry, freezer or refrigerator so you don’t buy extra items not needed. Buy only enough to last for the week. Food that spoils is money wasted. 

Plan your meals for the week with low cost ingredients. 

Don’t go grocery shopping when hungry. This can lead to the temptation of buying more than you need.

Take advantage of coupons. Look through your weekly papers, flyers and advertisements for items on your shopping list. You can also look online at websites like coupons.com or the manufacturer’s website to find discounts and lower your shopping bill. 

Many grocery stores now have their own rewards program, so if there’s one you frequent, sign up for savings. 

Also check to see if you have gift cards you may have forgot about.

Drink more water instead of spending on soda or juices. Replacing one soda a day with your own filtered water or tap water will save you hundreds of dollars a year. Do the same with coffee. Make your own and bring it with you instead of paying high prices at coffee shops on the go.

5. Limit How Much You Dine Out

Let’s face it. Eating out is expensive. If you are a family of four, just one meal at a restaurant can easily cost more than $50. Now factor in additional meals during the week if you go to fast food restaurants, and you can get an idea on just how much you spend that could have been saved by eating at home. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends $3,000 a year dining out. That is a big chunk of change!

Your budget will not only thank you by eating eating in, but you also have the added advantages of spending quality time at the table with your family, the feeling of accomplishment by preparing and cooking your own meals, and it will most likely be healthier for you too! 

6. Keep Your Home Energy Efficient

Utility bills such as heat, electricity and water can’t be escaped from, but there are things you can do to lower those bills each month.

Schedule a home energy audit. This can be especially useful if your house is older. There may be seals that air and heat escapes and leaks from, causing your furnace to work harder and your heating bill to go up. Making home efficiency upgrades could save you up to 30% on your energy costs.

There are more easy ways to lower your utility bill as well. 

Turn off lights in other rooms. You only need to see the room you are in, and keeping lights on in the rest of the house only raises your electricity usage. Make sure your lights are also energy efficient. 

Use a smart thermostat to regulate the temperature in your home and lower your heating bill. Smart thermostats like the Google Nest Thermostat E learn your heating preferences and create a schedule to maximize efficiency, so you don’t have to take the time to or learn how to program it yourself. Using less heat, especially when you’re not home will cut down your costs.

Turn off and unplug appliances when not in use. The computer and monitor can draw a lot of electricity through its power supply. Power it off when you are done using it. Some appliances such as coffee makers, toasters, slow cookers, or dehumidifiers also maintain a constant supply of electricity, and it only takes a second to unplug them when finished using them.

There are simple things you can do to lower your water/sewer cost as well. 

Take quicker showers

Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. 

Don’t leave the water running when doing the dishes. If you only have a few dishes, do them immediately after eating so you don’t have to fill up the sink with water to soak them.

Try these practices in your home and compare with the prior month to see just how much you can save each month.

7. Use Cash Instead of Cards

It’s far too easy to spend money when you don’t physically see it. We assume the money is there in an online account, or just swipe a card and pay it later. 

But what if you only had cash on hand? Limiting yourself to just the money in your pocket can vastly change your spending habits on non-essential items. 

Let’s say you have $100 for the week and see a pair of shoes you really like for $60. Knowing that would leave you with just $40 for the rest of the week, you probably would think twice about spending that extra money, and ask yourself if you really need them. 

One suggestion is putting all your available spending money in an envelope. Tell yourself that you are only allowed to spend what is in the envelope, and don’t withdraw any extra from other sources. You will see how much more meaningful your money is when it’s right in front of you.

8. Save Your Spare Change

If you use cash, take your spare change after each transaction and place it in a jar or container at home, or deposit it into your bank savings account. Set a goal or time frame (1 month, 6 months) and continue to keep adding to it. You will be amazed at how much extra savings you now have.

If you don’t use cash, you can still save your spare change from every day electronic purchases with an app like Acorns which will round-up your transactions to the nearest dollar and set that amount aside in a savings account.

9. Find Ways to Enjoy Your Free Time Without Spending Money

The work day is over, or the weekend is finally here, and now you want to have some well-deserved fun. Who can blame you? But that doesn’t necessarily mean that having fun has to translate into spending money.

Take a walk or bike ride at the park or the beach. Invite a friend. 

Have friends over for dinner and drinks (have them bring their own) instead of going out. 

Watch a movie with friends or your partner at home instead of paying for movie theater tickets and snacks. 

Have a board game or video game night

Check online for local free attractions or things to do.

10. Set up Automatic Payment to Your Savings Account

You know your weekly or monthly budget expenses, but just can’t trust yourself not to spend what you have left over? Take yourself out of the equation and have your bank do it for you. If you don’t know how, then ask your bank how to set up an automatic deposit into a savings account from each pay check, or a specific day of the month.

As little as $10 a week will still add more than $500 a year to your savings.

If your bank doesn’t offer this feature, or if you want even more options, use an online banking app like Chime. Chime has no fees for minimum deposit, overdraft, minimum balance, monthly services, transfers, or foreign transactions. You can set up automatic savings payments, and even automatically round-up your purchases to go into your savings account.

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