The numbers on the gas pump just keep ticking up and your heart rate can’t help but join. Another chunk of your paycheck is gone. We’ve all been there at one point or another, and needed a few creative ways to save money.
But cutting back is a challenge. It takes a presence of mind, planning, and a lot of ingenuity. Reducing your monthly burn rate is the first step toward balancing your budget, reaching financial freedom, and building wealth. As with any plan, success depends on effort and new ideas. Fortunately, we can help you with the latter! To get those gears turning, we’ve compiled a list of 28 creative ways to save money that you can use now.
Try These 28 Creative Ways to Save Money Today
Ask If An Item Will Go On Sale
Instead of buying that new home appliance or piece of furniture, ask a sales associate when sales typically run. Look at a calendar and identify the next major holiday. If you can hold off that long, consider doing so to take an extra 10% – 20%. Or, call around and ask stores if they currently have any items on clearance.
Another way to save extra cash is to ask for items that have slight flaws, such as a sofa with a minor scratch or stain.
Audit Your Expenses
In order to start saving money, first audit your expenses with a budget planner. Look at everything you spend money on, and ask yourself, “Is this necessary?” or “Could I cut back here?”
The most efficient way to do this is to list all of your monthly bills and frequent everyday purchases. This will lay out all your finances in an easily digestible way and allow you to see what areas of your spending you can clean up.
Automate Your Savings
There are many great FinTech (financial technology) apps like Acorns and Stash that can automate your savings! Every time you spend or deposit money, the app will take a portion of the funds and direct it into a savings account.
Avoid Lifestyle Inflation
Have you ever gotten a raise and still struggled to make ends meet? This is called lifestyle inflation: when your spending habits increase along with your income.
From more impulse purchases to nicer products at the grocery store, it’s easy to blow your budget when you feel more comfortable. Instead, after every raise or bonus, allocate a certain percentage to lifestyle inflation and invest the remainder.
Barter for Physical Goods
Bartering is a tradition as old as humanity itself. Our ancestors bartered seashells for shiny rocks, and now, we can barter a blender for a microwave. Check local Facebook groups, Craigslist, and online forums to see if someone has something you want. They just might need something you have on hand!
Bartend at Home
We’ve all heard the cliche advice about Starbucks and avocado toast. But there is some truth to it. Making your own coffee, meal planning, and even mixing your own drinks are easy ways to save money.
Instead of going out to eat twice per week, for example, make it a goal to go out only once. If you like to go out for drinks every now and then, instead have a few friends over for a potluck-style cocktail party.
Buy Clothes From Thrift Stores
Thrift stores are a gold mine when focused on saving money. Instead of online shopping, find trendy clothing for a fraction of the price that is often of just-as-good of quality. You may even find a hidden gem, like a piece of designer clothing with a serious discount.
It may sound counterintuitive, but you can celebrate your savings goals by spending a little on yourself. Every time you meet your monthly budget, treat yourself to a small prize. This is a psychological way to reinforce good habits and encourage yourself to keep them up.
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Whether they realize it or not, this is one of most people’s default money-saving tips. Don’t just cut back on your usage though – consider repurposing old items. For example, turn torn or stained clothes into cleaning cloths. Use old books to enhance your décor with a vintage flair. Instead of spending money on storage containers, save glass jars and takeout containers. If you have a pet, use plastic bags from the grocery store for waste cleanup rather than separate bags for this purpose.
Employ The Coin-Saving Strategy
You can save money by storing your coins in a jar every time you get change. But when the jar is full, don’t use an expensive coin-counting machine like Coinstar! Instead, roll the coins yourself and exchange the rolls at the bank for bills. It may surprise you how much has added up.
Adopt a Capsule or Minimalist Wardrobe
A “capsule wardrobe” is a limited selection of easily interchangeable clothing. It is usually composed of neutral colors and classic clothing that never goes out of style. With a capsule wardrobe, you won’t have to worry about which pants go with which shirt. You’ll always have the basics to go out in, and when you buy something new, it’ll be a necessity rather than an impulse purchase. Aside from being one of the most creative ways to save money, this practice may force you to assemble outfits in new ways without the expense.
Direct All Windfalls Into a Savings Account
Put any unexpected income, such as a bonus at work, an inheritance, or even a tax refund into a savings account with compound interest. Don’t touch this extra money unless it is absolutely necessary. The only purpose of this bank account should be to grow into a fully funded emergency fund.
Do a No-Spend Challenge
Rebrand the idea of saving money into a challenge – this can make the process easier and more fun! A no-spend challenge means not spending any discretionary money (i.e. other than necessary bills) for some fixed time period. Cut out all non-essential purchases for just one month, and you will be shocked at how much money you save.
Related reading: 100 Envelope Challenge: Save Over $5,000 In Just 3 Months
Drink More Water
One of our favorite creative ways to save money is to simply double down on water. Instead of drinking soda, sports drinks, or alcohol, stick to tap or home-filtered water. Before long, you may not even crave other drinks anymore. This means you’ll not only be saving money but also creating a healthy habit in the process!
Join Cash Back Sites for Shopping Online
When you shop online, you can earn a percentage of cash back by shopping through Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates). Simply sign up for an account, click on the links in their email promotion or website, and then make your purchase as usual. Over time you will accrue cash back in the form of a gift card, which is a rewarding way to save money.
Eat Less Meat
Meat is expensive. Try cutting back on your meat consumption by taking in proteins from other, cheaper sources such as eggs, legumes, yogurt, oats, nuts or even protein shakes. If you eat meat frequently, seek out creative ways to use leftovers to minimize food waste.
Try the Cash Envelope System
One of the all-time classic money-saving tips is to create three envelopes: one for bills, one for savings, and one for spending. Each payday put the amount you have set aside for each purpose into its respective envelope. Reach into the spending envelope when you need to buy something, and when it’s empty, stop buying until you have more money. This simple approach to saving money can help those who tend to overspend on their credit cards.
Exercise at Home
Work out at home instead of paying for a gym membership. Invest in durable, multipurpose equipment that’s built to last. Amazon has an endless amount of cheap home workout equipment that will cost you less than a few months at a gym. Plus, you’ll even save money on the gas you would use to drive back and forth!
Find Cheap or Free Entertainment
For creative ways to save money, consider visiting your local library and checking out DVDs and books for free. Go to the park with friends and play basketball or Frisbee. Try hosting a game night and ask your guests to bring a snack or drink for the group.
Attend Free Events
Rather than spending money on concerts and plays, find free events in your city on sites like Eventbrite and Meetup. You can also search for local events on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Saving money doesn’t have to mean staying cooped up in your house all day!
Do the $5 Challenge
Set a goal to save $5 per day and see how many times you succeed per month. If you find this easy, challenge yourself even further. How about $10 or $20 per day? At the end of the month, you can use this extra money to pay down debt or add to your emergency fund.
Cut Your Monthly Subscriptions With Trim
Automated savings apps such as Trim or Truebill scan your bank and credit card statements. They then look for recurring subscriptions or purchases that you don’t use anymore and automatically cancel them for you. You can also set up reminders to cancel subscriptions before they auto-renew.
Quit An Expensive Habit
Talk about a real challenge! If you took one of our earlier pieces of advice and audited your expenses, you may have noticed that you spend a lot of money on your worst habits. Nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine are often the biggest offenders in unnecessary spending. Drop the habits, save money, and live a longer and healthier life!
Reassess Your Subscriptions
Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max. Jeez, is this really better than cable TV? Does the amount of time you spend on them justify the cost? There are likely a few apps you don’t really use anymore. Cut out these unnecessary expenses and direct the money into your retirement savings!
Negotiate Lower Interest Rates
If you have debt, one of the best things you can do is to call your creditors and try to negotiate a lower interest rate. If you commit to a certain monthly payment and communicate that you’re on a tight budget, most creditors will be willing to work with you. This is one of the few creative ways to save money that can make an impact on day one!
Minimize Impulse Purchases
If you want to save money on groceries, the best thing you can do is make a list and stick to it. When you’re at the store, only buy the items on your list. This will help you avoid impulse purchases that can add up if you’re not vigilant.
Create a Savings Goal
Setting a savings goal is a great way to stay motivated and on track. Whether you want to save for a down payment on a house, a new car, or a trip to Europe, having a goal in mind will help you stay focused. Use a savings tracker to see your progress and keep yourself accountable.
Bring Your Lunch to Work
Eating out can be expensive, especially if you do it regularly. A better option is to create a grocery list, meal plan, and pack your lunch from home. This will help you save more money and eat healthier.
Related reading: How To Save $10,000 In A Year On Any Income
FAQs on Saving Money
A few fun ways to save money include doing the $5 challenge, hosting potlucks instead of eating out, adopting the cash envelope system, and shopping at thrift stores.
The 5 simple saving tricks are to set a budget, save your loose change, invest in a savings account, make a strict shopping list, and avoid eating out.
The 50-30-20 rule is a great guideline for determining how much money to save each month. The rule says 50% of your income goes to essentials, 30% goes to discretionary items, and the remaining 20% goes to savings.
There are a few ways teenagers can save money, such as getting a side hustle or part-time job. Popular options include dog walking, babysitting, lawn mowing, or working at a retail store. Make sure to start saving as soon as you land a job to learn what it takes to reach financial success.
There are many creative ways to save money, but 10 popular methods include: setting a budget, tracking your spending, creating savings goals, automating your finances, opening high-interest rate savings accounts, using cash envelopes, meal planning, cutting cable TV or streaming services, negotiating lower interest rates, and minimizing impulse purchases.