Money Saver

How to Save Money: 20 Simple Tips For More Affordable Living

Written by Brian Funes | June 15, 2021

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The only thing better than shopping is saving money while doing it. But aside from major shopping holidays or big flash sales, how do people save money in the normal day-to-day? Many of these savings secrets are hiding in plain sight, and once you know what they are you’ll wonder why you didn’t implement these money-saving habits sooner. If you’re willing to get a little creative and step outside of your comfort zone, here are 20 simple ways to save money.

1. Take Advantage of Personal Finance Apps

The first step in saving money is finding out where you’re spending it. Before you shudder at the prospect of creating a financial spreadsheet and maintaining it, why not get a little help?

Mint is a free personal finance program that tracks your spending, helps you budget, and lets you set financial goals. Saving money is a habit after all, and having a tool to hold you accountable makes the job that much easier. Mint also comes with credit monitoring so that you can see your score at any time, and the app will tell you if your credit report undergoes any major changes.

While some might be critical of the lack of investment options available on Mint, it doesn’t purport to be an investment app. It’s a budgeting and financial literacy app, and it performs that task with flying colors.

2. File Your Taxes Yourself

If you have uncomplicated taxes, why bother paying someone $100+ dollars to file on your behalf? Both TurboTax and FreeTaxUSA are popular options for people who are trying to save some money during tax season. The user interfaces for both of these services are fairly easy to understand, and both services let you receive your refund via direct deposit. While TurboTax can be free if you’re only filing a W-2, FreeTaxUSA costs $0 for Federal, $14.99 for State, and offers Schedule C filing which freelancers need.

To save additional money while filing with TurboTax, check out our promotions and coupons page here.

3. Put That Debit Card Away

Unless you’re in credit card debt or get charged extra for using a credit card, there are many reasons you should opt to pay for a purchase with your credit card rather than your debit card.

For one, many credit cards offer a variety of cash-back opportunities, from extra points on food and gas to bonus points on travel. If you’re going to spend, you may as well earn some of that money back. Another reason you should use your credit card is that you’re building credit with each and every purchase, versus gaining nothing by paying with a debit card. A good credit score is important when buying a home or taking out loans, so any traction toward a better score is worth the effort.

Lastly, fraud protections are also much higher on a credit card. While a worst-case scenario with credit card fraud might cost you $50, debit card fraud can potentially drain your entire bank account. In order to save your money, you have to protect it first.

4. Know Which Months Have the Best Deals for Your Purchases

Yes, everyone knows about all the great deals during Black Friday, but if we were to ask you when the best month to buy a mattress was, would you know?

There are specific products to buy that are accompanied by stellar deals each month, from bedding and fitness equipment in January, winter clothing and furniture in April, to toy and electronic sales in December. It’s hard to make calendar-perfect purchases every time, but for example if you wanted a new TV and Christmas just passed, waiting until late January right before the Superbowl is when TVs will typically be at lower price points.

Exercising some patience and knowing when to buy certain products can knock a considerable amount off your purchase.

5. Buy Ugly Produce

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if saving money is your kind of aesthetic, switching up your grocery shopping to include ugly produce might be an attractive proposition.

Oftentimes the unconventional appearance of these fruits and vegetables don’t even affect the flavor or nutrition within, making their rejection completely wasteful and superficial. If you’re able to look past the surface level of ugly produce, you could potentially save yourself a couple of bucks on groceries by shopping with an ugly produce retailer like Imperfect Foods.

To make the most out of your Imperfect Produce shopping experience, we do have a few tips:

  • Make sure you know the current market value for the items you are buying. Most of the ugly produce sold is under market value, but some items are reduced more than others. Remember, you’re factoring in your savings vs shipping costs of $4.99 - $8.99.
  • Use promo code GOUGLY and save 10% on your first order.
  • Imperfect Produce gives 20% off for EBT and SNAP benefit holders.

6. Buy an Espresso Machine

Given that many jobs have successfully adopted a work-from-home model during the pandemic, now is the perfect time to consider extending that model to your coffee habit.

Pre Covid-19, many of us made that daily pit stop at a Starbucks or Coffee Bean before commuting to work, and the cost of those cups of coffee certainly adds up. If you’re spending $5 a day on coffee during a workweek, excluding holidays, you’re spending close to $1,300 a year on coffee.

Why not spend that money on a fancy espresso machine for your home instead? Something like a Breville Espresso Machine for $699.95 might feel like a big-dollar purchase, but the resulting cups of coffee will be made at a fraction of the price for the lifetime of the machine. If you’re looking for an even more budget-friendly option, the Flair NEO Espresso Maker is a quality espresso machine priced at $119.

7. Sign up for a Meal Kit Subscription

Eating out is one of the most expensive ways to consume food, but if you still want the novelty of trying gourmet dishes without the expensive price tag, a meal kit subscription is a nice intermediary option. Averaging under $10 per serving, meal prep services from places like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh offer you healthy well-balanced meals tailored to a variety of dietary restrictions. The ingredients are prepped and ready to go, so your time spent in the kitchen cooking is kept to a minimum. Bon-Appetit!

8. Make Your Own Bread

Baking your own bread isn’t just a hobby reserved for burning time during quarantine. It’s actually a great way to save money and can be a gratifying process as you build proficiency. With just one bag of flour, water, and salt, you can make 4-6 loaves of fresh artisanal country bread for under $5.

If you need a little extra help and want a sourdough starter, you can find a quality heirloom starter on Etsy for under $10.

9. Shop Secondhand For Vintage and Designer Clothing Brands

There are plenty of good finds in the secondhand clothing market if you know what you’re looking for. You can score designer clothing on platforms like Poshmark for significantly less than the standard retail price. Going to thrift and vintage stores are also a cheap and sustainable way to fill out your wardrobe while supporting your local businesses. For the treasure hunters out there, platforms like Ruby Lane and Etsy are a great place to snag rare vintage finds without breaking the bank.

10. Buy a Bidet

Bidets may have been a fancy accessory in the past, but they’re for everyone now.

TUSHY has designed a quality budget bidet that will reduce your toilet paper usage by 80% once this bad boy is part of your bathroom. It wasn’t so long ago that toilet paper was a valuable hoarded commodity, and while people stood in long lines and fought over buying extra rolls, bidet users comfortably continued with bathroom business as usual.

A bidet might take some getting used to, but the savings, cleanliness, and convenience should convince you. It’s also quite easy to install. A TUSHY Classic 3.0 bidet requires no electricity or plumbing modifications and can be installed in under 10 minutes.

11. Stream Thousands of Films for Free With Kanopy

If you haven’t been to your local library since graduating high school or college, you’re missing out on more than just books and a place to read. It’s a small secret that many libraries rent out CDs and DVDs, but did you know that having a library card also gives you access to movie-streaming platforms?

Kanopy is a free digital platform that gives users access to thousands of films. Their selection includes critically-acclaimed films, documentaries, award-winning foreign films, and children’s programming. While users are limited to watching 10 films a month, Kanopy Kids content can be watched without using any play credits. Visit the Kanopy website to check if your library or university has a Kanopy partnership.

12. Mitigate Phantom Energy Consumption

It may not seem like it, but idle appliances and devices that are plugged in are still drawing power. Not a big deal in the snapshot of a single day, but in an entire year those energy costs could add up to an extra $100 to your electricity bills.

Common energy vampires that contribute to this problem are TVs, computers, cable boxes, video game consoles, printers, coffee makers, and any device with a clock function. An easy way to combat this problem, besides manually unplugging idle devices and chargers, is to plug devices into power strips and flip the switch whenever those devices are not in use.

Investing in Wyze smart plugs is another way to control your energy usage. Not only can you control whether an outlet receives power through an app or voice commands, but you can also monitor the exact energy usage from plugged-in appliances through the Wyze app.

13. Sell Unwanted Items Online

Believe it or not, the items that you consider to be junk inside your house could find a second home through a number of online marketplaces. Whether it’s an old TV, a pair of rollerskates you no longer use, or a dusty spare desk that’s sitting inside your garage, putting these wares up on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist could turn these unwanted items into extra dollars if the right buyer comes along.

14. Birthday Freebies

When it’s your birthday there’s a lot to celebrate, and oftentimes many of the brands you shop with join in on the fun. If you want access to extra savings on your birthday, make sure you join the loyalty programs of your most-shopped retailers. If you plan it out right, this could mean a free drink from Starbucks in the morning, a 5% discount coupon on a quick birthday shop at Target, and a free dessert from your favorite restaurant at night. Not groundbreaking savings per se, but definitely a cherry on top of your special day.

15. Bookmark and Stay Up on the Latest Deals loves to shop as much as you do, and we’re constantly searching for the best deals in every product category, across some of the largest consumer brands on the market. You can find weekly deals, seasonal deals, and even more deep-dive savings articles like this one in the Savvy section of our website. We also do giveaways on social media, so follow along for a chance to win gift cards to some of your favorite stores.

16. Get Fit With Youtube

While the experience of a gym can’t be fully replicated at home, your fitness gains aren’t beholden to a monthly gym membership. There is an abundance of free fitness content on YouTube requiring minimal equipment that can kick your body into gear. Fitness influencers like ATHLEAN-X and Pamela Reif have professionally regimented programs for all fitness levels that can help you reach your fitness goals. It’s like having your own personal trainer without the extra cost.

17. Adopt Your Next Pet

The savings in adopting a pet is twofold; you’re saving a life, and you’re adding an animal companion to your family at a fraction of the cost. Unlike buying from a breeder, adopted animals will have their basic vaccinations, spay and neuter costs, and microchipping costs covered within the adoption fee. If you’re looking for a way to adopt your next pet, a service like Petfinder is a great way to get started. There are also breed-specific rescue organizations that you can find through the AKC Rescue Network.

18. Buy An Alternative or Vintage Engagement Ring

Looking to propose to your partner in an ethical and affordable way? For the non-traditional bride, a Moissanite gemstone can be a reasonable substitute stone. Moissanite is the second hardest mineral behind diamond and has the comparable brilliance, color, and shine of a standard diamond without the price tag. One carat of Moissanite can run you around $300-$600—a fraction of what a VS2 diamond costs.

If diamonds are a must for your bride-to-be, consider buying a lab-grown diamond. You get all of the sparkles at a lower cost while responsibly sourcing your gemstone. Also, learn more about our diamond-hacking tips to save money to get more diamond for your buck!

19. Read Ebooks and Audiobooks for Free with Libby

The library card perks aren’t done quite yet. If you’re an avid ebook reader, your Kindle will be working overtime with all the great free ebooks available on Libby .

The Libby catalog has thousands of ebooks and audiobooks available online, digitally curated by your local library. You can find classics and New York Times Best Sellers, all for free. If you’d rather not use data and stream audiobooks from your car, you can even download them from a Wi-Fi connection for offline usage later. And unlike Kanopy, there are no limits on how much content you consume on a monthly basis. Enjoy!

20. Cut Out Unnecessary Media Subscriptions

Now that you know about Kanopy and Libby, it might be time to cut out your least-used streaming subscription. There are only so many hours in the day, and while it’s nice to have every piece of content at the ready, is it worth that extra $10 dollars a month if you aren’t using the service?

Consider having one main subscription that you have at all times while cutting out the rest. Unless the content you want to watch is platform exclusive, paying a one-time fee to watch new releases is still more affordable than sustaining a long-term subscription.

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