Originally this article started as 16 ways to save money by NOT being normal, but over the years we have written about so many great ways to save money, I thought I would expand on it a bit to create an even larger list of some of the best money-saving tips.
Now we are up to 30 ways to save, so peruse and enjoy!
One quick thing before we get started
I have now written about money-saving strategies and frugal living tips for over 10 years and I have noticed an unfortunate trend.
A lot of people reading articles like this will just quickly scan through the list looking for something that says “Save $10,000 this year with no work required”.
You know as well as I do, that isn’t reality. If you want to save money, you are going to have to put in a little time and effort!
To get you started you can check out this video with 5 simple ways you can save $400/month or you can just keep scrolling to see the 25 ways to save.
My encouragement to you would be to read this list and take action on at least one item today! If you really want to save a lot of money, you need to do lots of little things that add up to a big amount.
So just start by doing one thing today, and then bookmark this article and come back after the first thing is completed (or in place) and then complete another.
Remember, you save money ONLY by actually DOING something, not just by reading about money-saving ideas!!
1. Have someone negotiate your bills for you
Normal = Just pay the standard rates
I recently found out about a pretty cool service called BillCutterz.com. Basically, they are a bill discount service. All you do is send them your bills and they call your providers and negotiate better rates on your behalf.
You then split the savings with them. From their website, “We split any savings we obtain with you. This means if we save you $100, you get $50 and we get $50. If we don’t save you any money, there is no charge to you – ever.”
Pretty cool, huh? Find out more about them here.
2. Save $$$ on your student loans
Normal = Just keep on paying
Depending on how big your student loans are, you might be able to save $100+ each month just by refinancing your student loans. In fact, some studies show that the average borrower can save $18,000 by refinancing!
I remember being intimidated by the process, but it actually was a whole lot faster and easier than I expected it to be.
It is definitely worth taking a few minutes to see how much you could save.
Other ways to save?
Did you know that there are other ways to save on your student loans that you might not have thought of? A friend of mine read this article, applied for one, and then got her whole student loan forgiven. How much could you save by NOT paying back your loan?
3. Save money on travel (and maybe even travel for free)
Normal = Pay for all those expensive flights and hotels
Earlier this year I wrote about how we travel for free in the U.S. and how much of a blessing it has been to us. Essentially over the last 5 years, we have gotten 160+ hotel nights and 97 flights for free.
Crazy I know, but it is completely legit and legal. 😉
And even if you don’t dive as deep as we have, with almost no effort you should be able to at least save lots of money on your travel this year.
4. Use Ebates when shopping online
Normal = Don’t get any cash back on purchases
If you are shopping online, Ebates is a no-brainer! Basically, it works like this…
Ebates will then be paid a referral fee by that retailer and will share the earnings with you. They pay you a percentage (1%-40%) of the purchase price back.
$10 just to sign up?
It is completely free to use and they even give you a FREE $10 bonus for signing up.
I have been with them since 2008 and have earned hundreds of dollars. For more info watch my Ebates review here.
5. Drop Your Health Insurance (and use an alternative)
Normal = Pay an arm and a leg for typical health insurance
If you are a Christian and adhere to a Biblical Lifestyle, you may be eligible for Medishare, which is a Christian health insurance alternative that costs a whole lot less than typical insurance. I am a member, and I estimate that we pay about 50% less than we would be paying if we had comparable health insurance coverage. It works in a similar fashion to insurance, but it costs a lot less because the members are working together.
Read my Medi-Share review for more info about them.
6. Buy used gift cards
Normal = I never thought of that!
Did you know that you can buy used gift cards at a discount – sometimes as much as 15% off the face value of the card? So this essentially means that you can pay $85 for a $100 gift card in some cases.
But the key to actually saving money here is to buy gift cards for stores and products that we will be buying anyway.
To learn more check out this post.
7. Save money on brand-name clothing
Normal = Pay full-price like all your friends!
If you are someone who loves to have the latest styles and brands, just because you want to save money doesn’t mean that you are doomed to outdated and decade-old clothing.
But, you do have to think a little outside the box in order to make both work. Sites like Rue La La send you daily emails with huge discounts on the hottest brands. They are free to use and can save you up to 80% off of retail.
8. Buy jewelry from a discounter
Normal = Buy jewelry from the mall jewelry store or another traditional store
If you haven’t purchased jewelry in a while, you may be interested to know that the jewelry industry is going through some major changes. Diamonds have always had ridiculous markups, but recently there are more options for relief. Many direct importers are selling rings themselves at much better prices than you could get from the traditional stores.
It makes perfect sense – the traditional stores have to pay for a storefront, sales force, utilities, etc., therefore the importers can usually beat their prices hands down. I bought my wife’s engagement ring at Amazon and ended up having it appraised for thousands more than I paid.
That was a money-saving victory sure!
9. Stop using car rental companies
Normal = Rent a car from Hertz
A couple of years ago I discovered this company called Turo, that is basically like Airbnb for cars.
It works like this: individuals rent out their cars to you and I, often at much better rates and less hassle than traditional car rental companies.
Here is a review I did of them that you can check out:
$25 just to sign up?
And for a limited time Turo is offering $25 just to sign up.
10. Make money with your clutter
Normal = Garage sale or throw away clutter
It is easier than you may think. eBay and Amazon.com make the process a breeze. Sign up for an account, take a few digital pictures, post it, and watch the buyers come to you. HINT: The biggest key I have noticed is selling brand name items and taking a few seconds to think, “If I wanted to buy this item, how would I search for it?” If you do this, you will be much more successful.
Below are a few more ways to make money selling your clutter…
Of course, some of your junk won’t be worth the effort of selling it online. For that stuff – maybe garage sale, maybe just save yourself the hassle and give it to the thrift store.
11. Get Rid of Your LandLine
Normal = Spending $25/m for a phone you never use
Believe it or not some people reading this still have landlines. 😉 Are you guilty?
Many people can save money pretty easily by only using their cell phones and just doing away with a landline.
12. Saving energy = Saving money
Normal = wasting energy
Even though “Being green is so IN right now,” the “normal” thing to do is waste energy. So not only will everyone think you are cool, 😉 but you can save money as well.
13. Negotiate with your credit card company
Normal = Pay whatever interest rate they give you
If you are carrying balances on your credit cards:
- Let’s change that! It is likely costing you tons.
- In the meantime, you should call them to get a better rate to save yourself some cash
Here are my 6 steps I used to successfully get my rates lowered:
14. Buying used stuff always saves money
Normal = Buy new
This is one of my favorite creative ways to save money. I first learned the power of this back in college, when I discovered that I could get my textbooks for free by buying and selling them at Amazon. I was paying a few bucks (at most) for my textbooks that many of my classmates were paying over $100 for.
15. Live in a smaller home
Normal = Buy the biggest house you can afford (or more than you can afford)
For some reasons, Americans just love to assume that bigger is better with just about everything. There is a plague of families constantly having to get a larger dwelling because their stockpile of junk gets too large for their current home. Often just by throwing junk away and spending time organizing storage areas and closets, you may realize that you DO have a big enough living space, it just needed a little organizational love. A lot of money can be saved by living in a smaller place. When you think about it that way, organizing really might pay very well. 😉
You could even try living in a 100 sq foot house!
16. Buy a used car
Normal = Buy a new car, pay it off (or maybe not) and buy a new one
You can save a lot of money on car depreciation by purchasing a car at least 2 years old. Some cars can lose as much as 35% in value during the first year.
It’s best to drive a car as long as you can, especially if you do purchase them new.
17. Shop after the season
Normal = buying Christmas décor during Christmas season
Shop for holiday cards, decorations, and gift wrap as the season ends, and keep them for next year. We do this and then we also enjoy the nice surprise after Thanksgiving of finding out what we bought the previous year that we forgot about.
18. Shop when no one else wants to
Normal = House shopping while the weather is nice
If you are considering a new home, remember the best time to buy is in the dead of winter, when other buyers huddle inside. You can save 5 percent off the peak-season price.
19. Save on tax prep
Have you ever noticed that almost all of the online tax prep companies allow you to file your Federal return for free, but then charge you for the state return?
After 3 or 4 years of that, I got annoyed and decided to find some places to file my state return for free. So be sure to bookmark this one for April!
20. Create a budget
Normal = attempt to mentally keep track of spending
From talking to readers about budgets for over a decade, I estimate that the average American family would save 20-30% each month just by using a budget.
If you have never done it, it won’t make sense to you, but for those who do budget, you know exactly what I am saying.
If you are serious about saving money, this one should not be overlooked. And here are some free budget spreadsheets to get you started:
21. Pay off your debt!
Normal = Keep paying monthly interest payments on your debt
At our peak, we had $46k of non-mortgage debt costing many hundreds of dollars in interest charges each month.
By paying off all our debt, we now had a lot more money in our pockets each month that we weren’t paying to Visa and Mastercard any more!
If you are carrying balances on your credit card, you have a lot of money you could be saving right there, just by paying them off! Or at least consider transferring them to 0% using the method shown below:
22. Use the Ibotta Smartphone App
Normal = Don’t use technology to save yourself money!
The Ibotta App is a nifty little app that allows you to select products that you regularly buy from Target, Walmart, or others and get cash back for those purchases to your paypal acct. Their website describes it as “a fun and easy way to earn $20 or more each time you go shopping. The more you use it, the better and more personalized your offers become.”
Download the free app here.
23. Go out to dinner for half price
Normal = Go to the same few restaurants all the time and pay full price
I love to try new restaurants, but since it is quite an expensive hobby – it is nice when you can save a few bucks. Enter the Entertainment Book. This wonderful tool costs about $25, but will pay for itself quickly if you use it a couple of times. It is available for most large U.S. cities and has thousands of coupons to participating restaurants – most of which are buy-one-get-one-free. This is one of my favorites ways to find new places to eat and save money in the process. Also consider Groupon.com or Restaurant.com, who sells $25 gift certificates (with restrictions) for $10 to thousands of restaurants across the country.
24. Maintain stuff
Normal = Buy new, don’t maintain, it breaks, then buy new as cycle repeats again and again.
Even if you buy the best stuff, if you don’t maintain it you will not save as much money as it could. You’ll then spend less on buying new stuff. When you buy something worth maintaining, take a few minutes to read the maintenance manual, and create a maintenance checklist that you can attach to the item. For important things like your car’s oil changes or tune-ups, put them in your calendar. To make it even easier, schedule most of your maintenance all on one day with a Car Day.
25. Save Money at the Grocery Store without Cutting Coupons!
Normal = Cut coupons the old-fashioned way or not at all
There is a lot of money that we can be saving at the grocery store! Here are some of the best tips I have found.
26. Get Your Property Tax Lowered
Normal = Just keep on paying what they ask you to pay (even when you shouldn’t be).
If you own a house and the last time your county assessed your home’s value was during the boom, you may be paying way too much property tax. According to one tax expert, “More than half of homeowners are paying too much in property taxes”. You can contact your county to re-assess your home’s value and potentially lower your property taxes each year.
27. Save money with the library
Normal = Pay for things that the library offers for free
If you can get past the frequently outdated décor, public libraries are home to a wealth of resources. Of course you can borrow books instead of buying them, but they also often have subscriptions to high cost services or publications like Hoovers or Valueline. Our local library has grown a huge collection of popular CDs and DVDs over the last few years. So, it can be a cheap (free) way to catch a few good movies.
28. Send your kid to college for free
Normal = Save for 15 years and still have to take loans
Admittedly, this will only work for a small group of people, but there are actually a variety of ways that you can go to college for free.
Check out this article to see 7 different options that we found:
29. Pay off your mortgage early
Normal = Pay hundreds of thousands in interest over 30 years
This one isn’t going to put money in your pocket this week, but has the potential to save you more than anything else on this page.
As soon as I realized that over the course of my 30-year mortgage loan that I would be paying over $100k in interest charges, I decided I wasn’t going to let that happen.
Linda and I made it our mission to get our house paid off early and save tons of money by doing so – and we did!!
My best suggestion is to take the savings that you get from many other items on this page and them use them to pay down your debt – and then tackle your mortgage!
Here are a few other tips:
30. Shop Auto Insurance Rates
Normal = Buy insurance and keep renewing without checking rates
Regardless of who you buy from, you can be abnormal and save money by shopping around every year or so for insurance. I have saved over $530/year for the same coverage by getting car insurance quotes on a regular basis. Now there is something to be said for finding a top-rated insurance company – it may not be worth saving $50/year to switch to a terrible company, so use your own judgement.
Either way, it is a good idea to check your auto insurance rates every year.
These are some of my favorite ways to save money, but I would love to hear yours! Please leave us a comment with your best money-saving tip or strategy!
Need a place to stash all your savings? If so, you can check out a lot of different savings account options here.