Saving Money? 100 Simple Spending Changes that you can make. Really.

How to Save Money

In a previous post, I told you about my friend whose family spends $1000 a month on restaurants and takeout. I’m still using her as my inspiration. Obviously, if they make some changes, they will see huge money savings in a short amount of time. But unless you have significant excess spending, it may not be that simple.

You probably have heard of some of these money-saving ideas before. Some may be new to you. But if you revisit this list periodically, add a few here and a few there, it will add up! I think it’s an important reminder–saving money is not always convenient. It can feel like work until your habits are routine.

saving money

Consider trying to adopt one new habit a day.

Once you get into the frame of mind, it becomes second nature. I really wanted to be a SAHM so I was willing to do just about whatever it takes to get there. Everything I do at home, every day, I ask myself, “How can I do this cheaper?”

And I’ve saved the most important tip for last!

100 Ways to Cut Household Spending

  1. Each week, call a new company that you deal with (insurance, cable, phone) and ask if they will lower your rate.
  2. Buy less food. If you always buy a lb. of lunch meat, buy 3/4. Buy a dozen eggs instead of 18. Which brings me to…
  3. Keep track of what food is routinely getting thrown out, and buy less of it or not at all.
  4. Ditch soda and soft drinks. Drink water. Tap water is fine or buy a Brita, not bottled water.
  5. Ditch bottled water, you don’t need it.
  6. Clip grocery coupons, but only for the products you already buy. You don’t have to purchase a Sunday paper, there are plenty of online printable coupons you can get.
  7. If you don’t want to clip coupons, at least get your grocery store loyalty card if it gets your discounts. Use the name “Loyal Customer” if you don’t want to use your name.
  8. If you don’t want to use coupons, use e-coupons. There are many good sites like Favado and Jingit that allow you to save money without clipping paper coupons.
  9. Fix your thermostat-Either install a programmable timer so that it turns down at night or when you’re not home or set up some type of reminder so that you turn it down before you go to bed.
  10. Cable-There are lots of alternatives if you want to ditch your cable services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. Look into those or at least cut back on premium channels and services.
  11. Ditch takeout and cook at home. If it’s a habit you’re into, try to at least cut back gradually each week.
  12. Be honest with yourself about gym memberships. If you’re not using it, end it.
  13. Find or create a babysitting co-op. Each family takes a turn watching the kids each month or each quarter.
  14. See if your community has a produce auction and learn to preserve items that can be purchased in bulk for much cheaper.
  15. Before going to a restaurant, do an internet search to see if you can find coupons or “kids eat free” night.
  16. Maintain your car, even basic stuff like air filters, oil changes, and tire inflation.
  17. Drive slower. The speed limit was reduced to 55 mph in the 1970s due to the oil crunch, not because the government was concerned about our safety.
  18. If it’s free or less than the cost of a stamp, do online bill pay.
  19. Negotiate with your bank on the fees you are being charged or switch banks to one with free checking and debit cards.
  20. If spending is out of control, cut up credit cards. Go to a cash-only system with envelopes and leave everything else at home.
  21. Renegotiate your cell phone bill. Cut back on calls and services if necessary. Say no to the kids if their portion is expensive. They will survive.
  22. Kids can ride the school bus, they don’t have to be driven.
  23. Ditch bad habits. For example, if you always hit the dryer button instead of folding or have to rewash items because you forgot to move them to the dryer, get better at it.
  24. Line dry what you can.
  25. Buy generic when you can. Things like cooking oils, flour, rice…you can get away with generics.
  26. Get a blanket for the hot water heater. Turn it down a degree or two.
  27. Get foam pipe insulation if your pipes are in an unheated basement.
  28. Put in little insulators behind switch plates and find any other drafty areas.
  29. Not all clothing needs to be laundered after one wearing. Spruce up with misting and re-ironing when possible.
  30. Stop impulse purchases at the grocery store. Not just candy at the registers, but anything you did not need and is not on your list.
  31. Get online magazine subscriptions for Kindles instead of paper.
  32. Stop overindulging on everyday things. Keep special things special–give gifts only at holidays, birthdays and rewards for something. Learn to say no.
  33. Shop consignment sales for everything but in particular more expensive items for kids like winter coats and boots.
  34. When shopping online, always look for a discount code for the retailer, or at the very least use Ebates.
  35. Re-purpose your leftovers. Instead of just serving “same meal as the night before, just heated up” consider reusing into a soup or stew. Or for example, make a turkey dinner into turkey shepherd’s pie or turkey chili.
  36. When doing recreational activities, always look for online coupons for the venue or consider a free activity instead of one that could cost money. IE-walk around the local park instead of the local mall.
  37. Use the library. Books, DVDs, kids’ activities, they offer lots of free stuff.
  38. Join a Facebook group to buy and sell things. Search “your town” and yard sale to see what comes up. Find items cheaper and make some money on things you’re no longer using.
  39. Cut back on what activities your kids do. Unstructured playtime has lots of value too.
  40. Cut back on little impulse spending such as apps, lottery tickets, lunches out, Starbucks and other things that add up.
  41. See if you can get your hair done at the local vo-tech school. They also sometimes do oil changes, wash dogs and have inexpensive restaurants.
  42. Use eBay, craigslist, and other resale sites to sell what you are not using.
  43. Donate what you are not using and get the tax deduction.
  44. Many of us overdo it during the holidays. Stop. Make a budget and stick to it, whether it be Christmas, Easter or a child’s birthday.
  45. There are many inexpensive options out there for birthday parties. Use them.
  46. Learn about your flex spending options and use them if they will save you money.
  47. Maintain your house such as regular house maintenance on furnaces, HVAC, furnace filters, fix leaky faucets.
  48. Research composting and if it’s feasible, do it. It’s good for the environment and you won’t have to purchase soil for….
  49. Grow and harvest your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
  50. With the money you are saving, save enough so that when some bills come you can take advantage of things like “pay in full now and save 10%.”
  51. For one month, record every penny that is spent in your household. What can be eliminated?
  52. Are you still paying PMI? Do you need to be?
  53. Can you refinance your home to a lower interest rate?
  54. Do a weekly meal plan and then a grocery list, and stick to it.
  55. Look at your pantry and cabinets before you go to the store to avoid buying more of what you don’t need.
  56. Stop wasting things. What food are you regularly throwing out? Newspapers, magazines, what are you paying for in your home that doesn’t get used?
  57. Cut things in half. Water down cleansers and detergents. Cut dryer sheets in half. Use less of everything. Don’t always grab two tissues or two paper towels if you only need one.
  58. Involve kids in the process. Let them know ahead of time they may choose one small treat food at the grocery store to avoid battles while in-store.
  59. Get in the habit of saying “Is that the best price? Are there any discounts available?” You will be surprised!
  60. When going to restaurants take advantage of deals, specials, and other discounts.
  61. Consider takeout instead of a restaurant to save on drinks, desserts, tips, and other things.
  62. Use Pinterest and other websites and learn how to upscale your old, used furniture. Buy a slipcover to get a few more years out of it or repaint it, before you buy new.
  63. Make sure you learn how to use all of your appliances effectively. What is the best setting on your dishwasher, washer, dryer, refrigerator for optimum running?
  64. Use only cold water for washing clothes.
  65. Learn to like less expensive brands and varieties of things.
  66. If you have the storage space, buy in bulk when you can. But only if it’s a significant saving and you will use the item.
  67. If you must indulge in an expensive hair salon, try to go for a style or look that allows you to go a few extra weeks between visits.
  68. Say “Just Do It” to yourself to saving money. Use a savings plan of some kind, like the 52-week savings challenge.
  69. If you travel for business, see if you can add on extra days for a personal vacation with your family. You could possibly trim the travel costs of one whole family member.
  70. Don’t stop splurging altogether or you will resent saving money. Small indulgences are fun and sometimes our soul needs them. Just not every day.
  71. Quit smoking. Seriously. And any other unnecessary and costly habits.
  72. Use streaming services for movies. Don’t buy them unless it is at a used bookstore or consignment sale.
  73. Don’t set up any retail or purchasing websites with your credit card number already there. If you have to get up, get your wallet and put in the numbers, you may think twice about the purchase.
  74. Unsubscribe to deal sites and other websites that encourage impulse purchases.
  75. Don’t buy single-serve products. Buy bags of pretzels and put them in sandwich bags (or better, reusable containers).
  76. Dry clean only what truly needs to be dry cleaned. Do the rest at home.
  77. Pay your kids to wash your car and cut your grass instead of a more expensive service.
  78. Or, wash your car yourself.
  79. Running a dishwasher is not always more efficient than hand washing. When ours was broken, our electric bill went down 20% that month. Do your own little experiment and see.
  80. If you live in an area with electric choice, shop around and compare rates.
  81. Do not use disposable silverware, plates, and cups. Reusable costs less and better for the environment.
  82. Try to give up paper towels and other disposable cleaning items and buy stuff built to last. (I will not give up my disposable toilet brushes though!)
  83. Learn how to use common household items like vinegar, baking soda, and lemons around the house and for cleaning. Vinegar and water are much cheaper than many household cleaners!
  84. Before committing to an expensive Costco or similar warehouse club membership, try it out and make sure it is less money. It often isn’t. Look online and see if they have “try it free” offers for 30 or 60 days.
  85. Make sure your homeowner’s policy is up to date every year, with any expensive items you’ve purchased get added. Then, consider a higher deductible for lower rates.
  86. Always try a free version of an app or website before purchasing it’s paid version. If you do a free trial, make a note on your calendar of when your credit card will be charged so that you can cancel if necessary.
  87. Get and keep an organization system to pay your bills. If you are constantly being charged late fees due to late payments, get organized!
  88. Consider getting only internet service, not TV and phone. Use other options for TV and use Skype for phone or ditch the home phone altogether.
  89. See if your veterinarian has special months when they run discounted vaccinations or teeth cleaning. Many do!
  90. If you are good about using credit cards and pay them off, consider putting all of your monthly expenses on one that will get you some type of rewards, either cash back or gift cards. Make sure that the benefits outweigh any fees.
  91. Overcome the awkwardness and approach family members about setting spending limits when it comes to gift-giving.
  92. Remember that you can’t support everything. Every time I turn around, one of my boys’ schools is selling something. You don’t have to support everything.
  93. Use the Box Tops for Education program or the Giant program or some other way to donate money to schools instead of actual money.
  94. Look around at what really is necessary and what is a luxury. I’m talking about OnStar, satellite radio, HBO, daily lunches out. Cut back when you can.
  95. Unless your situation is complex, use one of the $40-$50 tax preparation programs instead of paying someone to do it.
  96. Keep a list in your purse of every gift-giving occasion that you have in a year. Every holiday, birthdays, teacher gifts, etc. Then, if you run into a great sale or clearance, get out your list and see what you need to get. Maintain a gift closet of great deal finds that you find and save money on gift-giving.
  97. Same as above, but instead think of greeting cards.
  98. Have a goal or a plan of what you want to do with the money saved. Live debt-free? Retirement? A nice vacation?
  99. Learn to make things from scratch. Say no to convenience foods. Cooking is not hard, the marketers have convinced us it is.
  100. Most importantly–when you flub and have a bad day or a bad week, don’t give up. Start over, keep going and you will develop a frugal mentality.