Tuesday, November 16, 2021

101 Ways to Save Money

Since the cost of, well, everything, seems to be rising exponentially these days, here are a bunch of ways to save a little money on your usual expenses:

  1. Mint Mobile has a great price for cell service at only $15 a month (prepaid for a year). Here's an even better deal for the first few months of service.
  2. An over-the-air antenna works great in many areas.  You simply buy the antenna for about $20, scan for local stations, and enjoy 50+ stations for free.  We cut cable TV years ago since we get so many stations for free.
  3. Check and recheck prices for internet.  Every year I check the price on our internet service in order to get the best deal.  The last time, instead of calling in and talking to someone, I simply went online to my account and saw that they offered a bunch of heavily discounted plans I could choose from (I got basically the same service for about half the price I had been paying for a year).
  4. Check and see if you can sign up for property tax exemptions from your county assessor's office.  Example here.
  5. Call around every year to see if you can get a better deal on insurance.  Often you can bundle home and auto insurance and get an even better deal.  People who are sourcing health insurance should check their state ACA insurance portal annually because these plans can change to include people who previously didn't qualify for subsidized plans.  FWIW, I recently changes home and auto insurance to a plan through Costco and it saved me a few hundred dollars a year.
  6. Pay your bills annually if this saves you money.  In our case, discounts for paying our auto insurance bi annually and our sewer bill annually saves a great deal of money over paying these bills monthly.
  7. Consider moving.  Obviously this a a pretty drastic step but I just don't understand people who don't want to leave a place like California, for example, with mediocre paying jobs and exorbitant housing prices when they can choose a state with a lower tax burden and much better housing prices vs average salaries.
  8. If you do decide to move, look at all of the variables.  Depending on your situation, things like states with no state income tax, states with better weather, states with lower property tax, states that welcome people who work from home, and even states that offer money for you to move there might be a good option.
  9. Buy your home instead of renting if possible. Not everyone wants to do this but by buying a home you get a basically fixed payment (get a fixed interest rate not an ARM!) instead of being at the mercy of landlords (some landlords in my city are raising rents by several hundred dollars per month even for long-term tenants due to the crazy rental market this year).  You also enjoy a generally appreciating asset and have the freedom to do what you want with your property.  
  10. Learn how to fix things yourself.  When you have a house, things are going to break.  When something breaks, calling a professional may be the most expedient thing to do but this is also the most expensive way to fix things.  There are YouTube videos and online resources to fix nearly everything so consider DIY fixes before calling a professional (obviously you don't want to DIY things that could kill you like fixing a broken garage spring or replacing a gas water heater, etc).
  11. If you do have a problem that requires a large expenditure of money, get several written estimates and ask friend for referrals for service providers.  Going the cheapest route with a fly-by-night company is a good way to waste your money and have to pay for a repair service to repair the service you already paid for.
  12. To save money on utility bills, there are dozens of ways to keep more money in your pocket by simply conserving and efficiently using things like gas, water, and electricity.
  13. Speaking of utilities, check your utility company's websites and see what goodies they offer.  We have received things like free home winterization kits, free low-flow faucets, and rebates when buying new appliances from our local utility companies.
  14. Sign up for a library card if you don't have one already.  Our library offers so many free things it's hard to list all of them.  From free music and movie downloads to free e-books for my Kindle, free movies and music events around the community, free classes on a range of topics, and some libraries even offer free passes that you can "check out" to visit local museums and local attractions.
  15. Have an emergency fund.  This can save you money in the long run if you have an emergency as opposed to "fixing" your emergency by putting the cost on a credit card (high interest) or worse, getting a payday loan (extortionate interest).
  16. Choose your vehicle wisely.  The type of car you buy can impact everything from overall price to maintenance cost (cough BMW cough) to registration and annual fee prices to insurance costs.
  17. Keep your vehicle properly maintained to avoid costly repairs later on.  Changing the oil and air filters and keeping the proper level of air in your tires are simple ways to keep your car running for a long time.
  18. Speaking of cars, consider from going from three cars to two cars or even from two cars to one car.  Each car costs a significant amount for registration, insurance, and maintenance.
  19. Save even more money on transportation by walking or bicycling to do errands, group your errands to lessen the amount of driving you do, working from home if possible, etc.
  20. Use preventive maintenance to extend the life span of, well, everything.  Get your teeth cleaned regularly and fix small dental problems before they become emergencies.  Do annual maintenance on your HVAC system and hot water tank to extend the lives of these appliances.  Have regular medical check ups instead of waiting for an emergency to happen.  You get the idea.
  21. Save money on kids.  There's a bajillion mommy bloggers who share tips on how to raise kids from birth to grad school on the cheap.  By simply googling things like 'how to save money on diapers' to 'making your own baby food' you will find thousands and thousands of pages of tips on how to do these and many other things the cheapest, most creative ways possible.
  22. Look for free or cheap entertainment options in your community.  Local news sources, local bloggers, local FB/IG pages, etc. all post notices of free/cheap community events and entertainment options that can save you a lot of money over paying for top-tier entertainment.
  23. Consider bartering.  You can barter a lot of everyday skills from plumbing service to day care for the kiddos to food to furniture and appliance, etc.  This is a great way to save money, get what you need, get other people what they need, and make connections in the bartering community.
  24. Also consider things like dumpster diving, trash picking, thrifting, garage saleing, etc. to get the things you need.  I've done all of these things with varying degrees of success.  I will gladly stop to pick up something sitting along the roadside if it is something I need, something that can be resold, or something that can be given to someone else.
  25. Get out of debt.  This is a tried and true way to save money as any debt you have usually has interest payments attached to it.  Get "gazelle intense", work several jobs, and throw any extra money you have at your debts and you will be surprised at how quickly you can get rid of your debt for good.
  26. Get rid of any memberships/recurring charges that you don't need.  Do you really need Nextflix/Disney +/Apple TV+?  Do you NEED a gym membership or can you do some calisthenics at home then take a walk around your neighborhood every day?  Do you have recurring charges for things like apps you don't use anymore, magazine subscriptions that you can get for free from the library, etc?
  27. Stop shopping!  Some people use shopping in place of therapy, some people go shopping because they are bored, and some people are addicted to online shopping to the point that they are on a first-name basis with every Amazon/FedEx/UPS driver assigned to their area.  Have a shopping list, wait to make purchases, don't frequent online shopping sites, etc.  Do all you can to avoid spending money unnecessarily.
  28. If you must shop, can you buy the item you need at the dollar store?  At the thrift store?  Can you find it cheaper online?  Can you wait until the item comes on sale?
  29. Don't do stupid financial things like co-signing for a loan for someone, buying into a time share, paying rent-to-own prices for your appliances, falling for scams, etc.
  30. Never loan money to anyone.  If you can't afford to give the money as a gift with no expectation of getting it back, don't give your money away.
  31. Consider your technology needs and buy only what you need.  Most people don't need a screaming fast Intel I9 laptop, $350 headphones, and a $1700 cell phone.  Although these things are "nice to have", they are certainly not necessary for the vast majority of people.  Simplifying your tech needs and buying mid-range instead of high-range will save you a ton of money.  Also, being a "late adapter" instead of an "early adapter" will allow you to buy high quality tech after all of the bugs have been worked out and the price has dropped significantly.
  32. Control your money so it doesn't control you.  Have a written budget (go cash-only if necessary), make saving money a priority, choose no-fee ATMs, never overdraft your account, pay your bills on time and in full so you don't incur late charges, etc.
  33. If you don't know where your money is going, write down every penny you spend for a month or two.  This can be an eye-opening experience to see in black and white that a good chunk of your money is going to wasteful spending (cough Starbucks cough).
  34. Avoid any entanglements with the legal system.  Divorce, child support, drunk driving, shady business dealings, committing crimes...any time you end up dealing with the legal system it usually means your money will be going to fines, fees, and legal representation.
  35. Avoid any entanglements with the medical system.  The medical system is nearly as shady as the legal system so the more you can avoid being old, sick, fat, or injured, the better off you will be physically and financially.
  36. If you do end up needing expensive medical care be sure to: ask for a cash discount, ask for an itemized bill, ask about charity care programs which could reduce your medical bills significantly, consider medical tourism or alternative care option (like dental work at a university teaching program which is usually much cheaper than regular dental clinics). 
  37. Don't forget to shop around for cheaper prescriptions if needed.  Costco and Walmart pharmacies are often cheaper than other pharmacies (you don't need to be a Costco member to use Costco pharmacies), use apps like Good Rx, and look into other prescription assistance programs you can use.
  38. Sign up for any money-saving programs you qualify for.  Depending on your income you may qualify for free or reduced school meals for your kids, Medicaid, WIC, food stamps, etc.
  39. Consider the associated costs that come with your purchases.  Nearly everything you buy comes with extra costs.  The bigger your home, the more it costs to heat/air condition/furnish/insure/etc.  Buying a house with a pool?  That will mean higher costs for insurance/maintenance/electricity to heat the thing/replacement parts/etc.  Buy a horse/boat/RV/plane...the costs for maintenance and upkeep can be astronomical.
  40. Always ask for discounts.  Military discounts, senior discounts, locals discounts, kid discounts...all will save you money just for the asking.  And don't forget about freebies like these and these.
  41. Become a minimalist.  Minimalism is becoming a pretty big movement these days as people realize they don't need as much crap as advertisers try to convince them they need.  Need less, buy less, spend less.
  42. Aside from being a minimalist, keeping a clean, organized house can actually save you money.  If you have a spot for everything and everything is in it's spot, you won't have to keep buying items that have been misplaced.
  43. When you do buy things, buy quality, buy these "must have" items at a discount, and buy it for life.  I'd much rather buy $150 shoes (on sale, of course) over buying several pairs of cheaper shoes that won't last nearly as long.
  44. Speaking of growing movements, the zero waste movement will also save you money on many things.  This includes things like using rags and towels instead of paper products, using a bidet to save on toilet paper, carrying a reusable water bottle instead of going through several individual bottles of water per day, etc.
  45. Consider making household products from scratch instead of relying on the chemical-industrial complex.  These will usually save money as well as your health.
  46. Google around for assistance based on your demographic if needed.  Veteran's services, tribal services, disabled services, minority-owned business services, homeless services, immigrant services, scholarships based on your demographic...there are lots of programs designed specifically for certain groups of people, you just need to find them.
  47. Shop for food on sale, buy loss leaders, and use apps/coupons.  Then plan your meals around what is on sale.
  48. Source your food from many places: grocery stores, ethnic stores, farmer's markets, discounters like Aldis, etc.  As long as these stores are within a reasonable distance, shopping multiple stores with multiple sales can save money on your overall grocery bill.
  49. Grow your own food.  While the start-up costs can be high, if this is something you enjoy doing, growing a garden can get cheaper over time, especially if you save your own seeds.
  50. Cook and bake from scratch.  This is usually cheaper as well as healthier than buying processed, pre-packaged food.
  51. Do the food processing yourself.  Have you ever seen Lunchables?  For much less than the cost of this type of pre-packaged food, you can slice your own meats and cheeses.  Ditto pre-cut fruit and vegetables that you find in grocery stores.
  52. Keep an organized pantry/refrigerator/freezer and be sure to rotate your food as you purchase it.  This eliminates food waste from old food being forgotten in the back of the fridge/pantry.
  53. Go to extremes to save money on food like fasting, intermittent fasting, $1/$3 a day meal challenges, only eating two meals a day instead of three, etc.  Obviously if this will negatively impact your health (ie: you are diabetic, etc) don't do this!
  54. Speaking of being organized, consider making a price book for groceries and household supplies to ensure you are getting the best prices.  These days it seems like lots of products are shrinking yet prices are increasing while the packaging remains the same in order to make you think you are getting more product than you actually are (this is a particular problem at dollar stores where people get carried away with buying cheap items and only realize later that the item isn't as big as it would be in a regular store like half-size cake mixes).
  55. Consider preserving food yourself.  Freezing, canning, drying, making pickles or sauerkraut, etc. are all ways to preserve bulk food that you grow or find on sale.
  56. Have useful food-related hobbies.  Hunting, fishing, clamming, mushroom hunting, foraging for wild edibles, etc. are all inexpensive ways to provide food for yourself and your family.
  57. Consider buying cooperatively with others in order to buy in bulk and save money.  You can split the cost of a 50 pound bag of rice with a friend which would be cheaper than buying a small bag of rice for yourself.  You can go in with a family member to buy a whole cow and fill both of your freezers.
  58. If you must eat out, do so strategically: eat out for lunch instead of dinner which is usually more expensive, split restaurant meals with your SO (most meals are huge and include way more calories than a single person needs), order water instead of soda and skip dessert, hit up ethnic restaurants which are often cheaper and a more adventurous way to eat, etc. 
  59. Cook in bulk and freeze the leftovers.  It's easy to order out if you are tired and come home from work with no time/desire to cook anything.  With meals already cooked and sitting in the freezer it is easy to hit defrost and cook on the microwave and have a good meal ready in minutes.
  60. Pay attention to your taxes.  Make sure your withholdings are adequate (don't withhold to much or too little) and have your taxes prepared professionally if they are particularly complicated to ensure you get all of the deductions you are entitled to.
  61. Buy annual passes to save money on activities you will do often.  Things like annual National Parks Passes, state parks passes, children's museum passes, zoo passes, etc. can save you a lot of money over paying for each entry if you will visit these places often.
  62. Save on postage.  Our postal service is kind of a hot mess anyway these days but by paying your bills online and emailing gifts (gift cards and/or direct delivery of things you buy online for someone) you can save significantly on postage costs.
  63. Go for low-cost vacation options.  Visit friends or family so you will have free/cheap lodging, take the family camping instead of to a pricey resort, calculate the costs of flying versus driving, do a "staycation" instead of traveling far away, maybe use a house swap service, etc.  
  64. Be aware of the cost of pets before you get them.  A recent study shows that pets can cost more than children!
  65. If you can't afford to have a pet, consider taking taking the kids to volunteer at a local animal shelter--they get to walk dogs and socialize cats with none of the expense of owning a pet.
  66. Consider doing your own (or your SO's/friend's) personal services.  This can include haircuts, manicures, pedicures, hair coloring, facials, etc.  There are plenty of how-to videos online and with a little practice you can get really good at doing these things as well as save a lot of money over the cost of going to a salon.
  67. Pick up inexpensive hobbies.  Instead of golf, sailing, or horseback riding, consider hiking/walking, HAM radio, or these cheap hobbies.
  68. If you have expensive habits, figure out how to reduce the costs of imbibing.  Making your own coffee instead of hitting up the coffee shop, brew your own beer, roll your on cigarettes, etc.
  69. If you have bad habits, consider quitting them all together.  Gambling, drinking, smoking, drug use, etc. aren't good for you anyway so by quitting these habits you will save money and quite likely your life!
  70. Volunteer!  Depending on what kind of volunteer work you do, you may get free meals, free training, free gear or supplies, etc.
  71. Try a variety of challenges to save money. No Spend November, low spend week or month, no eating out for a month, etc.
  72. Take advantage of benefits your employer provides like matches for your 401k, employer-funded education, a cheap or free employee cafeteria, etc.
  73. Create good children.  With good parenting and an emphasis on education/good behavior/etc. your kids can save you money by not getting involved in legal trouble, not getting pregnant before they are fully educated and have a job, qualify for scholarships and even participate in simultaneous high school/free junior college programs, etc.
  74. Plan money-saving family events.  Taco night, family movie night at home, potlucks with friends, etc. are all ways to save money while still having fun with the family and friends.
  75. Rent or borrow tools and equipment you don't need to use very often.  If you have a big yard, it makes sense to buy a lawn mower but if you only need to power wash your deck once a year, renting or borrowing a power washer makes more sense.
  76. Take a part-time job just for the benefits.  People work part time at Starbucks just to get cheap health insurance, college students may work in restaurants because they get pay plus free meals, people even work at colleges so they or their children can get a free or discounted education.
  77. See if you are owed money.  There are class action rebates you may qualify for as well as several programs to help you find unclaimed money.
  78. Stay focused on saving money so you don't get off track.  Listen to Dave Ramsey until your ears bleed, read frugal blogs, participate in frugal discussion boards, etc.
  79. Reduce your use of consumer items.  Instead of a full cup of laundry detergent, I use half that amount.  Instead of a big glob of toothpaste like you see on commercials, I use only a small glob.  Instead of a whole paper towel, I cut down through the middle of the roll so I only use a half piece of a paper towel instead of a full piece.  Advertisers want you to use a lot of their product so you will keep buying more but you seldom need to use as much as they say.
  80. Cancel credit cards with annual fees or high interest rates and go with fee-free, low interest cards.  If your bank charges a monthly fee, see if you can get a fee-free account through a local credit union.  Refinance your mortgage if you can get a lower interest rate.  Drop PMI insurance as soon as possible. Use fee-free ATMs or withdraw extra cash from your debit card when paying for your groceries.
  81. Instead of paying big bucks for name-brand software, check out free options for nearly every software program on the market.
  82. Check out your local Craigslist, Facebook page, Offer Up, and Freecycle page to pick up all kinds of things (clothes, furniture, etc) for free.
  83. Get a college-level education for free.  Obviously you will need an actual college education if you want to go to med school or law school but if you are a business owner and want to learn about business accounting or if you want to learn programmer or IT skills, open courseware is the place to go.
  84. Go places on discount days or at discount times.  Matinee movies instead of evening movies can save you money, visit national parks on free-entrance days, and check out local pools/skating rinks/museums for discount times/days (our local Mob Museum offers free entry to the museum if people attend their monthly community safety forum which is also free to attend).
  85. Use free points for purchases.  Casinos give players free "comps" based on their play which can then be used for free meals, hotel stays, etc.  Credit cards often give cash back on purchases.  Using airline credit cards can accrue points you can use for free flights, etc.
  86. Keep control of your entertainment dollars by only bringing the cash you want to spend with you.  This applies to gambling, nightclubs, strip clubs, bars, and anywhere else you may be tempted to spend more than you planned.
  87. Spend money to save money.  If you will be drinking, take an Uber to and from the bar instead of driving and hoping you will be responsible enough to order an Uber for the ride home.  Buy in bulk if you know you will use the item and the cost is significantly lower than buying smaller quantities.  Pay more to live in a safer neighborhood.
  88. Live below your means.  This is fairly straight-forward but live in a place you can afford, buy an engagement ring you can afford, go on vacations you can afford, buy a car you can afford...living lavishly when you can't afford to is a sure path towards bankruptcy.
  89. Pick a good partner.  Find a SO who has similar values, similar frugal tendencies, and isn't someone you "need to fix" or has serious mental health/addiction/legal/financial issues.
  90. Pay attention to what is going on.  When you hear rumblings of shortages, stock up before the national news picks up on this and scares everyone into hoarding.  Buy at the bottom of the housing market, not when prices are topping out.  If a hurricane is days away, stock up on food and get gas as soon as this becomes a possibility not the day before the hurricane is set to hit.
  91. Go extreme: join the military for everything from free-ish college and medical care to a retiree pension starting at the ripe old age of 40.
  92. Go extreme: go to a foreign country for a free college education.
  93. Go extreme: live with little to no money.  Examples here, here, and here
  94. Go extreme: become a vegan.  Veganism is much cheaper than eating meat/dairy/processed foods and it makes you way more healthier too.
  95. Go extreme: sell yourself.  Not in the classic sense of the word, of course, but you can sell your hair, sell your blood, sell your sperm/eggs, etc.
  96. Go extreme: don't have children.  Kids are expensive!
  97. Go extreme: let someone else cover your costs.  Become a live-in nanny, a live-in caretaker, participate in medical trials, etc.
  98. Go extreme: live off-grid.  Build a tiny house, drill a well, install solar, install a septic tank, process your own trash, etc.
  99. Go extreme: rent out your vehicle on Turo, rent an extra room on Air BnB, take in roommates to save money on your rent/mortgage, etc.
  100. Go extreme: become an extreme couponer.
  101. Look for even more ways to save money simply by Googling 'how to save money', 'extreme money saving tips', etc.

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