29 small ways to save money (that can really add up)

If you know me, you know I’m all about that saving money life. I’m always looking for ways to save, even if it’s only a few bucks here or there. I’m always researching before I buy things, looking for sales and coupons for everything from groceries to high ticket items. I fully believe that the little ways I commit to saving each month really adds up. Here are a few tips I’ve learned through the years, and hopefully they can help you too! (Warning: some of these are VERY small ways, and may not even seem worth the effort, but I promise they pay off. And create frugal habits.) šŸ˜‰

  1. Order water at restaurants

I am appalled that restaurants get away with charging over $2 for soda/tea. I can’t rationalize paying that much when I can get a giant soda on the way home at QT for less than half that. Also, I like drinking water with my meals anyway. Soda is more of a special treat that I don’t have that often. If you’re going out for some alcoholic drinks, that can also get pricey, but I’m not gonna tell you never to do that. šŸ˜‰ Just maybe don’t go crazy and remember it’s a lot cheaper at liquor stores, so you can drink more when you get home.

2. Make your coffee at home

I don’t drink coffee, so I can’t really speak personally on this, but I hear that coffee adds up quickly, especially if you’re going through the Starbucks drive-thru multiple times a week. Buy some quality coffee and creamer and make it at home most mornings. That way going to a coffee shop is more of an occasional thing.

3. Bring your lunch to work (or school, or wherever you’re goin’)

Eating out adds up so fast. If you work full time or are in class during lunch time, I suggest packing your meal so that you’re not stuck hungry with a Chipotle 5 minutes away (trust me, I know the temptation). I typically pack a turkey & cheese sandwich with a vegetable and a fruit. But you can pack whatever you want, as long as it’s saving you money! Also, I have a snack drawer at work so that I know I have options if I get hungry in the afternoon.

4. Follow your favorite stores on social media & sign up for their e-mails

The best way to find out about sales and coupons is to get updates from the companies themselves! I follow the stores and restaurants that I frequent so that I get firsthand information and possibly exclusive deals. But, make sure you don’t sign up for every store in the world so that your inbox is full of junk. Then chances are you’ll never sift through the emails anyway.

5. Sign up for loyalty rewards programs (but only if you’re a loyal customer)

Most stores and restaurants have some sort of rewards program these days, whether it’s a company credit card with perks or a point system. For example, I’m a MyPanera cardholder, which means that every few visits, I get a coupon for a free item (the coupons differ each time). I go there enough that it’s worth it to have that card. Think of places that you go to often and research if they have rewards programs you can benefit from.

6. Shop at secondhand and discount stores

Duh. Obviously I’m going to say this, I live for thrift stores and garage sales and all those sorts of things. But seriously, if you’re looking for a new kitchen table or a piece of exercise equipment or some kitchen dishes, check out your local thrift stores before heading to a retail store. It doesn’t hurt to look, and a lot of times there can be stuff that is in pristine condition. You’d be surprised at the things people donate. Also, discount stores like Dollar Tree, Big Lots, Aldi, etc. are good to check out.

7. Check for coupons before your grocery haul

Before I leave for Walmart every weekend, I check the Sunday paper and coupons.com for coupons that I can use. But, be careful, just because there’s a coupon for something doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Only use the coupons if it’s something you were going to buy anyway, or something that you can stock up on.

8. Don’t sacrifice quality just to save money

I’m all about saving money, but I’m not about sacrificing quality when it matters to me. For example, I buy name brand shampoo and certain foods because I can tell the difference. But I usually only buy those things when I have a coupon. If you have to spend a few more bucks to get better quality, do it. It’ll probably actually save you money in the long run because it will last longer.

9. DIY when you can

If you can do it yourself, then you should weigh that option against buying it. For example, I wanted some bracelets to wear to work, so instead of buying some already made, I went to Hobby Lobby (with a coupon of course) and bought beads & string. I made them for a lot cheaper than I could’ve bought them. There are also great DIY ideas on Pinterest for home decor, storage, crafts, etc.

10. Shop the Facebook Marketplace/OfferUp/LetGo/CraigslistĀ 

This kind of goes hand in hand with #6. Look for secondhand options before buying retail if it makes sense to do so. Some things I specifically check these sites for are furniture, decor, electronics, etc. Obviously check for any flaws before purchasing. And, don’t be afraid to negotiate price on some items. Can’t hurt to try!

11. Use apps like Ibotta & ShopkickĀ 

I’ve used Shopkick for awhile now. Basically, you check in on the app when you enter a store and it gives you points. It also gives you points for scanning specific items in the store (you don’t have to buy it, just pick it up and scan it). When you earn enough points, you can buy gift cards to lots of different stores. I don’t personally use Ibotta, but I’ve heard from many people that it’s easy and rewarding. It’s kind of the same concept, but you scan your receipts into the app instead of checking into the store.

12. Utilize your local library

If there’s a book you want to read (or a movie you want to buy), check your local library instead of spending money on something you’re not even sure you’ll like. Even if it’s not available that day, you can put it on hold. Then after that, if you really want your own copy, go for it. šŸ™‚

13. Paint your own nails

Manicures and pedicures are so expensive!! It’s definitely an occasional treat for me. But I do like to have my nails painted, so I invested in some quality nail polish and other manicure-related things so that I can do them at home every week. Buying a $7 bottle of nail polish makes much more sense to me than paying over $20 for someone else to paint your nails on a regular basis. They even make at home gel kits now too, so if you’re into that stuff you can go nuts at home.

14. Do your research before you purchase a big ticket item

Need a new laptop? TV? Couch? Dishwasher? Mattress? Car? Lawn mower? Whatever it is, do you research before you go out and buy it. Check online for sales. Compare pricing at numerous stores. Look up reviews for the specific product. Check the warranty stipulations. Make sure what you’re buying is good quality and a fair price.

15. Make a list of free (or cheap) things to do when you’re bored

You and your friend want to hang out, but you don’t know what to do. You and your boyfriend want to have a fun Friday night, but you also don’t want to spend a lot of money. There are numerous situations where having a list like this would come in handy. Just type a list of free (or cheap) things to do in your phone, so that it’s always handy when you need it. For example, mine includes an art museum, park, movie night with store bought snacks, game night, festivals that are coming up, etc.

16. Only pay for cable if you’re really going to use itĀ 

Cable is so expensive. If you’re going to use it often, I don’t blame you for paying for it. But if you can get by with Netflix, I’d suggest it. This also goes for the home phone… if you can just have your cell phone, do it.

17. Grab free promotional items when you see them

I haven’t bought a pen in years because of this. If you see a promotional item that is USEFUL (key word), then pick it up! Pens. Water bottles. Tumblers. Notebooks. The list goes on.

18. Don’t buy something just because it’s cheap

“Ooooooh, ________ is on sale!” Don’t be that person. If you buy something merely because of the fact that it was on sale, then the marketing geniuses behind that scheme did their job. It’s also the same with clearance items. Be careful. Only buy something that you genuinely need or were planning to get soon anyway. Don’t fall into the trap!

19. Stop buying everything at Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree is great for some things, but not all things. There are many times that something is a dollar at Dollar Tree, but 97 cents at Walmart. Those pennies can add up quick.

20. Cook more, eat out less

I think this one is pretty self explanatory. It’s cheaper to buy bread, cheese, and meat to make sandwiches for lunch every day than to grab something at a restaurant every day. Especially when you have a big family, buying in bulk can become your best friend. If you plan and prep your meals for the week, cooking isn’t such a hassle.

21. Sell stuff you don’t use

Purge your house. Go through your closet, storage, kitchen cabinets, etc. Get rid off the stuff you don’t use by selling it. Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and Craigslist are great places to do so. Or, if you gather enough, have a garage sale.

22. Carpool

If you’re going somewhere that’s quite a few miles away, consider meeting friends in a central location and going together. Take turns doing that and you’ll save a few bucks in gas. And it helps the environment, so that’s cool right?

23. Make a meal plan every week (before you go grocery shopping)

If you have a plan, you’re much less likely to buy food that goes to waste because you didn’t eat it in time. Know what meals you plan to prepare for the week and try to coordinate so that they use similar ingredients, especially the perishable foods. This assures that you’ll buy exactly what you need, and will help you not buy random things that you don’t need since you have a list to go off of.

24. Make a budget

Well this seems obvious. Because it is. If you designate a certain amount of money to spend on certain things, you’re more likely to spend less. For example, I have a budget that’s split up for groceries, gas, eating out/entertainment, clothes, savings, etc. Putting away money to save firsthand is always a good idea because then you know how much you should spend.

25. Buy gifts when they’re on sale

If you’re someone that gives gifts often, consider buying them in bulk when you see an item on sale. For example, when Bath & Body Works has a clearance sale, stock up on lotions and candles to give to friends for Christmas.

26. Shop clearance at clothing stores

Clothes can be expensive. That’s one of the first things I learned when I became an adult and had to buy my own things. But it forced me to look for affordable options, including sales and the clearance rack. You’d be shocked at the great stuff you can find there. Check it out sometime!

27. Bring your own snacks to the movie theatreĀ 

Two words: giant purse. You can fit a lot of snacks in there, even drinks. Because I’m not trying to pay $18 for one skittle and you shouldn’t either.

28. Use a reusable water bottle

This is a very small thing you can do that will add up over time. Drink water out of a reusable water bottle instead of a disposable one every day. It will save you a few bucks a week by not buying a case of water.

29. Make your own greeting cards

Get some cardstock, markers, and anything else you want, and make you own greeting cards. It’s pretty easy, and I hear people like homemade cards more anyway. Because paying $4 for a card is dumb. Unless it’s really funny then maybe.

Aaaaaand there you have it. I hope at least some of these tips can help you! Let me know if you have any other tips that I didn’t think of.

Thanks for reading!

-KT

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