I know, the title is…weird. Usually you see a post with a specific number included: “40 ways to save money on groceries!” Or, “10 ways you can save on car insurance!”
This is my running list of ways that I’ve found to save in ALL areas over the years, so I will be adding to it on a regular basis. That kinda kicks out the specific detail as well as the number. Who knows, maybe I’ll make an effort to organize the list into categories…maybe not, ha ha! In the meantime, enjoy this rather random list of ways you can save money in your life.
Food & Groceries:
- Eat out less – shocking, right? I’m not saying to get rid of eating out altogether…but you know, maybe cut back a little or a lot. It depends on you and your situation.
- Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. Plan what you will eat for the week based on what you’ve already got in the pantry. Then you can shop based on what’s on sale and stock up on those good deals.
- Cut the coffee, or make it at home.
- Brown bag it to work.
- Pack your own food for travel. Going out to eat can be a special part of a vacation, but if you’re looking for ways to save money, this is a simple one! Pack food from home. At the very least, buy your food at a grocery store on the way out of town, rather than at a restaurant!
- When you are offered a to-go container at a restaurant, take it and bring your leftovers home! I thought everyone did this – I really did! Until about 6 months ago when I went out for lunch with friends. I asked for a to-go container and the other 3 women were shocked. I was even told, “You’re so cute, packing up your lunch and taking it home!” Heck, that was a second meal.
- Eat less meat. I’m not saying to give it up (unless that’s something you want to do). Generally, meat is more expensive than you know, grains, fruits/veggies, so why not?
- Find ways to stretch your meat. If you’re making a soup, salad, or casserole, cut the meat into smaller pieces so it feels like there’s more of it. Making some sort of ground meat? Throw in some bread crumbs, oats, or powdered veggies to bulk it up.
- Bread ends. If you have kids that refuse to eat the outside pieces of bread, save those ends. Throw them in the food processor and make bread crumbs. Freeze them to have on hand whenever you need.
- Buy cheaper cuts of meat. Buy the stuff that’s on sale…if it’s a tougher cut, take advantage of pressure cooking or Crock-pot cooking to make it tender.
- Get creative with leftovers as well. If you roast a chicken, save the bones and make broth. Pick those bones clean and use the chicken in enchiladas, rice and gravy, chicken Alfredo, whatever. Do a thorough inventory of your fridge a few times a week and see what needs to be eaten – then get creative in making something new!
- Save those condiment packets. If you go out to eat and get condiment packets, save them and bring them home! What an absolute waste to toss them. You can open them and stick them in your ketchup bottle, or you can keep them as is and use for picnicking or road trips. Because did you know that on a road trip, you can…
Around the House:
- Cut the cable – I’ve never done this…because I’ve never had cable. You can cut it all together, or you can get a better package. Maybe swap it out for Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or another more affordable option. They’re all over the place!
- Drive less – combine errands/trips, carpool, etc.
- Turn off lights/electronics when not in use. You’d be surprised how much energy is sucked when things are left on. Speaking of which…
- Unplug items when not in use. You don’t need the phone charger plugged in all day, do you? The toaster? Phantom energy is a wasteful thing! Or invest in a surge protector that you can turn off when items aren’t in use.
- Take shorter showers. Every minute saved is not just better for your wallet, it helps our Earth too.
- USE YOUR LIBRARY. Take advantage of your local library! It’s not just books, although that alone is huge. I will never buy a cookbook (except the locally made ones that my church does, ha ha!) Because I can go to the library, try and save any recipes I love! There are certainly some books worth buying. If you don’t need to own it, borrow it! You can borrow CDs and movies too!
- Get reusable napkins. Why pay for paper towels and napkins over and over and over? What a waste of paper and of money. Get stuff you can reuse.
- Find a side hustle. This is about MAKING money versus saving, I know. It’s always worth looking into!
- Involve your kids in the family budget. This is a long-term savings plan, but boy will it pay off when your teenage daughter buys her first car and can pay for half of it in cash right away! (Super proud of my girl 😄)
- Turn your thermostat down (or up). Right now while the weather is very warm, I’m keeping that thermostat up. We don’t turn on our air conditioner until we’re uncomfortably warm. In the winter we turn the thermostat down. During the day when the kids are at school and I’m at home (I work from home) I turn the heat off completely and bundle up. As long as I’m able to do my job efficiently, I’m fine with the lower temperature to save some money.
- If you grow a garden, don’t let any of it go to waste. I can’t tell you how many times (okay, I probably can) we had a huge raspberry or grape harvest and ran out of energy picking and preserving them. What a waste! Learn different preservation methods. You can dehydrate, pickle, can, freeze, juice.
- Get creative about other things you can harvest. Have dandelions in the yard and you don’t spray chemicals on the lawn? Harvest those babies for some dandelion root tea, or a homemade dandelion salve! Got grapes? Did you know that grape leaves are edible and used in Greek cooking? Don’t just eat the beets you’re growing, eat the greens on top as well.
Finances and Finance Products:
- If possible, pay your credit card off in full every month. My gosh, it BLOWS MY MIND how much money goes to interest on credit cards! Don’t waste a penny. If you’ve got a lot of credit card debt (I did, so no judgement here), do EVERYTHING in your power to pay off as much as you can every month. Never settle for the minimum! We recently paid off all our consumer debt and I can’t tell you how good it feels to not have that hanging over my head!
- Shop around for insurance annually. Oftentimes you can score new deals with new places. Make the insurance companies fight to keep your business!
- If you want to stock up your personal library, check out the library sales. I often see a deal to fill a bag for $1.00. I’ve gotten many amazing books that I wanted to keep for reference sake that way. Check out yard sales as well.
- Make a price book. Knowing what a good deal is can be a great money saver when out shopping. Creating a price book and actively using/updating it will get those prices in your head and you’ll be able to spot an unadvertised deal with the best of them! Price books can help you determine if an item is worth purchasing, and also if it’s worth stocking up on.
- When you are offered a to-go container at a restaurant, take it and bring your leftovers home! I thought everyone did this – I really did! Until about 6 months ago when I went out for lunch with friends. I asked for a to go container and the other 3 women were shocked. I was even told, “You’re so cute, packing up your lunch and taking it home!” Heck, that was a second meal.
- Avoid shopping without a list when you can.
- Also avoid shopping when you’re hungry!
- Shop thrift. I know people have strong opinions on this topic, so please remember, this is mainly a list of things I do. I love that I can support the “reuse, recycle” movement, I love unique finds, and I love saving the money!
- Shop around for a phone deal. Check with your employer – do they offer any types of deals for certain cell phone providers? Will they provide reimbursement?
- Check out yard sales in general. Back to school shopping for the kids? I’ve found backpacks in amazing condition at yard sales. I’ve purchased cast iron cooking tools. The deals that can be had are astounding!
- Create a price book. Knowing what a good deal is can be a great money saver when out shopping. Creating a price book and actively using/updating it will get those prices in your head and you’ll be able to spot an unadvertised deal with the best of them! Price books can help you determine if an item is worth purchasing, and also if it’s worth stocking up on.
- Drive less – this has been easy with all the social distancing lately. When things get back to “normal”, you can still make effort – combine errands/trips, carpool, etc.
I hope this provides a launching/starting point for you on your journey to frugal. Saving money doesn’t always have to mean depriving yourself. At my house, it’s a fun challenge (most of the time)😉 Take these ideas, use what works for you, and scrap what doesn’t. Make the journey your own, but commit to it and you’ll see the results!