Let’s face it: the world is an expensive place. The cost of living has continued to increase-even as wages have stagnated-and it’s tough to save money in this economy.
But here’s the good news! A little creativity, elbow grease, and patience can help you to build up the savings you’ve always dreamed of having. Keep reading for 10 great ideas for saving money.
1. Find a Side Job
A job on the side is a great way to earn extra money. It can help to pay off any extra bills, credit card debt, or student loans. It can even become the money that you use to start a savings or retirement account. If your primary job covers your living expenses but doesn’t allow you to put anything aside, a side job can give you that extra financial push.
If you have a reliable car, online transportation services like Uber, Lyft, and Turo are great options for earning some extra income. You can set your own hours, meet interesting people, and comfortably support your primary income.
Additionally, delivery services are another way to use your car to earn extra income. Whether it’s for PostMates, GrubHub, or even the local pizza store, delivery drivers make over $20 an hour, excluding tips! Part-time drivers only need to work a minimum of 12 hours a week to earn an additional $1000 per month.
A side job doesn’t have to be limited to working for someone else, though. You can join the DIY economy and become your own boss. Monetize your skills, hobbies, and talents on sites like Etsy and eBay that allow you to sell handcrafted clothing, art, and more. These sites come with a built-in customer base that are looking for one-of-a-kind, handmade heirlooms, artworks, and clothes.
You can also put your skills to work on sites like Fiverr and TaskRabbit. If you have experience in graphic design, creative writing, or other marketable artistry, you can earn money freelancing for a variety of clients.
Finally, put your education to work for you. There’s always part-time employment in academics: you can score standardized tests, proctor exams, run after-school programs, or tutor. The possibilities are endless.
2. Buy Used and Off-Brand
Believe it or not, there are hidden gems to be found in thrift stores. Thrifting is one of the best ideas for saving money and a great way to pick up a wide range of necessities for the house. Fill your home with vintage coffee mugs, plates, and silverware, along with vinyl records, furniture, and other home goods. If you are looking for designer or high quality clothes, consignment stores carry many brands and styles that you may be looking for.
A car can be one of the most cost consuming things you may own. Even before maintenance and repair costs, driving a new car off the lot immediately depreciates up to 11% of its value. A general rule of thumb is to either pay for the car outright or to finance only a portion of the total to keep loan and interest rates low.
When it’s time to replace your vehicle, consider a used or certified pre-owned option. It’s a great way to get a dependable car at a much lower cost.
You can still find great deals on new items as well. Generic or off-brand products are often made by the same manufacturer—meaning the difference in cost is to cover marketing and branding fees.
3. Eat Smart and Be Healthy
Health and diet aren’t just about looking and feeling good. They’re also a major factor in any financial budget. Fast food may seem like a good option due to its low price point, but its nutritional value compared to its caloric content isn’t very healthy. In fact, eating fast food may contribute to adverse health effects. The best way to save money and get the most nutrition out of your meals is to cook unprocessed foods at home.
This can take some getting used to, but it is one of the best ideas for saving money. Get a slow cooker and start a meal before you leave the house in the morning. By the end of the afternoon, a healthy, delicious meal will be fully prepared and ready to eat.
A major component of eating at home is shopping for groceries. Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, as you may be more likely to end up with snacks and junk food. Instead, take stock of what you need and plan your meals in advance.
4. Get Creative
Entertainment and gift giving have turned into billion-dollar industries. You don’t need to overspend on gifts to let your friends and family know how much you care. Making your own gifts is a great way to save money and create something unique and special that the recipient will treasure. Even a nice handwritten note or card instead of an expensive store bought greeting card will do the trick.
Likewise, entertainment doesn’t always have to be a trip to Disneyland or an expensive night at the movies. Your community has many free or affordable options that are sure to entertain. Going to a park or riding a bike is a low cost way to have a good time.
Check with your local community center to see if they have free movie screenings. Also, you can join the local theatre, choir, or any other club. Not only will you save money, but you’ll also meet interesting people and get a chance to express yourself artistically.
5. Invest Your Money
Saving a little extra money each month only goes so far. To really get the most bang for your buck, you need to invest the extra money you earn so your savings can grow and work for you. A financial planner can help you develop a strategy that works with your personal goals and income.
A great place to start is with a simple savings account. This offers low-yield interest, but it also keeps your savings separate from your checking account. When it’s time to further invest, you might consider a high-yield savings account, a money market savings account, or other investment strategies like a 401(k) or a Roth IRA.
The company you work for also might be a great resource to consider in this scenario. Many employers offer investment matching, while some even pay for gym memberships and higher education. Remember, investing in your future is the best investment you can make.
6. Pay Yourself First and Prioritize Your Money
Before you can truly invest, you need to make sure you’re actually able to do it. Make a reasonable plan that you can stick to and afford. When creating your plan, you should create savings categories that amount to 10-15% of your net income. Your savings categories can include vacation funds, a down payment for a car or a house, or savings for a wedding.
Your savings should be something that excites you. It makes it easier to maintain savings willpower when you know that you’re saving for something that you’re truly passionate about.
Part of your plan should include a little tightening of the belt. We all spend money on extraneous stuff that we don’t really need. Keep your debt payments affordable by limiting your credit purchasing. You want to keep debt payments at around 10% of your pre-tax income, with 20% being the maximum.
A great way to make sure you stick to your budget is to automate your finances. Many banks and applications allow you to set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into your savings account.
7. Find Alternative, Simple Solutions
Saving money isn’t just about skimping and saving—it’s also about being creative. There are some creative things you can do to save money while still doing the things you want, which is why using your creativity is the one of the best ideas for saving money.
Negotiating your bills is an inventive way to save money. Call your cable or Internet provider, insurance company, or even your credit card company to talk about your rates and payments. Most will negotiate lower bills and costs. A simple phone call can save you big bucks. Click here to learn more about bill negotiation.
Going to the library might seem like a novelty in the age of the Internet, but it is an invaluable resource for entertainment and education. You can check out books, videos, and even music instead of buying or renting them.
A great way to stretch your budget is to go green. Replacing dead light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs will cost you a few extra dollars up front, but will save you more in the long run. Your technological gadgets draw power when they’re plugged in, even if they’re “off.” Use a modern power strip that will help you avoid phantom energy costs.
8. Be Intelligent About Purchases
Advertisers do a great job of making us think we need the latest gadgets from brand name companies. But you don’t need to be a victim of trends or high-priced items. Research products before you purchase them so you know you’re getting the best deal possible.
If you need to buy a new appliance, you may consider cutting up-front costs and buying a lower quality product. However, this is an area where you should stick to quality. A more expensive, higher quality appliance will last longer, break down less, and save you money in the long run.
Pay careful attention to the calendar when you buy things. When you shop a few days after a major holiday, you find great deals on products and goods that would have cost more even a few days earlier. Shopping after holidays is one of the best ideas for saving money while still getting the goods and products that you want.
Avoid impulse buys. It’s not always easy, but if you follow the 30 day rule, you’ll only buy things you need or are truly willing to pay for. If you walk by something in the store and feel you really need to have it, wait 30 days before you buy it. This helps you prioritize what you need and what you just want.
9. Repair Broken Things
One of the best ways to save money is to do what was once commonplace—repair items before you buy replacements. Learning how to sew is a great money saver. Repairing or modifying old clothes is a great way to put off buying new items for another season or two. It’s not only thrifty—it’s also a cool way to get the most out of your favorite outfits, plus you get to put your own creative spin on them.
Clothing isn’t the only thing you can repair or do yourself to save money. You can mow your own lawn, grow your own food, change the oil in your car, fix your bike, and much more. You can learn how to fix, repair, build, and grow all kinds of things online. You’ll save money and feel a sense of accomplishment at the same time.
10. Host More Parties
That’s right, the last hack is the best. You should host more parties. It may seem like one of the more novel ideas for saving money to say the least, but think about it: If you plan it right and can accommodate a gathering in your own living space, you can more or less replace spending money with spending time with friends, family, and loved ones. Compare that to a night on the town, which could have you making purchases every step of the way for things like transportation, cover charges, and gratuities, to name a few..
A great way to spread out costs and make it a fun night for everyone is to make your party a potluck and/or “BYOB.” Set a theme for the night or let it be a free-for-all, but have your guests bring snacks, drinks, and entrees. You’ll have done your part simply by being a gracious host. This lets everyone feel involved and prevents you from shouldering the bulk of the cost.
Have movie nights at home instead of at the theater, set up some board games, or play cards. The possibilities are endless. Is there really a more fun way to save money than to throw a party?
Saving money shouldn’t be painful or make you feel like you’re missing out on something. By following these 10 tips you should be in the money in no time.