I think lists of ideas are so much fun to read, and since I have so many money saving ideas in my head, I wanted to share a fun money saving list!
This list is special because I did not put any ideas on it that actually require you to spend money before you can save money.
So you won’t see any ideas like using dryer balls to shorten the drying time of laundry. Not because this is a bad idea (I use this idea at home!) but simply because I wanted a list of quick and easy-to-implement ideas that pretty much anyone can do, even if you’re in a no-spend phase of life or maybe you literally do not have a few dollars to invest in something that will help you save money down the road.
Please note that I am assuming you have some supplies on hand, but these are fairly basic supplies, such as ingredients for baking basic recipes, baking soda, and dish soap.
I hope you can find at least one, but hopefully several, ideas from this list that you can start using right away to help you meet your financial goals!
1. Go an extra day without going grocery shopping. Be creative and use what’s on hand in the fridge, freezer and pantry to make one more day’s worth of meals.
2. Make a big batch of homemade waffles and freeze for easy breakfasts instead of buying store bought frozen waffles. Pop them in the microwave, toaster or even the oven to reheat.
3. Set a goal to read all of the books on your Kindle before letting yourself purchase any new ebooks. This goes for reading all of the books on your bookshelf if you’re a “real” book lover.
4. Take a reusable glass of water with you everywhere and commit to not stopping to buy a drink when you’re running errands.
5. Find one thrift store that has good supply and reasonable prices and find out what days they do special prices. Only go on these days!
6. Keep a list in your wallet or on your phone of items needed and wanted in your home. Keep these split up between true needs and wants and look for needs first. This is the list to look at when you’re hitting the yard sales or thrift stores or even just when you’re doing your regular shoppping. If it’s not on this list, then you probably don’t need to buy it.
7. When you take a day trip, field trip or even a vacation, take lots of photos on your phone instead of spending money on souvenirs. And get your kids excited about this idea by letting them practice their photography skills! You can also do videos if you can upload them to the cloud while you’re on your trip, or even record an audio diary if that’s your thing!
8. Save money on shampoo by either trying a less expensive brand or, if you’re set on your brand, looking for a better price either in a larger size or maybe by purchasing at a different retailer. You could also try shampooing less frequently, doing the “no poo” method, or trying a homemade version, which you can do if you have castile soap on hand. And, of course, try using a bit less product until you see the minimum you really need.
9. Clean out your bathroom cabinets, makeup bags, and anywhere you store personal care products. Organize these by type and commit to using up what you have on hand before allowing yourself to buy more. This includes all of those samples and travel sizes you’ve accumulated!
10. Before you take your car to a shop for a professional headlight cleaning, try doing it yourself with a mixture of Dawn dish soap and baking soda. Make a paste, scrub it on and rinse well. Even if it doesn’t restore the headlights to like new condition, it maybe give you some extra time before you need to take it to the professionals.
11. Instead of replacing toothbrushes every 3 months, disinfect them by pouring boiling water over them. Replace when the bristles are showing wear. (Also do this after someone has been sick instead of breaking out new toothbrushes each time!)
12. Measure the dish soap when hand washing dishes. I keep an extra ½ teaspoon measuring spoon next to the dish soap and use one per dish washing session.
13. If you work at a place that has a lost and found, check to see if there is anything you can use when it’s time for the items to be thrown away or donated. Some churches will also have this.
14. Look on Pinterest for a free printable before you buy one, either a physical product or a digital paid product. Printables like planner pages, to do lists, calendars, habit trackers and budgeting pages are all FREE to print from multiple blogs! Search “free ______ printable” and fill in whatever type of printable you’re looking for. You won’t be disappointed!
15. Either make greeting cards or buy them at Dollar Tree (or a similar store). They really have cute ones and they’re either $1 or 2 for $1. I also get the packs of blank cards and thank you cards here.
16. Pay non-automated bills through online bill pay at your bank. You’ll need to check to see if this is included free with your checking account. It is at our bank! I have 2 bills that I have to write a check for and mail each month, and when I finally tried the online bill pay, I was hooked. It was very easy to set up, and not only do I not have to write a check, but I don’t have to pay for an envelope or a stamp!
17. Time your showers so you take shorter showers. This can add up to big savings if you have multiple people in the house who all take long showers. I have trained myself to take a 10-minute shower (and sometimes even shorter!), but our 14-year-old daughter has to be put on a timer or that girl will seriously stay in for an hour. Your electric bill will thank you!
18. Give an edible gift. Making a special treat for a family member or friend is often well-received, especially if you tailor it to their tastes!
19. When you buy berries or harvest from your garden, store them in reused jars rather than keeping them in the plastic package they come in. Wash them only when you’re ready to eat them. Berries are so expensive so keep them good as long as possible.
20. Set a limit of $10 per gift. If you can’t do this for everyone in your life, then maybe do it for certain people or events like friends, coworkers, baby or bridal showers, and those not in your immediate household. Get creative, use Pinterest, find a way to maximize the thoughtfulness that goes into gift giving and save a lot of money over the course of the year.
21. Refuse to pay to rent movies. Check out your library, use a free code for Redbox, or only watch movies that come with a service you already pay for, such as Amazon Prime or your satellite tv provider.
22. Use less data on your cell phone. If you’re not on an unlimited data plan, then it’s possible you could lower your cell’s data plan by using less data. Try to mostly use it while home or on a trusted wi-fi network. Don’t check social media or email when you’re away from your wi-fi connection. Even if you are currently on an unlimited plan, it’s possible that you can adjust to using less data and eventually move to a lower cost plan. We use Consumer Cellular and get 2 lines with an adequate amount of data and talk time for $35 per month.
23. If you have readers in the family, investigate the nearest library to see what they have to offer. Commit to not buying any books, magazines or newspapers for a certain amount of time and spend some family time at the library so everyone can catch up on their magazines and newspapers and then check out books and maybe even movies to take home. Don’t forget to set a reminder for yourself when everything is due back so you don’t get hit with late fees!
24. Eat leftovers. All of them. Everyday if needed. I know, it doesn’t sound glamorous and sometimes leftovers aren’t even appetizing. But just put your mind to it and refuse to waste it. It’s one less meal you have to buy for at least one person. You can do it!
25. Put your kids on a budget. We started giving our now 14-year-old daughter an allowance several years ago. She is expected to help with everyday house work, and she has set guidelines on how to spend her allowance. She is expected to give 10%, save 10% and she can spend the rest. This has worked fairly well, but mostly it has enabled her to make spending decisions based on her wants versus needs. We buy the basics of items like clothing and personal care items, and she has to pay for anything extra she wants. For example, we provide shampoo and conditioner for the family, but if she wants a different brand, then she has to purchase those out of her allowance. Our personal care spending has greatly reduced since we started this!
26. Stretch just one more day between fill-ups at the gas station. You can do this by staying home an extra day or by combining errands to do all together instead of spreading them out through the week.
27. Make your own spice blends. These can be very costly to buy at the store, and although they’re convenient, some of them also contain fillers or preservatives. Dig through your spice collection and pull together a few blends. I even give thee as gifts!
28. Don’t buy coloring books or puzzle books. Find free ones online to print. Adult coloring books are popular right now, but you don’t need to spend extra to have fun. If you have a printer, try the eco settings to use less ink, and if you are lucky enough to have scrap paper that has a blank side, you can try using that in your printer. Try a Google or Pinterest search to find free printables of whatever type of coloring page or puzzle you’re looking for. Here is a collection of free printable adult coloring pages to get you started.
29. Use GoodRX to save money on prescriptions. This is a free app and discount card you can use to easily compare prices of medications. It’s worth a few minutes to see if you can see some small (or big!) savings.
30. Put a stop to fundraisers. If you have children at home or even kids in the neighborhood who peddle fundraiser products, commit to saying no. Even $20 here and there adds up to an extra payment on a debt or serious money in your savings account. Either tell the kids you will purchase only items that are mandatory for their activity or have them use their spending money to purchase those items.
31. Pick something you usually pay to have someone else do and find a way to do it yourself. Even if you only do it once, that’s still a savings! Maybe you usually take the dog to a groomer or you have someone unclog a stuck drain. If it’s not something dangerous that should really be left to a professional, then look it up online and see if you can try it yourself. YouTube has many videos on all sorts of things you can learn to do.
32. Host a potluck for entertaining. If you and your family like to have people over for meals, try having a potluck where you provide the main dish and beverages and others bring side dishes and desserts. This can be as organized or informal as you like. If you do it once, you all might like it so much that it becomes the new normal.
33. Learn to make a homemade version of whatever fancy drink you like. If it’s special coffee drinks from the coffee shop, then look up a recipe for making that. Try to stick to something that doesn’t require you to buy an expensive machine, such as an espresso machine. That could actually be a good investment if it would pay for itself in not buying coffee drinks outside of home, but for now just look for ideas and recipes that allow you to use what you have to get that same joy of having your special drink but at home.
34. Skip the microwave popcorn and make it from scratch. All you need is popcorn kernels, a big pan and oil for the pan. If you already have a popcorn machine like an air popper, then dig it out. It really doesn’t take much longer than the microwave kind and it’s so yummy. Plus think of all the packaging you’re saving from the landfill!
35. Refuse to pay for scents to make your home smell good. Or at least set a very small budget for the amount you’re willing to spend! Instead of Febreze, try a homemade air freshener which you can also use for upholstered or fabric items. If you love candles, vow to use up what you have on hand or look for new ones only at the thrift store. You can even try this trick for getting out every last bit of the candles that come in jars and then reuse that wax for another candle.
36. Make a cheap, easy and effective exfoliant. Sugar scrub is SO easy and you can use whatever type of sugar and oil you have on hand. Just be sure to test a small spot on your face to see if it’s too sensitive. Definitely tougher skin can handle it, such as hands, elbows, and feet.
37. Don’t buy pickles. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand and make an easy brine solution. Put in jars (reused ones are ok) and pour in the brine with whatever seasonings you like. Easy and super frugal!
38. Use oatmeal as a gentle facial scrub. Mix a bit of ground oats or quick oats with water, enough to form a paste. Apply to face, let sit and rinse off. You can add sugar to make an exfoliator or add honey or essential oils for other benefits.
39. Coconut oil makes a great makeup remover. Scoop a small amount into your fingers, rub until it liquifies, and smooth over face. Massage your skin and then rinse off. For stubborn makeup such as waterproof mascara, you might need to let it sit for a minute.
40. If you use the Swiffer style dry or wet mops, try using a towel the next time you run out of the disposable cleaning pads. Mist a dry towel with water or an appropriate cleaning spray for your floors to use as either a wet or dry mop. For dirtier floors, you may want to spray the floor itself with the cleaner where the heaviest dirt is. Just wash the towels and save the money!
41. Depending on your trash service requirements, you might be able to use nontraditional trash bags. Look at all of the packaging that comes into your house and consider if it can be used as a trash receptacle rather than using a store bought trash bag. We use pet food bags and the bags that come inside the cat litter box. We also use boxes to hold non-leaking trash. Plastic grocery bags that just get thrown away can be used to take something else to the trash with it. If you use a dumpster or a trash can for trash service pick up then consider using alternative trash “bags.”
42. Stop buying salad dressings and make your own. You probably have the basic ingredients already and it’s one less thing to put on your list and throw into the trash. Make one or two different kinds on the weekend to use during the week and store in mason jars with lids. Here is a yummy vinaigrette style dressing and one for ranch to get you started. (Also an easy way for kids to help in the kitchen!)
43. Save money on lunch meat. If you pack even one lunch per day, lunch meat can get expensive, especially if you buy the healthier version without the nasty additives. Instead, you can buy whole pieces of meat, such as a turkey breast, ham or beef roast, cook it and let it cool in the fridge before slicing in whatever thickness you prefer. You can even freeze the extra in portions that will last a week and thaw as needed. The alternative, and to get some variety, is to use other types of sandwich filling like egg salad, tuna salad, peanut butter and jelly, or old fashioned spreads made with ingredients found in your fridge (think small pieces of leftover meats, roasted vegetables, and cheese).
44. Decide to use paper towels for only the nastiest of messes and find rags to use for the other stuff. In our house, pet messes are considered nasty and we use paper towels to clean that up. Otherwise, we use rags made from clothing like t-shirts or socks that weren’t nice enough to donate. These get thrown into the laundry basket and washed with the regular towels. We use WAY fewer paper towels now!
45. Stop buying snacks and make them at home. This is possibly healthier, depending on your snack choices, but it’s certainly more fun and can be a family activity. Look for simple recipes with basic ingredients to keep the costs down. If you want to use what you have on hand, then look for recipes using those ingredients. Keep oats on hand for breakfasts? Try making an oatmeal cake or oatmeal cookies. Using some dried fruit with oatmeal and honey will enable you to create basic granola bars. Most snacks can also be frozen to pull out later as needed.
46. Don’t throw away the tubes of stuff until you’ve gotten every last drop! Toothpaste, lotions, and cosmetics all tend to have a bit left that won’t squeeze out of the packaging. Just use some scissors or a knife to cut open the packaging and see how much is left to use. Sometimes it’s surprising how much product is left! You might be able to put off buying a replacement for even 2 weeks!
47. Turn off power strips for long periods of time. Appliances like televisions and receiver boxes can be completely unplugged when they won’t be used for hours at a time, such as being gone from home all day or overnight when you’re sleeping. Make it super easy to make this a habit by plugging them into one power strip and working it into your routine. For example, when you straighten the living room in the morning before heading out the door, shut off the power strip. This really adds up to great savings on the electric bill! If you don’t have a power strip to put into service, then unplug or turn off manually until you can get one purchased.
48. Refuse to pay for bottled water. If you don’t already have a reusable bottle to use, then just use something you have on hand like any drinking glass or even a mason jar. Keep one at work if possible so you don’t have to take it back and forth. My husband works at job sites doing construction, and we reuse juice jugs since he drinks so much water during the day and often doesn’t have access to water on a job site. Just use what you have and the next time you’re at a thrift store, check out the usually large selection of plastic, stainless steel, and glass reusable glasses and bottles they have.
49. Sign up for paperless billing statements. Check all of your bills that send statements and see if you can sign up to get paperless online statements, which will be emailed to you. Not only does this create less paper waste, plus less clutter in your home, but some services will actually give you a discount on your bill by switching to paperless. We used to be customers at a bank that charged $2 per month for a paper statement so that was $2 per month saved!
50. Sign up for autopay for recurring bills. This has potential savings by not paying late fees since you won’t forget, as well as not having to write a check, make out an envelope or buy stamps to mail them. Even if you paid online, it still saves you time by not having to go to each individual service website and make the payment. But the other possible savings is that some services will give you a monthly discount for using autopay. Our satellite TV service gives us a $5 per month discount for having autopay set up. Since I’m paying it anyways, I’ll take both the money savings and time savings by using autopay!
51. Before buying, check in your network to see if anyone has the item to loan or sell used. Things like sports apparel and equipment for kids (soccer cleats, I’m looking at you!) can often be found just by asking. If you’re willing to share items, then others will follow your example. This works well for things like tools you might need for just one project or even household appliances. If you want to make waffles in bulk for the freezer, see if you can borrow your mom’s waffle maker once a month!
52. Don’t buy special cleanser for washing produce. Make your own affordable version that works well. Just add some regular vinegar to water and let the product soak. I fill a basic wash tub in my sink about half full of water and add ½ cup of vinegar. If you have lemon essential oil on hand, you can also add a few drops of that for more cleaning power. Let the produce soak, gently wipe if needed, and rinse.
53. Vow to not buy anything new for decorating your space for a set amount of time. If you feel like redecorating or buying something new, then clean instead. If you have leftover paint, feel free to use it up to freshen up a space or an item or two. Use what you have on hand and rearrange furniture and decor pieces to make it new and fun. And if you really, really feel like shopping, browse online and save what you like to a special folder named “Things to Possibly Buy in the Future.” This saves your ideas without actually pulling the trigger and purchasing.
54. Use your slow cooker on Sundays. If your life is anything like ours, Sundays are a mix of busy in the morning and lazy in the afternoon. We get ready for church and then once we get home, we’re starving and really just want to rest the rest of the day. And using a slow cooker is perfect for this kind of day! Pick a soup recipe or a sandwich recipe to make for lunch on Sunday and then use the leftovers during the week until they run out. And if you have two, use both to make a sandwich recipe and a soup recipe! Here is a great list of sandwich ideas to get you thinking and also some ideas for slow cooker soups.
55. Look for ways to make new items from stuff laying around. This is fun and makes a great way to spend family time without necessarily spending money (or even driving anywhere!) We have made cat trees out of leftover pieces of wood from my husband’s construction business and leftover pieces of carpet. A few years later and the cats still love to lay on these! Another fun and useful thing we make are pinecone fire starters. We have pinecones in our yard and in the yards of family members. We melt wax in a clean metal food can and dip in the pinecones. Lay on a rack and dry and you’ve got adorable fire starters! We give these as gifts to people who have a fireplace or fire pit, and they’ve always been well received. Yes, the wax did cost a few dollars at a local farm & home store, but it has lasted through many batches of the fire starters.
56. Commit to drinking water in place of purchased drinks. Do this when you eat out and at home too for additional savings. Instead of Kool-Aid style drinks, purchased lemonade or fancier bottled beverages, drink water and flavor with citrus fruits or berries if needed.
57. Use only lamps in the evenings and at night. By turning off overhead light fixtures and using only lamps in the areas where the family is gathered can reduce your electrical bill, especially if the overhead fixture uses multiple bulbs, which is very common.
58. Read all of the fine print when you receive a billing statement. You never know what helpful information you might find! For example, when I received a bill from a local medical center, I noticed on the back in small writing, it said if the statement was paid in full within 30 days, then there was a discount applied. When I called, it was 20%! What an easy way to save money.
59. Consider selling the 2nd (or 3rd) car. Do you live in an area that makes it easy to have fewer vehicles in your family? If you can get rid of an extra, then you save the insurance costs plus the maintenance and taxes. If you’re worried about losing a multi-car discount with your insurance, call and ask them what the new rate would be and do some quick math to see if it would still save you money over the maintenance and taxes. Plus, if you sell the extra car and use that money to pay down debt, then it’s extra savings in interest on that debt!
60. Make your own jam instead of buying it. Most of us have some sort of fruit and sweetener in the freezer or pantry. You don’t even have to can the jars! You can just freeze or refrigerate whatever you make. Here are some easy recipes to get you started.
61. If you have a smartphone, download the Ibotta app. This is an app that gives you cash back for buying things at the store. I only buy the regular stuff I’m already buying but manage to get about $80 per year back through this app. I either choose to cash out via Paypal or as an Amazon promo code. I even do my Walmart grocery pick-up order through the app and get back $2 to $3 just for doing it!
62. Raise the deductible amount on your auto insurance. This literally took less than 5 minutes and I had to call our agent’s office, whereas some may allow this in your online account. If your vehicle is older and not worth a huge amount, and if you could replace it without hardship in your budget if something happened, then you might consider raising the deductible to decrease your insurance rates.
63. Consider using micropayments to get debt paid down faster. Basically you are making more frequent payments than just a standard once-a-month payment which is lowering the principal balance and lowering the interest paid. Here is more information on how this works.
64. Decide if buying in bulk makes sense for your family. In our home, buying meat in bulk straight from a farmer or butcher is a time and cost savings in the long run. We also recently decided to participate in a CSA this year, which will give us fresh produce in addition to whatever we grow in the garden. Even if we didn’t buy any dry goods, such as oats, beans, or flours, in bulk, just buying larger amounts of meat and produce will help keep us out of the store. We hope to be able to grocery shop only one or twice per month now!
65. Don’t spend money on cookbooks. Unless they’re used, but honestly if you just have one basic cookbook like this one, then you can find anything else you need online. Check Google or Pinterest anytime you want to try something new that isn’t in your basic cookbook and save yourself money and dusting unused cookbooks on a shelf!
66. Make a free soup from leftover bits and pieces. Keep a container in the freezer and add leftover small bits of vegetables, meat if you choose, and juices and broth. If you use a can of vegetables but need to drain it, pour the juice into this container. Add the couple of spoonfuls of beans or vegetables no one finished at dinner. When it starts getting full, throw it in a pan on the stove or in the slow cooker and top it off with anything you have on hand plus some seasonings. It’s an easy, and almost free, meal!
67. Find apps for your favorite stores. They often have special coupons and other rewards for joining their loyalty program. If you’re already buying something, this can save you just a bit extra which is always nice! In our rural area, the only stores I can use apps for are Dollar General and Big Lots. For Walmart, ALDI, and Dollar Tree, I use the Ibotta app for tiny savings occasionally.
68. Try your hand at altering clothing. If you don’t have a sewing machine, this can be done by hand. For clothing that will otherwise be tossed or given away, you can try to alter it, either by size if you need to go smaller, or by embellishing or changing the garment somehow. Adding ruffles, patches, or embroidered designs can liven up clothing. Or consider turning it into something totally different. T-shirts can be turned into tank tops or skirts, dress shirts can be turned into dresses or tops, and even pillow cases and sheets can be turned into skirts or pajama pants.
69. For homeschooling families, set a limit on what you will spend for curriculum and stick to it. You might even decide to now spend any money at all for the next school year, or just the rest of the current school year. There are so many ways to educate for free and so many useful resources out there in communities and online. Here is a great list for some homeschooling for free ideas.
70. Look for local sources of food. This may not always save money by comparing the same item prices with chain stores, but if you can buy in bulk then at least it keeps you out of the store for longer periods of time. Check into local sources of meat such as beef, pork and chicken, and also look for local CSA (community supported agriculture) farms. These are often organic foods, or close to organic, so it’s possible to get a better quality product even if it doesn’t save you money by the pound.
71. Allow for substitutions when cooking. If you run out of an ingredient while making supper, then look up a substitution. Whatever keeps you from running to the store for one item will save you money overall! Here’s a list of handy substitution ideas that you might want to print out and keep in the kitchen somewhere.
72. Be aggressive at getting stains out of clothing. Use what you have on hand that is a good cleaner. Dawn dish soap works well on grease stains, or probably any stain for that matter. If it’s white in color, try peroxide. You may need to soak it overnight or even soak and launder more than once. Just don’t put it in the dryer until the stain is gone.
73. If you are charged per bag for trash pick-up, then cut back by a goal of 1 bag per pick-up. Paying attention to how much trash is generated in your household will help you be proactive in looking for ways to decrease trash. You’ll start doing things like buying fresh ingredients like produce in minimal packaging (or none) rather than processed packaged foods that come in a bag inside a box. Not only will you save money by having a lower trash bill, but you might even save a few dollars by changing up your shopping and consumption habits. If nothing else, you’re helping the earth!
74. Reuse the tea bags. Steep your tea, either in the bag or in the tea ball if loose, and then set it aside to use the next time you drink tea. If you only drink 1 cup of tea per day, then you might keep the tea bag or ball in the fridge until the next day. This cuts your tea costs in half immediately.
75. Only make the exact amount of coffee your family will drink. Figure out how many cups your family drinks in total and figure out how full the coffee pot needs to be to produce that much coffee. If it’s only ½ a pot then only make ½ a pot. There’s no sense in pouring extra coffee down the drain! Unless you love to make coffee drinks using the leftover coffee, then plan to make extra so you’re not running the coffee machine multiple times.
76. Reuse disposable food containers. If you brought home extra food from a restaurant, if you receive food gifts from others, or if you buy food products from the store that come in some sort of reusable container, save a few of them to reuse. This works great when you’re sending leftovers home with guests or taking food to a family. You don’t need to buy special packaging to bless others with food!
What tips and tricks does your family use to save extra bits in the budget?