Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further
Saving money helps create a sense of stability and control over your finances, especially as you get older. From being able to invest in your future to spotting the spending habits that eat away at your money every month, there are many benefits to learning practical and easy ways to save your money.
Keep reading for some money-saving tips that will show you how to save money and help you become financially savvy, or jump to the section that’s most helpful for you:
1. Create a Budget
When learning how to save money, assess how much you really have and where that money is going. Think about using the 50/30/20 rule to help you create a budget.
The 50/30/20 rule is when you save:
- 50 percent of your income for essentials like rent and food
- 30 percent of your income for personal expenses like entertainment
- 20 percent of your income for savings accounts that help with emergencies and retirement
2. Track Your Spending
You may be surprised to learn where your money is actually going every week. By keeping a record of what you spend, you can see how small expenses take away from your monthly savings. You may not think that a daily coffee impacts your ability to save money, but seeing the sum of your purchases may change your mind.
A great way to track your spending and start budgeting is with the Mint app, which puts all of your accounts in one place to help you navigate your spending and saving habits with ease.
3. Make Detailed Budgeting Plans
Breaking your long-term goals into smaller, more manageable milestones for the month and year can help you save money. With an understanding of how to properly save money in the short term, you can plan how much you need to be saving to set yourself up for success in the future.
For example, if your overall goal is to save $1,200 a year, start with smaller goals of $100 every month, or even $25 every week. This will help you get on track and realize that saving isn’t as scary as it sounds.
4. Automate Savings Transfers
By automating deposits into your savings account, you can easily save money without even realizing it. There are several ways you can create automatic savings account deposits, and each bank offers a different solution. For example:
- Some apps allow users to save spare change from their purchases.
- Certain banks will round up purchases to the nearest dollar and deposit that change in a savings account.
- Other banks will allow up to 25 different savings accounts for all of your savings goals.
- There are also programs that add $1 per debit card purchase you make to your savings account.
Automated savings programs will help you invest in yourself and your future.
5. Use the 30-Day Rule
When you want to make a large purchase, think about it first. Write down what it is and how much it costs, and if you feel that it’s still important after 30 days, you may feel more confident purchasing it.
It’s also important to remember you may not want to dip into your savings to make a purchase — wait a little longer until you save spendable money. It’s called a savings account for a reason.
6. Try the 24-Hour Rule
This is similar to the 30-day rule but designed to help with saving your money on less expensive purchases. Wait an entire day before buying a small item and you may find you don’t want it after all.
7. Consider Accounts and Equities
You should always thoroughly research your options or talk to a professional financial advisor before making any riskier investment moves. Always be aware of accounts that gain interest through equities and will help you save more money every year.
While assets like stocks, mutual funds, and certificates of deposit shouldn’t be your only form of savings, they may provide attractive returns on your investment over time.
8. Refinance Your Mortgage
You may find that you can save money over time by changing the rate of your mortgage. By making beneficial adjustments to your mortgage rate, you could save hundreds of dollars each month and put more money back into your pocket.
Here are a few steps on how to refinance your mortgage:
- Check your existing APR to see if it makes sense to refinance
- Double-check your credit score
- Shop around for different mortgage lenders
- Complete a refinancing application
- Choose your lender, prepare for closing, and pay fees
Remember to talk to a financial advisor before signing any major financial contracts.
9. Open Credit Cards Strategically
Credit cards can quickly pull you into debt if you aren’t careful. If possible, try to avoid opening too many credit cards to avoid debt and keep your debt from piling up — and your credit score from going down. Without a large credit card bill to pay off every month, you can start saving money over time for both large and small purchases.
However, if you are ready to start building your credit or think that cash back or rewards credit cards are right for you, opening a credit card might be a good bet. You can take advantage of cash back programs, get points, and save on purchases while spending money.
10. Build an Emergency Fund
Some experts recommend setting aside six months’ worth of living expenses in case of emergencies. Save your money to create a cushion that can help you avoid going into debt if you ever lose your job or have to pay for unforeseen medical expenses.
If the idea of an emergency fund overwhelms you, start with our emergency fund calculator to get you started on the right foot. The last thing you want is to be unprepared.
11. Create a Savings Account for Retirement
One of the best savings tips is to save for your retirement. Some experts recommend saving at least 15 percent of your income each year. Determine how much you’ll need and break that down by paycheck to set aside a specific amount of money and make sure you’re hitting your goals over time. This will better prepare you for a retirement fund — even better, consider making a portion of this goal your 401(k) match.
12. Switch to a Cheaper Phone Plan
With the prevalence of Wi-Fi hotspots, your data usage may be lower than it’s ever been. Track how much data you’re actually using and stop paying for services you don’t need. This will allow you to save more money every month on your phone bill.
13. Take Advantage of Sales
Because demand fluctuates by the season for certain items, you can time your big purchases to rake in the savings. For example, October to December can be a great time to buy a car because dealerships want to meet end-of-year quotas. Their desire to sell a car can be beneficial to your purchasing power.
14. Use Coupons
Coupons are widely available and are a convenient and easy way to save money when shopping. Not only can coupons save you money, but they can also help you get more bang for your buck. Oftentimes, coupons can get you a free item, a cheap bundle, or even a discounted subscription plan.
Great places to find coupons include:
- Newspapers and magazines
- Grocery store ads
- Company websites
- Email subscriptions
- Website browsers and apps
15. Plan Your Groceries
Make a list of the food you want to eat and the groceries you need to help save some money on grocery runs. By making this list and sticking to it, you can avoid extra purchases and even help reduce your food waste in the meantime.
Meal planning is another great option that can help you save money and time while making it easier for you to eat healthily. Determine the recipes you want to make for the week, then only buy the ingredients on your list. Use Mint’s grocery budget calculator if you need help determining a reasonable budget for your trips to the store.
16. Lower Your Utility Bills
Evaluate whether or not you’re being as conservative as you can with your utilities. Is your air conditioning always running in the background? What about an upright fan that you use for both cooling and white noise? Unplugging your small appliances while not in use is a great way to reduce your electricity bill.
17. Consider Cancelling Your Gym Membership
Many of the exercises you do at the gym can be done at home with a bit of creativity. Some money-saving techniques for those who want to prioritize their health on a budget include:
- Watching YouTube tutorials for ideas about home workouts
- Going for a walk or run in your neighborhood
- Swimming laps at your community pool
- Joining a local amateur sports league
- Playing workout video games
- Adding workout plans to lifestyle apps
18. Carpool to Work or School
An easy way to save money on commute expenses is by creating a carpool to see if anyone who lives near you can swap rides. If you have kids, enlisting nearby parents to help lighten the burden of the school drop-off lines is a great way for everybody to save money on gas every month.
19. Audit Your Subscriptions
Subscription services are one of the sneakiest ways that money can get away from you. You may have even forgotten about a subscription service or two. By looking at your monthly bank statements, you can audit your subscription services and cancel the ones that you no longer need.
20. Think Twice About Sales
While some stores are great at offering money-saving deals that help keep more dollars in your pocket, there’s no sale that’s going to cost you less than not buying the item at all. When thinking about purchasing something, ask yourself if you would have bought the item if it was listed at full price — if the answer is no, skip it. It might indicate that you don’t want or need the purchase as much as you originally thought.
21. Designate No-Spend Days
Challenge yourself and your family to go one day a week without buying anything at all, from your morning coffee to a movie ticket. You’ll learn to save better by reducing your spending and becoming more aware of how frequently you make small purchases.
22. Try Envelope Budgeting
Envelope budgeting can help you with saving money by forcing you to work with divided cash allowances. This method makes you more aware of what you’re spending and ensures you don’t spend too much of your money in one area. Mint’s envelope budgeting printables are great for those looking to explore this incredibly useful money-saving technique.
23. Use a Budgeting App
Using an app like Mint can help you tremendously with not only saving money, but staying on track with spending goals, expenses, and budgets. This can also be an easy way to stay up to date on how you’re doing and get more familiar with your spending habits.
More Tips To Help You Save Money
While the tips above are essential money-saving tips, the sections below will provide more insight into how to save money in specific situations. Whether you need to spend less money in general, want to save money with your family, or need tips on bundling entertainment, these tips can help you in your saving journey.
How To Spend Less Money
- Stop Eating Out: Eating in is one of the best ways to save money every month. And fortunately for you, if cooking at home isn’t the most appetizing thing in the world, there are plenty of ways to make it fun and appealing.
- Buy Generic: A great way to save more while shopping is not allowing name-brand medicines and foods to influence you. If you can’t detect any difference in quality, you don’t necessarily need to buy the name brand.
- Buy Used Items: If you love money-saving deals, local thrift stores and online auction sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace offer everything from clothes to electronics at stellar discounts. You can get slightly used high-quality items at a fraction of the cost of their newer counterparts.
- Use Public Transportation: Try replacing your drive to work one day a week. You’ll be able to get other things done on the bus while saving money on gas and avoiding some wear and tear on your car.
How To Save Money on Entertainment
- Get a Library Card: Many don’t realize that going to the library is a great way to save money if you need something to entertain you. Libraries don’t only offer books — you can also rent movies, audiobooks, comics, and games, and attend free events like readings for kids on a regular basis.
- Find Free Events in Your Area: Browse Google and Facebook to find free events happening in and around your area. Chances are there are several family-friendly events or concerts that won’t cost you a penny.
- Cut the Cable: Streaming services have taken over the entertainment sector. By cutting the cable and opting to only use your internet for streaming services, you can save a pretty penny.
How To Save Money With Your Family
- Pool Coins Together: By pooling everybody’s coins together, you can create a family budget to spend on fun adventures like vacations, theme park days, and more.
- Have Family Game Nights: By playing a board game or video game with your family on a designated night, you can save money on entertainment costs and bond with each other in the meantime.
- Double Your Meal Recipes: When you cook, it might be smart to buy groceries in bulk and double your recipes. That way, you can spend less time cooking throughout the week and save more money while you’re at it.
- Spend Time Outside: Among the smart ways to save money is remembering that the world is your playground. With the great outdoors almost always free for people to use, there are tons of activities you can do to take up your time. Try making your own sandwiches and going on a nice family picnic in the park.
Homeowner Money-Saving Tips
- Audit Your Energy Use: Take a closer look at your monthly statements to determine how you can lower your utility bills every month.
- Close Blinds and Curtains: Closing your blinds and curtains to keep out the sun while you are out running errands is an awesome way to keep your house cool and lower your air conditioning usage since your house won’t take as much energy to cool.
- Be Conscious of Water Usage: Taking shorter showers is easier said than done, but oftentimes it has to be done to lower utility costs. Make sure that you turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth and use low-water settings on your dishwasher and washing machines to help lower your water bill.
- Lower Your Water Heater: By lowering the temperature of your water heater (oftentimes to 120°), you will save on gas and heating utility bills.
- Start Weatherproofing: Use caulk to mend holes and cracks in your walls. Identify windowpanes and door frames that have drafts and fill them in. Place plastic wrap around windows to keep the heat from escaping in the winter.
Change Your Money-Saving Mindset
The key to saving money and budgeting successfully is having patience. You may not become rich overnight, but making an earnest effort to change your unconscious spending habits puts you one step closer to financial freedom. After all, patience is a virtue — and, in this instance, saving also brings value.
Change your point of view on money today by using the Mint app to start budgeting, getting ahead of big purchases, and being mindful of your spending habits.
Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further