15 Creative Ways to Save Money

By Janet Siroto · October 25, 2023 · 14 minute read

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15 Creative Ways to Save Money

You may not think of saving money as being a creative pursuit, but with a little effort, you can find fresh (and even fun) ways to help you stash away some cash. This can make the pursuit more engaging and motivating.

Perhaps your goal is to save for the down payment on a house or build up your kid’s college fund or simply take a great vacation next year. You can try some clever methods to make saving money more interesting and maybe a bit exciting.

Read on to learn such tactics as partnering up with a savings buddy and tapping your DIY skills. You’ll also learn ways to make the most of the cash you sock away. Get set to save more.

15 Creative Ideas to Save Money

You are probably familiar with some of the usual tactics for saving money, such as comparison shopping and clipping coupons. If you’re ready to mix things up and try some less common tactics, consider the following 15 quirky but effective ideas.

1. Identifying Your Saving Goals

2. Finding a Saving Buddy

3. Seeking Out Free Activities

4. Getting Creative and DIY

5. Gamifying Savings

6. Swapping Goods and Trading Skills

7. Increasing Income

8. Switch Your Bank

9. Split Your Direct Deposit into Checking and Savings

10. Change Your Due Dates for Bills

11. Save Every $5 Bill

12. Take Advantage of Cash Back Credit Cards

13. Round Up Your Purchases Automatically

14. Consolidate Credit Card Debt with a Personal Loan

15. Automate Your Savings into an Investment Account

💡 Quick Tip: An online bank account with SoFi can help your money earn more — up to 4.60% APY, with no minimum balance required.

1. Identifying Your Saving Goals

Not sure how to make saving money fun or prioritize it? You could start by identifying your goals. Are you saving up for a big purchase, like a down payment on a house? Are you saving for your child’s future education?

Once you’ve figured out what you want to accomplish, you could determine a target amount of money you’d like to save. While this number might change over the course of your savings journey, you can always readjust your plan.

If you have an idea of how much money you’d like to work toward saving, you can consider diving deeper into your finances to pinpoint realistic objectives. You can use a tracking and budgeting tool, such as SoFi Financial Insights, to get a big-picture snapshot of your money and drill down on ways to save.

Once you’ve reviewed your individual financial circumstances and have a better idea of your savings goal(s), you could try these fun ways to save money.

2. Finding a Saving Buddy

With the right company, even the most mundane tasks can be enjoyable. You could talk about your savings goals with your friends and family members to potentially identify a saving buddy with similar objectives.

An ideal saving buddy will be supportive of your financial goals, offer good advice, and have a positive money mindset.

Checking in with your buddy regularly could help keep you both stay on track and you can celebrate each other’s accomplishments. This person might also be able to talk you down if you’re on the verge of making a big impulse buy. If you’re stressed about how to make saving money fun, you could brainstorm creative tactics with your saving buddy and implement them together.

3. Seeking Out Free Activities

Saving money does not have to be synonymous with missing out on exciting opportunities around you. You could enjoy free activities offered in your area.

Perhaps your local park offers free theater performances or concerts in the summer, or your area bookstore hosts interesting literary panels and author discussions with no attendance fee. Think about the resources provided by your local library, such as book clubs, language exchange programs, craft nights, and movie screenings.

This can be a great option to pricey movie or concert tickets. And here’s a way to save money on streaming services: You could try a free service like Hoopla or Kanopy, which are offered at no cost to library card holders.

4. Getting Creative and DIY

Here’s another clever way to save money: Adopt a DIY (do-it-yourself) attitude. You could create things using materials you already own instead of buying new products. You can save money on food by meal-prepping for the week ahead; think about recipes that incorporate ingredients you already have in your pantry.

You could make your own household cleaners out of vinegar, lemon rinds, and herbs or face masks using fresh ingredients like avocado, tea, honey, and oatmeal. There are ways to reuse materials that might otherwise be thrown out or recycled: Newspapers and coupon booklets could make fun wrapping paper, for instance.

5. Gamifying Savings

If you’re looking to break up the monotony of saving, you could consider incorporating games and challenges into your overall savings plan. A friendly competition with your saving buddy could be seeing who can save the most money every week, month, and/or year.

Creating small rewards for reaching your goals might be an incentive, too. (Bonus points if these rewards are free!) No-spend weeks, where you refrain from spending any money for seven days, also might help with saving. If you succeed at that, you might want to ramp up to a 30-day no-spend challenge. You can tailor this to cut down on all discretionary spending or just a single category, such as dining out.

6. Swapping Goods and Trading Skills

Getting serious about saving money doesn’t mean you need to give up “luxuries” such as exercising, new clothes and accessories, or home goods. Trading skills and swapping goods are two potential examples of how to make saving money fun while not depriving yourself of the things you want.

You could go to your favorite yoga studio and ask if they have a work-trade program where you can do administrative duties in exchange for classes. A clothing swap with your friends could refresh your closet at no cost.

You might also consider an informal exchange with skilled friends. For example, if you’ve been eyeing an original painting from your artist pal but don’t have the funds to pay her, you could offer your website design services (or some other helpful skills) for the painting.

7. Increasing Income

Sometimes, cutting down on expenses might not be the most effective way to reach a savings goal. It might be easier, in some cases, to make a bit more money than to reduce costs, especially if you are spending more than 50% of your income on non-discretionary expenses like groceries and debt payments. (That’s the figure established by the popular 50/30/20 budget rule, that half of your take-home income goes toward necessities.)

You could reflect on your particular skills and/or hobbies to see if there is a way to translate one of them into an income stream. For example, if you love to knit, you could start an online store for your yarn creations. Or you could offer your writing or editing services in a freelance capacity. A successful low-cost side hustle could help bring additional money into your bank account and add more fun and enjoyment in your life.

Recommended: 39 Passive Income Ideas to Build Wealth

8. Switch Your Bank

If your financial institution seems to be charging you endless fees and offers little interest on your savings account, consider switching banks.

You might consider an online bank. Because these institutions don’t have brick-and-mortar locations to fund, they can pass those savings along to customers in the form of lower or no fees and higher interest rates.

You might also consider a credit union instead of a big name bank. Credit unions are run as financial co-ops, meaning each member has a stake in business. As nonprofits, they are designed to serve their members, typically paying higher interest rates on deposits and charging lower fees.

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9. Split Your Direct Deposit into Checking and Savings

If you have regular paychecks, one of the easiest ways to start saving a bit more money is to guarantee some automatically ends up in a separate savings account, making it that much harder to spend. If you have a checking account, odds are you have a savings account too, or at least access to one.

Maybe you find it hard to remember to put some money away into savings or harder still to force yourself to part with it. If so, splitting your direct deposit into two accounts helps make sure your savings grows every paycheck, without you needing to worry about transferring the money. Check with your HR department or your online pay system to see if you can add a bank account and designate a certain amount of each paycheck to go into your savings account as part of your direct deposit.

Most banks also have the option to set up recurring transfers yourself between your accounts. If you don’t have the option to split up your paycheck or would prefer not to, your bank can likely automate your savings with a transfer the day after you get paid. You won’t have to think twice about stashing money away.

💡 Quick Tip: As opposed to a physical check that can take time to clear, you don’t have to wait days to access a direct deposit. Usually, you can use the money the day it is sent. What’s more, you don’t have to remember to go to the bank or use your app to deposit your check.

10. Change Your Due Dates for Bills

Having extra money in your savings account doesn’t help if you are constantly pulling from it to pay bills.

If you are overdrafting frequently or borrowing from savings, especially at certain times of the month when big payments are due, consider this unique way to save money: Change the due dates of some of your bills. Sometimes spreading out your larger payments — like credit card bills or student loans — throughout the month can help when those more inflexible due dates, like rent, roll around.

By changing the date of some of your bills, you will hopefully avoid overdraft or NSF fees. This will encourage you to not touch your savings account, as opposed to pulling from it every time your checking account balance gets precariously low.

11. Save Every $5 Bill

This is a classic adult remix of the piggy bank you had as a kid. Only this time, instead of squirreling away quarters, take every $5 you get and put it in a separate drawer at home. Keep all of these $5 in the back of a closet somewhere, tucked away and out of sight.

Once you get into the habit of identifying $5 as “no spend” bills, you’ll find it can really be a creative way to save money — depending on how much cash you use in a typical day, of course.

The benefit of this method is that $5 isn’t really enough to miss if you are just putting away a bill or two, but that at the end of the year, it can easily add up to enough cash to help with holiday shopping, a loan payment, or even a nice charity donation without having to touch your savings in the bank.

12. Take Advantage of Cash Back Credit Cards

Need another clever way to save money? Simply put, if you have a credit card that has a decent rewards program, you can likely get your rewards in cash. While getting cash back won’t boost your savings directly, it can allow you to spend rewards points instead of your savings.

However, if you tend to carry over a balance on your credit card, cash back cards may not be a good solution for you right now.

13. Round Up Your Purchases Automatically

There are plenty of apps available to round up your purchase to the nearest dollar and then save the change for you. Your bank may offer this kind of savings tool, which can be an easy way to save money automatically.

The amount these apps save for you is small, so you aren’t likely to notice $1 or even a few cents when it transfers, but it can add up to hundreds stashed away per year.

14. Consolidate Credit Card Debt with a Personal Loan

If your credit card debt is preventing you from saving as much as you would like, you might use a personal loan as a creative way to shake up your finances.

If you owe money on more than one credit card or have a high balance relative to your credit limit, the rates on a personal loan could help lower your monthly payments. Often, taking out one personal loan to pay off credit cards can help you with savings in the long run. While you’ll still be paying off the personal loan, the interest rate is likely to be significantly lower than that of the credit cards. That means you can probably pay off the total sooner, leaving more cash free for savings.

15. Automate Your Savings into an Investment Account

It’s the age-old financial advice worth repeating here: If your company offers a match on your 401(k) savings, take advantage of it! If your company match is 6%, you should set your contribution for at least 6% to get the most out of your retirement funds.

It can be simple to creatively save money using the following technique. Most company wealth management accounts can be set to automatically deduct contributions from your paycheck, but you can schedule other automatic investments too. You can make scheduled, recurring transfers between your bank account and your wealth management account.

You get to select the dollar amount, the date and the frequency you want. This is a great way to put your savings to good use — send it into an investment account. There are plenty of other technologies available to help make this easy, too.

Why Is Making Saving Money Fun Important?

Trying tactics like the ones above can help make it fun to save money. That’s important for a couple of good reasons. Shaking up your savings routine can make socking away cash seem fresh and more engaging, meaning you are more likely to get the job done. Basically, it can rev up your motivation to save money.

Also, when you find a technique that is fun, such as a no-spend challenge, it can help encode the new savings behavior in your routine. If it’s enjoyable, you are more likely to keep up the good work.

How Can You Make the Most of the Money You Save?

When you save money, you likely want it to grow over time, not just sit there. One good way to do that is to stash your money in an interest-earning account. This will be especially effective if the financial institution where you save charges low or no fees and doesn’t have high minimum opening deposit or balance requirements.

You might look for a high-interest or high-yield savings account. These can pay a significantly higher rate than standard savings accounts, and your money will be accessible and likely insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, or NCUA (the National Credit Union Administration).

Optimizing Your Savings

Beyond the creative ways to save that you just learned, there are other important ways to optimize your savings.

•   Budgeting wisely can help you better understand your personal finances. It can help you get a grip on your earnings, spending, and savings. When you see where your money goes, you can tweak your spending to help funnel more towards savings.

•   Putting a spending limit on your credit card (or cards) can help you rein in spending, which can reduce high-interest credit card debt and allow you to save more.

•   Lastly, it you are struggling to put away money, one dramatic move that can help you save more is to move to an area with a lower cost of living. Whether that means moving across town or across the country, it could make a major difference in your finances.

The Takeaway

Putting away money for your future does not need to be a boring task; there are countless fun ways to save money that could be customized to your specific financial needs and wants. From finding a savings buddy to gamifying your saving, creative tactics can help enhance your motivation and your ability to put away cash.

Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.

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What is a clever way to save money?

There are several clever ways to save money. Automating savings so you don’t have to remember to transfer funds is one good tactic; so is giving yourself a no-spend challenge, finding free activities, and doing a skills swap to reduce spending.

How can you save $1000 in 30 days?

To save $1,000 in 30 days, you can try a spending freeze, a savings challenge, and/or use a card that gives you cash back. Make sure you are keeping the money you save in a high-yield savings account.

What is the 50 30 20 rule?

The 50/30/20 budget rule is a popular technique for managing your money. It advises spending 50% of your take-home pay on the needs of life (housing, food, healthcare, etc.), 30% on the wants in life (such as dining out, Ubers instead of public transportation, travel, and so forth), and 20% goes into sayings.

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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a deposit to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

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SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.

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