How to Save Money: 33 Easy Ways

By Jackie Lam · April 11, 2024 · 14 minute read

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How to Save Money: 33 Easy Ways

You likely agree that saving money is a good idea. Putting extra cash aside every month can help you reach your financial goals, whether that’s building an emergency fund, going on vacation, or putting a down payment on a car or home.

But wanting to save money and actually doing it are two very different things. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day needs (and wants), and never gain any traction on savings. But don’t give up. We’ve got 33 tricks and tips that can make saving simple and pain-free. The best part — you can get started as soon as today.

Saving Money Doesn’t Have to Be Overwhelming

While spending less and saving more admittedly sounds painful, it doesn’t have to be that hard. You don’t have to go to the extremes like never shopping or having fun. Just making a few small changes in your day-to-day spending habits can actually add up to a big difference in how much you save each month.

Getting better with money is like any type of behavior modification — the key to lasting change is to make small, incremental changes that stick.

💡 Quick Tip: Help your money earn more money! Opening a bank account online often gets you higher-than-average rates.

33 Easy Ways to Save Money

What follows are 33 simple money-saving tips you can start working on right now.

1. Tracking Your Spending

One of the best ways to spend less and save more is to take a close look at where your money is currently going. You can track your spending by scanning your checking account and credit card statements over the last few months. But a simpler way is to use a budgeting app that syncs with your accounts and keeps track of what you spend in different categories in real time.

Once you have a big-picture idea of your cash flow, you can make adjustments. Spending a lot more on takeout than you thought? Commit to cooking one or two more nights per week. Is keeping up with fashion killing your budget? You may want to focus on spending less on clothing.

2. Selling Items You Never Use

An simple way to earn some extra cash is to periodically sell gently used items you no longer want or need. You might organize a yard sale or resell your items piecemeal via online marketplaces like OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay. If you have extra clothes, shoes, or accessories in good condition, consider listing them on Poshmark or thredUP. Selling your unwanted stuff is essentially getting paid for clearing out clutter.

3. Limiting Time Spent on Social Media

Watching influencers take luxury vacations and promote their favorite products can prompt you to spend more and live beyond your means. In fact, recent research finds that social media can significantly impact your finances — and not in a good way.

Putting a time limit on daily phone scrolling, on the other hand, can automatically lead to less spending and more saving. It also frees up time for activities that can truly enhance your life, like reading, exercising, seeing (real) friends, even taking up side hustle (and earning more money).

4. Setting Goals for Saving

When we do things with focus, intention, and a clear goal in mind, we usually have an easier time making it happen. Instead of saving for the sake of saving, consider setting specific savings goals with target dates and amounts. For instance, maybe you want to save $5,000 for a summer vacation or $2,000 for a new computer.

By setting a target date, you can work backward and figure out exactly how much you need to set aside regularly. For example, if you want a new laptop in eight months, and it will cost you about $2,000, you’ll need to save $250 a month or about $60 a week.

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5. Buying Generic Brands

Generic brands typically have the same ingredients and offer comparable quality to name brands but for a fraction of the price. For example, generic drugs usually cost 80% to 85% less than their brand-name counterparts. During your next supermarket or drugstore visit, try to go generic whenever it’s offered. Chances are, the only difference you’ll notice is less money draining out of your checking account.

6. Comparison Shopping

Spending a bit of extra time comparison shopping can help you scoop up the best deals and avoid paying full price. You can do it on your phone while you shop in-store. For online shopping, consider installing a browser extension that helps you find the lowest prices and automatically applies coupons and cash-back options at checkout. Many of these tools will also alert you when the price of an item you intend to purchase drops.

7. Automating Your Savings

Rather than transfer money to your savings account whenever you think of it, consider putting your savings on autopilot. Simply set up a recurring transfer from your checking account to your savings account for the same day each month (perhaps right after you get paid). It’s fine to start small. Even $50 can add up to a sizable sum over time, since the transfer happens every month without fail.

8. Making Monthly Debt Payments

While it’s not directly putting money into your bank account, making on-time, consistent payments on your debt means you’ll pay it off quicker. Once your debt is paid off, the money you are currently spending on principal/interest can go towards savings. In addition to your monthly minimum payments, try to put extra payments towards high-interest debt each month. You’ll whittle those balances down faster and save on interest.

9. Delaying Gratification

If you see something you want to buy but don’t actually need, consider putting off the purchase for at least one week (or ideally 30 days). Tell yourself that if you still want the item and can afford it after the waiting period, you can go ahead and buy it. Chances are good that once that waiting period is over, you’ll no longer have a burning need to purchase the item and simply move on.

10. Meal Planning

If it’s 6pm, you’re tired from a full day of work, and have no food in the house, you’ll probably seek out the path of least resistance — getting takeout or eating out. Your best defense against overspending on food is to sit down every Sunday to scan recipes and come up with a meal plan for the week (including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks). You can then make a shopping list and hit the store.

Recommended: Examining the Price of Eating at Home Versus Eating Out

11. Avoiding the Daily Coffee

While it’s fine to occasionally splurge on a fancy coffee, getting your daily coffee out can add up, especially if you sometimes throw in a tempting pastry at the last minute. Even cutting back your coffee shop visits to just two or three times a week and brewing at home the other days can help you save a lot on coffee.

12. Making Repairs Instead of Buying New

While it is easier to replace items than fix them, the latter approach is better for both your wallet and the environment. Depending on the item, a repair could end up costing significantly less expensive than a replacement. Call around for quotes or ask for help from a tech-savvy or handy friend. Also see if there are “repair cafes” in your community. These are volunteer-run events where you can get items mended or fixed for free.

13. Using Cash Instead of Credit Cards

While credit cards are convenient, they make it all too easy to spend money. When you tap or swipe to make a purchase, you don’t really have a sense that you are giving up physical money. Switching to cash-only, even for just a month or so, can help you become more mindful about your spending. You might even try the envelope system. This involves labeling envelopes for each spending category, dividing your available cash for the month into the envelopes, and then only spending what’s in each envelope.

14. Switch to a New Cell Phone Carrier

When it comes to cell service, you don’t have to stick with the big names. Mobile virtual network operators (such as Mint Mobile, Consumer Cellular or Republic Wireless) typically offer the same quality of service at a much lower price tag. It’s also a good idea to look at your last cell phone bill to see how much data you actually use. You may be able to get a smaller plan to save even more.

15. Doing it Yourself Instead of Hiring Someone

Before you hire someone for a home repair or improvement job, like painting a room, re-caulking your tub or shower, or installing a water filter under your sink, consider whether or not you could do it yourself. Often, the cost of materials and a simple YouTube search will lead to significant savings.

16. Stacking Coupons

There are two major types of coupons: Store coupons, which are issued by a specific retailer and can only be used at those locations (you can find these in the paper and through a retailer’s app or mailer); and manufacturer’s coupons, which are found on manufacturer’s and coupon sites. By stacking them, you get an even deeper discount. Stacking coupons for an item that is on sale is a triple whammy that can bring you back to pre-inflation prices.

17. Canceling Some Subscriptions

Dropping subscriptions that you hardly use or are redundant is a simple money-saving move with a potentially big payoff, since these debits occur monthly. It’s worth scanning your checking account and credit card statements for recurring charges to see if there are any items you can cut. If you primarily watch one streaming service but pay for four, for example, canceling three can save you significant cash.

18. Using a Refillable Water Bottle

While keeping bottled water (and seltzers or sodas) on hand is convenient, the cost can add up, especially if you have a family. A simple way to spend less at the grocery store each week is to give each person in your household their own reusable water bottle. You can then take bottled drinks off your shopping list. This will not only save money but also reduce plastic waste.

19. Taking Advantage of Free Resources

You might be surprised at how many things you can actually get for free. For example, your library can grant you access to movies, books, activities, and in some cases, passes to state parks and other nearby attractions. You might also join a Buy Nothing group. These are hyper-local virtual communities where neighbors can give and receive essentially anything for free.

20. Canceling Your Gym Membership

If you’re becoming a stranger to your gym, consider canceling your membership. Even if you got a great deal, gyms debit money out of your bank account every month, whether you go or not. You might look for alternative, low-cost ways to get physically fit, such as walking/jogging/biking around your neighborhood, lifting free weights at home, and taking hikes.

21. Saving Change

A nickel here and a quarter there might not seem like much, but if you start dropping all your spare change into a jar every day, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll accumulate. If you rarely carry or pay in cash, consider collecting digital change. Many money-saving apps automatically round up your purchase to the nearest dollar, then transfer the difference into your savings account.

💡 Quick Tip: Want a simple way to save more everyday? When you turn on Roundups, all of your debit card purchases are automatically rounded up to the next dollar and deposited into your online savings account.

22. Skipping Alcohol at Restaurants

Ordering a cocktail or a glass of wine (or three) when out to dinner can significantly inflate your bill. Consider getting water or a non-alcoholic beverage instead, then perhaps having a glass of wine when you get home. If you must drink, local beer, “house wine” options, and happy hour cocktails are usually the cheapest options.

23. Finding Free Family Entertainment

Taking the family to concerts, movies, and immersive art exhibits can add up quickly. Instead, look for free or low-cost community activities. These offerings typically spike during the summer months and around holidays. To stay abreast of upcoming goings-on, you can sign up for newsletters or follow social media accounts of your local community, recreation centers, and libraries.

24. Doing a No-Spend Challenge

A simple way to save (potentially hundreds) is to do a no-spend month. This involves spending money only on essentials for 30 days. Before you begin, it’s a good idea to set parameters for what you will and won’t spend money on and then commit to the plan. It’s only a month! By the end of the challenge, you may realize there were certain things you didn’t really miss and rethink your approach to spending.

25. Reducing Your Energy Use

You may be able to significantly lower your utility bills with just a few tweaks to your habits and home. Try taking shorter showers, fixing any drippy faucets or constantly running toilets, turning off lights whenever you leave a room, and washing your clothes in cold water. Once you see a difference in your monthly bills, you’ll be encouraged to carry on and find more ways to cut energy use.

26. Adjusting Your Tax Withholdings.

If you typically get a refund after doing your taxes, you’re essentially giving the government an interest-free loan. That’s money that could be working for you by earning interest in a high-yield savings account. Revisit your withholdings and put that extra money into your own bank account.

27. Taking a Staycation Instead of a Vacation

It may sound boring, but you’d be surprised how much a staycation can feel like a fun and luxurious getaway. The key is to take a complete break from your daily routine, change up the scenery, and spend time doing things you truly enjoy. This can provide the respite you’ve been longing for — minus the headaches of travel — and for a fraction of the price.

28. Finding Cheap Ways to Reward Yourself

If you focus too hard on saving and never on fun, you might end up feeling deprived and give up on the whole project. Instead, allow yourself to celebrate small money wins and life events on the cheap. For instance, for every X amount you’ve put away into your emergency fund, you might reward yourself with a fancy coffee, a $5 “spree” at the dollar store, or getting a treat at your favorite ice cream shop.

29. Avoiding Bank Fees

Overdraft fees, ATM fees, and monthly maintenance fees can make your bank account balance move in the wrong direction — down instead of up. To ditch costly overdraft fees, keep regular tabs on your checking account to make sure you have enough to cover your debits and checks. To eliminate other fees, you may want to look for a bank account that doesn’t charge monthly maintenance fees and ATM fees.

30. Haggling

Negotiating prices isn’t just for buying cars or houses. You can haggle for just about any product or service — your cable and cell phone bills, things you buy in stores, and even your rent. The key to success is to come to the negotiation prepared (do all the research you may need in advance), speak with confidence, and start off the conversation with the question, “What flexibility do you have?”

Recommended: 15 Creative Ways to Save Money

31. Saving Your Windfalls

It can be tempting to go hog wild and spend your windfalls. But next time you get a work bonus, cash gift, or tax refund (which you actually want to avoid, see tip #26), consider spending a small percentage of it on something frivolous and fun, then putting the rest into your savings account. This can help you reach your savings goals significantly faster.

Recommended: The Fastest Ways to Get a Tax Refund

32. Timing Your Purchases Right

If you want to buy something that you don’t need right away, it’s worth researching the best times of the year for deals and sales. For example, you can often find great deals on cars in May, October, November and December; clothes are typically cheapest at the end of any season; and the end and the very beginning of the year are generally the best times to buy appliances.

33. Switching to a High-Yield Savings Account

If your extra cash is sitting in a traditional savings account, you’re missing out on a free source of extra cash. A high-yield savings account is a type of savings that you can open at many banks and credit unions. But it differs from a traditional savings account in that it offers an annual percentage yield (APY) that’s 10 to 20 times higher. If, for example, you put $25,000 into a savings account with a 4.60% APY, you’ll earn an extra $177.78 by the end of the year — just for letting the money sit in the bank.

Saving Money with SoFi

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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FAQ

Why is saving money important?

Saving money enables you to build an emergency fund that protects you against the unexpected. It also allows you to work towards — and achieve — future goals, such as buying a car or home, sending your kids to college, and being able to one day retire.

How can I find the motivation to save money?

To find the motivation to save money, it helps to set specific goals. Think about the things you want to buy or do in the next year or two and how much these things will cost. You can then determine how much you need to set aside each month to reach your goals. Watching your savings account balance go up can also help keep you motivated.

What are the consequences of not saving money?

When you don’t have a cushion of savings, any bump in the road (such as a car or home repair, trip to the ER, or loss of income) can force you to run up credit card debt. This can lead to a debt spiral that can take months, if not years, to recover from. Not saving also means you won’t make any progress towards your financial goals and simply continue living paycheck to paycheck.


Photo credit: iStock/Chaninan Boongate

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.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

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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