Saving money does not need to be hard or difficult. Here are 16 simple ideas to show how painless it can be to work savings into your day.
“I can’t live like this! Something needs to change!”
Health problems and legal issues had us strapped for cash Every. Single. Month. The food bank knew us by name and money seemed to come out of our bank account faster than it went in.
Getting ahead? We couldn’t even get our heads above water.
We needed to save money – while living on a very tight income – but just as importantly, we had to do it in ways that didn’t raise our already high stress levels.
Two years later, we had enough to buy our homestead property in the woods, and three years after that we bought a lovely 130-year-old home in a little village.
And it started with putting pennies in a jar.
Table of Contents
How do you save money? More importantly, are there quick and easy ways to save money?
Well, at heart, it’s a matter of not spending money, but many people want specific examples to help them understand ways that you can easily … well, not spend money.
‘Don’t go shopping’ isn’t really enough!
If you’re looking at an empty bank account week after week, you’re probably not doing a lot of shopping anyway.
Saving money really can be painless. It can even be a little fun with the right approach. It’s possible to save a ton of money with some minor adjustments in your spending habits. The trick is to save your savings (after paying off interest-bearing debt). If you spend the money you save, you’re not gaining any ground.
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Find at least one money saving idea you can put into action today!
Save your change
At the end of the day, take all of your change (and $1 bills, if you’re American) and put them in a jar. Once a week, or at least once a month, make a deposit at the bank. Before putting any of this “found money” into savings, though, pay down debt.
Don’t discount this – it can be the most powerful savings method you’ll ever do. I once knew a very wealthy man who did this. He always said to take care of the coins because the bills are big enough to take care of themselves. It worked for him and it has always worked for us.
I’ve always made it a habit to save pennies (when we still had them here in Canada). When EJ and I met, he would periodically take my penny jar, roll the coins and take them to the bank.
“You took my pennies!”
“Yes, but I made a $20 payment on that debt.”
It does require paying cash for everything so that you will have change to save. But it’s really a painless way to save. Start with pennies, if that’s where you’re at.
Change your bulbs
This is one of those ways to save money fast. You literally can make this change in an afternoon.
Are you still using incandescent bulbs? Get out of the Stone Age and switch to fluorescent or LED bulbs. Switching 10 bulbs can save $150 each year. Perhaps that doesn’t seem like a lot, but every bit helps. Besides, you probably have more than 10 bulbs.
When we switched out in our new house, there were 42 bulbs! That’s a lot of savings in electricity. Although I am a nut about turning lights off, we had a month-long visitor who liked them on all the time.
There was just a $5 increase in the power bill – so changing to more power-saving light bulbs means you don’t have to panic when someone forgets to turn off a light.
If finances are scary tight, though, the extra cost for energy-saving bulbs can feel impossible. The good news is that there are often programs, run by either the power company or the energy department of the government, to help you make the change.
Start slow and increase
Okay, so you’ve been saving your coins and now that feels effortless. What next? Increase the amount you’re saving, but do it gradually so that you barely notice.
The first month, you’d save $10 (1+2+3+4). Don’t stop saving your coins, though.
By the last month, you’d save $202 (49+50+51+52).
Increase your savings rate by just $1 per week. It doesn’t seem like it’s possible when you start, but it’s amazing how much you can stretch your ability to save. Once you’ve figured out the maximum amount you can save, don’t lower it!
We saved money to move from Ontario to Nova Scotia and buy our mountain property by doing just that.
Do it later
The best deals are available right after the holiday season. This is one of the great benefits of celebrating the Twelve Days of Christmas – we do almost all of our shopping during Boxing Week sales.
Of course this requires some pre-planning. You must make sure you have savings in the bank already so that you can take advantage of the after-Christmas savings.
But I don’t know a more painless way to save money than buying next year’s gifts at 75-90% off.
Water, water, water
Water is essentially free. It’s also better for you than anything you’re going to purchase at the store.
Even if you have to buy a water filter, it’s less expensive than any bought drink. Get yourself a really good water bottle. I love my (affiliate link) Lifefactory Water Bottle from Mighty Nest. If you buy through this link, you can start your first month of the MightyFix for just $5, and a Lifefactory bottle will be your first delivery.
If that doesn’t convince you, take a few minutes and read my ten reasons why you need to start drinking more water.
And if you want coffee when you’re out and about, make your own at home and take it with you. Thermos makes the most amazing coffee mug – mine will keep coffee hot for hours.
This is the travel mug that I recommend for everyone – it’s stainless steel inside and out so it doesn’t develop weird smells, it’s all one piece so you don’t end up with water seeping inside it, and the stainless version is dishwasher safe. It’s flat out the perfect travel mug, in my opinion.
Groupon is perhaps the best-known website in this category. Get a haircut for $5 and put the $10 you saved in the bank.
Don’t buy anything through these deal websites unless you were going to buy it anyway. You only save that $10 if you were going to pay $15. If you were going to pay nothing and instead paid $5, you’re not doing yourself any favours.
Send yourself a bill
The electric company sends you a bill, so does every other entity that demands your money each month. Your savings account deserves the same consideration.
Send yourself a bill and pay it!
Talk to your bank and see if they can set something like that up – most are very happy to help you out.
Save your savings
Whether you saved $3 with a coupon or received a $2 rebate in the mail, ensure that money finds its way into your savings account or gets put on a bill. It does no good to save the money if you just let it slip right through your fingers!
Watch this with a sense of humour, okay? It’s a cartoon. Do yourself a favour and do NOT search for ‘pee in the shower’ on Google.
Trust me on this one – it’s not only NSFW but it will take you places you don’t want to go.
I’m going to go scrub my eyeballs now.
Use the shower instead of the tub. A bathtub uses a shocking amount of water. For an added bonus, turn off the shower while you’re lathering up. You might get cold, which will make you go even faster.
Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and washing the dishes, too.
I get a little touchy around here about water being wasted, I’ll admit. I’ve joked that of course we had running water at the cabin – we’d have to run it inside and then we’d have to run it outside.
Drop your cable
How much is it costing you each year? $1,200? Between the free movies at the library, Netflix, Youtube and just the rental section at your local convenience store, you can probably ditch that – or at least drop it down to the smallest package.
Most theaters open around 10 AM, and the ticket prices can be 50% less than in the evening.
Want to be even more money-saving? Spend a few minutes looking through the cheap movie bin. We were given a gift tonight – money to take the children out to a movie. Have you ever priced that for four children and two adults? Instead we spent half an hour digging through DVD discount bins and came home with ten movies for the same price that we’d have spent taking the family out for one.
Hot water will clean your clothes more effectively, but heating the water is expensive. Experts estimate you’ll save $0.50 per load.
It doesn’t seem like very much, I know, but neither does the power saved from turning off one lightbulb!
How many loads do you wash in a year?
How many of these actually have to be done in hot water?
The musical fruit
The meat is the most expensive part of the meal. Go meatless at least once a week and give your taste buds something new. In the Maritimes, that has traditionally been a feast of baked beans and brown bread. You can even make your own home canned baked beans if you have a pressure canner.
There are other ways to save money on your food, of course. Here are four ways that, without working too hard at it, you can cut your grocery bill in half. That’s a lot of savings for most families!
Don’t be a brand snob
Not all of them are inferior. Especially when it comes to things like rice, pasta and flour, there is really no reason to refuse the less expensive brands. Sometimes there are distinct taste differences, but don’t make assumptions.
Exercise restraint in the checkout line
There’s nothing good to purchase there! You don’t need a candy bar or the latest issue of People magazine.
Honest and true, just set a rule and don’t ever break it – buy NOTHING that they’re pushing at you in the checkout line.
Turn down the heat when you’re at work
Or sleeping! Find the lowest temperature that will prevent your pipes from freezing. If the house is empty during the day, turn the heat down to just above that amount. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60F/15C to 70F/21 C range, you’ll save up to 5 percent on heating costs. If you can be comfortable at 68F when the family is at home, turn it down to 60F/15C when no one is home. And do the same at night – blankets and warm pajamas are less expensive than heat fuel. To be honest, we keep our house at 64F/17C during the day and 50F/10C at night!
Once you get into the habit of saving, it becomes automatic. You’ll discover new ways to add to your growing account. Soon, you’ll have a savings account you can be proud of, and all it took was a little creativity and focus!