15 Money Saving Tips (A Practical Guide)

A man saving money and putting  cash back in his wallet.

Save Money. Live better.

So you are looking for some money saving tips. Why? I would guess that you know that part of creating your dream life is finding financial freedom and abundance. That means having enough money so that you no longer worry or stress about how you're going to pay your bills. You want enough money to live comfortably and happily.

Let’s make it super simple:

The two ways to have more money are to 1) make more money, or 2) save more money.

Let’s explore the later.

1. Use cash instead of credit cards.

A wallet with credit cards in it.

Put your cards away.

We live in a digital culture where it's easy to swipe credit cards, buy something online, or even pay friends back using you phone. We often fail to realize how much we spend. The credit card bill just looks like a cascade of random numbers. It is so easy to spend money, and so easy to forget that you are spending money that we can often be oblivious to our bad spending habits. Who cares about numbers?

Well, you do-one month from now.

By using cash instead of your credit card, you force yourself to appreciate how much you're spending. Physical cash will make the purchase seems more expensive. The cost equals the green bills you are giving up. Cash transactions feel much more substantial.

Even more importantly, when you use cash you spend money that you already have. But when you use credit cards, you're borrowing money, money that you might not have. That can be very dangerous: the freedom a credit card brings allows you to spend beyond your means. It is too easy to fall down that slippery slope of credit card debt (which is the worst type of debt because of the high interest).

Pay your credit card bills off in full and use cash.

2. Write down all of your spending and all of your expenses on paper.

Take time to look at your past transactions and keep track of how much you're spending. Note where your money is going. How much are you spending on food? How much are you spending on Amazon? How much are you spending on entertainment? The results can surprise you.

This is your chance to become more aware of your financial habits so that you know where you should cut back. Once you have done this, set a new budget for yourself. If you are overspending on food, try to spend $100 less on food this month-or on whatever category you think you might be overspending. This brings me to my next point which is…

3. Cancel any unnecessary subscriptions.

A man booting up Netflix on his television set shows a subscription service you can cancel.

Cancel.

You might be subscribed to services that you forgot about or that you rarely use. For example, I realized that I haven't shopped using Amazon in a long time, so I'm planning on cancelling my subscription to Amazon Prime. I use Audible, but because I have collected so many credits over time, I downgraded my plan to one credit every other month. That realization saved me money: $14 a month.

4. Always Google Coupon Codes.

I can't tell you how many times I've saved money using this trick. I never place an order without taking a minute to ask Google if there are any promo codes. There are promotion and coupon codes for every product out there, and there are a ton of websites dedicated to helping you find them. You can always save money.

5. Use Ebates to get cash back on your purchases.

You can get up to 15% cash back when you shop online through Ebates. If you haven't heard of Ebates, it's a popular cash back site. They partner with over 2500 big name brands like Sephora, Amazon, Adidas, Urban Outfitters, and Coursera. If you use their service, you will receive cash back coupons and promo codes. Best of all, the service is free. I've been using Ebates for years. I mean, the company rewards you for shopping at the places you frequent. Using it is a no-brainer: you get free money.

If you are not tech savvy, Ebates is super easy. I use the Google Chrome extension. You can also get cash back by shopping through the Ebates website. Go to the website, select a brand, and then you'll be on the road to getting cash back from your purchases.

*This tip was not sponsored.

6. Start building an emergency fund.

Emergency pull lever.

An emergency fund is a sum of money that can support you for 3-6 months. To calculate how much you need to save, average your monthly expenses and multiply by the desired number of months. Choose whatever number of months seems most reasonable. Note that your needs depend on personal choices and habits. Some people need to save more than others.

Start depositing in your emergency fund today. You can make this process automatic through your bank. Or, you can think of ways to save money, and then transfer cash to your emergency fund. Do what ever works for you. But do not forget to make one.

7. Schedule your shopping allowance.

This is the best way to limit bad shopping habits. Instead of shopping whenever you are bored, set a schedule for your shopping. Force yourself to only buy clothes once every other month or once every three months. If you want to be really frugal (and this is what I do), only go clothes shopping every quarter when a new season hits. Make sure the rules you choose will work for you. During the interim periods, add items to your shopping list.

Any list-making app works. Write down the items that you want to buy as soon you think of them. But do not buy them right away. Stick them on a list and schedule a day in your calendar to let yourself shop. If you make this a habit, you will control any impulse buying.

This practice it will help you become more calculated in how you handle your finances.

8. Wait it out.

If you do not like the previous tip on scheduling your shopping allowance, you can try to wait the urge out. Whenever you see something that you want to buy, give yourself 14-30 days to make the purchase. This practice helps curb impulsive behavior.

For example: You want to buy a new camera or a new laptop. Instead, of going out and purchasing those items, sit on it. Do not buy them immediately. Take your time. As I said before, I would take 14-30 days. After your wait time elapses, reassess whether you still feel that you want to make the purchase. If you do, go shopping. I promise you will make more informed and smart choices if you give your head time to cool.

9. Only buy what you really need and what you'll really use.

A half eaten, wasted strawberry shows the importance of only purchasing what you need.

Many people believe that shopping in bulk is one of the best ways to save money. In some cases, that is true. But a lot of people go overboard. People who are obsessed with saving money tend to buy everything in bulk just because the items are on sale. While the items might be cheaper per piece, they may never use what they purchase and thus waste their money. This is usually a huge problem with buying food in bulk. If the food expires before you use it, you have wasted your money.

My friends often purchase hand creams because they are on sale. When I question whether or not they should, they claim that they're going to keep using those hand creams forever. They think they are making an investment. Inevitably, they forget about their purchase and those creams become storage clutter. Only buy what you'll use in the immediate future. Reconsider buying multiple redundant items. You often do not save much money.

10. Use your public library.

A pretty young woman visiting their library to save money.

As I grew up, I forgot how useful public libraries can be. I forgot that I could get a library card and check out books without having to buy them on Amazon or Audible. You can save a lot of money by borrowing rather than purchasing or renting television shows, books, movies, magazines, etc. Your entertainment expenses can rack up quite the price tag. To borrow your entertainment for free, consider joining your local library. Most libraries have all the books (or can find them for you) that you want to read. And, libraries have DVDs, movies, audio books, etc. They have more resources than most people think.

Plus there are all sorts of additional reasons to use your library.

11. Plan your meals around grocery store sales.

Your local grocery store has lots items on sale every single day. Keep the coupons you get in the mail. Plan your meals around what's on sale and those coupons.

For example: My friends invited me over for dinner. They cooked some amazing steaks that only cost $6.99/lb. If you were to order them in a restaurant, your meal would cost $50-60.

12. Buy used instead of new.

Did you know there are a lot of websites that sell “used” items which are essentially new? For example: Poshmark sells a lot of makeup palettes that have not been used. The containers were opened, but the original owners didn’t use the make up, and resold the item for cheap. These transactions are great for both parties because the the sellers recoup a bit of their losses and you get new items for cheap.

Save money by buying used or selling unused items.

13. Make your own vs. buying.

Consider if doing it yourself will save you money. In some cases, you might spend more money trying to do it yourself, but this is not true when it comes to everyday tasks. You can save a lot of money by cooking at home and making your own food instead of eating out at restaurants. Make whatever is within your ability. There are lots of creative ways you can save money if you're willing to put in the work.

14. Learn to cut or do your own hair.

A man with a great hair cut.

You may mess it up a couple times, but the savings are worth it.

You can save a lot of money by cutting your own hair-and I mean a lot. There are thousands of YouTube videos that teach you how to cut your hair, how to layer it evenly, or (if you are a guy) how to fade properly.

If you're not comfortable with taking a scissors to your head, ask a friend to help. My friends and I all dye our own hair. You can bleach, tone, and color your hair yourself.

For several years, I cut my hair myself. I still tone and color my own hair. And, I have saved a ton of money doing it. For example: Toning hair at home costs $10 if you use good quality products on Amazon. A hair salon will charge you about $100 to tone your hair.

My last tip for today is to get social and…

15. Swap with a friend, whether you want to swap clothing, swap books, etc.

Have you ever considered sharing cleaning supplies with your friends? You can swap, lend out, borrow, exchange most items with a friend. Sharing means that you don't have to buy everything for yourself. You can save a huge amount of money by sharing items that you don't use often.

Those are our 15 money saving tips. Give them a whirl.

WealthIsaac Therriensaving