15 Money Saving Tips (A Practical Guide)

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

Save Money. Live better.

Financial freedom is critical to your pursuit of your dream life. You need to have enough money that you no longer worry or stress about how you're going to pay your bills. You want enough money to live your vision for a happy and comfortable life. To that end, you can save money in areas in which you spend too much.

Let’s make it super simple:

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

We are going to explore the later since that is something you can control right now.

1. 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 recently canceled my subscription to Amazon Prime (Note: At the time of the most recent edit, I had reopened by Amazon Prime subscription). I use Audible, but because I have collected so many books by shopping sales, I cancelled my subscription. That realization saved me $22 a month. I also ended my Hulu and HBO Now subscriptions.

2. Always Google Coupon Codes.

I have saved thousands of dollars by Googling coupon codes before I make a purchase. I have found that this strategy works particularly well for software purchases. It also works well for purchases made from smaller online retailers. 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 almost every product sold on the internet.

3. Use cash instead of credit cards.

A wallet with credit cards in it.

Technology has digitized our finances. Today it's easy to swipe your credit card in the self-checkout line, buy something on Amazon, or pay friends back using your phone. Companies developed these technologies to facilitate your spending. And their investment paid off-for them. The ease with which we can carry out transactions cause us to fail to appreciate how much we spend. The credit card bill looks like a list of harmless random numbers. It is so easy to spend money, and so easy to forget that you are spending money, that you are often oblivious to bad spending habits. Who cares about some random numbers anyway?

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. You appreciate that the cost is the tangible green bills you are giving the cashier. Cash transactions feel much more substantial.

But there is an even more important reason to use cash. When you use cash you spend money that you already have. But when you use credit cards, you're borrowing money you might not have. Borrowing money can be very dangerous: a credit card gives you the freedom to spend beyond your means. It is 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.

4. Plan your meals around grocery store sales.

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

For example: I buy chicken from Walmart whenever it is one sale. It is cheap, and it tastes great. You can cook an amazing steak for $10 that would cost you $50-60 at a restaurant.

5. Track of all of your spending and all of your expenses.

Take time to collect data regarding your past transactions to get an idea of how much you're spending. Pay attention 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 will surprise you.

By tracking your expenditures, you will become more aware of your financial habits. This will give you the information you need to decide 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.

6. Start building an emergency fund.

Emergency pull lever.

An emergency fund is a sum of money that you set aside to support you for 3-6 months in case of financial troubles. To calculate how much you need to save, average your monthly expenses and multiply by the appropriate number of months. Choose whatever number seems most reasonable to you given your situation; your needs will depend on personal choices and habits.

It can be difficult to save money if you are used to spending your entire income. If you need to cut some fat from your budget try living more frugally. If possible, start saving today; I recommend you do not procrastinate. You can save automatically using your banks online banking services. Or, you can transfer cash to your emergency fund manually whenever you save some money. Experiment and find what works for you.

7. Schedule your shopping allowance.

Scheduling a shopping allowance is the best way to put the breaks on bad shopping habits. A lot of people tend to shop whenever they are bored. Instead, sit down and create a shopping schedule. Add items to your shopping list in the interim periods. For example, commit to only buying clothes once every three months. If you want to be really frugal (and this is what I do), go clothes shopping every quarter when a new season hits and last season’s items are on sale.

Make sure the rules you choose will work for you. Do not get overzealous. If you are too harsh, you will break your resolution.

You can use any list-making app to write out your schedule. List out the items that you want to buy as soon you think of them. But do not buy them right away. Wait until the scheduled shopping day arrives. If you follow this system religiously, it will temper impulse shopping.

8. Wait it out.

Some people are not hyper-organized. If you are one of them, the previous tip will seem like too much work. You should at least try to give yourself time to consider the purchase. Whenever you see something that you want to buy, give yourself 14-30 days to make the purchase. Making this a habit will curb impulsive behavior.

For example: You want to buy a new camera or a new laptop. Instead of purchasing those items on Amazon right now, give yourself a couple of weeks to consider whether you really want to invest in new equipment. The bottom line is that you should not buy anything immediately unless it is an existential necessity.

A lot of the time we want to buy something to satiate a totally unrelated desire. For example, perhaps you are anxious and you feel that clothes shopping will improve your mood. Such behavior is unhealthy. You end up with clothes you really did not need nor want. And, you probably do not feel any better. So, wait it out.

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 impulses 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, you may never use what you purchase. That is a total waste of your hard-earned money. The worst culprit is usually buying food in bulk. If the food expires before you use it, you have wasted resources that could have gone to other things.

My friends often purchase lifting supplements like pre-workouts and protein mixes because they are on sale. When I point out that they already own perfectly capable products, they claim that they're going to hold onto and use the items later. They claim they are making an investment. Inevitably, they forget about their purchase and the supplements go unused. Only buy what you'll use in the immediate future. Reconsider buying multiple redundant items. You may actually lose money.

10. Use your public library.

A pretty young woman visiting their library to save money.

I never knew what a great resource public libraries are until someone on Reddit pointed it out. You can get a library card and check out books without having to buy them on Amazon or Audible. They also have movies and shows. Some even have games. You can save a lot of money by borrowing rather than purchasing or renting television shows, books, movies, magazines, etc.

I personally know how easy it is to spend way more than I should on entertainment. I almost feel guilty that I am spending money at all when I could be frequenting a library. Seriously, join your local library. Keep libraries funded. Most have all the books (or can get them for you from other libraries) that you want to read. And, like I said, libraries have way more resources than most people think.

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

11. Buy used instead of new.

There are several websites that sell “used” items that are new for all intents and purpose. For example, if you want beauty products, Poshmark sells unused makeup palettes. The containers are opened, but the original owners didn’t use the make up, and resold the item for cheap. These transactions benefit both parties because the the sellers recoup a bit of their losses and the buyer gets new items for cheap. In addition, Amazon sells returned items at significant discounts. You can also buy products from eBay.

Bottom Line: Save money by buying used or selling unused items.

12. Make your own instead of buying.

Sometimes DIY can save you money. In other cases, you might spend more money trying to do it yourself. For example, say you make $60 an hour at work and it costs $30 an hour to hire someone to paint your house. You would be better off paying the specialist to do that work for you. But there are tasks/projects where doing it yourself is cost effective. The best example is cooking at home and making your own food instead of eating out at restaurants. There are lots of creative ways you can save money if you're willing to put in the work.

13. Learn to cut or do your own hair.

A man with a great hair cut.

You may mess 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’re a guy) how to fade properly. I have several friends who cut hair for money; they learned from video tutorials.

If you're not comfortable taking a scissors to your head, ask a friend to lend a hand. A couple of my friends bleach and dye their own hair. It is fairly easy to bleach, tone, and color your hair yourself.

For years, my family cut our own hair. And, we saved a ton of money.

For a man, a haircut costs roughly $15. If you normally get yours cut once a month, cutting it yourself will save you nearly $200 a year. For women, 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.

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

Have you ever considered sharing subscriptions, books, movies, tools etc. 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 significant amount of money by borrowing items that you don't use often. For example, you and your neighbor could share a lawn-mower.

15. Pay off long term loans.

Banks do not lend out money free of charge. The cost of loans is the interest you pay on them. That interest is what funds the bank. But it also costs you money. The longer you take to pay off loans the more interest will accrue. While you lose money right now by paying off loans, you will gain money in the long run. Your future self will thank you. If you have student loans, a car loan, or house loan pay it off early if you can.

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

WealthIsaac Therriensaving