Whether you want to pay off debt or you’re trying to save up money for a new home, the only way to really set cash aside is to spend less than you earn.
In order to figure out how to stop spending money, you’ll need to take a good, hard look at your bank and credit card statements to see where most of your cash is going. It can be almost painful to do, but it’s worth it to have more financial stability in the long run. Once you’ve listed all your monthly payments, it’s time to try to reduce them or even cut them out completely.
To help, here’s an extensive list of all the ways to cut your everyday spending:
Save Money on Food & Drink
1. Quit Alcohol
Booze is expensive and it’s easy to blow $100 on a night out without even trying. After checking my credit card statements and realizing most of my money was wasted in bars, I cut out drinking for a year. It was incredible how much of a difference it made to my bank balance and I was able to save up money much faster. If you’re regularly buying bottles of wine to drink at home with dinner or you’re constantly buying rounds in the bar, it might be time to cut out drinking for a while and give your body a break. Not only will it be better for your health, you’ll also avoid wasting unnecessary money. Because it’s not just the drinks that cost money; it’s the Ubers back from the bar, the late night kebabs when you’re drunk and the hungover Bloody Marys the next day that cost too.
If you must drink, avoid ordering cocktails and order cheap beers instead.
2. Cut back on coffee
In the US we have a big coffee culture, so much so that there are memes about needing that daily coffee fix. Unfortunately, that daily coffee habit is also expensive. If you spend $4 per day on a cup of coffee then that amounts to roughly $120 per month!
As someone who doesn’t drink coffee anymore (I quit because it makes me jittery, anxious and I feel sick) I’d argue that you don’t actually need coffee for energy. It’s an addiction like anything else and once you quit it, your body eventually gets used to it. However, if you love your daily cup of Joe and refuse to give it up, try to make your own at home instead.
3. Cook Your Own Meals
If you really want to cut down on your food costs it’s time to start cooking at home. Restaurant meals and delivery services get very expensive, especially once you add on the tip as well. Pick up some books that offer quick, simple recipes – I find Jamie Oliver and Joe Wicks great for this. The aim is to use recipes that don’t need to many ingredients, so you’ll spend less on each dish. I also like to do batch cooking, making something like spaghetti bolognese that I can eat for a couple of days or put in the freezer.
4. Cut down your grocery bills
Of course, food shopping can still get expensive, which is why it’s probably best to avoid places like Whole Foods and hit up grocery stores like Trader Joe’s (or whichever your cheapest local supermarket is). If you’re a meat eater, choose cheap cuts of meat like chicken thighs and pork chops, or ground beef. Steaks, chicken breast and salmon fillets are obviously more expensive choices, so keep those as a treat. Most grocery stores have their own value brands which are cheaper – Whole Foods has 365 Everyday Value, Shoprite has Bowl & Basket, Foodtown has Krasdale etc etc. If your supermarket has a loyalty program, sign up to get points or special discounts for members.
5. Eat out at Happy Hour
Of course eating at home all the time can get monotonous and it’s nice to get out and socialize with friends once in a while. If you can’t afford to be blowing $40 on a meal out, why not suggest hitting up a Happy Hour? 4-6pm is always the best time to score cheap drinks and appetizers. You still get to enjoy the atmosphere of being in a restaurant but the bill won’t take such a big hit on your wallet.
6. Buy non-perishables in bulk
Things like sparkling water, cleaning products, paper towels and laundry detergent you should always buy in bulk as it works out cheaper. Check out sites like Amazon or Walmart to see who has the best deal. Stock up for a few months and then you won’t have to do it again for a while.
7. Pay less for dog food
Anyone who has a dog will know…dog food is expensive. I’m lucky I have a tiny Pomeranian who doesn’t eat much but if you have a Labrador or a larger dog then it can be very costly to feed them. The dog food subscription services like Farmer’s Dog or Ollie are crazy expensive, so forget those.
Instead, buy your kibble or wet food in bulk online from sites like Chewy.com or Petco. The more you buy, the more cost effective it is per meal. Both of these sites offer money off your first autoship, so if you’re a new subscriber definitely sign up for the autoship option (you can always cancel it). When it comes to treats I always buy them at T.J.Maxx – you can get all sorts of yummy treats, chews and toys there and discounted prices.
You can also try preparing your own dog food by buying cheap cuts of meat a the supermarket (think livers, gizzards, organ meats) or making crockpot recipes such as ground chicken with rice, peas and carrots. Make a huge batch at the beginning of the month, divide it into ziploc bags and put it straight in the freezer. Here’s a list of some dog food recipes you can try at home.
Save money on transportation
8. Take public transport
Running a car is always expensive, since you have to pay for things like insurance, gas and maintenance. Uber and Lyft rides can also add up, so where possible it’s best to stick to public transport and take the subway or bus where possible. Some transportation systems will offer you discounts if you buy weekly or monthly passes, so if you use public transportation regularly, this may be worth looking into.
9. Always compare prices when ridesharing
Uber or Lyft? Have both apps on your phone and check which is cheaper before you order. Sometimes it’s only the difference of a dollar but every dollar counts. Sometimes loyalty pays off though – Lyft allows you to collect Delta Skymiles or Hilton Points every time you ride, while Uber Rewards allows you to earn points and redeem for rewards such as ride credit or money off Uber eats.
10. Compare car insurance
Don’t overpay on your car insurance. Compare car insurance prices on sites like NerdWallet or The Zebra to to see if you’re getting the best deal and maybe even switch to a car that’s cheaper to insure. If you’re a good driver with good credit then you could save up to $100 per month on average just by shopping around.
11. Collect and use air miles
If you can pay off your credit card in full every month then it might be worth signing up to a travel rewards credit card so you can earn air miles as you spend. This way you’ll soon be able to rack up miles and get free flights – all you have to do is pay the taxes.
Save Money Shopping Online
12. Always look for promo codes
I always look for promo codes before I buy anything online, and usually I’ll be lucky enough and find one. See if you can a discount code for signing up to the company’s newsletter or check Instagram to see if any bloggers are posting their own referral codes. There are plenty of sites that list coupon codes too, such as Business Insider, CouponFollow, and RetailMeNot. There’s also a browser extension called Honey that does all the searching for you, and it will automatically apply discounts to your cart. With these promo codes you can easily score 10% or even 15% off your order.
13. Buy during the sales
Why buy items at full price when you can get them at a discount during the sales? Unless I need something ASAP then I usually hold out for holiday sales like Labor Day weekend, Black Friday or the week after Christmas. If you plan to purchase something on Amazon then you can hold out till Prime Day, when the company offers some really good discounts on electronics.
14. Stop spending on clothes…
Online shopping can be quite addictive and I have a couple of friends who say they buy something online almost every day. But if you’re serious about saving cash then it’s time to stop spending on things like clothes, makeup, jewelry and other things you don’t really need. If you have stuff in your wardrobe then you can get by for a year re-wearing the same things.
Do you really need those expensive face creams? Let’s face it, your skin will be able to make do with some soap, water and a simple moisturizer. And when it comes to the hairdresser, you could try going every few months instead of once per month. If you’re worried about your roots showing, ask your hairdresser to give you a look that’s easy to maintain and won’t be too noticeable when it grows out.
16. Buy used stuff
Instead of buying brand new all the time, why not hit up Facebook marketplace to buy used furniture, or Poshmark for second hand designer clothes? Craigslist and eBay are also well-known sites for buying used stuff – just always make sure to ask the right questions and remember to be careful when buying from people you don’t know.
Save money on monthly payments
17. Cancel or downgrade subscriptions
Do you really need that monthly Netflix/Spotify/Prime membership? If you use it all the time then maybe keep your subscription, but if you barely use it then it might be time cancel your membership and restart it when you can afford to spend. If you know someone that has a membership then maybe they can add you to their account or let you login and use theirs. Some subscription services will offer you great deals if you try to cancel, so it’s always worth seeing what you can get.
18. Get rid of the gym membership
Instead of paying for gym membership that you don’t use, get outside and exercise. Try strength training exercises in the park, go for a run, swim in the ocean or join your local hiking club. There are plenty of ways to exercise that don’t involve the gym. I’m a big fan of online workout videos too because they’re free and I can exercise in the comfort of my own home.
19. Look for cheaper insurance
If you’re paying monthly for health insurance, renters insurance, home insurance, car insurance or pet insurance, it’s always best to shop around to get the best deal. Don’t make the mistake of being loyal to one company as premiums usually go up. For instance, my dog’s pet insurance was $37.50 and then they decided to raise it to $47 the following year, so I switched to Lemonade and now my pet insurance is $29.25 per month.
20. Transfer balances to 0% interest cards or consolidate debts with a loan
If you’re paying interest on current credit card debt then it’s time to look at how you can get rid of the interest, so you’re not just wasting money every month. See if you can apply for a 0% interest balance transfer credit card so you can catch a break and really start to hack away at your debt. If a balance transfer card isn’t an option, then maybe you’ll be able to consolidate your debts into one simple loan with lower interest payments.
Save money on utilities
21. Join a family plan
Most cell phone providers offer family plans that become cheaper the more people you add to a line. If you don’t have family members that you can share the plan with, ask friends if you can join theirs. If you have just one line on T-mobile’s Magenta plan it costs $70, but if you have 4 lines it costs just $35.
22. Stop paying for cable
TV subscriptions can be expensive, so consider getting an antenna to access free channels at home. You’ll need to position the antenna high up near a window to get the best reception. Alternatively you could sign up for Sling TV, which is cheaper than paying for cable and costs $30 per month.
23. Unplug your electronics when you’re not using them
Unplug your electronic devices such as hairdryers, toasters, kettles or laptops when you’re not using them. Some electronic devices are more difficult to unplug (like your TV or router as they’ll need to restart) but definitely unplug the ones that are easy to do.
24. Turn lights off and use energy saving bulbs
Whenever you leave the house, make sure all the lights are off and don’t forget to turn off the lights in rooms you’re not using. Replace your lamps and light fittings with energy saving bulbs to help cut down on your electricity bills.
25. Turn the thermostat down and set a timer
Running the AC all summer or the heat in winter can run up the electricity bills fast. Try turning your AC on only at night or set your heat to a timer so it comes on only when you get ready for work and then when you get home. Turning the heat down even just one degree can help save money on your utilities.
Save money on activities
26. Use Groupon to find cheap restaurant deals
If you want to go for lunch with a friend, look at sites like Groupon, LivingSocial or Yelp to see what deals you can get. And if you’re always getting lunch out during the week when you’re at work, check out MealPal. MealPal is a subscription service that allows you to get lunches for less than $6 in your neighborhood and you can skip the line when you pick up your meal.
27. Take a walk, or meet for a coffee instead of drinking
As I mentioned previously, drinking can be a huge drain on your finances. The issue is, most socializing these days seems to revolve around eating and drinking. If your friends hit you up and suggest going for drinks, try telling them that you’re trying to be careful with money and that you’d prefer to take a walk instead. Just because you don’t want to spend money doesn’t mean you have to stop seeing your friends altogether.
28. Attend free events
In big cities there are usually plenty of free events you can attend to network, socialize, and even score some free canapés and drinks. Check out sites like Eventbrite or Meetup for your local listings.
29. Have zero-spend days
Try to have days where you spend absolutely nothing. Get into a habit of having a couple of zero spend days so that when you do spend money socializing, it doesn’t feel so bad.
30. Monitor your money
The main way we overspend is by not monitoring our money. It can be so uncomfortable checking your bank balance that you decide to bury your head in the sand and not look. By writing down exactly what you earn/spend and setting a budget, you can take back control of your finances stop spending money. If you need to, cut up your credit cards and only spend cash that you have.