Saving money isn't always easy, but there is no shortage of ways to attempt it. Here are 101 of MoneyRates.com's favorite tips for saving money, broken down into nine separate categories.
Got more tips for saving money? Please share them in the comments section.
Money saving tips for the household
- Research major purchases online, even if you end up buying in a store.
- Consolidate your insurance carriers to qualify for discounts.
- Get competing quotes on insurance every year.
- When you have leftovers, plan right away for when you'll use them so they don't get forgotten.
- Follow through on rebate offers, rather than forgetting about them after the purchase is made.
- Routinely check for new discounts from AAA or other organizations to which you belong.
- Avoid impulse spending. Always sleep on the decision before making an unexpected purchase.
- Before buying online, factor shipping costs into any price comparisons.
- Buy items you use often in bulk.
- Check unit prices when deciding between different sizes of the same product at the supermarket -- bigger is usually, but not always, cheaper.
- Try cheaper store brands of various grocery staples.
- Always make a list before grocery shopping.
- Never go to the grocery store hungry -- you are almost certain to buy more if you do.
- Factor quality into your buying decisions. For example, buying flimsy garbage bags because they are a little cheaper is a false economy if you have to double up on those bags to prevent them from breaking.
- Never buy anything for more than $500 without asking for a discount, or whether there are any sales coming up.
- Shy away from extended warranties.
- Stay healthy – you’ll spend less on medical bills and your old clothes will fit longer.
- Use Flexible Spending Accounts for tax advantages on regular health, dental and child-care expenses.
- Give the gift of your talents -- from baking to auto repairs, presents you can make yourself are generally cheaper and often more useful than something you bought.
- Look at anything in your home that is gathering dust as a candidate to be sold online or at a yard sale.
- Buy sugary drinks less often. Water is cheaper and healthier.
- Embrace minimalism. Owning fewer things means buying fewer things.
- Shop thrift stores before buying furniture. The shops in nice neighborhoods may have especially nice items at amazing prices.
- Use white vinegar over more costly specialized cleaning solutions.
- Use washable rags whenever possible to avoid buying paper towels.
Money saving tips for banking
- Don't settle for below-average interest rates on your savings accounts, money market accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs). Doing so equals lost income every month.
- Use online resources to find a free checking account.
- Make sure your bank's ATM locations are convenient enough to save you out-of-network fees.
- Opt out of overdraft protection to avoid onerous fees.
- Shift money from savings to checking if necessary to qualify for free checking.
- Keep your checking account records up-to-date to prevent excess spending.
- Switch to an online bank for lower checking account fees and higher savings account interest rates.
- Avoid using ATMs in airports or other areas frequented by tourists – ATM fees tend to be especially high in those locations.
- Check each bank statement for errors or new fees.
- Put an alert on your calendar a few weeks before any CDs mature, so you'll have time to shop for better rates during the grace period.
- Look for CDs with low early-withdrawal penalties if you expect CD rates may rise before the term ends.
- Automate bill paying to avoid late fees.
- Automate your saving contributions each month so you don’t forget them.
Money saving tips for the tech-savvy
- Use your smartphone to locate digital coupons whenever you are making a purchase.
- Use online budgeting software to identify areas where you spend more than necessary.
- Update your mobile phone plan to trim unused minutes and optimize costs according to your habits.
- Decide whether it's time to ditch a seldom-used landline telephone.
- Look into whether your favorite magazines offer cheaper digital subscriptions.
- Use Skype as an alternative to expensive long-distance calls.
Money saving tips for your car
- Get your car tuned up regularly to maximize gas mileage and avoid breakdowns.
- Regularly check tire inflation to improve gas mileage.
- Avoid buying premium gas if your car’s owner’s manual doesn’t recommend it.
- Check whether your car insurance company offers discounts for using on-board monitoring equipment.
- Use online resources to find the lowest gas prices in your area.
- Live with your car longer, so you pay the steep depreciation on a new car less often.
- When you must buy a car, consider a certified used car instead of a brand-new model.
- Research auto repairs online before going to a shop. Some are easier than you think.
- Make gas mileage a major factor in any car purchase.
- Opt for high insurance deductibles – unless you are especially accident-prone.
- When the weather is nice, consider riding a bike to work to save on gas.
Money saving tips for work
- Brown-bag it at work rather than buying lunch.
- Make sure you contribute enough to your 401(k) plan to qualify for any employer matching.
- Have your paycheck directly deposited into savings rather than checking.
- Periodically check the job market so you have a good sense of your negotiating power at work.
Money saving tips for students
- Attend a state or community college to spend less on tuition.
- Visit FAFSA.gov to explore all of your financial aid options for college.
- Consider how an accredited online college might save you money in tuition and transportation charges.
- If you want a degree from a prestigious college, consider attending the first two years at a lower-cost alternative and then transferring.
Money saving tips for your finances
- Look into itemizing deductions on your tax returns in case they exceed the standard deduction.
- Monitor the interest rates on your credit cards so you can keep any balances on the cheapest cards.
- Avoid credit cards with annual fees if you won’t use their benefits.
- Protect your credit rating so you can qualify for better interest rates.
- Contact your card issuer to ask for a rate reduction if you’ve handled your credit well recently.
- Don't let gift cards expire or rack up non-usage fees before you redeem them.
- Make saving the first item on your budget, and fit everything else in around that.
- Pay yourself an allowance in cash and don’t turn to your cards when it’s gone.
- Track your spending and progress toward savings goals so you can make timely adjustments when you get off course.
- Avoid carrying your credit card if you still can’t resist impulse purchases.
- Look into credit card rewards programs. While these typically charge higher interest rates, customers who pay their balances in full every month can accumulate rewards for free.
- Consider a 0 percent balance transfer deal if you’re carrying a costly balance on an existing card.
- But be sure to look for balance-transfer fees before moving credit card balances around.
- Start saving for retirement early so compounding has more time to work for you.
- Periodically check your credit report for errors or problems that you can fix. Better credit means lower rates on loans and credit cards.
- Break long-term savings goals into short-term targets. This will make them seem more manageable and more immediate.
- Shop for better credit card rates – it’s a competitive market with lots of options.
- Set clear benchmarks for your investment programs.
- Do not buy investment products with sales loads.
- Monitor investment performance over full market cycles for a true test in all conditions.
- Pay insurance premiums up front to avoid steep finance charges.
- Try saving every $5 bill you encounter. Saving just one bill per week will make your savings $260 richer a year from now.
Money saving tips for homeowners
- Check mortgage rates regularly for refinancing opportunities.
- Also look into refinancing if there has been an improvement in your credit history or the value of your home, which may make you eligible for refinancing when you weren't previously.
- Consider a shorter-term mortgage to get a lower interest rate and build equity more quickly.
- Research property taxes before you move. A few blocks one way or the other could mean a difference of thousands of dollars every year.
- Upgrade your insulation and window seals to save on heating and cooling bills.
- Always look at energy-efficiency data when buying appliances.
- When making any energy-efficient improvement or purchase, see if it might qualify you for a federal tax credit.
- Use a thermostat with a timer, so you aren't heating or cooling the house for hours when you are not home.
- Shut vents and close doors in unused rooms so you don't waste energy.
- Research which plants naturally suit your climate when landscaping your home. This can save you money and time on upkeep.
Money saving tips for leisure and entertainment
- Use the library – not just for books, but for DVDs and CDs as well.
- Revisit your cable TV package. Alternatives like satellite or online streaming may be cheaper.
- Choose less-costly recreational activities – such as going for a hike or enjoying a picnic – over things like going to the movies.
- Hold potlucks with friends instead of going out to dinner.
- Split desserts with your spouse when you go to dinner. You’ll save money and take in fewer calories.
- When you travel by air, try to fly at off-peak times. You’ll beat the crowds and you might get a cheaper rate.
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