Many of us know that saving money is essential for our future. However, taking the initial step to create a savings plan is often easier said than done.
Being frugal doesn’t mean you have to cut your own hair or sacrifice having fun on the weekends with friends. Instead it’s about developing the right money-saving habits that work for you and your financial goals.
To give you some ideas, here are 55 real ways you can save money right now:
1. Enjoy eating at home
Cooking is a valuable skill which can help you save money and improve your health. Since I’ve taught myself how to cook, I have been able to re-create my favorite restaurant meals at home.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are my go-to cookbooks which I use on weekly basis:
- Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon
- Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero
- Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli
2. Drink more water
Swap that coke or sugary juice for purified water. Drinking more water will help reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity and cancer. Plus, it’s a great way to save money since water is (usually) free.
3. Host a potluck with friends instead of going out
A fun evening with friends is usually associated with an evening out for dinner and drinks, followed by dancing. But this can add up quickly and put a dent in your wallet. Suggest having a potluck instead.
You can even have theme potlucks, such as Taste of Italy where everyone brings over their favorite Italian dish, be creative! Even if you don’t feel like cooking, it’s still cheaper to bring over a pre-made dish instead of dining out.
4. Become an expert bartender (at home)
Drinking at home is always cheaper than drinking out, plus you can control the strength of your drink if you’re making mixed drinks. The markup on wine and beer at a restaurant are 2-4x the regular retail price.
You can save these extra costs by drinking at home. If you want to get creative, there are countless books and recipes available online to help you make the perfect drink at home.
If you must go out for drinks, try to find a place that is hosting a happy hour or special that day to help you save money.
5. Check weekly flyers, make a list, and stick to it
Not all grocery stores offer the same sales. I recommend spending 15 minutes going through the weekly flyers and making a list of what you need to get for the coming week. Creating a shopping list will help you stick to your monthly food budget.
If you don’t have time to make multiple stops on your shopping trip, check to see if your regular grocery store will price match items for you – most grocery stores will offer price match guarantees to help keep their customers.
6. Stop eating processed foods
Eating at home is good, but pre-packaged meals and microwavable food are not cost-effective. Sure it may seem cheap to get that microwavable lunch, but the damage it’s doing to your body can eventually cost you money in health and medical bills.
7. Make your own morning coffee or tea
Your daily $2-$5 cup of coffee from Starbucks can add up to $480-$1,200 per year. That money could have went towards a vacation or paying off debt instead.
If your office doesn’t provide free tea or coffee for its employees, consider getting everyone to pitch in and buy a coffee maker (or a kettle) for the office. This will benefit everyone and save you money too.
Related: How to save money at the coffee shop
8. Plan your meals for the week and cook/ prep them on the weekend
If you don’t have time to make dinner during the week, cook or prep your meals on the weekend. You can freeze them (if needed) and easily heat them up when you get home from work.
Cooking homemade meals is a great way to save money and it’s a much healthier choice than eating out. If meal planning is not your thing though, I highly recommend trying the $5 Meal Plan. This is a weekly meal plan service that can make your meal planning super simple.
For just $5 per month, you will receive a delicious meal plan, where every meal will cost about $2 per person (or less). It’s a great way to save time and money, plus they offer specialty plans, including gluten-free and vegetarian meals. Click here to try it free for 14 days.
9. Bring your own lunch to work
Eating out every day for lunch can quickly add up. If your meal is $5 a day, that’s $25 a week and $1,200 per year. Combine that with your Starbucks coffee, and it’ll cost you $1,680-$2,400 per year!
I know it may be hard as some offices like to go out for lunch with co-workers. I still recommend bringing your own lunch to work because you can control what ingredients go into your food: less fat, sodium, GMOs and processed goods. Both your body and wallet with thank you.
10. Stop buying bottled water
Bottled water is a waste of money and you need to stop supporting this industry now. Chemicals in the plastic packaging have been known the leak into the water, which can affect your health.
Also, there are no real regulations on how these companies purify their water. Plus, bottled water is expensive, so why pay for something you can get tap water for free?
Watch the documentary Tapped if you want to find out more information about what goes on inside the bottled water industry.
11. Grow your own vegetable or herb garden
Growing some of your own food can help you save money each month. Plus you’ll be getting freshly grown organic plants that taste delicious. It’s super easy to start your own garden, and you can even do this if you live in an apartment. Some of my favorite herbs to plant are basil, parsley and mint.
12. Only shop at bulk stores, like Costco, for things you actually need
Homes throw out almost half of their food. Either they make too much and don’t eat the leftovers, or they purchase too much and the food spoils before they can use it.
Look at your eating habits and purchase only the necessities in bulk. It’ll help save you money and be less wasteful.
13. Use your dishwasher
If you have a big family, using your dishwasher can actually be more cost-effective than hand washing your dishes. Dishwashers have been formulated today to use just enough water to get your dishes sparkling clean.
14. Search for deals on Groupon
I love using Groupon to find deals at restaurants, attractions, sporting events, spa services and more. Sometimes you can find incredible deals that are too good to pass up.
For example, I saved 70% off the regular cost of my Invisalign braces by using a deal I found on Groupon.
15. Shop your closet
I always like to shop my closet at the beginning of each season. This prevents me from heading to the mall and buying new items that I probably don’t need.
I always recommend shopping your own closet before visiting the mall. Chances are, you already own a bunch of nice things and some items might even have the original price tag still attached!
16. Create a timeless and minimal wardrobe
Instead of buying trendy pieces that quickly go out of style, focus on creating a timeless and minimal wardrobe. I recommend sticking to neutral colors (beige, white, black, brown, grey, etc.) since this will easily allow you to mix and match outfits.
A minimalist wardrobe can save you money since you won’t need to shop as often. Plus, it’ll help simplify your life.
17. Make your major purchases based quality (not based on the cheapest option available)
This is especially true for major appliances. Do a bit of research, check reviews and buy the option that is built to last. This will save you a lot of money in the long run, especially if they come with a good warranty.
18. Sleep on it
Before making a major purchase, leave the store and think about it for a few days to see if you really need that item. Chances are, your mind will change and you’ll realize that you don’t need it.
If not, think about whether you can get this item used or see if there are any promotions being offered to help save you some extra cash.
19. Shop vintage before buying new
This is especially useful when buying designer goods. Generally, people who purchase designer fashion tend to take good care of their items and may resell them online or to a consignment store.
Pro tip: Browse vintage stores in high-income neighborhoods, you’ll likely find some great items there.
20. Stop associating your happiness with spending money
Too many people get themselves into debt because they like to go shopping when they’re unhappy, or even when they are happy. This is a recipe for disaster that can subsequently lead to overspending and debt.
Instead, try looking into other techniques to unwind and de-stress such as meditation, yoga or exercise.
21. Sign up for website mailing lists to get discounts
Many websites send their subscribers invitations to private sales or coupon codes that can be used online or in-store. This is great when you actually need to purchase something, but they can also be a distraction and encourage you to spend more.
For this reason, I like to have a separate email account when I sign up for these websites. That way I won’t get distracted by all the deals that pop up in my regular inbox.
22. Less is more
We live in a world where we always have to get the latest and greatest right now. This includes technology, clothes, cars, video games, etc. Instead, only buy items that you need.
I see too many people that have a wardrobe full of clothes and only 50% of them get worn, while the other half might get 1-2 wears at the most. Sell these lightly worn clothes instead of letting them take up closet space.
Have a garage sale or sell them online. I also recommend trade-in opportunities, like Amazon Trade-In, where you can turn in your used items for an Amazon gift card.
23. Avoid buying dry-clean only clothing (if possible)
Dry cleaning bills can add up fast, especially when you have a big wardrobe that needs to be cleaned often for work.
If you’re lucky, your work may reimburse your monthly dry-cleaning bill, but if you don’t have this perk, try to avoid buying clothes that are labeled “dry-clean only”.
This will save you a lot of money, and the chemicals used in the dry-cleaning process can subsequently be avoided.
24. Stop the social comparison
Social media websites, like Facebook, where people love to boast about their vacations or big-ticket purchases might cause you to feel like you’re missing out, and you need to keep up with your friends.
Don’t fall into this trap – everyone is unique. Anyone can choose how they want to represent themselves online, but their reality could be a different story. Your friend who is always traveling might be in debt, this is a real possibility. You have to do what is best for your budget and income.
Some people have different priorities, they may wish to put their money into their home, others like to travel, while others like to buy technology gadgets. Everyone is unique, so stop comparing yourself with others and do what’s right for your financial goals.
Related: How I simplified my life
25. Use cash back websites like Ebates
Ebates gets a commission from the stores when you make a purchase, but instead of keeping the money, Ebates shares it with you. They have over 2,000 stores to choose from, which makes online shopping easy. When you make a purchase, Ebates will track your purchase and deposit that cash back you’ve earned into your Ebates account within a few days.
I recently started shopping on Ebates since I heard many good things about them from my friends. At first, I thought it might be one of those websites that are “too good to be true”, but so far I really like my experience on Ebates.
I am not a big consumer myself, but I always like to use Ebates whenever I make an online purchase. You can join Ebates for free and get a $10 welcome bonus when you sign up through this link.
26. Shop at stores like Winners, Ross, TJ Maxx and Marshalls
You can find discount brands and designer items here for significantly less. I like buying my hair care products there and can usually find good deals on salon brand conditioner.
27. Declutter and sell your extra stuff for cash
Selling your gently used items is a great way to make money online. It also plays double duty in helping you to declutter and get organized. My sister and I recently went through our closets and sold some of our clothing and accessories. This was a great way to earn some extra cash.
28. Stop going to the mall to kill time
I used to go to the mall with my friends all the time to hang out, but it wasn’t good for my wallet since I was always spending money on things I didn’t need.
Sure the mall can be a fun way to kill time, but there are lots of other ways to have fun that doesn’t involve spending money. Use this list of 75 ways to have fun this summer without spending money to get inspired.
29. Review your monthly phone, cable and internet bill
Call up your phone provider to negotiate a better deal. I was able to save $300 per year on my smartphone plan by calling my service provider to negotiate a better rate.
If you’re paying for cable TV channels that you rarely watch, cancel it! Why pay for something you don’t use? Chances are you can watch the same programs on Netflix or online.
My family recently canceled a bunch of cable TV channels that we weren’t watching (saving us $20 a month). Instead, I use Netflix to watch almost any TV show or movie online.
30. Are you using your gym membership regularly?
If not, cancel it or opt to join a cheaper independent gym. You can choose to use the gym facilities in your building (if offered) or join a local community center. I currently belong to a free gym and love it.
31. Turn the lights off when you leave the room
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to people’s homes and they have lights turned on in rooms that nobody is in. It’s a waste of energy and money.
The world is trying to make an effort to go greener, so help out by doing your part and keeping the lights off if you’re not home.
Related: 25 ways to save money by going green
32. Cancel your newspaper and magazine subscriptions
News and magazine articles are usually available to read online for free. Also, check to see if your work office gets a daily newspaper delivered and read it over lunch if you want.
Your local public library also offers newspapers and current magazines to read or borrow for free with your library card.
33. Regulate your home’s thermostat
In the winter, don’t turn up the heat. Instead, put on extra layers. In the summer, don’t crank up the air conditioning. Instead, turn on a fan and drink plenty of water to keep cool.
The savings may seem minimal day-to-day, but over the course of the year the savings will add up. I also recommend using a programmable thermostat, which can help boost your savings.
34. Ditch those bad habits
Today is the perfect day to quit smoking, drinking or gambling. Honestly, don’t wait for the day your bad habits catch up with you – quit now! Seriously, you can do this.
35. If you are product loyal, buy only when it’s on sale
This is good for skin care, cosmetics and basic products. I always try to wait until there is a sale on and then stock up. That way I’ll have enough of a product to last until the next sale.
By putting in a little bit of effort, all these savings will accumulate over time and that’s more money saved. If the product you love never goes on sale, wait until they offer a promotion, such as a “gift with purchase” or something similar. There are plenty of ways to look for the best deal.
36. If you work in the city, opt to use public transit instead of driving
I know this is not practical for everyone, especially if you live far from the city. However, if you have the opportunity to use public transit, this can save you money on gas and parking. You may even qualify for a tax return on your monthly metro pass (check your city for details).
Not only does this save you money, but it also contributes to helping the planet by not sitting in rush hour traffic and creating extra pollution.
37. Get your hair done at a hair dressing school
Most hair dressing schools offer a full salon: hair cutting, hair colour, manicure, etc. You can save yourself a lot of money by going to a school instead of a regular salon.
If you are worried about the quality, ask to get your hair done by one of the school’s senior students. The managers usually supervise when their students are working with clients, so definitely consider going to a school next time for salon services.
38. When buying a car, choose a fuel-efficient vehicle
The obvious money saver here is your gas bill since you will have to fuel up less often. This is good for those looking for just a commuter car to get to and from work.
This will also help you save money when you need to run errands and have multiple stops. Less gas used will be more money saved.
39. Like going to the movies?
For Canadians, you can sign up for Scotiabank’s Scene program. It’s been years since I paid for a movie ticket since I can see movies for free with the Scene program. Check to see if your bank offers a similar reward program.
Also, most movie theaters offer discounts on Tuesdays, so check around and see what’s offered in your city.
40. Take advantage of the public library
I love the public library. I use it all the time to borrow books, movies and magazines for free. Here in Toronto, library card holders can also get free passes to visit city museums and attractions. It’s a great way to save money.
Related: 10 money challenges to try right now
41. Take advantage of student discounts
Many retailers and attractions offer discounts to students or those under a certain age. It’s worth doing a little research to see which discounts you might be entitled to.
Don’t forget to bring your student card while traveling. You might be able to receive a discount on transportation, shopping, attractions and more.
42. Do your laundry on the weekend
Electricity is usually cheaper to use on the weekends, so this is when I do all my laundry. Check with to see it’s the cheapest time for you. This can save you a lot of money over the year.
I also recommend using a detergent formulated for washing clothes in cold water. Washing in cold water can help you save even more money.
43. Go on a road trip for your next vacation
When I was growing up (and even today), some of my most memorable trips were road trips. Plus, road trips are a great way to enjoy a vacation on a budget. Use these tips to help you save money on your next road trip.
44. Stop paying for satellite radio and use free apps
You can stream free music channels and save yourself $100-$200 per year by canceling your satellite radio subscription.
45. Pamper yourself at home
Paint your own nails at home instead of paying the high prices at the salon. There are so many videos on the internet today to help you learn how to give yourself a manicure. It just involves a little practice.
46. Fix it yourself
Learn how to fix small things around the house yourself. I bet there is a video on the internet already that illustrates the solution of what you need to fix.
When my sister’s DSLR camera screen cracked, we took it to a camera store and they said that it would cost $350 to get fixed (since it was no longer under warranty).
This was outrageous so we went home, Googled the problem and found a detailed video on Youtube that showed us how to fix it. All we needed to do is order the part (which cost $89) and it took about 5 minutes of labour to replace the part at home. This saved us $261!
Related: 24 ways being lazy costs you money
47. Have a spare room or basement? Rent it out.
This is a good way to bring in extra income. Rather than just have your spare unit collect dust with your storage, use it to earn an extra several hundred dollars per month.
Many people rent out their basement or a spare room in their home to earn extra cash. You can even become an Airbnb host. In Toronto for example, you can earn an average of $356 CAD for hosting 1 week on Airbnb.
48. Adjust the water pressure on your shower head
Most homes come with a basic shower head that can waste a lot of water. This is wasteful and can increase your monthly water bill.
It’s easy to purchase a water restrictor that can allow you to adjust the pressure and save you both water and money.
49. Compare prices online
Check to see if the item you want is available online for a cheaper price. This is almost always the case and it might even include free shipping too.
I also recommend checking for any promotional codes being offered to help you save even more money.
50. Purchase a home you can realistically afford
Housing prices are up dramatically today. The last thing you want to do is get yourself into a life-long mortgage that prevents you from setting aside enough money for an emergency fund or your retirement.
Consider moving closer to work to save on transportation costs and shop around for a home that fits your budget. Sometimes it’s more advantageous to rent while saving money before immediately buying a home.
51. Open a savings account
Opening up a savings account is a great way to start paying yourself first. Paying yourself first means putting a portion of your paycheck into a savings account each time you get paid. This portion (10% is recommended) is put into your savings account before you allocate the rest of your money towards paying any expenses.
The best way to ensure that you pay yourself first is to automate your banking. Talk to your bank or ask the HR department to automatically deposit a certain amount of your paycheck into your savings account.
52. Track your monthly fixed and variable expenses
You’ll be surprised how many people don’t know what their monthly fixed and variable expenses are. Take control of your personal finances and see exactly where your money is going.
Once you lay out your expenses, you’ll get a better understanding of which variable expenses you can cut from your monthly spending. This will help you save money and boost your emergency fund.
53. Pay your credit card(s) on time
I like to follow this simple rule: Never spend money you don’t have.
While I pay for nearly everything using my credit card, I do this because I like to collect reward points. However, I always make sure to pay off my credit card balance in full each month to avoid being charged those outrageous interest fees.
I don’t recommend using your credit card though as a form of extra income. If you don’t have the money to pay off your balance in full each month, switch to a cash-only diet.
54. Check your bank fees and switch your account (or bank) if needed
A lot of banks have gone paperless and will charge a fee if you wish to receive a paper statement. Save this money by going paperless so you can monitor your account and pay your bills online.
Sometimes accounts require a minimum monthly balance, otherwise they will charge you a fee. Talk to your bank if you are unsure which checking or savings account is right for you. I also recommend looking at online bank accounts. You shouldn’t have to pay for someone to hold your money.
55. Be resourceful and stop leaving money on the table
People tend to make choices based on convenience, because let’s face it, we all have busy lives. But there is almost always a cheaper option out there or a cheaper way of doing things, it just involves some effort to develop an active (rather than passive) mindset.
There are lots of ways to save money and sometimes it just involves getting creative and being resourceful.55 real ways you can save money right nowClick To Tweet
Over to you — what are your tips for saving money?
A few ways I recommend to earn extra cash:
EBATES: Want to earn cash back when you shop online? Ebates acts as a shopping portal offering coupons and cashback from over 2,000 online stores. I always check on Ebates first whenever I shop online! You can join Ebates for free and get a $10 welcome bonus when you sign up through this link.
AMERICAN CONSUMER OPINION: American Consumer Opinion is free to join and they pay you each time you complete a survey. Surveys take about 10 minutes to answer. You can sign up for American Consumer Opinion here.
SWAGBUCKS: I have been a member of Swagbucks for a while now, however I don’t use them as much as I used to, but it’s a simple way to earn gift cards for things you do online. There are many ways to earn points on Swagbucks including filling out surveys, playing games and watching videos. You can sign up for Swagbucks here.
START A BLOG: Blogging is one of my favorite ways to earn extra income. You can start a profitable blog for as a low as $3.49/ month. If you enjoy writing and are passionate about a certain topic or niche, then I recommend starting a blog. You can use my free step-by-step tutorial on how to launch a blog, which includes a discount for my readers and a FREE domain.
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