When you’re focused on reaching your financial goals, learning how to lower your spending and increase your savings is important. The more money you can save, the faster you’ll be able to pay off debt, buy your first home, build your investment portfolio, or meet other financial goals.
These money-saving hacks and tips may help you save money now so you can succeed financially well into the future.
Use Apps to Spend Less and Save More
You use your phone for everything else, so why not use it to save money? These apps can make it easier for you to spend less at stores where you shop frequently, both in-person and online:
- Ibotta: With Ibotta, you can earn cash back on everyday purchases you make online and in-person for free. It comes with a browser extension, too, though the mobile app is easy to use for scanning receipts after shopping and earning cash back on eligible purchases.
- Rakuten: Rakuten is free to use and offers coupon codes that you can redeem at checkout for instant savings. There’s also a cash-back feature.
If you’d like to automate your savings and “pay yourself first” every time you get paid, these apps can help:
- Acorns: Acorns rounds up your credit and debit card purchases so you automatically invest your spare change. It costs $1, $3, or $5 per month to use, depending on the plan, so keep that in mind when deciding if it’ll really help you save more than you pay for the app.
- Digit: The Digit app costs $5 per month to use. It's a microsavings app that monitors your spending and then automatically transfers money from your checking account into a savings account to help you stash cash away more often than you might without automatic transfers.
Apps are great, but they can cost you money. You can take advantage of your bank’s round-up savings features or automatic transfers from checking to savings for free. You can likely select a day and time for a recurring monthly transfer so that you never forget to save.
Switch to a Cash-Only Budget
Another strategy you can use to save money is to pay cash for your daily expenses. Here's why: Many people do not stop to think about the money they are spending when they swipe a debit or credit card, which can cause you to spend even more.
In addition to keeping you more aware of the money you are spending, using cash also acts as a buffer to overspending because you cannot spend cash that you do not have. But keep in mind: In order for this to work, you cannot use your debit or credit cards.
You may also want to try the envelope method and leave the cards home when you go shopping. With the envelope method, you physically allocate set amounts of cash to spending categories like groceries and gas. You keep the cash in envelopes and once an envelope is empty, you no longer spend in that category for the month.
Improve Energy Efficiency
Many people assume that there’s not much you can do to change your utility bills. But there are money-saving strategies you can use to lower them.
- Install low-flow showerheads and faucets.
- Set your thermostat a bit lower in the winter and a bit higher in the summer.
- Seal the cracks around your windows and doors (this could increase your energy savings by up to 30% per year).
- Call your cable company and ask if they can lower your monthly bill.
- Unplug electronics when you don’t use them.
- Switch to energy-saving appliances.
- Install a smart thermostat.
A smart thermostat may cost some money upfront but could help you save up to 20% or more annually on heating and cooling costs, depending on the model.
Have a Debt-Payoff Plan
One of the best things you can do if you want to reach your financial goals is save money on interest. If you have credit card debt, use a debt-payoff plan like the debt snowball or debt avalanche strategy to get your balance to zero faster.
With the debt snowball strategy, you pay off debts with the smallest balances first and then roll over the amount you used to pay those first debts into paying off the larger ones. The debt avalanche method is when you focus on high-interest debts first and then work your way down to those with lower interest rates.
Another way to reduce the amount that you pay in interest is to call the credit card company to see if they can offer you a lower interest rate. You may also be able to transfer the balances to one interest-free credit card, helping you save money on interest and giving you one monthly bill to pay instead of several.
Improving your credit score can also help you save money in the long run. That’s because a higher credit score may help you qualify for a lower interest rate, such as on an auto loan, mortgage, or personal loan.
Plan Your Meals
Going to a restaurant or ordering takeout can really impact the amount you’re saving every month since those meals tend to cost more than making meals at home. One strategy to deal with this is to prep your meals for the week on one day. For example, if you cook several pieces of chicken and a tray of veggies on Sunday, you can then package it all into individual containers, one for each dinner Monday through Saturday. Then all you have to do is heat one up when it’s time to eat.
If you don’t want to prep your meals, make an effort to at least plan them so you cook at home more often and make good use of leftovers. Buying groceries you’ll actually eat also helps deter you from ordering takeout since you’ll be satisfied with the food you have in your refrigerator.
Another option to save money is to buy used instead of new. This may not work for every item, and you may end up using something as a holdover until you can save up and pay cash for the model you want. For example, a used coffee table will likely cost much less than one that is new.
Craigslist and eBay make it easy to look for used items. Facebook Marketplace, yard sales, and consignment shops are also good options. Apps like Poshmark and ThreadUp sell used home decor, clothes, shoes, and accessories too. You can also sell your own items on apps to make money.