There are many ways to improve your financial situation.
I’ve covered a few of them here in earlier posts on The Mastermind Within.
But one of the easiest ways people can improve their situation instantly is to cut costs and lower their expenses. It doesn’t cost anything to stop spending money – just a little willpower.
Today, I will be sharing with you nine ways to start saving money – and all of these are strategies you can put into action today.
9 Ways to Save Thousands of Dollars Starting Today
There are a number of ways to save money each and every day. I’ll give you nine in this article that you can take a jab at working on right away:
- Destroying your Debt
- Meal Prep and Eating in
- Planning Ahead for Vacations
- DIY Projects
- Using the Library
- Unsubscribe From Subscriptions
- Practice Smart Banking
- Taking Public Transportation
Debt is a huge expense for many people. For me, it’s my biggest expense: my mortgage payment is $1,702, and I need to pay it every single month.
For me to live in my house, since I’ve financed it with a mortgage, I’m paying around $20,000 a year to service the debt. That’s a lot of money each and every year for 30 years. Unfortunately, many people, including myself, currently have or have had student loans, auto loans, mortgages, and credit card debt.
The first way to save thousands of dollars is to destroy your debt. Pay a little bit extra on the principal of your loan and you’ll be able to pay it off earlier. Check out my these ways to get out of debt fast, and you’ll be on your way to debt freedom – plus, getting out of debt is pretty awesome psychologically speaking!
Meal Prep and Eating In
Eating out is really expensive. Baked in to the price is the cost of the food, the cost of the workers making your food, the cost of the property and all that entails, taxes, etc.
A meal for one person these days can easily run you $10+ a pop – and that doesn’t even include a tip.
Alternatively, meal prepping, bulk cooking, and eating in can help save a lot of money.
For example, in Minnesota where I live, I can get a dozen eggs for $1. I typically will eat 4 eggs, and add in a banana and apple and call that a meal. This “meal” will cost me about $2.
Now, if I wanted to go out for breakfast, this same meal would probably cost around $13. Added up every single day of the year, and all of a sudden that $10 meal becomes $3,650!
Try eating in just once more per week and see how much more money you can save.
Saving a dollar on 10 items each week can add up over a year. Saving an extra $10 a week is over $500 a year!
Just the simple act of looking at a coupon book and seeing if there are any deals on what you usually buy can help save a few hundred bucks per year.
My mom is an avid couponer. She spends a few hours each week looking through ads to make sure the family can save a few bucks here and there. Over many, many years, these savings add up!
Plan Ahead for Vacations
One way to save more money on vacations is by planning ahead and buying your airfare in advance – whether that’s many months or even close to a year.
I went to Las Vegas at the end of June. It was a last minute decision on my part – and for that, I paid the price.
For a flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas, on such short notice, I paid almost $650!
If I had been able to check ahead, say, six months in advance, my flight would have been far less – around the $200 figure. That’s a $450 difference!
Imagine the amount of savings if you had a family or partner. It’d make this savings even more significant: $450 savings across 4 people is some serious moolah!
Going to the store and buying a new desk, bench, or storage rack can be a little bit spendy. If you’re handy (or even into learning some new skills), why not go to the hardware store and buy a few 2×4’s and get the job done yourself for cheap?
I did this last year: I went and created a ton of storage space for myself with a few 2×4’s and just a few hours of work. There are so many ways to DIY simple projects, and even if you don’t know how YET, you can always learn something new, especially with things like step-by-step YouTube videos, books, and internet articles.
Use the Library
Going to the library, getting a library card, and using it to further your education can go a long way in saving money on books and learning materials.
Books from Amazon or Barnes & Noble typically cost anywhere between $10 to $20 a book. Most libraries have any book you could ever want, including other forms of popular media like movies, television shows, ebooks, audiobooks, etc
This year, I’ve spent $250 on books from Amazon. While I’m happy to do it because it’s bettering myself, I also find myself thinking about how that money could be better served.
That $250 could’ve been put into the bank, or used to fund an investment!
Going to the library and renting your books and movies could help save a few hundred bucks a year.
You can also find other surprising ways to save more money by using the library; I’ve heard of libraries that rent out things like kayaks, cooking equipment, and even zoo and museum passes. Get to know what your library offers and you may find endless ways to save!
Monthly subscriptions are dangerous for someone trying to keep their expenses low. Each and every month, you are on the hook for another payment.
What is necessary in your life? Do you really need that subscription to your favorite magazine? What about the $60 a month subscription for new clothes (something my old roommate had)?
Take a tally of your current monthly subscriptions, and make sure you’re not missing any! Figure out what is necessary and remove what isn’t.
If you need cash, find an ATM that is in your network and take out cash for free. ATM fees typically are at least $3 per transaction.
If we pay attention to where we are, we can usually find an in-network ATM. But what if you can’t? It’s always worth calling your bank and asking for a fee to be reversed. They should understand, and if you’re nice and polite, they should do it for you.
Overdraft fees are another hassle, and they make the least sense to me – if you keep money in your bank account and you’re keeping track of how much you’re spending, you shouldn’t be overdrawing your account.
Finally, there are so many free checking account options out there, either through basic packages at banks or credit unions, that it doesn’t make sense to pay bank fees to use your own money.
Stop paying to bank, and remove a few hundred dollars in expenses over the next year.
Cars are super expensive.
Not only that, but add in insurance premiums (especially if you have a nice car), maintenance, gas, and parking, and a person can easily spend $5,000 to $10,000 a year or more just in transportation costs.
I personally spend a little over $2,000 on my car a year just for check-ups, insurance, and gas.
Instead of driving to work each day, I take the bus. It costs me $50 a month but is much less stressful than driving – plus, no wear and tear on my car!
Another alternative is riding your bike to work – as many people of the frugality mindset do. Plus, it’s great exercise!
Ways The Mastermind Within Community Members are Saving Money
One of the great things about having readers is being able to ask them about their strategies for financial success. A number of people contributed to the question of the best ways they save money.
Dylan, a friend and blogger at Trail to FI, saves money by staying home! Here’s what he had to say about saving money:
Don’t go shopping! The easiest way to avoid temptation is to not put yourself in the situation where you might be tempted. I used to browse daily deal websites and end up buying gadgets that I didn’t really need. Now I just don’t visit those sites.
A number of people say they use automation and a strategy of paying themselves first.
Cynthia, an avid reader, says she can’t spend what she can’t access.
On the first day of the month, we transfer a specific dollar amount into our savings. We live below our means and we drive modest cars. We use a budget and we save 10% in retirement accounts and 35% in after-tax accounts.
Another reader, Diego, does the same:
Save it before you see it. State specific quantities in your one-year and five-year goal planning. Monitor, track, and document these goals (very important!) and re-assess the quantities if needed. Check your progress for the yearly goals every 3 months and every year for the five-year goals.
It seems that there are many different ways to save money – I love hearing about what other people are doing to become better and improve their situation!
I hope you can incorporate at least one of these tips into your life and start saving thousands of dollars a year. Maybe, you will take all nine and look to cut costs and eliminate what is not necessary.
There are so many ways to either increase your income or decrease your expenses. Figure out which one you would prefer and you’ll be on your way to increasing your savings rate, net worth, and your financial situation.
Take a stand and start saving some more money today!