100 Ways to Save Money

Welcome to the 100th post of The Debt Shrink! In honor of this special occasion, I compiled a list of 100 money-saving tips.

I love learning ways to save money. Even when I was a post-doc supporting my family on around $40,000 a year, I aimed to keep my expenses to a minimum so that I could pay off debt and save for my future. I did this by reading personal finance blogs and implementing as much as I could of what I learned. Fast forward 10 years later, and I still get excited about learning new ways to save money.

Photo by Jaview Graterol on Unsplash
  1. Replace single-use items with reusable and eco-friendly alternatives.
  2. Make coffee at home.
  3. Aim for housing cost to be <25% of your income. This may mean downsizing, moving to a less expensive area, living with roommates, or increasing income.
  4. Learn negotiation tactics.
  5. Look for opportunities to barter for goods and services.
  6. Stop buying kids so many toys. Encourage them to run, dance, read, and write.
  7. Challenge yourself to a no-spend month.
  8. Beware of sales. They exist to get people to buy things you wouldn’t normally purchase or get them into a store where you will spend more money.
  9. Choose your vices. You can have anything you want, but not everything you want.
  10. Grow your own herbs, fruits, or vegetables.
  11. Eat a plant-centered diet with few processed foods.
  12. Reserve going out to eat for special occasions and social events.
  13. When going out with friends, choose drinks or meal or dessert.
  14. For meals out, order from the appetizer or a la cart menu.
  15. Bring your lunch to work.
  16. Turn food scraps into other meals for people, animals, or plants.
  17. Drink water.
  18. But most of us don’t need to buy bottled water.
  19. Carry a reusable water bottle and snacks and avoid vending machines, convenience stores, or drive-thrus.
  20. Don’t pay a premium for food delivery.
  21. Avoid packages of individually wrapped items (they cost more money and produce more waste).
  22. Learn easy recipes and save on salsa, guacamole, soups, seasonings, and more.
  23. Compare price per ounce.
  24. Set a budget for your monthly groceries.
  25. Pay with cash rather than with plastic.
  26. Choose credit cards that earn cash-back and have no annual fee.
  27. Consider switching to a credit union or local bank with lower fees.
  28. Every year, shop around for best prices on health, car, and home insurance.
  29. Consider increasing your car insurance deductible.
  30. If your vehicle is paid-off, evaluate whether it still makes sense for you to pay for collision and comprehensive coverage.
  31. Learn the art of hypermiling to save money on gas.
  32. Research the best times to fill-up your gas tank.
  33. Walk, ride a bike, or carpool whenever possible.
  34. Make your own cleaning products with alcohol or vinegar and water rather than buying chemicals.
  35. Gift handmade or homegrown items rather than products off a store shelf.
  36. Reuse glass jars (e.g., jelly, pickle jars) rather than buying mason jars.
  37. Learn how to repair items before discarding.
  38. Upcycle, borrow, or get second-hand before buying new.
  39. Declutter. Rediscover all the things you already own.
  40. Choose multi-taskers (e.g., toaster oven) over unitaskers (e.g., toaster).
  41. Forget his and hers. Buy unisex and share.
  42. Use less of everything (ads show people using more product than is necessary).
  43. You don’t need fabric softener or dryer sheets. (Distilled white vinegar works great as a replacement for fabric softener.)
  44. Take advantage of free books, movies, music, and events at your local library.
  45. Choose quality products that will last.
  46. Plan ahead. Compare prices and look for promotions.
  47. Unplug appliances that are always pulling power.
  48. Set the air conditioner higher.
  49. Open the windows on beautiful days.
  50. Set fridge at 40◦F and freezer at 0◦F.
  51. Set your hot water heater to 120◦F.
  52. Wash clothes in cold water.
  53. Clean out the coils in your refrigerator and dryer.
  54. Conserve water.
  55. Switch to a less expensive cell phone plan.
  56. Try generic products before buying name-brands.
  57. Ask how much something costs before buying it.
  58. Mow your own lawn.
  59. Clean your own pool.
  60. Do your own manicure.
  61. Learn how to cut your own hair.
  62. Clean your own home.
  63. Pull weeds (a great workout) rather than buying toxic weed-killer.
  64. Wash your own car.
  65. Change your own oil.
  66. Take vehicle to an auto parts store for a free diagnostic before going to a repair shop.
  67. Pay off your vehicle and save to buy your next car in cash.
  68. Rethink that vehicle lease!
  69. Don’t rent-to-own!
  70. Quit smoking.
  71. Drink less alcohol.
  72. Take care of your teeth.
  73. Exercise! Run, walk, take the stairs, or use apps and videos rather than paying for a gym.
  74. Before taking over the counter sleep aids, try increasing your physical activity and practicing good sleep hygiene.
  75. Unless recommended by your physician, forgo the vitamins. Get nutrients from fruits and vegetables.
  76. Enjoy nature rather than paying to be entertained.
  77. Take pictures rather than buying souvenirs.
  78. Look up the free events each week in your local newspaper.
  79. Take staycations and explore your state.
  80. Avoid going to stores or shopping centers unless necessary.
  81. Remove apps, saved passwords, any anything that makes it too easy to shop on-line.
  82. Always shop with a list (and stick to it).
  83. Stop subscription services.
  84. Use an HD antenna or free channels rather than cable, satellite, or streaming.
  85. Use your cell phone hot-spot rather than paying for internet.
  86. Pay for everything up-front and in-full to lower monthly bills.
  87. Avoid services that lock you into a contract.
  88. Skip the warranty unless the cost of repair or replacement would be financially catastrophic.
  89. Take advantage of employer contributions to retirement or health plans.
  90. Learn about tax-advantaged accounts that may be right for you (health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts for childcare, retirement accounts).
  91. Never think “it’s only $1.” Remember that small costs add up over time.
  92. Pick up pennies.
  93. Create a plan to become debt-free.
  94. Keep an emergency savings account to avoid going into more debt.
  95. Pay off your mortgage for guaranteed savings on the interest.
  96. Check your eligibility for employer-sponsored student-loan repayment programs (e.g., Education Debt Reduction Program – I didn’t do such a program, but wish I would have been eligible for one!).
  97. Be content with what you have.
  98. Work with a professional to help you manage mental illness or recover from addiction.
  99. Live below your means.
  100. Follow The Debt Shrink and other personal finance blogs for motivation and inspiration to accomplish your goals.

Final Thoughts

Of all these tips, having gone 10 years without any vehicle payments and keeping our housing costs low have played the largest role in our ability to pay off our student loan and medical debt while also saving for our future.

What other ways can people save money?

Photo by Courtney Hedger

Thank You

Thanks to all my friends, readers, and fellow bloggers for your support during my first six months. I couldn’t have done it without you!

Special thanks to:

Stephanie M., Luis S., Alana A., Sabrina M., Jillian D., Marianne M., Jan I., Brittany B., Ben with the Beard, my trainees, my colleagues, Mom and Meg, everyone who supported me through the Rockstar Rumble, my husband,

The Rockstar Finance community, Camp FIRE Finance, Amy (Life Zemplified and Women’s Money Talk), Michael Dinich (Your Money Geek), and Zach (Four Pillar Freedom and Collecting Wisdom).

4 thoughts on “100 Ways to Save Money”

  1. This is an amazing list. I feel that I should print it out and put it up on the wall – a frugal manifesto. I struggled to think of anything to add, but did come up with:
    1. Keep some pizzas in the freezer for emergencies. This is an idea from the Frugalwoods. My partner and I were both ill this weekend and neither of us were up to cooking. We saved money on a takeaway by having a frozen pizza on standby. It’s not the most nourishing meal, but occasionally it’s okay. We restocked today and got three pizzas for £4 (just over $5).
    2. Get a 0% credit card, make the minimum payments and save the money in a high interest savings account. It can be dangerous, but if you are super-organised you can make some money.
    3. Wear more clothes – I work at home a lot and have taken to wearing two jumpers, two pairs of socks and putting a blanket over my knees. That way I don’t need to put the heating on!

    1. Hi Sam! I love these additional ideas (esp. #1, I never say no to pizza). Thanks for these great suggestions!

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