We are all looking for new ways to save money. This is something I am constantly searching for...where is that one thing that is going to completely change my life and get me thousands of dollars? One day I realized, there isn’t going to be one big thing. It is going to be a bunch of little things that add up in a big way. This is when I looked at what I had been doing and added up all these creative ways to save. I saved $17,000 in one year doing these weird (sometimes gross) and small things.
Whether you are trying to pay off debt, save for a home, save for a vacation or build your retirement, these creative ways to save can really add up. Some of these may not completely apply to your life, but they should be an example as to how the choices we make impact our spending in ways we don’t even realize.
Every decision you make should be a reflection of your ultimate goal. If you are trying to save money, it’s time to get creative! Some of these things may seem ridiculous but pay attention to these little changes packed with big savings. Let it inspire you to come up with your own creative ways to save.
I wasn’t harmed in the completing of these savings tactics, at least not physically. Was it difficult to live outside my comfort zone? Absolutely! No one ever said self-improvement would be easy, right?
20 Creative Ways to Save:
1. Cut out yogurt.
The average cup of yogurt is $1.00. If you eat yogurt every day (as I used to), you could save $365 per year.
2. Cut out potato chips.
The average 16 oz. bag of potato chips costs $4.51. We used to go through 6 bags every month. By completely cutting out chips (which totally sucks, btw) we saved $325 per year.
3. Cut out pop.
If you drank an average of 2 cans of pop per day, every day, you would buy 61 cases of pop per year. The average cost of a 12 pack of Coke is $4.99. Cutting out pop for one year could save you $305. Not to mention it would be a way healthier lifestyle for you!
4. Get creative with child-proofing.
To try and save money (still not sure if it was totally worth it), we did not buy the child proof door knob covers for our home ($20 for an 8 pack). Instead, we used a bobby pin (one above every door) so we could lock the doors from the inside and still be able to unlock them when we needed in the room. Total savings $20. This is one of those examples where maybe you have something similar in your home where you could be saving yourself $20 if you think outside the box a little bit.
5. Re-use Gerber baby food containers.
Instead of buying little Tupperware containers to hold my kids’ food, I would just re-use the Gerber baby food containers instead. You can read all about my favorite toddler meal prep system here.
The average cost of one set up Tupperware per child is $20-$40. So for two children, this could save upwards of $50-$80.
6. Adjust the thermostat by 1 degree.
This is such a small adjustment (literally a single degree), but that one degree could save you, on average, $83 per year. The experts say adjusting your thermostat one degree cooler in the winter and one degree warmer in the summer can save you 10% annually.
The easiest way to accomplish this is with a programmable thermostat. You can set it and forget it!
7. Cut your laundry detergent usage in half.
Laundry detergent is so concentrated, I have not found a difference in how clean our clothes feel and smell by cutting the amount I would normally use in half. This means I am using half the amount of laundry detergent and buying half as much throughout the year. The average cost for Gain (that’s what I use) is $14. I went from buying 2 every month to 1 per month. That is a savings of $168 per year.
8. Use hotel shampoo and conditioner.
Instead of buying new shampoo and conditioner every month, I have started using up all the shampoo and conditioner bottles I have swiped from hotels. I am usually a salon shampoo girl ($50 every 3-4 months) so this has definitely been an adjustment. It saved me 6 months of purchasing shampoo and conditioner totaling $100 for the year.
9. Use the toothpaste samples from the dentist’s office.
I have been collecting those baby toothpaste tubes from every dentist visit for the past few years. This saved me 6 months of toothpaste purchases (average tube cost $7) totaling $42.
I have found using up these small items is actually nice to get rid of some clutter at home too.
10. Start meal planning.
Meal planning is something I never thought I would do. I got started on it when I prepared freezer meals with my first child. I saw how much money a little bit of planning could save us and have now started meal planning for every month. Our grocery bill used to be upwards of $400 per month and is now just $200 per month.
Meal planning is just what it sounds like. You design a menu for the month (or weekly if you prefer), create the shopping list for the menu, then stick to the menu. No eating out.
Meal planning is not that difficult, it just takes the mindset of, this is happening and following through. I never thought I would be one of “those” women who meal plan, but I am hooked. This saved us $2,400 in a year.
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11. Give up RedBox.
RedBox is not a very expensive thing to do (if you don’t know, it is a DVD/Blu-ray rental machine), but it can definitely add up. The average cost of a Blu-ray is $2 per day. If you are anything like me (I am a movie junkie), I would get 2-3 movies every weekend.
Let’s say you only got one Blu-ray every week. Cutting that out would say $96 per year. That is on the low-end.
12. Sell your stuff.
This is more of a way to make some money, but it will also inadvertently save you money. In selling off the majority of our possessions, we were more inclined to not buy more stuff. Those things became just that, “things.” Selling stuff made us money, gave us a new perspective on stuff and helped us save money by changing our stuff buying habits.
If you have collectibles that can bring you a nice chunk of change, sell them. I never thought I would sell my American Girl Doll collection, but doing so made us $2,000. That was worth it to me. When I am out of debt, I can buy whatever I want. At the time, I needed the $2,000.
13. Stop buying clothes.
The average American family spends $1,800 on clothing every year. My husband and I stopped buying clothes for 2 years (which you can read about here). It is not impossible and anyone can do it. A clothing spending freeze will save $1,800 per year.
14. Reuse all household items.
If you move or just feel like you need to refresh your home, don’t buy new things. Clean your trashcans (get in there and scrub those babies). Not buying new trash cans could save you $50-$100.
Not updating or changing your bathroom and kitchen accessories (towels, pot-holders, bath mat, shower curtain liner, shower caddy, toilet bowl brush…..yes, I really said that) will save $100-$200.
Not purchasing these items (especially if you have just moved) will save $300 per year.
15. Build a fence out of cattle panels.
If you are in need of a fenced-in backyard (or fenced-in area of some use), think about using cattle panels for your fence.
A professional quote for our home was $8,000. We were able to put up a fence using cattle panels (we dressed it up a bit with some boards across the front) for $1,000. Using alternative fencing materials saved $7,000.
16. Dress your kids in hand-me-downs.
This kind of goes along with a spending freeze. This may not work if you have a girl first, and then have a boy, but my situation was the other way around. I have been dressing my daughter in boy clothes because that’s what I have. She also has no hair (at almost one year old) so everyone comments on how cute it is I have two boys.
The point of this one is to make do with what you have. Ask friends and family for hand-me-downs if they have any.
This is a bit hard to quantify, but I have no doubts, given free reign to spend what I want on a girl’s wardrobe I easily would have spent $500. This means I saved $500.
17. Have an ugly kitchen table.
I do have an ugly kitchen table because I sold our existing vintage table for $135 (accidentally on a day we were having a dinner party). This left us with a hand-me-down, super small table from my grandmother. It does not match anything in our home and is a complete eye-sore….and drives me nuts. BUT, purchasing a new table could run us anywhere from $500-$1,500.
This is another area where buying things for your home because you don’t like how something looks can take tons of your money. Use what you have and easily save $1,000.
18. Use coupon apps.
Couponing is not a love of mine. I find it to be super inconvenient and not worth my time. That is why I love apps like Ebates and iBotta. They are super easy to use, convenient and actually give me money back on items I would have been buying anyway.
With Ebates you can earn up to 10% cash back on online purchases. You just sign up for Ebates, then click the little Ebates icon when you are on a store’s website. This activates cashback on all your purchases. It seriously just takes one click. If you sign up right now, you can earn $10 cash back immediately when you spend your first $25. That’s $10 cash immediately! Sign up here to get started. I earn cash back every month with my online Target order. It’s so easy!!
iBotta is great for in-store purchases. You just check out the app before you shop. See which products have available offers (this includes generic items too!!), then snap a picture of your receipt after you make your purchase. Then viola!..cash back to you! This is great for groceries because you will always be buying groceries. Why not get money back with iBotta and minimal effort. Sign up now and receive a $10 welcome bonus!!
19. Avoid shopping inside Target.
Target is a magical place where everything is fabulous, screaming kids are drowned out by my own thoughts of how great my house will look with that adorable French Bulldog cookie jar. I envision my guest room in the current Fall decor with the world’s coziest throw pillows (my guests will never want to leave). All while I sip on a perfectly dotted Flat White and reflect on how freaking sophisticated I am. I have it all together, my budget can take a back seat because mama needs those monogrammed mugs to set out on her newly fashioned coffee station. The dollar section may as well be free for how cheap that stuff is. Do those items even count? They’re practically giving them away.
Stop going into Target. If you are inside Target, you will buy more than you need. If you took one trip to Target every month but spent $20 more than you were planning to, that’s $240 per year! $20 is probably being pretty conservative too.
Since doing all of my shopping with Target online, I have no more impulse purchases. Things don’t magically end up in my cart anymore at Target. This alone may save you hundreds every year. It saved us at least $240 per year.
20. Start a blog.
Starting a blog is a fairly cheap endeavor up front. It isn’t free, but you can find a deal to start for like $2.50/month (pending on your hosting). Why is starting a blog awesome for saving money? It costs literally dollars to start and it will occupy your time with a fun activity (if you like writing and teaching people things you are super passionate about).
A bonus with blogging is you can actually make money from it! I am not there yet, but it will come. In the meantime, I am not out spending extra money on entertainment. Instead, I blog!
If you are interested in starting a blog, I highly recommend Suzi’s course Blog by Number because it is a simple step-by-step program to get your blog up and running, the right way. You can sign up here to start Blog by Number. Who knows, blogging may change your life.
All of these little changes added up to really big savings. Over $17,000 was saved by doing these weird things (some weirder than others). There is no big secret change. Everything that saved us money was a small change. We just had one more decision to say, “no,” to something or one more time we put something back at a store.
Trying different things to save money can be uncomfortable at times. It can draw unwanted judgment from family and friends. It can also help you achieve your goals. Start making small changes today. Get weird! Save as much money as you can and start living the life of your dreams sooner than you imagined.
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