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The Most Helpful Money Saving Tips

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We had a bit of a family crisis in December, which coupled with holiday shopping, left us financially strapped heading into the New Year. I’ve been going through our budget to find areas where we can cut back on our expenses and collecting as many money saving tips I can find.

a person holding a jar full of dollar bills and coins using money saving tips

Most of you are bright readers. I know from your comments that you are savvy and well-informed. So, I’m going to skip all the obvious tips like insulating your home, turning down the water heater temperature, and checking your car’s tire pressure. Instead, I focused on the tips that were either new to me or ones that I knew but thought were good reminders.

Here are the money saving tips I found the most helpful.

Know how much you’re spending

Most people significantly underestimate how much they spend each month. For one entire month keep EVERY receipt in a box. At the end of the month, tally it up to find what your real expenses are. This is the easiest way to identify areas where you are overspending or have unrealistic expectations.


Use PaperBackSwap or Swaptrees to swap out the books, CDs and DVDs you don’t want anymore with new ones.

Consider ditching cable

You can watch most of the shows on the internet now and depending on your home electronics, can even stream them to your television.


Impose a deliberation period on yourself for making purchases. Don’t buy anything immediately, but instead give yourself a mandatory time limit to consider whether the purchase is a necessity. Also, don’t store your credit card numbers in your online shopping accounts. This will force you to take at least a few minutes to retrieve a credit card before you make a purchase, which might be just enough time to talk yourself out of it.


Apply the same principle to driving. Before getting in the car to go somewhere, ask yourself if the trip is really necessary. If it is, determine if there are other errands you can run in the same area to eliminate the need to drive again later.

Make cheaper meals

Eat more soup or vegetarian dishes to make hearty and nutritious, but inexpensive meals.

Ask for rate reductions

Call your credit card company, insurance company, cable provider, phone service provider, (basically any one you pay money to on a regular basis) and ask them to reduce your rates. You’ll be surprised how many companies will accommodate you after just a simple request. You may have to do some research and be willing to switch companies if you want greater bargaining power.

Ask for discounts

Many businesses will give you a discounted price if you ask for one. Since we are a military family, I always ask if they offer a military discount. Ditto for AAA. And if neither, sometimes I will simply ask, “Is that the best price I can get for that item? I really do like it but I’m uncomfortable paying that much.”

Ask for samples

Makeup and perfume counters aren’t the only places you can score some free samples. The dentist always gives you a free sample of toothpaste and a new toothbrush so why not ask your optometrist for a few samples of contact lenses or your doctor for samples of the medication he/she is prescribing?

Stop buying things for your kids

How many of your kids toys are taking up space in their rooms or closets, rarely being played with? If your family is typical, there are a lot. Though your child might tell you he or she is going to die if they don’t get the newest, most expensive toy, the truth is kids can just as easily be entertained making a fort in the family room with old blankets which doesn’t cost you a penny.

Calculate the value

Before you buy anything, convert the price to hours (divide your hourly wage by the cost of the item). That new sweater you want might seem less appealing when you realize it equals 3 hours of work!

Enjoy rewards without temptation

Create an e-mail account specifically for store e-mails. Then, sign up for every free customer rewards program you can using that e-mail address. This will prevent your personal e-mail account from being clogged up with promotional e-mails. When you are ready to shop, you can easily search your shopping e-mail address search function to find any coupons or deals for the stores you are going to visit.

Go green

Replace your paper napkins and paper towels with cloth, which can be laundered. Not only will this save you money in the long run, cloth napkins and towels are more absorbent and thus, work better anyway.

Save energy

Use a Smart Power Strip that will cut ALL power to electronic devices when they are turned off. Why? 40% of the energy used by your home electronics is burned when they are turned off! If you don’t want to invest in a Smart Power Strip, you can still reap the same savings by unplugging items when they’re not in use.

Rent out items you don’t want to sell

Most of us know we have many options for selling items we don’t need anymore (e.g. Craigslist, eBay, garage sales), but what if you have an item that you don’t want to get rid of but don’t use very often? You can rent it out! Zilok allows you to rent items to or from other individuals.

Streamline your subscriptions

If you get multiple magazine subscriptions, consider signing up at Texture which gives you access to over 100 magazines for one set monthly rate. You can try the service for 30 days free and if you decide to continue you can cancel at any time.

Make your own convenience foods

One weekend a month, when you make your favorite casserole, lasagna, or other dish, make several batches of it and freeze the extras. Then, on those days that you forgot to plan dinner and are tempted to eat out, you’ll have a homemade meal you can quickly reheat instead.

Push potlucks

If you like to entertain or go out with friends, save everyone the stress and expense of playing hostess or eating out by pushing for potluck get-togethers.

27 thoughts on “The Most Helpful Money Saving Tips”

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  3. I love that you mentioned PaperBackSwap! I’m friends with the owner!

    When I was on a tight budget, eating primarily vegetarian food saved me so much money. I ate SO many eggs that year! I think I discovered every single easy, one-person dish that could be done with eggs. Plus lots of rice and beans.

    • Brita, tell your friend that she’s providing an amazing service! If you ever put together a post with all of your one-person egg dishes, let me know so I can link to it here. And yes! Rice and beans are a frugal eater’s salvation. They are easy ways to add substance and nutrition for much less than the cost of meat.

  4. There are some fab tips here – you might also consider other energy reducing options like switching or supplementing your electricity supply with solar or wind and getting off the grid completely.

    We have created some fantastic budgetting software called The Spending Planner www.bigspendingplanner.com developed by Australian software company Simply Budgets to make it really easy to monitor your expenses and be ready to pay for them as they come up in your calendar.
    Take a look at buy it online.

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  7. When I got married, we decided to do pot luck for the gathering. We had all kinds of yummy foods and it wasn’t catering, but the food was yummy. Everyone enjoyed their food and it wasn’t one of those huge costs out of pockets. We had the wedding on my brother-in-laws patio and the only real expense was the Justice of the Peace. That wasn’t something that they expected, but we gave them some anyway. Our whole wedding by the time clothing and things were done ended up costing right at $75 with the license and the tip we gave to the JotP. It was a cheap wedding, but it was beautiful. We had family members to bring the flowers they had, used those for decorations, the food was provided by every member of the family. This might be another tip for those that are trying to stretch out their pennies.

    • Lavonnia, thank you for sharing this tip! Many things can be accomplished just as easily and with no impact on the importance of an event by spending less. In fact, in the case of a wedding, having all of the guests participate in such meaningful ways probably made the day even more special.

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  9. I really like the idea of converting the price into hours of work. I used to do that as a teenager, but have gotten away from it as an adult…but it would better shape my choices.

  10. these are really great tips! I love paperback swap and how much money I’ve saved, especially if I wound up hating the book!

  11. What great tips! I already do a few of them to my surprise! I am very curious to see just how much I spend each month and on what. Thanks for sharing! I am super excited I found your blog. Can’t wait to read more! ~Leah~

  12. Great tips. We’ve been looking at ways to save since we moved to this expensive part of the country. I sell the clothes and toys my kids outgrow at local consignment sales. Every little bit helps.

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  14. We were also in a similar situation. I like the cable idea. I do not use it as I can wait to watch a show online as well. I also found that it is great to save pennies. Many people do not realize the power of the penny but I have a huge container that I keep adding change to. It really adds up pretty fast.

    • I have a penny jar too! You’re right, it adds up quickly (especially if you toss in ALL spare change and not just the pennies).

  15. I’ve never heard of Zilok before. Sounds like a great option for making some extra money without getting rid of your stuff.

  16. This is a great list! I love it. Also if you are looking for a great book on the subject, go to Amazon and look up “One Income Mystery,” There are lots of money saving techniques in that book. Thanks for linking up to Pinastic Pinteresting Party as well!

    • Thanks for the book suggestion. I’m heading to Amazon to check it out now.

  17. I have been using coupons to save me and my family money on groceries. I use a combination of online printables (make sure you set your printer to use black ink only it is cheaper and try to find enough coupons to use an entire sheet of paper, they do vary by coupon site) and I try to pick up a newspaper on Saturday for regular coupons. The Saturday paper now has the same coupons as Sunday but the Saturday paper is 1.00 compared to 2.00 to 2.50 on Sunday.

    • That’s a great tip about the Saturday paper! I didn’t realize they had coupons. That makes so much more sense to buy the cheaper edition!

  18. I did find a couple of new ideas for my already frugal life. Thanks for sharing them.

  19. This is a fantastic post and goes along with changes I am making in my life. I love the tip about spending on your children. When my daughter was young, I was always buying her stuff, she loved it, but she loved spending time we me more!

  20. Hi Corinne – It’s tough when you are doing everything right to find new ways to save money. Thanks for sharing – we all can do more with less. Hubby and I were watching Extreme Cheapskates on TV and were talking about a “Spending Vacation” where you don’t spend any money for a week. Hugs, Holly

    • Holly, that is a great idea! I think I would have a very hard time doing it though. We have so many regular expenses that pop up. It would take some planning (like making sure the car was full of gas at the start of the week).

  21. This is a fabulous posting of frugal living tips. I forget all of the time that we can have more things with fewer amount of money. I often forget that I have the ability of using money for other things. Thank you very much for this useful tips.


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