You’re probably tired of hearing people — whether it’s your parents, friends or personal finance experts — tell you that you need to start saving more money now. What you really need instead are some helpful tips on how you can realistically start growing your savings today. After all, skipping your daily $5 Starbucks coffee will only take you so far. Fortunately, there are many easy ways you can save money.
1. Open a High-Interest Savings Account
Think about it: Why work hard to save money just to park it in an account that generates close to nothing in interest? A high-yield savings account will supercharge the impact of all the other savings steps you take.
Look for a high-yield savings account that’s easy to set up and offers a competitive Annual Percentage Yield. For example, Milli Bank pays out a APY and makes it easy to open an account and transfer in money. The APY is current as of July 6, 2023, and is subject to change at any time.
Milli is a Member FDIC insured mobile bank that offers more to the saver than just a high interest rate. In fact, the Milli app was designed to help you save more money each day. The app allows you to track your spending in real time, separate your savings into “Jars” for specific savings goals and more.
You’ll see how the Milli app can help you accomplish some of the other items on this money-saving to-do list. (Well, not No. 2. Milli won’t pack your lunch for you.)
2. Pack a Lunch at Least Every Other Day
While your co-workers might be going out for lunch, you probably don’t want to sit in the break room with a depressing sandwich at lunchtime. However, limiting lunches out to every other workday can be a simple way to save $5 to $15 per meal — easily $100 over the course of a month.
3. Track Your Purchases and Set Spending Goals
Challenge yourself by setting spending limits each month. You can do this for various categories. For example, try targeting an amount you’re willing to spend on eating out. Or maybe you’ll aim to spend less at a particular retailer.
But how do you keep track of this? This is where the Milli app can simplify your life. Instead of poring over bank statements to figure out what you spent where, you can monitor your spending in real time with Milli.
Set spending goals by category and easily track whether you’re on pace to hit those goals as the month unfolds. Milli will even tell you how much you spent at a particular store, and it will add up your purchases under $10 to show you how those small items add up.
4. Round Up Each Purchase and Save the Change
One great way to save is by employing a set-it-and-forget strategy. Here’s another area where Milli makes things easy. Just ask Milli to automatically round up each time you make a purchase. The extra change will then be directed into your savings account. You might be surprised at the difference this simple step can make over time.
5. Clean Your Own House
Many people don’t have the luxury of employing household help, but there are plenty of people who spend at least $100 on a house cleaner every month. Try cleaning up after yourself just once — you’ll save a lot of cash and gain a greater appreciation for all your maid does for you.
6. Buy Your Plane Tickets a Month in Advance
Booking last-minute travel is an easy way to pay an extra $100 or more. A study by Skyscanner found that you can get the lowest airfares 30 days in advance for domestic travel and four months in advance for international travel. So if you know you’d like to travel in the near future, plan accordingly to save the most on airfare.
7. Transfer Your Credit Card Balance
Expensive credit card interest will eat up your money that could be going toward savings. Seek out a credit card company offering a promotional 0% APR balance transfer, and move your existing balance to the new card. The catch: You have to pay off your debt during the introductory period, or you’ll be back at square one.
8. Make a List Before Heading To the Grocery Store
Don’t go to the market hungry and unprepared, wandering each aisle in search of what you “need.” It’s amazing how planning a list of purchases before each weekly shopping trip will prevent you from coming home with an extra bag filled with potato chips, soda and frozen pizzas.
9. Cancel Your Private Mortgage Insurance
If you purchased your home with less than a 20% down payment, you might have enough equity now to cancel your expensive private mortgage insurance. If you do, you probably should.
10. Use a Health Savings Account
If medical expenses are eating up your monthly budget, look into opening a health savings account. These accounts allow you to deposit pretax money, much like a 401(k), to be used to cover out-of-pocket medical costs. Restrictions apply, so find out if you qualify.
11. Switch To Generic Prescriptions
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that generic medications work just as well as their name-brand counterparts — and can cost 85% less. It’s time to switch.
12. Cook More Meals at Home
Going out to eat makes your wallet vulnerable to restaurant markups — especially on alcohol. Cook more meals at home during the week, and try hosting a potluck on the weekend to make eating in a social event.
13. Drop Cable for Hulu or Netflix
How many hours a day do you waste sitting in front of the TV? Better yet, how much money are you wasting paying for premium cable? Hulu Plus costs $12 and Netflix starts at $9 — depending on your plan — and you’ll become much more productive once you no longer have 1,200 channels to flip through all day.
14. Order Your Glasses Online
No law says you have to buy your frames from your optometrist’s office. After an eye exam, take your prescription and shop online for a deeply discounted pair of frames. You can save serious dough, even if you get more than one pair.
15. Grocery Shop With Digital Coupons
Several grocery chains, including Kroger and Meijer, allow you to preload manufacturer coupons onto your store card through the store app so you can apply the savings when you shop in-store.
16. Shop at a Discount Grocery Store
If you do your grocery shopping at Whole Foods, you’re paying way more than you have to. Kiplinger comparison shopped at Whole Foods and Aldi and found that on a total bill of 50 items, Aldi was nearly $69 cheaper. Opt for a discount grocery store whenever you can.
17. Join Restaurant Loyalty Programs
All you need is an email address and you can get signed up for customer loyalty programs at your favorite restaurant chains. You can score coupons, discounts and sometimes even birthday freebies.
18. Shop Around for a New Phone Plan
There are some utilities and services you don’t have a lot of options for depending on where you live, but your phone plan is one that you can comparison shop for. Shop around to see if you can get a better deal with a different provider, or lower your existing data plan to save with your current provider.
19. Shop Around for New Car Insurance
Your life circumstances — and accident record — have a major effect on your car insurance rates, so if you’ve had any changes, such as moving, improving your credit score or getting married, you may qualify for cheaper auto insurance rates, according to Insurify. Even if none of those apply to you, it’s still worth shopping around for rates if it’s been a while since you opened your current policy.
20. See If You Qualify For Discounts on Insurance Through Professional or Alumni Associations
Many insurers offer discounts to groups, such as professional groups or alumni associations. Check to see if any of the groups you belong to will qualify you for discounted car insurance.
21. Only Go to In-Network Healthcare Providers
Don’t get stuck paying for doctor’s visits out of pocket. Before you make an appointment, make sure the healthcare provider you want to see is in your network so that you’re only responsible for covering the co-pay.
22. Put All Your Bills on Autopay
Put all your bills on autopay and you’ll never get stuck paying a late fee again.
23. Cancel Your Landline
There really is no need to have a landline in a mobile phone-saturated world. Cut your phone cord to save on your monthly bill.
24. See a Matinee Movie
Some movie theater chains, like Cinemark, offer discounted prices when you see morning or early afternoon movies.
25. Seek Out Free Movie Screenings
Sign up for Gofobo or Preview Free Movies to get passes to see movies for free. Or search to see if your community is hosting any free movie screenings in a local park or another venue.
26. Plan a Staycation
Save big on travel by planning a “staycation” in your own city. Even if you stay at a hotel, you’ll likely save hundreds by not paying for flights.
27. Only Shop the Sale Rack
If you do want to actually go shopping, try sticking to the sale rack only.
28. Take Advantage of Employee or Student Discounts
Don’t forget to use your employee discount whenever possible. If you’re a student, ask the sales associate if the store has a student discount. Many major chains do offer savings for students, and it can never hurt to ask.
29. Sign Up for Customer Loyalty Programs
Many retailers have customer loyalty programs that are free to join. Depending on the retailer, you could get exclusive discounts or earn points toward savings on future purchases.
30. Abide By the 24-Hour Shopping Rule
Before making a major purchase, sleep on it. You might find that you wanted to buy the item due to an impulse rather than an actual want or need to have it. If you still think the purchase is a good idea 24 hours later, go for it.
31. Know the Store’s Sale Cycle
Retailers often hold seasonal or semiannual sales. Check the dates of these sales events so you don’t end up paying full price for something that will be discounted in a few weeks.
32. Shop at Secondhand Stores
Peruse your local secondhand store or thrift shop to score deep discounts on clothing and accessories.
33. Online Shop on Tuesdays
Tuesday is the best day to find deals when online shopping, according to an analysis conducted by U.S. retailer reporting service SumAll.
34. Search For Promo Codes When Online Shopping
Sites like RetailMeNot and Coupons.com let you search for coupon codes and promo codes for whichever online retailer you’re shopping through.
35. Never Pay For Shipping
Shipping costs can add up over time. Save money by only shopping at retailers that offer free shipping or offer a “free pick up in-store” option.
36. Shop at Outlet Stores
If your favorite store has an outlet, do your shopping there instead. Some retailers even have online outlet stores that make saving even easier.
37. Sign Up for Marketing Emails From Your Favorite Retailers
Get early access to sales and extra coupons right to your inbox by signing up to receive emails from the retailers you shop at the most.
38. Cancel All Credit Cards That Charge an Annual Fee
If you’re trying to save money, you should not be paying an annual fee just to have a certain credit card in your wallet. There are plenty of no-fee credit cards that offer cash back, travel rewards and other perks.
39. Repair Clothes Instead of Replacing Them
Small holes and broken buttons are easy to fix with just basic sewing skills. Try repairing your clothes before running out to the store to replace them.
40. Negotiate Your Credit Card Rates
If you’re paying a high interest rate on your credit card, call your provider and ask if they can lower it. The worst they can say is no.
41. Turn Off the Lights
Make a conscious effort to turn off the lights whenever you leave a room, and reduce the use of lights when natural sunlight will do. This small change can save money on your electricity bill.
42. Switch To Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs
Switching to halogen incandescent, CFL or LED lightbulbs can cost you more upfront, but it will save you in the long term. By replacing five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs to energy-efficient ones, you could save $45 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
43. DIY Gifts for Friends and Family
Homemade gifts are more meaningful — and can also save you money. Instead of splurging on a gift for a loved one’s birthday or another occasion, consider cooking them dinner or getting crafty with a personalized present.
44. Plan Your Meals Based Around What’s On Sale at Your Grocery Store
Check your grocery store’s flyer to see exactly what’s on sale, and see what recipes you can create based around heavily discounted items.
45. Don’t Rely on Retail Therapy
Many of us shop when we’re sad or stressed — but you can wind up even sadder or more stressed when you end up with a credit card bill you can’t pay off. Instead of relying on retail therapy, try some free ways to lift your mood. Watch a funny movie, light a candle, take a bath, meditate or go for a run instead.
46. Holiday Shop After the Holidays
Seasonal and holiday items always go on sale at the end of the season or after the holiday has passed. Take advantage of these sales to stock up for the following year.
47. Cancel Magazine Subscriptions
There’s no sense in paying for magazines you aren’t reading. If you have piles of unread magazines around your home, cancel your subscriptions. You might even get a prorated amount back on issues you didn’t yet receive.
48. Set Up a Babysitting Exchange
Instead of paying a babysitter, set up a babysitting exchange with other parents and take turns watching each other’s kids.
49. Take Public Transportation
Public transportation is almost always cheaper than taking a ride-sharing service or taxi, and it can be cheaper than driving when you account for gas and parking costs. Opt for public transportation every once in a while to save.
50. Walk Whenever You Can
Walking is even cheaper than public transportation. Plus, it’s a great form of exercise.
Carpooling to work can save you big on gas. Consider sharing rides with co-workers who live nearby.
52. BYO Snacks
If you’re planning a car trip or plane travel, pack your own snacks. This will prevent you from paying marked-up prices at convenience stores or the airport terminal.
53. Consolidate Your Student Loans
If you have student loans from various lenders, consider consolidating your student loan debt. You might qualify for a lower interest rate, which will end up saving you money on every single monthly payment.
54. Take Advantage of All Your Company Benefits
Your employer might provide you with access to discounts you don’t even know you have access to, such as savings on your cellphone bill and discount movie tickets.
55. Take Advantage of Happy Hour Prices
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Casey Bond contributed to the reporting for this article.