If you’re craving fresh money advice, look to some of the best and brightest personal finance experts out there: the winners of the Plutus Awards. The annual Plutus Awards were founded in 2009 by well-known personal finance blogger Luke Landes to provide recognition and support for the community of independent financial publishers.
GOBankingRates asked these finance bloggers and experts to share their best savings tips. Click through to see how you can use their advice to save more money.
1. Act Your Wage
Jeff Rose is a certified financial planner and the founder of GoodFinancialCents.com, which was named the Best Financial Planner Blog at the 5th Annual Plutus Awards.
His best savings tip is to match your spending habits to your take-home pay. “Stop buying designer jeans, driving a BMW or redecorating your home once per week to show it off on Pinterest when you can’t afford it,” Rose said.
Instead, prioritize saving money. “If you’re not saving at least 10 percent — 20 percent is better — into retirement and cash savings because your spending habits prohibit you, then it’s time to drastically cut what you’re wasting your money on,” Rose advised.
2. Buy Used Instead of New
As the founder of BargainBabe.com and winner of the Best Deals and Bargains Blog, Julia Scott knows how to find a deal. One of her favorite ways to save is shopping secondhand. “Buy used and easily save 35 percent off retail — and often a whole lot more,” Scott said.
She recommended checking Craigslist, eBay, local garage sales and thrift stores for your needs instead of automatically heading to a major retailer. “I’ve saved tens of thousands of dollars buying used cars, used clothing, used computers, used furniture and used tools,” Scott said.
Scott has seen even better returns by putting those savings to work. “Now that extra cash is piling up in my retirement account,” she added.
3. Spend On What Matters to You
“Figure out what matters to you, then stop spending on the things that aren’t important,” said Miranda Marquit, a panelist on the MoneyMastermindShow.com, which won the Plutus Award for Best Collaborative Project for Personal Finance.
According to Marquit, taking the time to set financial priorities is the first step to healthy money management. “Just being aware of your priorities, and using your money accordingly, can save you a great deal of money over time,” she said.
4. Know What You’re Spending On
“I think the biggest mistake people make, myself included, is not knowing where their money is going,” said Glen Craig, founder of FreeFromBroke.com, which was named the Best-Kept Secret Personal Finance Blog of the 5th Annual Plutus Awards.
If you’re not sure where you money ends up each month, keep a sharper eye on your expenses. “Once you take a close look at your spending, you realize how your money disappears and how you can start to get a handle on your spending,” Craig said.
5. Remind Yourself of Savings Goals
Jim Wang is the founder of Bargaineering.com and WalletHacks.com. Wang has written about personal finance for over 10 years, for which he was recognized with the 5th Annual Plutus Lifetime Achievement Award.
Wang’s best savings tip centers on setting goals: “Establish a tangible savings goal and put frequent reminders on your monitor, in your wallet, your purse, your credit cards and anywhere else you typically spend money,” Wang said.
These reminders help make savings goals a part of your everyday money management. “If you are saving for a vacation,” said Wang, “then it’s easier to make decisions like ‘Do I want a cup of coffee or [to] put this money toward a trip to Hawaii?'”
6. Budget for Savings and Investments
The best way to save more money is to treat your savings like a bill, said Holly and Greg Johnson, founders of ClubThrifty.com and winners of the 5th Annual Plutus Award for Best Frugality-Focused Personal Finance Blog.
“When you create your monthly budget, add your savings and investments as a line item and pay them along with your regular bills,” the Johnsons said. “This strategy allows you to ‘pay yourself first’ while also encouraging the idea that your personal savings should be a priority right up there with your mortgage.”
7. Deposit Your Paycheck Into a Savings Account
Joe Saul-Sehy, creator of StackingBenjamins.com and winner of the Best Personal Finance Podcast, said he directly deposits paychecks into his savings account rather than a checking account and then transfers his spending fund into checking. “If you deposit money into your checking account and then try to save, your brain says, ‘I’ll leave a little extra in checking in case something comes up,” Saul-Sehy said. But, “You know how that goes. Something always comes up,” he said.
On the other hand, putting money in your savings account first can help get your psychology working in favor of saving over spending. If you direct deposit to savings and then have your bank transfer a lower allowance to your checking account to spend, your brain works hard to not touch that savings, Saul-Sehy said.
8. Audit Your Expenses
Lauren Bowling is the creator of personal finance blog LBeeandtheMoneyTree.com and winner of the 5th Annual Plutus Award for Best Video/Multimedia Production for Personal Finance. Her best savings tip is to “regularly audit expenses to see where you can find savings.”
Reviewing expenses often can help you take advantage of opportunities to pay less. For instance, “I just found $141 by calling all my utility companies to lower my bills,” Bowling said.
9. Focus Spending on Generating Income
“Focus your spending primarily on activities that can potentially generate you more money going forward,” said Steve Chou, creator of MyWifeQuitHerJob.com and co-founder of online business Bumblebee Linens.
Chou was the winner of the Plutus Award for Best Entrepreneurship Blog, so it’s no surprise that his advice is to make investments in yourself and your business that will boost your earning potential. “Eliminate your frivolous expenditures and concentrate your spending on products and actions that matter,” Chou said.
10. Tell Yourself “No”
Catherine Alford of BudgetBlonde.com gave this tip for saving: “Tell yourself ‘no’ as often as possible.”
“Pass up the frozen yogurt and the cute shirt on sale from time to time,” Alford said. It’s a simple tip, but one the Plutus winner for Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance said can have a big positive impact over time.
“This becomes such a habit that eventually you’ll see the savings pile up just because of that one little word,” Alford said.
11. Analyze Your Spending Habits
“The long-term, permanent savings solution is to raise your awareness around how you spend your money,” said Todd R. Tresidder, money coach and founder of FinancialMentor.com. Tresidder won the 5th Annual Plutus Award for People’s Choice and Best Investing-Focused Personal Finance Blog.
“This is simple to achieve by reviewing every expense with the following two questions in mind,” Tresidder said. “‘Is this getting me the highest and best value for my money?’ and ‘Is this taking me toward my goals or away from my goals?'” These two questions ensure that spending is aligned with your values as well as with getting the best value.
12. Get a Savings System in Place
Eva Baker, teen finance blogger at TeensGotCents.com, was awarded the 5th Annual Plutus Award for Best Blog for Teens/College Students/Young Adults. Her best piece of savings advice is geared toward young people but could apply to almost anyone.
“The best thing that teens can do to save money is to have a system for savings and spending, and then stick to that system,” Baker said. “I use and recommend the envelope system, which allows you to put cash in envelopes labeled for specific uses.”
“This works well for teens because we can see where our money is going and save up for things that are important to us,” Baker said. “It also easily allows a teen to put aside spending money for something special or a fun time with friends without feeling guilty.”
13. Reward Kids for Saving Money
Steve Stewart of MoneyPlanSOS.com won the 5th Annual Plutus Award for the Best Debt-Focused Personal Finance Blog. Stewart said he likes to offer his kids a cash reward when they help him save money.
For example, “While eating at a sit-down restaurant, pay your children $1 for drinking water,” instead of a soda or juice, Stewart said. “Not only does this reduce the total of the bill and tip, it keeps the kids away from unnecessarily consuming sugar and provides them some spending money.”
Following this advice puts allowance funds to work saving you money and helps your kids learn about money management. By giving them the option between something they want now or a cash payoff, your kids can exercise their ability to evaluate a purchase and decide whether it’s worth it.
14. Pay With Cash for a Month
“For one month, make all your purchases in cash, avoiding credit cards at all costs,” is the savings advice from Andrew Fiebert, founder of ListenMoneyMatters.com and co-host of the podcast of the same name. ListenMoneyMatters.com won the Best New Personal Finance Blog at the 5th Annual Plutus Awards.
“Studies show you will be much more apprehensive of purchases you don’t need if you can actually feel the cash leaving your hands,” Fiebert said. “It’s often way too easy to swipe a card and walk out, so a great way to curb overspending is to put even the smallest barrier in between you and the purchase.”
15. Cut the Cable Cord
Tom Drake is the creator of CanadianFinanceBlog.com, which was awarded the Plutus Award for Best Canadian Personal Finance Blog. His advice for saving money is, “Spend less on cable.”
“Start by reviewing your bill,” Drake said. “Are you really watching all those premium channels? Have a look at services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime,” he said. “Using these subscriptions with a device like a Roku or a video game system that’s already in your house, it’s possible that you might be able to cancel your cable altogether.”
16. Put Savings First
“Make savings a priority,” said Brian Fourman, founder of Luke1428.com, which was awarded the Plutus for Best Religious Personal Finance Blog. “So many things vie for our hard-earned dollars that it’s easy to neglect setting something aside for savings,” said Fourman.
“In our monthly budget, my wife and I classify savings as an expense,” he said. “We put it at the top of the expense categories so it’s the first thing we see, thus becoming the first thing we end up doing with our paychecks.”