Saving cash takes both time and discipline in order to be successful. Wise Bread shares 101 ways you can start saving cash right at home.
With some common sense tips and some not-so-obvious suggestions, there are many ways you can save a pretty penny around the house. Here's over a hundred ways you can start saving anything from a few cents to thousands of dollars today.
- Shop at the Right Time of the Year
Time home item purchases to get the cheapest prices. Think furniture in January/February, barbecues in fall, and holiday decor after Christmas. See Wise Bread's shopping calendar to find the best times to buy (and stay tuned for our monthly "What to Buy" feature, which runs on or around the first of every month).
- Renegotiate Your Rent or Refinance Your Mortgage
Try negotiating a lower rent the next time your lease is up for renewal. For homeowners, investigate refinancing your mortgage if you can save a couple of percentage points on your interest rate.
- Get a Sunday Paper Delivery
Sunday papers are full of coupons. The amount of savings gained from using these food and retailer coupons will far exceed the cost of the paper.
- Collect Spare Change
Keep a jar to collect loose change. Don't forget to check old junk drawers and the couch for coins, too. Every few months you can dump the change in your supermarket's Coinstar machine to use towards groceries. You'll pay no fees if you convert your coins to a variety of gift cards, including Amazon gift cards, where you can take advantage of Prime and Subscribe and Save.
- Switch to Cloth Napkins
You can get good-enough-for-everyday and still much nicer than paper, all-cotton table napkins at Amazon and elsewhere, in a variety of colors and patterns, for a couple of dollars each, and sometimes less. Since they're cotton instead of linen, just wash and fold, no ironing required!
- Dollar Store Household Items
Get to know your local dollar stores. Buying household staples like tape, wrapping paper, soap, and other items will save you a bundle over the grocery store or pharmacy.
- Relax for Less
Rather than pay for relaxation, find other cheaper ways to unwind. Try meditation, reading, napping, or an affordable hobby instead of old habits that cost more, like shopping online or mixing up expensive cocktails.
- Grow Some Herbs
Herbs can easily be grown indoors on a small windowsill or outside in pots or gardens. They will help you save on buying expensive grocery store jars of seasonings, will taste fresher, and can be easily dried and stored.
- View Coupons as Money
When you realize a $10 coupon for something you need is the same as someone giving you $10 in cash towards your purchase, you'll start to see the value of coupons and savings in a whole new way.
- Close Closet Doors
Help keep your energy costs lower by closing closet doors so you aren't needlessly heating and cooling closet space.
- Pay Your Bills Online
Not only will this save you stamps and checks, but the many email reminders and ease of paying online will help you never miss a bill and have to pay a late charge.
- Use Supermarket Weekly Circulars
Don't just throw out that weekly grocery store circular. Give them a good look and plan to strategically shop the many deals they have, or stock up on deeply discounted items when bargains arise.
- Entertain Over Brunch Instead of Dinner
Brunch items are often cheaper to prepare than dinner for guests (think French toast vs. expensive steaks). You'll also save on alcohol, as people are less likely to drink as much.
- Make a Household Budget
It's time to sit down and do a budget to trim the fat, see where your hidden expenses are, and examine where your dollars are going. You can learn to build a budget in no time flat, or tune up one you currently have.
- Make Your Own Cheap Wall Art
Affordable wall decor is at your fingertips when you transform some of your favorite photos into a collage of cool black and whites, frame beautiful fabric scraps, utilize your kid's artwork, or paint your own scenes.
- Take Free Classes
Free or discounted continuing education classes in many subjects and hobbies can be found in certain communities with just a little searching. Instead of paying for a private tutor or a fancy school, consider looking for community options.
- Organize and Use Your Pantry
Keeping a well-organized food pantry means you are less likely to buy things you don't need or let items go passed their expiration dates. Like a good episode of Food Network's "Chopped," you should also make sure to use all items in your pantry, too.
- Always Check for Online Coupons and Discounts
Before you purchase anything online, hit up sites, like RetailMeNot and Froogle, to check for promo codes, free shipping, and where to find your item at the cheapest price.
- Make Your Own Drapes
If you've ever seen how much curtains can go for these days, you'll understand why making your own is a huge saver. You don't even need to know how to sew if you follow some easy no-sew drape tutorials.
- Use Free Designers and Advice
Take advantage of many retailers' in-house design teams. Furniture stores often offer free design consultants, paint stores always have some knowledgeable advice, and even certain clothing retailers have free stylists to help you shop.
- Drink Discount Wines
Shop your local wine store for great promotions and sales. Most decent stores have a section of their favorite budget picks or advertise weekly promotions from new wineries.
- Use Energy Efficient Lighting
Now that the old-fashioned incandescent bulbs are being phased-out, finding affordable CFL and LED bulb options is getting easier. The total lifetime savings from these energy-efficient bulbs will greatly out-weigh their initial investment and save on overall energy costs.
- Be Your Own Barista
We all know how much coffee shops can cost, so brew your own at home and take a to-go mug with you in the morning. Invest in small hand-frothers, syrups, or just use cinnamon or other common flavorings to fancy things up.
- Join Store Loyalty Programs
Supermarkets, pharmacies, and retailers all offer loyalty cards these days. The points and savings really add up. You can save almost 25% or more off purchases just by being part of the program.
- Find Cheaper Gas
Before you head out to the pump, check gas price sites, like Gas Buddy, to locate the cheapest gas in town and plan accordingly.
- Make Your Own Cleaners
There are so many ways to make your own cleaning products using things like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and other common household items, all of which are cheaper than brand name cleaners.
- Divide Landscaping Plants and Use Transplants
When planning your outdoor landscape, look to friends or relatives that have extra plants you can to transplant in your garden. Or divide your own larger plantings and spread them around the yard.
- Rethink Your Cable
Cut back on premium channels or try the many alternative, cheaper online viewing options, such as Netflix and Hulu+, which you can access via your laptop or connected devices like Google Chromecast and Apple TV, among others.
- Buy in Season or Frozen Veggies
Avoid pricey out-of-season fruits and vegetables or exotic fresh picks at your grocery store and instead buy local, in-season options. Frozen is also cheaper and just as full of nutrients.
- Buy Generic
There are great savings to be had with certain generic brands in every supermarket. Often the generic options are just as good, if not better, than some of their pricier brand name counterparts. In fact, many store or "private label" brands are manufactured by the same companies that make the name brands.
- Cash Back Reward Cards
If you must use credit, make sure you are getting cash back rewards on your card. Credit card companies are super competitive, so if your card is not giving you benefits, there is definitely one that will (just make sure to check the APR).
- Pack Your Lunch
Sure it might seem easier to grab lunch while out, but brown bagging can save you a lot of cash each week. It's also especially helpful for those who just can't step out of the office or need more willpower to stick with a healthy lunch.
- Cancel Certain Memberships
Got a credit card with an annual fee, a rarely used gym membership, or a club you pay for but don't access? Time to cut it out and get rid of the extra cost that's not worth the reward.
- Stop Buying Bottled Water
Install a sink filter or get a Brita filter or other similar unit. It will save lots of dollars over the lifetime of use and is better for the environment than bottled.
- Repurpose Instead of Buying New
Transform old items to make instant new decor. Ideas include recovering old chairs, updating cabinet hardware, repainting furniture, and using old bottles as shelf decor.
- Recycle for Cash
There are many programs out there, like Recyclebank, which work with your waste hauler to give rewards for regular recycling. Such benefits include earning coupons for your favorite restaurants, supermarket gift certificates, and free magazines. You can also "recycle" old electronics for cash through sites like uSell, Gazelle, and NextWorth.
- Curb the Takeout
Cooking at home, rather than ordering that all-too-easy take-out, really will help you save. If you're spending about $10 on average per person with your takeout, that can easily equate to several (or more) home-cooked meals per week.
- Use Public Transportation
If you live in the city you know the difference of a subway ride vs. paying for a cab. Even if you live out in the burbs, public rails can save a bundle on commutes.
- Start Using Rechargeable Batteries
If you burn through batteries frequently, then it's time to make the switch to rechargeable. You'll end up saving in the long run by ditching the disposables.
- Smart At-Home Printing
Always turn off the color cartridge if you don't need it. Print only necessary pages at home and try printing at work (non-sensitive docs of course) to save money on expensive ink cartridges and paper.
- Wash Clothes in Cold Water
Most detergents work just as well in cold water as they do in hot. Save energy costs and switch to cold when you can.
- Change/Clean Your Filters
This goes for everything from changing your HVAC filters to cleaning your dryer screens to cleaning your dishwasher filter. Keeping screens clean or replacing them on schedule will help appliances run more efficiently and economically.
- Dry-Clean Less
Find ways to hand wash items yourself, or try Dryel or other in-home dry-cleaning kits to save big on professional dry-cleaning.
- Buy Cookware at Discount Home Stores
You don't need a high-end retailer selling $300 Dutch ovens and skillets. Try places like HomeGoods or other discounters where you can find pots, pans, and other cookware from well-known brands for 60% off or more.
- Use Takeout Coupons
If you must order out, take advantage of coupons. Chain restaurants often have online offers and coupons, while local establishments usually send out mailers or have weekly savings ads.
- Get Rid of Clutter
Tidying up can make you see what you have, rediscover old items to put to good use, and make sure you don't buy duplicates.
- Turn Off the Lights
You've heard it before, but making sure you are diligent about turning off the lights when not in use can really help keep energy costs down.
- Make Your Own Gifts
There are so many items you can make cheaply and give as gifts. Things as simple as personalized picture frames to more complex knitting, sewing, or painting projects can save a bundle.
- Cook Cheap Recipes
Get a collection of yummy economical recipes to cook up, which utilize low-cost ingredients and help your wallet.
- Reuse Containers
Don't pay for organization and storage when you can reuse many common kitchen containers in drawers, closets, and around the house.
- Use Solar Lights
Use inexpensive solar lights for your landscape or front walk instead of getting expensive professionally wired options.
- Install Window Coverings
Window treatments not only maintain privacy, but they help keep energy costs at bay. Blinds, shutters, and thermal curtains are all great options to get the job done.
- Get a Better Cell/Data Plan
Check your cell and data usage and make sure your plan is in line with your needs. Be sure you're not going over your limits, or if you usually only have minimal usage, adjust your plan and save.
- Start a Vegetable Garden
Your own vegetable garden is a great way to bring some cheap, organic food into the house, not to mention it can be a fun hobby.
- Do Your Own Nails
Skip your regular salon visits by doing your own nails to save a small fortune. Or, limit your visits to once a month and do your own touch-ups between visits.
- Buy Certain Things in Bulk
Check the per unit price at warehouse clubs and supermarkets to get the best deals per unit when buying in bulk. Avoid buying fresh items and dairy in bulk unless you intend to use them immediately.
- Lower Your Heat or Turn Down Your AC
It's no mystery that keeping your thermostat in check will help save money. It is estimated that you can save 1% for every degree you adjust up or down.
- Entertain at Home
Skipping restaurants and dining at home is a great way to save on your entertainment spend. Utilize the chance for outdoor dining and barbecues in the warmer weather and cozy indoor dinners in the wintertime.
- Cheaper Curb Appeal
Gather large rocks to make your own free edging, shop discount stores for cheap front door pottery choices, and arrange your own planters instead of paying for expensive premade garden center arrangements.
- Recycle Wrapping Paper
Don't waste money on wrapping paper when you can reuse perfectly good paper from a recent present, or find other creative ways to save on wrapping paper for your gift giving.
- Make Your Own Beauty Products
Like making your own cleaning products, beauty products can also be made from many common pantry and food items. Learn some great homemade beauty product recipes using things like avocados, oatmeal, and honey.
- Stick to Shopping Lists
Always make a list and stick to it when setting out for the grocery store, mall, or online shopping. You are less likely to make random buys when something is not on your list.
- Skip Storage Units
Sort through your belongings and keep what is most essential to forgo the expense of renting a storage unit. Or, find better ways around the house to use storage or lend things out to friends.
- Shop Around Contractor Quotes
Make sure to shop around and compare quotes when getting work done. Also ask about any hidden fees or potential overages that could come up.
- Plug Electronics Into Power Strips
Standby energy drain is estimated to cost U.S. households $100 per year. Reduce your standby power loads by keeping all electronics plugged into a power strip so that you can easily turn the strip off when not in use to ensure your power is truly off.
- Shop Resellers for Designer Items
There are a slew of consignment clothing resellers, like Tradesy, Poshmark, and Threadflip, where you can find a huge inventory of gently used designer clothing for a fraction of the cost of buying new.
- Lower Your Credit Card Rates
Call your credit card companies and ask for a lower rate. Often, card issuers will be willing to work with you, especially if you mention other lower rate competitors.
- Run Full Loads of Wash or Dishes
You can save significant amounts of water and energy by running full loads of clothes in your washing machine or dishes in your dishwasher.
- Pay January's Mortgage Payment Early
You can cut your taxes with an early January mortgage payment. Paying your January mortgage bill in December allows you to count the interest towards this year's tax deduction.
- Plan Family Get-Togethers
Skip the cost of a babysitter and plan to have guests over with all the kids involved. Or, find some family-friendly social outings to get you all out of the house and entertained.
- Keep Your Freezer Full
A full freezer runs more efficiently and takes less energy to keep things frozen. You can also place water bottles or plastic bags full of water in empty spots to get the same effect.
- Print Coupons Online
Spend a few minutes printing out some valuable coupons and learning about freebies and deals at all kinds of stores in your area. Great sites include The Krazy Coupon Lady and She Saved.
- Use Ceiling Fans
Using your ceiling fan can help save a good amount on cooling and heating costs. There are many ways ceiling fans save on energy, including reversing them in winter to keep warm air in the room.
- Adjust Your Water Heater
Lowering your water heater down to a setting of 120 degrees can help save energy costs. It is estimated that you can save up to $30 annually for every 10-degree reduction.
- Learn to Mend Your Clothes
You don't need to be a professional tailor, but learning how to make common repairs, like small holes, buttons, and hems, can save you a bundle.
- Let Discount Stores Be Your Friend
Discount shopping has come a long way, and many great brands are taking part. Hit up places like TJ Maxx and Marshalls for some fantastic deals.
- Skip Online Photo Books
Online photo books cost a small fortune, not to mention take a lot of time to make. Make it a habit to get the old fashioned prints at a fraction of the cost and buy cheap albums to place them in yourself.
- Weather Strip Doors and Windows
Inexpensive weather stripping on doors and windows can save you on energy costs. Or, try a simple DIY door draft stopper, or buy a decorative one for a few bucks.
- Save on Kid Entertainment
Don't pay big on entertaining the kids, when there are plenty of cheap activities they will also love. Renting DVDs, baking together, playing outside, playing board games, and doing arts and crafts all cost less than expensive game centers, movie theaters, and restaurants.
- Plant Perennials
Invest in perennials that keep blooming year after year instead of burning money on annuals that get you through only one season.
- Tune up Your HVAC regularly
In addition to changing filters, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and help your equipment last longer.
- Donate Gently Used Stuff
Don't be lazy and throw it away when someone in need could really use your item. Besides, you can get a tax deduction from reputable organizations.
- Eat Leftovers
Don't let leftovers sit in the fridge only to hit the trash. Learn to spruce up leftovers to stretch your dollar and make your weekly cooking even easier.
- Be Smart About Organic
Prioritize your organic food shopping and limit pricey organic buys to those of the "Dirty Dozen," which are the produce most prone to contamination and worth buying organic.
- Keep a Good Closet
Invest in clothes you will actually wear often and keep them organized. This will help you feel less like you have nothing to wear when you discover new combos or an old item you forgot you had.
- Warehouse Club Hidden Benefits
Besides some of well-known savings available at warehouse clubs, don't forget to use some of their other benefits, such as deeply discounted gas, tires, discounts on car rentals and travel, and other less-obvious benefits.
- Bundle Your Communications
Check out the many triple play offers for your home internet, phone, and cable services. You can often save a good amount by bundling such items, and many providers will reward your customer loyalty with a further good bundle deal.
- Do Your Own Painting
If you have some walls to paint, skip the professional and DIY the job to save. You can also have a painting party if there are lots of rooms to paint. There are plenty of tutorials about how to properly paint, or go to a local paint store for advice.
- Monitor Splurges
We all need a treat here and there, but keeping a close eye on how many splurge buys you make is critical to saving money. Set an allowance for yourself or keep a reward goal in mind, rather than making unplanned splurges.
- Use Free Apps
Limit pricey apps and use only the essentials. Make sure your kids' games are the free kinds too as they can really add up.
- Strategically Shop Sale and Clearance Sections
Head to the sale and clearance section first, before you even begin your regular shopping to see if you can snag what you are looking for at a discount. Don't forget to do the same when online shopping.
- Do Certain Repairs Yourself
Learn how to do basic maintenance around the house, so you don't have to always call a plumber or handyman to get the job done. However, be sure to leave any potentially dangerous or important items to an experienced professional.
- Cut Down on Designer Kids Clothes
While it's tempting to buy all those super cute designer baby clothes, keep in mind that babies and toddlers outgrow their clothes in a matter of months. And, young kids tend to get holes, stains, and wear clothes down easily. Skip the pricey brands and opt for more economical, but still cute, options.
- Stock Up on Cheap Gifts
Birthdays, holidays, housewarmings, new babies, and the list goes on. Don't purchase last minute convenience gifts. When you find a great buy, stock up on a few so you are prepared for the future and save.
- Use Air Purifying House Plants
Buy an affordable air purifying houseplant and skip the need for an expensive air purifier.
- Skip Designer Decor
You can often find great deals on Etsy or at local craft shows for one-of-a-kind art pieces and unique decor. Such buys will save you big time over expensive designer items and boutique stores.
- Cheap Flowers
Use your own fresh cut flowers from the garden, or buy nice bouquets in supermarket floral areas instead of purchasing stems from pricey florists.
- Rent a Dress
For the ladies attending big fancy events, think about renting your dress instead of buying an expensive option that you might only wear once or twice. Check out sites like Rent the Runway to find some great options.
- Contribute Monthly to Your Savings Account
Make it a point to add a dedicated amount to your savings at the end of each month. Even if it's just a few dollars, the savings can add up and it will keep you from spending it frivolously.
- Make Your Own Flavored Beverages
Save money on expensive bottled drinks and use a pitcher of regular water or basic seltzer and flavor with slices of lemons, oranges, cucumbers, or berries.
- Don't Keep Up With the Joneses
Don't just spend because you want to be the one with the best gadget or are trying to outdo the neighborhood. Make sure your spending is not just for the sake of appearance, but instead is for things that truly matter.
Whew! Anything I've missed? Please share your best household money-saving tips in comments!