The alluring promise of actionable ways to save money keeps folks clicking away at finance articles claiming to know the secret.
Unfortunately, most of the tips presented in most articles are neither easy, convenient, or realistic.
They’ll tell you to downgrade your cell phone while ignoring the fact that most of use our data plans to search for jobs, navigate, and maintain our daily lives. They’ll offer to tell you to visit six different grocery stores in search of the lowest prices, pretending everyone has access to a vehicle and that gas is cheap.
Realistic Money-Saving Tips for Everyone
Saving money is hard.
Many families cut every corner possible and watch their hard-earned cash seep away due to rising inflation.
However, hard doesn’t mean impossible.
Here are some easy-to-implement money-saving tips, along with an approximation of how much money you can actually save. The monthly savings are based on a single person, which means families that use these tactics can save even more!
Dive in to start saving more today!
1. Buy Generic
Crafty marketers constantly sucker folks into buying name-brand products they don’t need.
Most generic products are comparable enough to their name-brand counterparts that you won’t notice a difference.
For example, name-brand cornflakes cost $5-6, but their generic counterparts only cost a few bucks. They taste exactly the same.
Here’s a short list of other items that are pretty much the same whether you buy generic or name-brand:
Milk, bread, eggs, sugar, flour, spices, canned goods, noodles, packaged mixes, frozen vegetables, pre-packaged deli items, peanut butter, crackers, and most cleaning supplies
Not all generic items are equal to their name-brand counterparts. Splurge on the few products that outshine their generic counterparts while switching out the things that don’t matter.
You can save between 50 cents and $2 per item by switching to generic. If you swap out just ten items on our weekly shopping list for the generic brand, you can save an average of $10 per week.
Approximate monthly savings: $40
2. Use the Rewards Card
Most grocery stores offer weekly deals you can only receive if you are a rewards club member. It is free and easy to sign up for.
Of course, it’s mostly a marketing ploy to collect your information, but we always give our data to companies for free, so does it matter if the grocery store gets it too?
You can save between $5 and $10 per trip by using a grocery store rewards card while grocery shopping.
Approximate monthly savings: $40
Bonus Tip – Get Cheaper Gass with the Rewards Card
Many grocery stores, like Giant and Kroger, link their rewards cards to their affiliated gas stations as an additional bonus.
You can get as much as eight cents off per gallon using rewards points, which is enormous savings when filling up!
3. Chop Your Fruits & Veggies
Chopping veggies is time-consuming. Buying processed carrot mush (baby carrots) is more manageable than peeling and cutting fresh carrots. However, a bag of fresh carrots costs about a dollar, while a pack of processed carrot mush costs over three bucks. Fresh carrots taste better too.
Other pre-cut fruits and veggies aren’t as gross, but you still pay for all that processing. If you buy carrots, green peppers, pineapples, and apples every week, you are looking at an extra $5 to $10 per week for pre-cut foods!
Approximate Monthly Savings: $40
4. Sack Lunch It
Every article about saving money tells you to bring a bag lunch, but let’s break down the cost savings.
If you bring a sandwich, some chips, a snack cake, and cut vegetables for lunch, your total weekly lunch cost will be about $15.
The sandwich has bread (two bucks a week for generic wheat bread at Walmart), Meat (pre-packaged turkey for $4), cheese ($3 for ten slices, which lasts me two weeks, so $1.50 a week), and mayo (the jar is $5, and lasts a little over a month; so let’s call it $1 per week).
Chips cost $5 for a big bag that lasts the week, and the veggies or snack cakes are usually around $2.
Added together, the total weekly cost for lunch is approximately $15.
Sometimes it’s even cheaper because if you have any leftovers from dinner the night before, you can pack that for lunch.
If, instead, you eat out five days per week at a daily cost of $20, you will be spending approximately $100 on lunch weekly.
Approximate monthly savings: $340
Drinking coffee at home is in every advice article you read.
However, I have a better suggestion than giving up coffee (not likely) or making it at home (too much work too early in the morning).
Invest in a Keurig.
It takes about 10 seconds to make a fresh cup of coffee each morning. The K-Cups are not very expensive; you can get an 80-pack for over 40 bucks on Amazon, which amounts to about 50 cents per cup.
If you want more flavorful coffee, buy one bottle of creamer per week for $2 and a bag of sugar every 3-4 weeks for $4, which amounts to about $1 per week. Even with those expenses, your total weekly coffee costs will be about $5.5, which you can spend in a single day at Starbucks!
Assuming you buy a cheaper option at the coffee shop and only pay $3 daily, you can save about $10 weekly.
K-cups are horrible for the environment. Opt for the compostable kind to get the money-saving convenience with less environmental impact
Approximate monthly savings: $40
6. Cut Out Pop:
Everyone loves pop – it’s cold, tasty, and refreshing but completely unnecessary. It is terrible for your teeth and packs on calories.
Pop also stealthily robs your bank account. A six-pack of name-brand soda costs about $5, so If you drink 2-3 cans daily, you will pay approximately $15 per week.
Water is free, healthier, and honestly, it is much more refreshing.
Approximate monthly savings: $60
7. Stop Smoking
Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but we’d be remiss to leave it off the list. If you smoke a pack a day, cigarettes will cost you nearly $50 per week, considering the average price of $7.14/pack.
The monthly savings don’t consider the numerous health benefits and reduced healthcare costs.
Approximate monthly savings: $400
8. Cut Cable
I thought I could never live without cable but guess what? I ditched cable years ago, and I haven’t missed it.
I was paying $100 monthly to watch two shows. I can wait for the episodes to appear on Netflix to save that much money.
You can save more or less, depending on what cable company and plan you are currently on, but the average cable TV plan in the US is $83.
Approximate monthly savings: $83
9. Skip the Appetizers, or Order One as your Meal
Appetizers at most restaurants cost about the same amount as a regular meal. In addition, they have enough calories actually to be a complete meal.
Ordering an appetizer and an entrée is terrible for your belt line and pocketbook.
If you must have the appetizer, ask for it as your main dish. If you eat out once a week, this could save you approximately $20 per week.
Approximate monthly savings: $80
10. Drink Water at Restaurants
Alcoholic beverages have outrageous markups at restaurants. Why do you think waitstaff always asks you if they can get you anything from the bar? They are trained to try to sell alcoholic beverages.
If you must have a drink, have a beer at home before going to the restaurant, and stick to water once you are there.
You can save money by opting for water over non-alcoholic drinks as well.
Switch to water when you eat out.
Assuming restaurants charge $2-3 for a glass of soda and you eat out once weekly, you save $2 per week. It’s not a lot, but in this economy, every little bit helps.
Approximate monthly savings: $24
|Money Saving Tip||Approx. Monthly Savings|
|Using Rewards Cards||40|
|Chop your own veggies||40|
Bringing a Sack Lunch
|Using a Coffee Maker||40|
|Giving up Pop||40|
|Skipping the Appetizer||80|
All these changes add up to $1127 per month. That is a lot of extra money and proof that minor cuts can add up.
Even if you can only follow half of these tips, you can save about $500 monthly. And, remember, this is for a single person. A family who utilizes these tips can save even more!
Some of these may be harder for you than others, but surely each person can make small sacrifices and follow a few.
But if that’s not enough, here are three bonus tips we couldn’t calculate savings on that will help you save even more!
Bonus Tip: Appliances
Ensure you fill your dishwasher and washer for every load. Wash your clothes in cold water, and choose the energy-saving cycles on all utilities.
I cannot begin calculating the savings based on water and electricity usage, but every little bit helps.
Bonus Tip: Utilities
Save money on heating by turning the thermostat down and insulating your windows. You can save money on electrical bills by turning off lights and unplugging power cords when items aren’t in use (toasters, cell phone chargers, consoles, etc.).
Bonus Tip For the Ladies
One bonus money-saving tip that only applies to women is buying men’s products. The pink tax is genuine. Everything women’s, from soap to razors to clothing, is more expensive.
You can save money by not playing their game and purchasing the same thing in the men’s section for less.
What Should I Do With All These Savings?
If you still need an emergency fund, the first thing to do is start building it. These tips can help you finish your $1000 challenge in just a few months!
If you have an emergency fund, use these savings to pay off debt, especially stuff with a high-interest rate like credit card debt and student loan debt. When this is done, start saving for your financial goals.
The best use of extra cash is personal. Use the triangle approach to determine what’s right for you.
But first, you need the extra money. Use these tips and see how much you can save each month!
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.