Real Money Saving Tips for Real People
I’ve read tons personal finance articles, many of which promise easy tips on how to save money every month. The problem is, most of these so called “tips” aren’t very easy or convenient. For example, one of the most widely touted “money saving tips” is to downgrade your cell phone. Ditch the minutes and the dates plan! Be happy with a bare bones basic phone- It’s so easy!
That’s not very realistic though. Granted, we don’t need to be connected to everything at every time, but it sure is convenient. It’s also way easier to apply for jobs and follow up if you have access to your email on your cell phone.
I also hate the one about driving to 6 different stores to get the best deals on each item. How is that easy? And after you factor in the gas and your wasted time, is it really saving you money?
So instead, here’s a list of money saving tips you can do that are way easier and way more realistic (for the most part). Keep in mind, all of the total monthly savings amounts are based on a single person. Making these changes for multiple people will lead to even greater savings!
Money Saving Tips for the Grocery Store
I know we already covered how to save money at the grocery store, but I can’t leave it off of a post on how to save money! So I’m just going to list my three favorites from that post here, and if you want more tips on how to save on groceries, head over to “10 Great Ways to Save Money on Groceries”
1. Buy Generic
This is my all time favorite money saving tip. People get suckered into buying the name brand way too often. Gotta give those crafty marketers credit, they are good at what they do! But most generic products are exactly the same as their name brand counterparts. I can buy brand name corn flakes for $4, or I can buy the store brand for 99 cents. They taste exactly the same. Other items that are pretty much the same:
milk, bread, eggs, sugar, flour, spices, canned goods, noodles, packaged mixes, frozen vegetables, pre-packaged deli items, peanut butter, crackers, and most cleaning supplies.
I agree that not everything is the same though! I dedicated an entire blog post to things I won’t buy generic, so I understand that not all things are created equally. However, even swapping out just a few items per week can save you money. You can save between 50 cents and $2 per item by switching to generic. If you swap out just 10 items on our weekly shopping list for the generic brand, you can save an average of $10 per week.
Total monthly savings: $40
2. Use the Rewards Card
Most grocery stores offer weekly deals that you can only receive if you are a member of their rewards club. It is free and easy to sign up for, so I never understood why someone would pass this up. I mean, I get that it’s just a marketing ploy to collect your information, but I give that up to Facebook for free, so what do I care if Giant gets it? I can usually save between $5 and $10 per trip just by using this card.
Total monthly savings: $40
3. Chop Your Own Fruits & Veggies
Yes, I know its time consuming. Its way easier to buy processed carrot mush (baby carrots) than it is to peel and cut fresh carrots. But a bag of fresh carrots costs only fifty cents, and a bag of processed carrot mush costs over two bucks. I’d much rather go with fresh carrots.
Other pre-cut fruits and veggies aren’t as gross, but you’re still paying for all that processing. Sure it’s convenient, but I’d rather save money and spend twenty minutes cutting my own veggies. If you buy carrots, green peppers, pineapples, and apples every week, you are looking at an extra $5 and $10 per week for pre-cut foods!
Total Monthly Savings: $40
Money Saving Tips for Work
4. Sack Lunch It
Ok, so pretty much every single article about how to save money includes this tip. However, I will break down the cost for you:
Everyday for lunch, I have a sandwich, a little baggie of chips, and maybe a snack cake or cut veggies. The sandwich has bread (99 cents a week for a loaf of wheat bread at Walmart), Meat (pre-packaged turkey for $3), cheese ($3 for 10 slices, which lasts me two weeks; so $1.50 a week) and mayo (the jar is $5, and lasts me a little over a month; so let’s call it $1 per week). The chips cost $4 for a big bag that lasts me the week, and the veggies or snack cakes are usually around $2. The total cost for my lunches for the week: $8.5
Now let us assume that you eat out 5 days a week, at a cost of $10 per day. Weekly cost: $50
Total monthly savings: $166
Yes, this one is in every advice article too. However, I have a better suggestion than either 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; I can get an 80 pack for a little over 40 bucks on Amazon, so it’s about 50 cents per cup. I also 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. My total weekly coffee costs are about $5.5. I can spend that much at Starbucks in one day! But assuming you buy a cheaper option at the coffee shop and only spend $3 per day, you are still saving about $10 a week.
Oh, and I know that K-cups are horrible for the environment. That’s why I only buy the compostable kind! And I still save money on my daily coffee!
Total monthly savings: $40
Money Saving Tips for Home
6. Cut out the pop
Yes, it does sound like a sacrifice. Everyone loves pop. Its cold, its tasty, its refreshing, but it really isn’t necessary. It is bad for your teeth, and it packs on the calories. It also stealthily robs your bank account. A 6 pack of name brand pop costs about $3. Most people who drink it tend to drink 2-3 cans per day. This can be up to $9 per week. Water is free, healthier, and honestly it is much more refreshing.
Total monthly savings: $36
7. Stop Smoking
Yet another one that appears on every list. I know this one cannot be considered easy, but I couldn’t pass it up. Everyone knows the long-term health risks associated with smoking, and there have been numerous articles that showcase the cost. But in case you didn’t see those, assuming you smoke a pack a day, cigarettes will cost you $28 per week assuming the average price of $4/pack.
Total monthly savings: $102
8. Cut Cable
I used to love cable. I thought I would never be able to live without it. But guess what? I cut my cable cord almost a year ago, and I haven’t missed it. I was paying an extra $100 per month to watch two freaking shows. How stupid is that? I can wait for the episodes to appear on Netflix for that! You may be able to save more or less, depending on what cable company and plan you are currently on, but it is definitely something that’s worth looking into to!
Total monthly savings: $100
I will also add here to make sure that you fill your dishwasher and washer for every load. I cannot begin to calculate the savings based on water and electricity usage (I like math, but not that much!), but every little bit helps.
Money Saving Tips At the Restaurant
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 to actually be a full meal. Ordering both an appetizer and an entree is bad for both your belt line and your pocket book. If you absolutely must have the appetizer, ask for it as your main dish. If you eat out once a week, this could save you $10 per week.
Total monthly savings: $40
10. Drink Water
Alcoholic beverages are the items with the highest mark-up 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. In addition, pop and other non-alcoholic drinks are also incredibly marked up. They charge you $2-3 for about 12 ounces. Isn’t a can still about 50 cents in the machine? If you switch from pop to water during your one dinner a week you will save $2 per week (not a lot, but every little bit counts). If you like to drink at a restaurant, but switch to water, you can save about $10 on your weekly bill.
Total monthly savings: $8-$40 (average of $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||36|
|Skipping the Appetizer||40|
$628 a month!!! That is a lot of extra money. Even if you can only follow half of these tips, that is still $300 per month!! And like I said in the beginning, 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 a few tiny sacrifices and follow a few of these. Good Luck!
What are you favorite money saving tips? How much does it save you every month? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.