Money Saving Tips – 25 Actionable Ways to Save Money

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Save Money on Food
This is a list of common things my wife and I do to save money on a regular basis. Luckily, we are both frugal by nature and we actually do most of these things without needing to discuss it much. These tips can be used by almost anyone, and more importantly, they don’t force you…

This is a list of common things my wife and I do to save money on a regular basis. Luckily, we are both frugal by nature and we actually do most of these things without needing to discuss it much.

These tips can be used by almost anyone, and more importantly, they don’t force you to make radical changes to your lifestyle.

With a few small changes, it’s very easy to use these money saving tips:

Be a Savvy Money Manager

Money Saving Tips

How you manage your money can have a big impact on your bottom line.

Simple changes like making your savings automatic, using a free online checking account, keeping your savings in a high yield savings account, and avoiding ATM fees can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

There are some options out there to actually make money when you sign up for an online checking account such as Chase Free Checking. More importantly, these changes are quick and easy to make, and don’t cost you anything!

1. Make it automatic. Before I see my paycheck, a good portion of it is diverted to my online savings account and retirement savings. This forces me to save money automatically without taking any additional action on my part. This is important because it reduces the temptation to spend it, and reduces the barrier of having to “actively” save.

This is especially crucial when you have lots of stuff you’re saving up for, because a depletion of your savings means you’ll have to decide what you’ll spend on, and what you’ll have to forego, at a later date. Delay gratification now and you won’t have to delay a purchase later.

Action item: Enroll in your company 401(k) plan if you have one, and make an automatic payroll contribution with each paycheck. Start small if you need to – you probably won’t even notice a big difference in your take home pay. If you don’t have a 401(k) plan, open a Roth IRA.

2. Don’t pay banking fees! I use my bank for automatic deposits, free bill pay, free checks, and free reimbursements for all ATM fees. I won’t pay for any of those services. (I bank with USAA, which offers all of these features and more).

Here are some recommendations for other great online banks that don’t charge many fees:

Action item: Check to see how many fees your bank is charging you and how much you earn in interest. Change banks if necessary.

3. Use rewards credit cards. If you are a responsible credit card user, then you should absolutely use a cash back credit card for all your purchases. I get cash back on every purchase and I pay the card off every month so I don’t pay any interest fees. I only recommend credit cards if you have no current credit card debt, and can afford to pay the balance every month! If you don’t want to use credit cards, then consider using a cash rewards debit card. The best on the market is the debit card from PerkStreet Financial. If you are a savvy credit card user, consider saving more money by using specific credit cards based on the type of purchase.

Here are some good examples:

Action item: Use rewards credit cards or debit cards wisely and reap the rewards!

4. Track your spending and investments. It’s essential to know where your money is going so you can manage it efficiently. We use a free money management tool to track our savings and investments and make updates to our financial accounts when things get out of balance. This is a great way to track all your income and expenses.

Action item. Sign up for a free online money management tool to help track your expenses. One of my favorite tools is Personal Capital.

buy enough insurance!5. Buy insurance. Health insurance, home owner’s insurance, auto insurance, and other types of insurance are designed to save you money! Sure, you may end up paying premiums for years and never file a claim, but in the event you need to file a claim, your premium will likely be small compared to what you would have had to pay. You’ll be very happy if you ever need it!

Action item: Make sure you have the appropriate amounts of insurance to protect you and your family.

6. Avoid debt and put your money to work for you. We have a mortgage, which we don’t mind because we would either have a mortgage or pay rent. But we are free of any student loans or consumer debt including credit cards, automobiles, home equity line of credit, or anything else.

This means we pay very little interest and are able to make more of our money work for us instead of work for someone else. And that’s the whole point of saving money, isn’t it? 😉

Action item: Make getting out of debt a priority by aggressively paying it down or transferring it to a 0% balance transfer credit card so you can eliminate it more quickly.

Save Money Around Your Home

After making small changes to how you manage your money, the biggest way to save money every day is by making small changes around your home. These small changes usually don’t take much effort, but can save your hundreds of dollars a year in recurring energy costs for things like utilities and energy.

Do you need cable TV?7. Examine your cable TV needs. You can save a lot of money by bundling these items with the same provider rather than purchasing them separately. But you may also find that you can do without some of these items. For example, my wife and I dropped cable TV two years ago, and haven’t looked back. We use cable TV alternatives such as over the air network television, streaming video, and DVDs.

Action item: Examine your needs and don’t be afraid to cancel service if you don’t feel you are getting good value for it. You will be surprised at how easy it is to live without cable TV and other luxuries. Even simply cutting a premium channel or service from your cable subscription can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Related Cable Articles:

8. Examine your telephone and cell phone needs. You may also find that you can do without a landline. My wife and I have used our cell phones exclusively for over six years without any problems.

I only recently had a landline installed for my business, be still use our cell phones exclusively for our personal calls. On the flip side, don’t be afraid to cancel or downgrade your cell phone plan if you don’t use it enough.

Action item: Examine your needs and dropping your landline if you don’t need it. You can also downgrade or cancel your cell phone service if you aren’t using all the features. Here are some tips to save money on your cell phone bill, and how to cancel your cell phone without paying early termination fees.

Related Telephone and Cell Phone Articles:

9. Use a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats save you an estimated 10-20% on your heating and cooling bills. When we aren’t home, or we are sleeping, our house is quite a bit warmer or cooler, depending on the season. We save a substantial amount on our utilities compared to many of our neighbors!

Action item: Buy and install a programmable thermostat if you don’t have one already, and use it!

10. Use ceiling fans, floor fans, and space heaters. My wife and I program the thermostat to go to the upper-50s at night during the winter. Why so cold? Because we close the door to our room and use a space heater for heat. There is no sense heating an entire house while we sleep. We also use ceiling fans and floor fans to assist with heating and cooling – depending on the season of course! In our computer room, we use an air vent booster to increase air flow. These are easy ways to save money on heating costs.

Action item: Try using space heaters, fans, extra blankets, or other means of reducing your energy costs. You will be surprised how much you can save and still remain comfortable.

11. Install CFLs to save energy. Compact fluorescent lights use about a quarter of the electricity of normal incandescent bulbs. They also need replaced much less often – often lasting five years or longer. LED lighting has become popular recently and the bulbs use even less energy than CFLs. However, the bulbs are still very expensive, and we haven’t made the switch yet.

Action item: Install a few CFLs in the rooms you use most frequently. You will start seeing small savings almost immediately.

Be a Smart Consumer

Save money by searching for deals!

The Internet has been the great equalizer when it comes to researching major purchases and saving money. But you can also save a lot of money on everyday purchases you make at your local grocery store. Here are some ways we save money on almost everything we buy:

12. Use coupons and rebates. We use coupons for oil changes, groceries, books, online purchases, and just about anything else we can find. Don’t waste your money on consumables where you can either reuse or avoid a purchase, like bottled water, for example, where a tumbler and any water fountain will yield the same result at an infinitely decreasing cost.

You can even find coupons on the back of receipts. There are several great websites that offer users cash back or rebates on virtually every online purchase (this is on top of the savings you can get with your credit card!).

Some examples include of these free online rebates companies include:

Action Item: Join Ebates, Mr. Rebates, or similar companies and earn cash back on virtually all online purchases when you shop through their portal. Remember, a penny saved is actually worth even more than a penny earned!

13. Actively search out deals. It never hurts to try and find a better deal, or request a better deal from your service providers. For example, I saved $1,000 by making two phone calls – one to my cable TV provider a few years ago, and another when I challenged my property taxes. I also actively search other deals that can net me free money through bank sign up bonuses and other referral offers.

Action item: Call your cable TV provider or another service provider, and ask them to lower your rates. Seek similar deals where possible.

Research major purchases14. Plan and research major purchases. I do a lot of research before I make a major purchase. This includes reading product reviews from places like Consumer Reports and creating a spreadsheet on Google Docs where I can compare reviews, prices, features, and other aspects of the product. Then I look for additional savings and discounts.

My wife and I recently did this to save money on a vacation. A little planning on our end saved us over $2,000. Especially on the big ticket items, like lodging and flights, you can really scour the web and find great deals if you’re patient.

Or maybe you have other major life events, like a wedding, you want to plan for. Not every wedding needs to be a huge expense, but if it is, a solid plan can help you stray away from taking on huge chunks of credit card debt.

Action item: Be proactive when making a major purchase. Planning and research can save you hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.

15. Buy quality products. Quality items may cost more up front, but they last longer and generally provide better results than cheaper, inferior products. Examples of items you should buy higher quality – furniture, clothes and shoes, vehicles, and other items that will see a lot of use. I used this premise to build a professional wardrobe on a budget.

If you think you can upgrade to better quality, you can always throw your old stuff on Craigslist in order to make the new item even cheaper.

Action item: Don’t skimp on quality just to save a buck. Quality items often cost less in the long run.

16. Buy generic where applicable. Yes, I just wrote “buy quality,” but you can save a lot of money on generic items for which the brand name product is essentially the same as the store brand. Food and medicines come to mind as items where generic products are good deals.

Action item: Always look at alternatives when it makes sense (and cents!).

17. Sign up for a warehouse membership. My wife and I recently bought a Costco membership. For us, it has been well worth the $55 annual fee, but your mileage may vary. Just be sure to visit with a clear shopping list and avoid impulse purchases. If you can do this, you will almost certainly save money!

Action item: Research the warehouse membership options in your area, and consider buying a membership.

Bonus Tip: Use reusable shopping bags. My wife and I recently switched to reusable shopping bags for our grocery shopping, and we both love them! They only cost about a buck per bag, but each bag holds more groceries than a plastic bag, they don’t fall over in the trunk, and they will last several years. The best part is that there are no more plastic bags cluttering our house or the landfills. I highly recommend these!

  • Where to purchase reusable shopping bags: Check your local grocery store or discount outlet.
  • Estimated cost: $1 and up

Related Smart Consumer Articles:

Save Money on Food

Food is a large expense for most families and an unavoidable one at that. But just because it is an unavoidable expense doesn’t mean you need to spend too much money on it. With a little planning, you can save a lot of money on your food expenses each month.

18. Use grocery store rewards cards. Most grocery stores (and many other stores) offer free membership cards that allow shoppers to save at least 10-15% on every trip. (Personally, I dislike the savings cards because I believe the stores actually mark everything up to force their customers to get the cards, but that is another story…) We still save a lot of money on groceries, so we use it.

Action item: Sign up for your grocery store card and start saving!

19. Cook at home. My wife is a great cook and we both enjoy cooking and eating at home more than we do going out. We only go out about once a month, but when we do, we prefer to make an evening out of it and go somewhere fairly nice. We prefer eating out once a month at a nice restaurant more than we enjoy eating out several times a week at chain restaurants such Chili’s or TGI Friday’s. Eating out once a month at a nice restaurant is much more affordable than eating out once or twice a week at chain restaurants.

Action item: Consider reducing the frequency you eat out.

20. Brown bag it, and eat leftovers. I grew up eating leftovers, and I still love them (as long as they are not leftover from when I was a kid! yuck!). I estimate I save a minimum of $20 a week by bringing my lunch to work. It is also healthier, and on the rare occasion I go out to lunch with coworkers, I enjoy it more.

Action item: Cook an extra serving or two when you make your meals and take them to work or school. Leftovers are more affordable and healthy than most restaurant options.

Bonus tip: Take advantage of seasonal offers. Especially if you can gain special access to great deals because you’re a senior, a veteran, or even an alumni, you can take advantage of seasonal offers for a meal out, which tends to be a big budget line item for many folks.

Arts & Entertainment – Big Saving Opportunities!

You don’t have to spend a small fortune to have a good time. Whether it’s a family outing or paying for entertainment, there are a lot of ways to save money. Here are some of our favorite money saving tips for the arts and entertainment:

Borrow books and media from the library

21. Use the library. My wife and I borrow movies from the library almost every week. New releases aren’t always available, but lately, we have been watching a lot of classic movies from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. My wife and I also borrow CDs, books, and puzzles for our daughter.

Action item: Join your library. Most offer free memberships and a variety of items you can borrow at no cost.

22. Visit parks. My wife and I love to go hiking and our children also love getting out and enjoying the weather. We have 2 great parks nearby that we visit often. We get great exercise and the only costs to us is the gas to drive there.

Action item: Look into the free parks, nature preserves, and other free activities in your local area.

23. Manage your paid subscriptions. We don’t get the newspaper or magazines since almost everything we want can be found on-line for free. There are other subscriptions we pay for, such as Amazon Prime, which I feel is one of the best deals out there for savvy consumers. Some times adding a paid monthly subscription can actually help you save money. For example, you may find that a streaming video subscription will make it easier for you to cancel cable TV. At around $10 per month, you could end up saving $40 or more per month, which adds up quickly. Want more info? Here is a Netflix review, and a free trial offer.

Bonus tip: Stop receiving junk mail. You can choose to opt out of credit card offers, and you can also have your name and address removed from advertisers’ mailing lists (junk mail). You save time and clutter on your end, and fewer resources are used.

Action item: Review each paid subscription you have and determine if you need it, or if you can get a free or less expensive option.

Take Care of Things

Pride in ownership goes a long way to helping you save money. Performing seasonal maintenance around your home, doing your own home improvement projects, and doing scheduled maintenance on your vehicles and other items makes them last longer and saves you money.

24. Take care of things. I treat items I own with respect and I take good care of them. This includes doing things such as cleaning our house, washing our cars, cleaning and maintaining computers and appliances, and polishing shoes. Things last much longer when you take good care of them.

Action item: Stay on top of scheduled maintenance such as oil changes, filter changes for your car and house, etc. Clean and service items when necessary.

25. Home improvement and car repairs. Once upon a time, I was an aircraft mechanic in the USAF, so I am fairly handy with tools. I am comfortable repairing most items around the house, and I always attempt to repair problems before calling a professional. However, I am not afraid to hire out anything dangerous or that I don’t have the tools or knowledge to do (usually electrical or plumbing). The same goes with car maintenance and repairs. Stay on top of maintenance like tuneups and oil changes, and your car will run more efficiently, last longer, and cost less to maintain.

Action item: Buy a basic tool kit and learn to do basic repairs. Your home and car will last longer and you will save hundreds or thousands of dollars by doing it yourself.

Related Home Articles:

Related Car Articles:

26. Be a smart driver.
Many people underestimate how their driving habits affect the wear and tear on their vehicle – which can lead to shortened life spans for tires, breaks, transmissions, shocks, and other high dollar items. Taking care of your vehicle when driving results in less wear and tear and gets you better gas mileage. Some tips include accelerating smoothly and at a reasonable rate, coasting to a stop as often as possible, and using cruise control on the highway. My car is rated to get 26 mpg around town and I regularly get 29. That’s not quite hypermiling, but it’s not bad!

Heck, if you want your car to practically pay for itself, give others a ride and let the sharing economy help pay for your gas and mileage along the way.

Action item: Don’t let road rage get the best of you. Plan your trips efficiently and take your time getting there. You will have a more peaceful drive and save a lot of money over time!

Be Creative!

I know some of these tips won’t apply for everyone, but they work for my wife and I. I’m sure there are many more things we can do to save money, and there are a few places where we can plug some money leaks, but overall, I think we are doing a good job. I hope these tips can help a few other people out there!

Image Credits: Grocery Bags (author photo), Icons – royalty free images; Image with text created at; All other images from

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About Ryan Guina

Ryan Guina is the founder and editor of Cash Money Life. He is a writer, small business owner, and entrepreneur. He served over 6 years on active duty in the USAF and is a current member of the IL Air National Guard.

Ryan started Cash Money Life in 2007 after separating from active duty military service and has been writing about financial, small business, and military benefits topics since then. He also writes about military money topics and military and veterans benefits at The Military Wallet.

Ryan uses Personal Capital to track and manage his finances. Personal Capital is a free software program that allows him to track his net worth, balance his investment portfolio, track his income and expenses, and much more. You can open a free account here.

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  1. lulu says

    I do most of the tips you have listed here and they really do work and they are easy to do. I also have a list of the 25 ways I save money on my site so I would be happy if you looked at it.

    I have gone cellphone only for about 5 years now and that was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

    I am still working on #25 because I do not make enough money now to go completely credit card-less….but I am working on it.

  2. Ryan says

    lulu, #25 is the end-goal for most people. I’m sure you’ll make it there. I will be sure to check out your list. 🙂

    Dawn, Thanks for adding me to the list! As far as home improvement, well, I hate paying for something I can do myself!

    Melissa, that sounds like a great bank! If I had a similar option, I would do the same thing to get those rates! I just wrote what works for me. 😉

    Thanks for the comments!

  3. Taylor says

    Great Blog! I really appreciate your dedication to the environment and I always like to hear about simple ways I can live a greener life.
    I have recently purchased an air-vent booster – it works by drawing additional air into my problem room that is always way too cold. These can be purchase at most home improvement stores.
    I am so happy because not only does it lower my utility bills, it helps conserve a massive amount of energy.
    It is a really easy way to save money and help save the earth.

    Have a green day and keep writing!

  4. Dividends4Life says

    Ryan: Great read! I am doing most of these except for “Drive smoothly” – That one may take a while. 🙂

  5. Ryan says

    Hello D4L, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I admit driving smoothly was the hardest for me to do, and sometimes I break that one. But most of the time I am good with it. 😉

  6. Fecundity says

    Excellent list, Ryan. I do many of them and am working on most of the others.

    Excuse me. I have to go seethe with jealousy over the concept of Melissa’s 6% chequing account. I can’t get that up here on a savings account, never mind on chequing. Though I suppose I shouldn’t complain too loudly. The only way to raise interest rates substantially in Canada is for the Bank of Canada to raise Prime. And I really don’t want that to happen while I’ve still got student loans…

  7. The Chef says

    Excellent list, I am following most of them (whatever available in my country India) especially the cooking at home it saves me huge sums.

    I didn’t understand how we save money by visiting parks?

    I am already in debt so avoid taking more but the current one is eating my head on a daily basis.

  8. Ryan says

    Hi Chef, You can save money by going to parks (which have free entrance) for entertainment or exercise instead of going to places that cost money such as the movies, out to eat, shopping, etc.

    A lot of people do things that cost money simply because they think they have to. There are many free things to do that cost little or no money, and are just as fun as going somewhere and spending money. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  9. J.C. Carvill says

    Way to go on the frugal married couple life article!

    You and your spouse really know how to keep those dollar stay inside your wallet.

    You have provided a lot of super useful tips to save money on most life aspects.

  10. Ryan says

    Jeremy, getting rid of our cell phones for a land line would probably save us money, but we both like the freedom and convenience of having cell phones. Our families both live in different states, so the majority of our calls are long distance. For us, having the cell phones is the best choice.

  11. guinness416 says

    Excellent list (yeah, late to the party as usual but here via stumbleupon). Where we fall down is that we’re not handy at all – but we do know contractors and handymen, and when we use them keep them very sweet. This results in timely work and very few extras. Which is nice.

  12. Ryan says

    Always better late than never! Not everyone is handy around the house, but there are many things that you can learn to do with a simple set of tools. You can literally save hundreds by keeping up on routine maintenance and not letting things break from neglect.

  13. Roman says

    Great list, I really need to work on number 16.
    I spend 15 dollars on average for lunch and snack. I tried packing lunch but then I always forget it. Will there be a second part to this list???

  14. Term Life Pro says

    Great suggestions. I agree with you about USAA bank. I do a lot with them and they are awesome. I have their cash rewards card and charge everything to it just as you’ve mentioned, and then pay it off every month.

    I also agree with you about insurance. Yeah you may have to pay a little now, but if you ever need the insurance, you will be very glad you invested. The potential rate of return on your investment plus the peace of mind you get are well worth the cost in premium.

  15. Frugal Dad says

    Great list! The advice to pick up a power strip and attach electronics is a good one as these things tend to pull “phantom power” even when turned off. It adds up over time. We recently installed a power strip in our small entertainment center to power down the TV, DVD player and stereo before bed each night. We figure that is at least 8 or 9 hours where the things are not running the meter and using up energy.

  16. Stacey says

    Great list – I believe we do all of the above except for 2 – our vehicle isn’t all that efficient (I just spent $100 to put 3/4 of a tank of gas in it…) and #5 – our town has a “no recycling” policy… I believe it has to do with the fact that we’re waaayy to rural to make recycling cost effective. That’s one thing I hate about rural America!

  17. [email protected] says

    We use most of these ideas, but it’s more for the cost savings than anything else. If the environmental movement would push the savings rather than the “all human activity is bad” angle, they would get a lot more traction.

  18. stngy1 says

    We are lucky enough to not only have traditional curbside recycling, but also weekly pickup of yard waste/food scraps/soiled organics. That alone has reduced our garbage by half (and thus our bill for P/U) and it has eliminated our use of plastic garbage bags entirely. It has revolutionized our thinking, as we now are challenged and motivated to generate smaller and smaller amounts of trash.
    We also have easy access to facilities for recycling all metals, wood, eWaste, toxic household products, etc. This has saved a ton of money as well as helped us to be more “Green”. It is because of the will of the folks living in this city, and of our governance that we are able to do this. AND All city vehicles now run on biodiesel, ethanol, or electricity. It is so cool!
    If there isn’t curbside recycling in your area, compost at home and perhaps do monthly recycling runs to a center farther away (combined, of course, with another expedition). You might even get money for your effort. If there’s a will, there’s a way.
    *If you can’t conceptualize of the impact of our waste, just visit a dump.*
    BTW, a couple of web businesses which kill two birds with one stone: will BUY broken or old electronics. Easy process. which we subscribed to about a year ago. Anytime I get an unsolicited catalog I can log on, enter the information, and they stop coming. Coupling that with ebilling, we will requently get one piece or no mail a day. We were joking yesterday how we could easily cut back to semiweekly mail delivery…..

  19. Rudy says

    As someone who sells light bulbs for a living, I am less enthusiastic than most about compact fluorescent bulbs. This is due to the fact that the ones currently available contain significant amounts of mercury. If one of these bulbs should break inside of a person’s home, it could cause a challenging disposal situation. It is my belief that the technology should progress to a point at which the mercury levels are low or nonexistent before people changeover their entire homes. Another consideration is that as these bulbs burn out, they will most likely be thrown away as though they are normal rubbish and landfills will have incredibly high levels of mercury in their soil as a result.

  20. Ryan says

    Stacey, the idea of spending $100 on a 3/4 tank of gas… wow! I can understand that for a work truck or special needs vehicle, but not for a daily driver… That’s a budget buster!

    I used to live in rural America as well, and there wasn’t any recycling service available. At that point there often isn’t much you can do.

  21. Ryan says

    stngy1, We have the traditional curbside recycling, which I love. But we don’t have the weekly pickup of yard waste. We have fairly easy access to the other recycling facilities as well, which is nice when the need arises.

    Thanks for the links, I wasn’t aware of those sites.

  22. Alan says

    Driving efficiently is just as important or more important then the rating your car is supposed to get in mpg. Those figures are based on certain criteria on how you drive. Find a local super miler club and see what you can learn from those people who regularly get 20mpg over there expected mpgs.

  23. Dividend Growth Investor says


    Thanks for reminding me about the site. Incidentally I saw something on TV yesterday about this site.


    Thanks for the “Green List”. I have heard somewhere that in Germany, drivers are required by law to turn their cars off at traffic lights/intersections.

  24. Jenni says

    I do what I know how to do, and that is most of the stuff on your list. I don’t drive, so I don’t worry about that area, but I limit the rides I take with public transportation, and private, so as not to make so much waste. And save money. I wish there was a way to box up and mail recyclable stuff from some of those rural areas. I read somewhere that you could do it through the post office, and those are everywhere. But I know people who save their aluminum cans, and what they could sell, to compensate for driving them to another place that does recycle. Could you do a list on places that can be done over the mail, for people that don’t have easy access to locations? That would be great to know as much as you can, to do as much as you can.

  25. Shanti @ Antishay says

    This is a great list 🙂 I always love reading suggestions for reducing my footprint because I always feel that I can do more – but reading this list.. I do all these things already. Yay! It’s nice to finally feel like I’m doing some good for the world, lol.

  26. Ryan says

    Jenni, I haven’t heard about taking things to the post office for recycling. It seems like a good idea because there are post office everywhere, but I’m not sure it would make economic sense for the postal service.

    Shanti, It’s good to hear you’re doing a lot of these things as well. 🙂

  27. Jennifer C. Del Rosario says

    Gotcha!!! Very interesting, easy to follow tips. Absolutely, # 25 I think is the best tip because without debt you will have your peace of mind, that you can manage your life to the fullest because your at peace! Hope to read more about your articles! Thanks!

  28. Miss B. says

    I grocery shop at Aldi’s,it’s very inexpensive compared to places like kroger and Walmart even. I put $5 a week in my savings account no ifs,ands,or buts. I try to do most of my errand running in one trip if possible. I buy all my toiletries and cleaning supplies from Dollar General,they have name brand products too for less than what Kroger would want. I drive an older car that I paid cash for so I have no car payments. I have a housepayment that includes the taxes and insurance and my payment is really a STEAL at just under $300 a month. that’s because i got a great deal on the house.

  29. Miss B. says

    I also choose to pay just under $20 a month for cable t.v. instead of $55 by not having any upper channels,it’s not that bad really. Although I admit I DO subscribe to Netflix but that’s STILL a great deal LOWER than paying $55 for full cable.

  30. Kristina Richardson says

    Most CFLs today on the market contain less than 5mgs of mercury and there are CFL options out there that contain as little as 1.5mgs of mercury- which can hardly be called a “significant amounts of mercury” considering that many item in your home contain 100s of times more of mercury including your computer. Mercury levels in CFLs can never be “nonexistent” since mercury is a necessary component of a CFL and there is no other known element that is capable of replacing it. But CFLs actually prevent more mercury from entering the environment. According to the Union of Concerned Scientist, “a coal-fired power plant will emit about four times more mercury to keep an incandescent bulb glowing, compared with a CFL of the same light output”.

  31. kevin_g2975 says

    convenience is right 🙂 but there is a way to cut costs while owning a cellphone.

    i’m on the road a lot due to business so need a cellphone, and sometimes i end up paying more than i’m willing to. a friend told me about free directory assistance at 1-800-411-SAVE, it was hard to believe at first but now i’m hooked! i crunched the numbers, and it turns out i can shave up to $20 off my cellphone bill. : )

  32. Brigitte says

    Hey, have you read the 27 page long Material Safety Data Sheet on what to do if you break a CFL bulb? The mercury can be deadly for children and elderly, and can cause mercury poisoning in healthy adults. Air out the area for 15 minutes, and it it requires safety gear (not QUITE a full radioactivity suit) to clean up the spill.

    Let’s not forget that CFLs are still a risk for migraine sufferers and epilepsy patients as they still have the same light-vibration issue as regular florescent lights. It’s not as bad at full power, but if you use the wrong wattage, or are in brownout conditions (or they are not running at full power for any reason) it’s WORSE than if a regular florescent is running at low power.

    Hoping I can buy enough incandescent lights to last my lifetime before they’re illegal after congress passed the law making them illegal after 2014… frugality is not losing time at work or being in the ER and paying medical bills because of trying to save money over a stupid light bulb.

  33. Ryan says


    I have not read the 27 page MSDS for CFLs and I do not plan to. I have read more MSDSs for various products and chemicals than I ever cared to and I am positive there are dozens of common household chemicals that are worse than CFLs. CFLs are only bad when/if they break, which is an uncommon occurrence (they can be taken to disposal centers when they no longer work). If the CFLs do not break, there are no associated health problems caused by mercury.

    CFLs actually release less mercury into the environment than incandescent bulbs, as shown by this Energy Star report by the US government. Basic cleanup instructions are also in the report.

    CFLs also use less wattage and produce less heat than incansecent bulbs which is safer, particularly in older homes with old wiring .

    No, CFLs are not perfect, but neither are incandescent bulbs. Right now it comes down to personal preference. I do not mind CFLs, so I use them because they are better for the environment, produce less heat, and cost less to run over the lifetime of the bulb.

    You have the choice to use the incandescent bulbs, and surely have the option of purchasing a lifetime supply of them.

  34. Writer's Coin says

    My wife and I bought ours at Jewel about six months ago and they’re fantastic. Forget about the fact that we’re helping the environment, we’ve just gotten hooked on using them and making them a part of our grocery routine.

  35. Christina says

    I’ve also discovered that reusable bags make sneaking Christmas and birthday gifts into the house MUCH easier! 🙂

    And the insulated bags are good for keeping food warm too (like take-out).

    Great post!

  36. Kristen says

    I bought a bunch of reusable bags at our grocery store. They are great. They hold a lot more than a regular plastic bag. They are easier to carry. And, I got extra use out of them at Christmas too. It was great to load them up with presents and food as we traveled from house to house to visit all of the family.

    I still get some plastic bags because I use them for the kitty litter clean up. 🙁

  37. Ryan says

    I still have a bunch of plastic bags that I use for garbage can liners in the bathrooms. I have enough to last me the rest of the year and then some!

  38. Steve says

    Those pictures are just plain sad. Even though I never throw away my plastic bags, I use them for trash liners or I return them to the store in the recycling bin. I will look into using re-useable bags from now on.

  39. Craig says

    It’s definitely a good cause to have your own shopping bags, but most people don’t want the hassle. You have to remember them, they may get dirty or sticky somehow, and what if you don’t have enough? I actually save a lot of my plastic bags to use around my apt, so I try to find useful ways for them. But it is a good cause for people who have their own bags.

  40. Ryan says

    If they’re dirty you wash them and if you don’t have enough you get a few plastic bags. You can always find a use for a few bags – but you probably can’t use them all! 🙂

  41. Craig says

    It’s very easy to wash the bags, but at the same time always takes me more time than it should before I even wash my kitchen towels, haha.

  42. Eponine says

    I’ve been using reusable bags for several months. I got them at Pier 1 for $2.99 each, and they’re absolutely huge. The best thing about them is that they don’t dig into your hands like the plastic ones do. I don’t find it to be a hassle at all to take them to the store. Once in a while I forget them or I make an unexpected stop, but I can always use a few plastic bags at home.

  43. John Hunter says

    I also find the bags great. I got them for environmental reason and didn’t really think about the other benefits. But the end of the good rolling all over the floor of the car I didn’t even think of but it is so true. Also carrying them is much more convenient, as mentioned above. And you are lessing the pollution – all good.

  44. Michael @ The Life Insurance Insider says

    My wife and I are addicted to the reusable bags as well.

    My tip. Only use the normal sized bags and leave the oversized bags at home. We have a couple of larger ones we got as give aways and we don’t take those anymore. For some reason the sackers at the two stores we frequent will inevitably place all of the largest and heaviest items in the larger bags. Why they think my wife wants to or is even capable of carrying a bag with 2 gallons of milk, 2 2-liters of soda, and 2 2-half gallons of orange juice into the house is beyond me.

  45. Tom says

    Actually, even our liquor store provides reusable bags now, which is rather convenient.
    They are definitely the way to go.
    A friend of mine also uses boxes, if he happens to buy alot of food on any given trip.

  46. Imani says

    Use them and love them! To keep from forgetting to take them (I walk to the stores), I hang them on my door knob and keep some others under my house keys.

    Stop and Shop gives a 5 cent discount for each bag shoppers bring. It isn’t much but every little bit helps!

    Not to mention Mother Earth breathes a sigh of relief.


  47. Gates VP says

    Hey @Ryan;

    Welcome to “the movement”. I’ve been using cloth bags from Safeway for 3 or 4 years now. It’s really good to see others jump on the train. For those wondering, I still get plastic bags, I just get a lot less.

    It would be great to “go bagless” and not need plastic bags at all, but the infrastructure just isn’t there yet.

    And I’m not really a “green freak”. I’m actually a walker (28, never owned a car). As a walker the cloth bags are tremendously useful. They’re square and strong and large, so they hang at your sides comfortably. With plastic bags, I’d always end up with layers of bags puffing out at the sides. But the square bags tend to pack much nicer.

    My only caveat is that not every bagger really knows how to bag with cloth. If your supermarket has brown paper bags, they may have some experience. But I’ve often had to give a pointer or two (“it’s square”, “don’t be afraid to load it up”) and sometimes I’ve just re-packed the bags all together.

    Plus the bonus on having these bags around is that they suddenly just become “randomly” useful. In fact, I really like the idea of keeping them in your trunk.

  48. Ryan says

    Gates VP, You’re right – the random use factor has already kicked in a few times. I’ve already taken them into other stores and used them to transport things to and from work. It’s nice having bags around. I wish I would have done it years ago!

  49. Jessica says

    You did really good with this article. I am very young but hope to be in very good standing financially later in life and to reach that goal i look at all the ways to save. also i like that you were in the USAF and did the same thing as my uncle. my family is an Air Force family. That must be why we are all so very smart. 😉 Thanks for the great info!!

  50. Justin says

    1 way to save up money is dont throw away a change always save up change and take it to a bank and cash it. Do not use coinstar! 8-9 cents taken out of each dollar that adds up!

  51. MoneyEnergy says

    Seconding Justin’s point right above, another important point (not strictly “saving” per se, but “keeping”) is to make sure you keep every cent of the pay you *do* earn – pick up those pennies, store your coins in a coin jar, etc., get them rolled up and redeposit them – you don’t want leaks like that in your paycheck!

  52. DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad says

    I’ve got three and one half of the items on the list covered. I say half, because we manually adjust our thermostat in winter to avoid overheating the house while we are gone . . .

    Still need to buy some reusable shopping bags.

  53. Miranda says

    We’re only missing the rechargeable batteries. Although sometimes we forget to bring our reusable bags to the store! These are great suggestions. Imagine if everyone did a little.

    • Ryan says

      DDFD: We used to do that before we had the programmable thermostat. The programmable thermostat just makes it a little easier!

      Miranda: Rechargeable batteries might not make much of difference financially unless you use batteries for more than just one or two remote controls. But they are definitely better for the environment!

  54. Kristen says

    I also love the reusable shopping bags. I have the plain bags and the insulated bags for cold foods. Not only do they hold more, but they’re much easier to carry. Plus they are great to have on hand if you’re going somewhere like a picnic and have to transport food. (I still have to get some plastic bags for cleaning out the kitty litter!)

    I haven’t switched over to the reusable water bottles yet, though I really should. I have reduced my plastic consumption. I now start out with one bottle from home in the morning (our tap water isn’t great), and then I refill it all day long with the filtered water at work.

  55. MoneyEnergy says

    I have some reusable shopping bags, but whenever I get plastic bags, I also end up using those again, too – as garbage bags so that I’m not buying brand new plastic just for that. I use the plastic bags for lots of other things, too. And plastic cups and jugs that you get from shopping in bulk – these are great for using instead of tupperware.

    • Ryan says

      MoneyEnergy: I do the same thing with plastic bags from quick trips into stores or when I forget the reusable bags. But overall, I prefer reusable bags.

  56. Theresa says

    Rechargeable batteries can be 100% recycled through Type in your zip code to find convenient drop off locations in your neighborhood. There are thousands of participating retailers in this free, non profit public service program in the U.S. and Canada.

    In addition to rechargeable batteries that replace disposable alkaline batteries, consider all the cordless electronics you use daily and can’t live without that are powered only by rechargeable batteries. Electronics such as laptops, cell phones, mp3 players, camcorders, digital cameras, power tools, two-way radios, electric toothbrushes, electric razors, just to name a few…

    • Ryan says

      Theresa: Thanks for the info on recycling rechargeable batteries. Definitely useful info! Many recycling locations will also accept regular batteries to ensure they are disposed of properly. Now to convince people it is worth their time…

  57. Enigin says

    Great tips – everyone should be looking to save energy in these tough economic times to save money and help the environment.

  58. SavingDiva says

    Excellent list! I cancelled my cable 3 years ago…and I haven’t missed it (okay, maybe a little). I watch everything online and subscribe to Netflix ($8/month).

  59. DIY Claire says

    That is a great list. Bookmarked this site. I don’t do all of those, so it is nice to have a list to tick.

    I give any leftovers to my chickens, and in return they give me a free egg…

  60. SavingBeast says

    Great list! Its so important to save money these days. And Yeah i agree, you can watch almost everything online nowadays that it seems pointless to have cable. But i find there are other little areas where you can cut back and save without losing to much. I got out of my cell phone contract and switched to prepaid. This way i only have to pay for the minutes i need and i dont have to worry about overage charges or any of that stuff. And with my tracfone the service charge per month is like 7 bucks. And there are a lot of little things like that can help save you some money.

  61. Save Money Hound says

    These are practical save money tips that anyone should be able to apply easily. Tip no 22 is an interesting one. I would have thought that having a land line and getting rid of the mobile phone would be more economical.

  62. Tony Banks says

    I took a time share in June I took the whole family it was great we only paid $200 for 2 nights 3 days stay at Myrtle Beach SC we had an Ocean front room. We had to agree to a 90 MIN tour as they call it basically they walked us around this resort and tried to up sell us the resort was nice and I would have got into it but my budget for this year would not allow me I found out about it by googling Myrtle Beach getaways a couple of sites came up like expedia and travelocity but I wanted a time share about half way down the page was a site called vacation bailouts they was great easy to book I was on my way that following week might even be easy to google the name of the company sorry not sure about the URL.

  63. Britt (Your Roth IRA) says

    My wife and I rent an older house. The first winter we were in it, we got hit with a giant heating bill. That led me to discover the benefits of weather stripping doors and windows. That simple act saved us a lot on the follow-up bill. The experience energized me to find new ways to cut expenses, such as…

    Ditto #4: Gas Cards – We use the Chase Perfect Mastercard which only gives us 3% cash back, but you can use it at any gas station, which means if you research the cheapest local station first, then you’re getting 3% off the lowest price.

    Ditto #8: CFL’s – After the weather stripping, I replaced every conventional light bulb in the house with CFL’s. The result? Our electric bill decreased 30% in one month!

    Another Tip: For those who use Cox Communications for their Internet connection, they have an unadvertised “basic high-speed” Internet that’s $20 a month cheaper. And while they claim it’s slower, I’ve never noticed a difference since switching over… That’s $240 a year!

  64. Monevator says

    Great list. I’d love to get rid of my landline, but it’s linked to my broadband subscription at the moment – and I’m getting a good deal on that.

    It’s too easy to let these things drift. I may go on a big expenses slashback soon I think!

  65. Steve Nebraska says

    I’ll add to your #20 Buy Insurance. You should insure only for catastrophes. Self-insure as much as you can; have big deductibles. Pay cash for the small problems, don’t file small insurance claims.

    • Ryan says

      I agree with having as large a deductible as you can afford and not filing small claims, but not everyone can afford to self-insure. So I think a broad statement to assess your insurance needs regularly and adjust accordingly would be a better fit for most people.

  66. matthew berman says

    hey, these are great tips. I probably use about half of them right now. eating at home saves me a LOT of money each money. I just started a website all about saving money, avoiding fees, getting discounts, etc.

  67. Chris says

    I have concluded that the best way to save money is to have an overall frugal approach to anything that costs money. Not to be cheap but to learn to be conservative with your utilities for example, or shop the sales at the grocery store and department store, eat at home more and avoid unnecessary expenses in general. You will be surprised at how all the saving will add up!

  68. Mcneri says

    Nice list. The internet is teeming with lists. What I have to say though is that one interesting tool that helps me save money is my Ipod. I did not say Iphone, but Ipod. Realtime updates on bank balances and credit card balances via Mint, email and other interesting websites are pushed to you realtime, while you save on putting on the clunky desktop at home to check these things. Others include digital music and audiobooks which you can load on and play in your car or elsewhere without having to buy.
    The library is also a good one. Many people are marketed to so much that the first thing they think about when they see a form of media is how they can purchase it instead of how they can get a copy from their library. I have a post on my blog about how to save with the Ipod. The most important thing there is to have wireless internet at home and this costs less than 40 dollars for the router.

  69. Sensei says

    I find that in order for anyone to save money, you have to find a balance between spending and saving. The issue is, we spend much easier than we can save. One could say we can be frugal with everything we do, but then what are we working so hard for? Following these tips would help anyone save money, while living an enjoyable life. I follow many of these tips myself, and do not find myself living a decent life.

  70. chris says

    Thanks for the list. If I could employ just half of these great money saving tips I could increase my bank account handsomely! I look forward to any other advice that you may have regarding money savings. Thanks again!

  71. Lauren says

    Another great way to start saving money is doing some research on what you are paying for your monthly payments, are there ways to cut those payments down? I’m all about saving money so I thought I’d also share how I saved money on my auto payments. I read a blog post on AOL’s walletpop the other day about a company called MoneyAisle. It does the online research for the consumer and has banks bid on us online, where we receive the top 3 rates to choose from for auto refinancing. I went through the process and ended up saving $75 a month on my payment, which basically pays off my insurance. Right now the search process for the best rates is such a pain and dealers try to get the highest dollar amount, so this is a super awesome tool. I def suggest taking a stab at going through the process, you will be shocked when you see what you get as a rate compared to what you are currently paying or what you are given by other banks/dealers. Hope this also helps!

  72. TheFinanceKid says

    Credit card for me is an backup cash resource in noways i have used it for my random shopping i can strike tht off. Rest all i can follow up at some extent that too…

  73. Robin Martin says

    Thanks for your article. It has shown me new ways to save some money. You mentioned using space heater to heat your room instead of the entire house at night. I use this technique in the summer time by using a smaller window air conditioner in my bedroom instead of of using the central air conditioner.

  74. Marty says

    Order flowers directly from the florist. Order takers like FTD and Telaflora take a huge cut (upwards of 30%); so for your $100, your receipient will be lucky to get $70 worth. You will get much more for your money if you look up a florist on the web, thru your GPS or smartphone.

  75. andria says

    I take $ off of the mortgage. Instead of cashing in my points, or obtaining a gift card, I put them on my mortgage. It takes $2500 to earn $25 but when you consider it’s for bills I’m paying anyhow, I charge them monthly to credit card and then pay it off monthly. So far I’ve taken off almost two years off of the mortgage, and saved a ton of money in interest. Also another way to save $ for lunches is to save your scraps (not from people’s plates), but when you have only a little bit of leftovers in the container or a few veggies in the frozen freezer bag. Put them in ziploc storage bags and then make soup in the crock pot. Usually I just have to add a can of diced tomatoes and beans, or throw in some leftover pasta. I usually get about two weeks worth of lunches and a nice minestrone soup which is also good for the waistline.

  76. EagleLS says

    I remember when in my childhood my grandma used to say “Don’t think about saving money, think about earning more money”. That was wise. You guys try the same. I know it is hard !

  77. thrifty says

    Thanks! I’ll have to try to turn some of these tips into habits. I’m really good at eating at home and usually use leftovers as lunch for the next day. One thing I’ve done is added the Blockbuster Movie Pass to my DISH account. I know it sounds counterproductive but by spending that extra ten bucks every month, I save in a bunch in movie rental fees and go out less. I’m not sure I would have tried it if I didn’t work for DISH but I do and I love it. Another way I save is by not having internet service. I have an Android phone and use the hotspot to provide internet service to other devices. It’s prorated on my monthly bill so I just turn it on and off as needed.

  78. Alex says

    Ryan, I wanted also to share my 2 cents as addition to #21 ” Bundle cable and internet” and #22 “Use cell phones – skip the landline”. I found having only internet at home means that you can stream both Netflix and News saving on cable TV costs. I also have a decent data plan on my cell and thus I use mobile Skype, paying only $15/month flat fee for all the calls across the globe (incl. calls to cells and land lines)! It is definitively cheaper than paying all those long-distance calls!

  79. Derek @ Freeat33 says

    I save on bank fees by asking the bank to waive them. We went under the minimum no fee balance by three cents once, and when I got a $15 charge I called the bank and asked them to credit it back to me. THEY DID! The worst they can say is no right?

  80. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom says

    hahaha my hubby and I were just debating #26 on the weekend. He always breaks so fast, and accelerates like he’s in the start blocks of a race. He’s really frugal on a lot of accounts but didn’t believe me that his driving was costing us more in gas, and repairs.

  81. [email protected] Finance says

    Wow, this is a great, comprehensive list. I try to do these things as well where I can. I do find automatic savings plans by far the easiest to use. If it’s not automatic, I have a harder time saving.

    I’m also a huge fan of the library – my hobbies are somewhat cheap (reading, blogging), so that helps.

  82. Marisol says

    These are great tips! Since I read your tips (on Friday), I called my bank (Wells Fargo) to argue new fees I noticed on my statement and ask what the interest is on my savings. 0.05%. That’s crazy! I am thinking about changing to Ally but I am still researching. I am super excited to find ideas that match my needs and plan to work through each and every one of them.

  83. angie says

    A lot of great tips and ideas on here. Any little thing you can do to save money helps. I’m always looking for a way to save. I guess I’ve turned saving money into a game with myself. I use to have trouble saving, something would always come up, doctor visit , unexpected bill you know how that go. I decided to get all of my bills paid up at least 1 month ahead wasn’t easy but it can be done. Then figured what my monthly bills were vs my monthly bring home pay from that I gave myself 50.00 a week for gas and 75 to 85.00 a week for groceries and tried not to spend all that. I usually had about 45.00 left to put in savings sometimes more depending on how frugal I really get. I also started a 5.00 jar. Every $5 bill I get I put it in that jar. It comes in handy when you get in a tight and really need a little extra. But I don’t touch it unless I absolutely need it. Hope this idea works for some of you.

  84. Marie Hickman (@MrsHickman777) says

    Great tips. Here in Florida, it’s impossible to live without AC in summer, but I make up for it in winter by using space heaters in the bedrooms, serving a lot of hot foods and using extra blankets and sweaters. If I didn’t have a child I would live without heat (it gets down to 40s or even 30s here at night in winter).

  85. Annie says

    This helped me save some money in a frustrating situation and it wasn’t a place that I usually think of when it comes to saving: I was recently out of town and of course my youngest kiddo got sick. We found a walk-in clinic and got a prescription for an antibiotic. We made our way to the pharmacy and at this point I realized that I’d forgotten my prescription insurance card… The girl working at the pharmacy told me about a website where I could find discounts on prescriptions: MedFisher[dot]com. I put in the name of the medication my son was getting and immediately found a voucher for savings. I was able to just hand my phone over to the technician at the pharmacy and she put the voucher information on file and we got a discount of $35 dollars off of the cash price! Since we have a high deductible plan the medfisher price was better than what my insurance price would have been anyway. I hope this info helps someone .

  86. T says

    with all due repect, before advising to go term life with life insurance, maybe be more realistic. if you dont die by 90 to 95 then all that money you paid into term life policy has listerally gone to hell. you will not get that money back. additionally whole life insurance my be a bit more, but in the end when you look at the whole picture amd truly uderstand life insurance and the difference between term and whole, whole life makes more sense andgives you that extra coverage should you surpass the age of 90 to 95. but then you also have to consider should you decide to extend it to whole lfe….take age and medical ailments into factor as well as perscriptions. just because a company covered you during term, does not mean they will resign you to whole life. moreover, should you be able to obtain whole life at a later age, the cost will be much higher than it would be if you were to switch at a younger age. so, term life actually isnt smart….cheaper yes, but not smart.

    • Ryan Guina says

      T, whole life insurance is a good option in certain circumstances, but it’s rarely the best option for everyone. Generally, the only people who recommend whole life insurance for everyone are life insurance salesmen. I won’t get into the full debate here, as we have an article that covers this topic in more detail: Compare Term vs Whole Life Insurance. Instead of paying higher premiums for a whole life insurance policy, most people are better off paying lower rates for term life insurance, and investing the difference into a retirement plan or other investment. Several hundred dollars per month can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even low millions, when given enough time to compound (which we are assuming, since the stated age you gave was 90 to 95).

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