The Top 30 Best Money Hacks That Will Save You Thousands
You work hard for your money, so it only makes sense that you want to keep as much of it in your hands as possible. It’s important to learn how to save money while learning how to make the best money moves.
Generally speaking, the more you can save, the faster you’ll be able to reach those goals, whether you’re looking to buy your first home, pay off debt, or fund your children’s education.
But knowing what to do and how to do it isn’t always as easy as it seems. Luckily, we’ve got you covered.
Here are 30 simple, yet effective money hacks that can help you save money on your everyday expenses, build your wealth, and reach your financial goals.
Learn How to Manage Your Money
If you’re not thinking through your spending, it can be easy to spend your entire paycheck within a few days of it landing in your account. Learning how to manage your money and creating a systematic approach to your everyday spending can help you hold onto your money for longer while stretching those dollars further.
- Evaluate your spending habits before building a budget.
Keep track of what you buy, from where, and in which spending category for at least one month. This approach will help you evaluate your spending habits while ensuring your budget is realistic.
- Set a monthly budget.
Whether you prefer Excel spreadsheets, budgeting apps, or good old-fashioned pen and paper, make sure you plan for incoming deposits and outgoing monthly expenses. Once you’ve established a budget, try to do your best and stick with it.
- Track your spending on an ongoing basis.
Spend some time each week comparing your actual spending against your budget to make sure you’re avoiding any overspending. Use this time to keep yourself on track with your saving and financial goals.
- Put your savings on auto-pilot.
Saving money is a crucial part of any plan for your financial future. By automating your savings, you’ll be taking a lot of weight off your shoulders while freeing up your time. Set up an automatic transfer or split a direct deposit to correspond with every payday—even if you can only afford to save $20 a paycheck. You can increase the amount later. Having the system in place is what matters.
- Implement a cash-only budget.
Review your budget and determine which spending categories you can switch to cash-only payments (this can include entertainment, dining, groceries, etc.). By paying for day-to-day expenses with cash, you can avoid the temptation of making impulse buys. This way you’re sticking to your budget because you can’t spend money you don’t have.
If you feel more comfortable sticking with your physical cards, you can use your debit card in place of a cash-only budget. Just make sure you keep the amount on the card low enough so you can’t overspend.
- Put any extra funds into your savings account.
We all know the feeling of finding an extra $20 in an old pocket or while you’re cleaning your car. Instead of spending that extra cash, pay yourself first and deposit it into your savings account. Remember that you can (and should) do this with more significant amounts, such as a tax refund or a year-end bonus. By funneling additional funds into your savings plan, you can grow your nest egg faster.
- Try out a no-spend challenge.
Yes, it’s true—the best way to save your money is to not spend it. But that phrase may seem a bit broad and daunting to implement in your daily life. Instead, choose a specific spending category to avoid spending money on for a specified length of time. This could include not eating out at restaurants for a month, or not buying new clothing for a season. This strategy gives you the necessary no-spend parameters that you can work with, while still saving yourself significant amounts of money.
Change Your Money Habits
Even with a strong budget in place, everyone has bad spending habits that they’re tempted to slide back into if they don’t change their mindset about money. Here’s how you can substitute any negative spending behaviors with positive ones.
- Don’t compare yourself or your situation.
While it can be tempting to “keep up with the Joneses”, don’t let yourself get distracted from the big picture. Let your budget guide your spending and saving habits and stay on track with your financial plan.
- Control or limit any emotional spending.
There’s often a temptation to buy yourself a “treat” when you’ve had a bad day or when you’re upset. Instead of straying from your budget for quick gratification, redirect these feelings towards other positive behaviors that don’t require you to spend money. This could be calling a friend, exercising, or watching an episode of your favorite show.
- Wait at least 24 hours before you buy.
Before you give in to the urge to make an impulse buy, really evaluate whether you need or simply want the item in question. Delay the gratification and wait for one full day to see if the item still appeals to you. If you determine you need it after 24 hours, you’ll avoid the guilt of an impulse buy.
- Don’t buy trends.
Rather than purchase an over-priced fad item, buy what’s meaningful to you. This way you’ll be spending your money more sensibly, and you’ll likely be happier with your purchase.
Clear Up Your Debt
Whether you’re holding a maxed-out credit card balance or a student loan, debt can make it much more challenging to keep up with your day-to-day expenses, while still continuing to save. Implement these debt-management tips to keep more of what you earn, and pay off what you owe.
- Pay off high-interest debts as soon as possible.
Stop paying high-interest on your credit cards and work on getting out of debt right away. The interest charges that add up when you carry a high balance can really eat away at your budget. By paying down your debt, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest over time.
- Pay down remaining debts with the avalanche method.
The avalanche approach involves paying the minimum payment required on each account, then taking any remaining funds you have and paying extra on the account with the highest interest rate. You’ll pay less in interest if you tackle your debts in this order, meaning you’ll pay off your debts more quickly. Better yet, I’d recommend taking a look at the Savvy debt payoff method.
- Set deadlines for your debt-payoff.
Map out your debt-off goals with specific amounts and a dedicated timeline. This way, you can track your progress and hold yourself accountable for actually paying off the debt. Don’t forget the added bonus of visualizing how good it will feel to make that final debt payment.
Insource Your Day-to-Day Spending
Lower your monthly spending by insourcing your day-to-day expenses. Here are some examples.
- Reduce or completely eliminate dining out.
It can be challenging to find the energy to make a home-cooked meal after a long day at work. Begin building the habit of cooking at least twice a week, and slowly build up to at least three or four times per week. If that isn’t realistic for your lifestyle, do your best to find time on a Sunday to meal prep a few simple dinners for the upcoming week. This way you’ll have a homecooked meal ready for you when you come home from work.
- Enjoy home-brewed coffee.
Buying a daily coffee can seem like a small, minuscule expense, but it has the potential to put a dent in your wallet in the long run. By cutting out this one purchase, you have the potential to save yourself hundreds or potentially even thousands of dollars a year.
- Stop purchasing ‘dry-clean only’ items.
Dry cleaning your clothing may not seem like a significant expense, but it does add up. To avoid pesky dry-cleaning bills, check the tag on the garment before purchasing. If it’s a ‘dry-clean only’ item, leave it behind.
Rework Your Shopping Habits
Some everyday purchases are simply unavoidable, such as groceries or gasoline. Save money on your necessary day-to-day expenses by using these tips.
- Write a grocery list before going to the store.
It can be tempting to buy unnecessary food when you go to the grocery store without a list or when you’re hungry. By pre-planning what you’ll need for the week, you’ll avoid picking up any extra items that you don’t need. A grocery list can help make sure you avoid temptation, and it can also help with making meal prep more affordable.
- Consider shopping secondhand.
It should come as no surprise that used products are less expensive. Buying anything used won’t be as costly as the new alternative, plus your dollar will go further. Be sure to explore garage sales, thrift stores, eBay, and Craigslist for items you need.
- Buy less.
By buying less and buying better, you’ll be able to save money and focus on saving for other things, such as higher-quality items, experiences, or holidays. These larger purchases are more likely to provide long-term happiness and satisfaction than a one-off impulse purchase.
- Do your research and compare prices.
Always do your pricing homework and be sure to research prices online. Before purchasing something at a specific location, check if another store sells the same item for a lower price. Don’t forget to check for coupon codes if you’re shopping online.
- Borrow items instead of buying new.
For items that you don’t need to own to enjoy or use, borrow from friends, family, or any neighborhood resources. For example, use your local library instead of the bookstore to pick up the latest book you’ve been meaning to read.
Minimize Any Recurring Costs
Use these money-saving tips to reduce the cost of repeat expenditures and ongoing services such as household utilities or a cell-phone,
- Bundle or cancel your cable subscription.
Save money every month by switching from your current 300+ channel cable package to popular streaming services, such as Netflix, HBO, Disney+, or Amazon Prime. If you’re not quite ready to cut the cable cord, consider switching to a package that has fewer channels. How much of those are you really watching?
- Lessen your cell phone minutes or data.
If you’re on a prepaid cell phone plan, switch over to a plan with the lowest amount of minutes that you’ll need. If you’re on a postpaid plan, reduce your monthly data limits. If you find yourself continually battling overage charges, set an automatic calendar reminder to check your minute or data usage.
- Avoid using “phantom energy.”
Phantom energy is the slow drain of energy that stems from keeping all appliances plugged in. Plug your most-used devices into a power switch and flip off the strip’s switch whenever you’re not using the appliances.
- Reevaluate your gym membership.
Take the time to reconsider a current or future gym membership, and only join one if you’re confident that you’ll use the membership regularly. Remember that there are endless free fitness opportunities, including running, walking, and cycling in your local neighborhood.
- Monitor your bank account fees.
Monthly account fees can draw down your balance by small amounts over an extended period of time. However, these fees can often be waived if you’re able to meet a certain minimum account balance or a minimum monthly deposit. Check with your bank to determine how you can waive fees.
Effectively Save for the Future
Any big financial decisions that you make today can significantly impact your financial stability for months or even years. Whether it’s buying a car, or choosing to rent over owning a home, use these tips to make well-informed choices about where your money goes.
- Look online for vacation savings.
Use Airbnb or other temporary lodging sites to find vacation rentals for less money than traditional hotel accommodations.
- Choose a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
Sell or trade-in your current gas-guzzler of a car for a more fuel-efficient vehicle. While it may come with a heftier price tag, the fuel savings will help you recover the initial costs over time. If you live in an area with reliable public transit, consider commuting on the subway or the bus, or even downsizing to becoming a one-car family.
- Choose a high-interest bank account.
Your bank account should pay decent interest on your savings so that the money in your account continues to grow over the year. Keep in mind that online banks often offer higher interest rates than traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Having a high-interest bank account lets your money grow in your account while you sleep, helping you to meet your financial goals even faster.
What Should You Do With Your Savings?
As you work to save more of your hard-earned money, you should think about what you plan to do with your savings. Will you build up your emergency fund? Or perhaps you’ll put the extra dollars towards a down payment for a future home. Maybe you’d like to invest it for the future.
Having a financial plan can help you decide what the best course of action is so you can reach your financial goals with confidence. A solid plan can also help you stay motivated while continuing to look for ways to trim unnecessary expenses.