I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the best ways to save money each month. There are so many things we can do to save but what are truly the best ways to save? Because it’s really a question of how to save money every single day, each week, every month and all year long.
I spent a lot of time pondering this question as I prepared to talk with some moms at our church about how to save money. I wanted to share money saving tips that everyone can do but also that are not hard. Most importantly, I wanted to share money saving tips that truly make a difference to your budget.
The things that I am sharing will make a difference to your budget. Some of the tips may take more time than others but all of them will save you money, each and every month that you are doing them. Making this list reminded me of areas where I need to work on saving more, too!
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Here are 15 of the best ways to save money each month – and all year long!
1. Use a coupon app.
Coupon apps are a great way to save and make money on things you are already purchasing. Why? Coupon apps allow you to stack sales and coupons with deals to make you money on top of what you are already saving. Ibotta is my absolute favorite coupon app to save on groceries but I also like Checkout 51. You can read more details about why I think this is the best coupon app with tips on how to get started here.
2. Start a stockpile.
Start building a stockpile – only when things are on sale and only on things you use. I could go on and on about stockpiles because I truly believe they are one of the biggest factors of grocery savings. Here are lots of articles with everything you need to know about how to stockpile.
3. Bake your own bread.
At only $0.50 a loaf (or less), baking bread is a delicious way to save money! Here’s the easy homemade bread recipe I use. Multiple the number of loaves your family eats a week by the average cost of a loaf of bread and see how your savings stacks up. To get a decent loaf of bread, you’re paying $2 or more at the grocery store compared to my $0.50 homemade bread. This means, I’m saving my family at least $3 a week baking my own bread. I’ll take that savings!
4. Cook from scratch.
Convenience foods cost you money. There is definitely a time for convenience foods and a frozen pizza night, for example. I keep frozen pizzas in my freezer just to keep me from going out when I don’t feel like cooking. However, the more you can cook from scratch, the more money you will save. It takes time and planning but you will save as you start cooking more from scratch.
5. Shop online and use rebate program.
Every time you shop online, be sure to use a rebate program! Rebate programs will make you money as you are saving it. I really like Ebates but these are three of the best online rebate programs I have found. And yes, I use them all when I’m shopping online!
6. Shop at garage sales and thrift stores.
Being frugal means knowing when buying used will save you money. Garage sales are a great way to save money – especially on clothes and children’s things. When it’s not garage sale season (and even when it is), you can still save on clothes by shopping at thrift stores. Did you know there are even online thrift stores now? Here are some of my favorite places to get deals on quality clothes online!
7. Read good money saving books for inspiration.
There is so much we can learn from others who live frugally! Here are 23 of my favorite frugal books to read with lots of money saving advice for you. And yes, I’ve read all of these – plus more. In addition, if you are a reader, use your library to borrow books and movies and learn how to read ebooks for free – without a Kindle!
8. Shop at more than one store.
Yes, it takes time but if you really want to save money, shop at more than one store. For me, I shop all the sales at Kroger and then drive down the road to Meijer to buy the sales and anything else I need there. By going to the stores that have the best prices, you will see savings.
9. Buy in bulk.
Buying in bulk is a great way to save – if you buy on sale and at a good price. Put simply, if pasta is on sale for $0.49 (a savings of 60%), it only makes sense to buy several packages at once. Think about what your family regularly eats (and uses) and purchase in bulk on those items. Don’t limit your purchases to just what you will use this week. Plan ahead.
10. Plan your meals around sales.
Rather than planning your meals first, you will save greatly if you look at the sales before planning your menus for the week. If chicken and pork are on sale that week, plan your meals around those items. If hamburger is on sale, choose meals that include hamburger. It’s a simple concept that will result in significant grocery savings. Here are some other ways to save on your grocery bill without using coupons.
11. Set up savings accounts for all your big budget areas.
When all your money is in one place, it’s easy to watch it disappear to this and that. We set up over a dozen different online savings accounts, giving them clear names and assigned goals so we could track our progress. It’s good to look at our house projects, car repairs, new car fund, and other accounts and see our progress. This online envelope system has been very helpful and quite motivating.
12. Cook easy freezer meals.
Freezer meals are a great way to save yourself time and money. When you have a busy day, you can pull a meal from the freezer instead of going out to eat or ordering pizza. I like the “Cook once, eat twice” model, doubling our meals so we can eat one now and freeze one for later. Here are some of our favorite freezer meals.
13. Cut expenses.
This is the most obvious but it must be said. To save money, you need to cut expenses. Look at your budget – really look – and be honest about what you can cut. I found this book by Kalyn Brooks to be a great resource of lots of different ways to drastically reduce your expenses.
14. Make small utility tweaks.
Did you know washing your clothes with cold water instead of hot saves you around $0.50 a load? Did you know that for every degree you adjust your thermostat (higher in summer and lower in winter), you’ll save 1% of your energy cost? Did you know that if you stop letting the water run while you do the dishes you can save up to $85 a year? Small tweaks can add up to big savings.
15. Use it up. Wear it out. Make do without.
There is a lot we can learn from our Depression era grandparents. One of the absolute best ways to save money every month is to use it up, wear it out or make do without. Scrap every last bit of peanut butter out of a jar. Freeze leftovers to eat later. Add extra water to your juice to stretch it further. Google substitutions for when you run out of baking ingredients. Wear your clothes until they are worn out – not until you are tired of the style. Don’t give into every latest trend. Protect your hard earned money and make wise choices.
Bonus: Make some extra money using Swagbucks and MyPoints.
As a SAHM, I love little ways to make money at home. I use Swagbucks and MyPoints to earn gift cards that I spend on Christmas shopping. Swagbucks is an online search engine and here is how I use it to earn gift cards in only minutes a day. With MyPoints, you click on emails to earn points which then can purchase gift cards. I’ve been using MyPoints for years and love how easy it is. Neither of these will make you rich, but who doesn’t want an extra $100 (or more) to spend on Christmas shopping, or for a free date night out?
Those are some of the best ways to save money each month that I have found. What do you do to save money every month?