Budget Travel / Tips & Advice / Travel

10 Ways to Actually Save Money

10 Ways to Actually Save Money

I’ve created this list of 10 ways to save money because I am tired of looking at lists that all say the same things.

“Skip the Starbucks and make your coffee at home.”
“Take public transit instead of your car.”
“Turn off lights in your home when you leave a room.”

These tips save me exactly zero dollars. They might be helpful to some people, but here’s my problem: I don’t like coffee, nor do I own a car, and growing up my mom would always ask me and my siblings to turn off lights, and that has made turning off lights an ingrained habit of mine.

If you’re really looking to save some cash and have done the usual suggestions you may feel like there are no other things you can do and that you’re saving all the money there is to save. It will be a challenge to squeeze some extra money out of your finances every month to go towards a travel fund (or whatever you want, really) — but it’s possible. So how about some money-saving tips for the rest of us?

1. Learn to love what you have

I used to love shopping — I mean, I still do — but I’ve learned to curb my spending and when I want to go out and buy something new, I ask myself if I really need something else. Will this new item vastly improve my life? Do I have something like it already? Is this something I want, just because?

Whether your weakness is clothing, technology, home decor, or whatever else your little heart may desire, try to find the beauty in a well-loved and cared for item. It’s fine to have hobbies and to treat yourself, but this shouldn’t make you go broke.

Shop around

2. Shop around

When you do legitimately need something, figure out where you can get it the cheapest. I’m totally guilty of purchasing most of my needs from Amazon Prime because, well, it’s quick and painless. But as much as I love Amazon and will continue to use them, they aren’t always the cheapest option and sometimes you’re simply paying for the convenience of 2-day shipping.

By considering other options and comparing prices, you’ll spend a little bit of your time but save some money. Take a look at coupons, online sale codes, local stores, or sites that offer introductory discounts. I recently placed an order for Burning Man supplies and saved over $20 by getting some items cheaper on a different site. It may not end up saving you a lot in the end, but every little bit will add up!

3. Take care of yourself

Brush your teeth, exercise, drink lots of vitamin C, get plenty of sleep, wash your hands often, and drink 8 glasses of water every day. The fewer times you have to get your butt to the doctor, dentist, or physical therapist, and the fewer medications you need, the better off you are. Once I started biking regularly, my health improved noticeably. It’s not so much that I lost weight, but my body was just healthier. I started getting sick less and having more energy.

Even if you have insurance that covers all of your medical woes (Dental? You lucky duck…) it doesn’t change the fact that you have to take time out of your schedule or workday to keep these appointments. And who wants to spend their sick days allotment from work on actual days that you’re sick? 😉

4. DIY

DIY what, exactly? Well, basically anything that you go out and pay someone else to do. I can’t tell you the last time I actually went into a salon to get my hair dyed, but I do know that dropping $120 every month for my pink locks is not gonna happen. And thus, hairstylist Theresa was born.

So give it a try at home: manicures, waxing, haircuts, beard trims, art, massages, car or bike repair, home repair, or tech and electronic work, just to name a few. If you’re up for trying something new and getting some fun (and maybe unexpected results), then you could save a lot of money this way.

Learn to cook

5. Learn to cook
Eating out is so fun, so delicious! Oh, and so expensive. :-/ What’s the secret to keep from eating out all the time? Answer: have badass meals at home!

Learning to cook some delicious foods and eating at home will be just as exciting and fun as going to a restaurant, and it’s a big plus that you know exactly what goes into your food. I recently wanted to relive my time in New Orleans, so I made a spicy Creole bean dish I found online and beignets. You don’t have to take cooking lessons — check out books from your local library, find YouTube tutorials, or ask friends or family for help. If you can read, you can cook.

6. Revise your subscriptions and memberships

Magazine subscriptions, gym memberships, and premium Spotify are all nice to have, but the money you save each month could go towards a travel fund. After over a year of using Spotify I just downgraded to the peasant’s subscription. Sure, ads suck, and not getting as much freedom to play whatever I want on my phone isn’t awesome, but it’s also not the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.

Are you really using your unlimited yoga membership to justify paying for it? Do you need Hulu and Netflix or could you just do with one? If you get a monthly subscription box, do you use all of the items in it each month? Determine what monthly plans you can do without to give yourself a little more spending money.

Become the planner

7. Become the planner

One problem you’ll run into when wanting to save money is that other people will be inviting you to cool things you can’t do. Concerts with ridiculous covers, drinks at swanky cocktail bars, evening films at the movie theater, Friday night bowling, brunch…ugh, I hate saying no to brunch, but it can easily become the most expensive meal of the week. Of course you’d love to go to all of those things, but when you’re looking to save cash, sometimes even $20 can feel like a lot.

So what to do? Well, first, when you turn people down for things, let them know you truly do appreciate the invites and do want to hang out. Then, to keep from becoming a hermit, you have to take charge and be the organizer.

Invite friends over for an evening of Orange is the New Black bingeing and a potluck. Find a happy hour spot and get a group together. Arrange a Saturday morning hike. For each event/gathering/activity/etc. you organize, find one or two people you know are in, and grow your invites from there. That way, you’ll at least have one other person joining you, if not more. It’s a little more work but you’ll get to be social while spending money more on your terms.

8. Handle credit card debt ASAP

I’ve learned the hard way to only buy things you really, truly can afford. Debt in general is frustrating, but credit card debt is particularly daunting. It’s one of the most frustrating feelings in the world knowing that you’re scraping together what you can to pay it off and you’re barely making a dent.

Getting a personal loan and starting with a fresh slate has really made a difference in my finances and also in my self esteem. Instead of feeling jerked around and taken advantage of by the ridiculous credit card company rates, I have an interest rate that is less than half of what I was paying before. In the end, I’ll be saving hundreds of dollars and taking care of everything months (if not years) sooner than I would have just keeping the credit cards. I just wish that I’d done it sooner!

9. Sell your shit

Chances are you have small things here and there that you’re not using and could be valuable to someone else. You won’t make a fortune, but a few bucks here and there is better than letting unused things sit in your closet. I’m slowly weeding through things I own, giving them to people who will get more use out of them, and getting some extra money at the same time.

Pro tip: wash or dust the item before photographing it, and to try to take pictures in natural light. Seriously, a well-lit, well-composed photo will make all the difference when trying to sell old knick knacks, clothing, furniture, and electronics. Turn to Instagram for inspiration, and post to Craigslist, eBay, Etsy, or even Facebook groups you’re a part of.

Keep your eye on the prize

10. Keep your eye on the prize

And by that I mean have some kind of goal that you’re saving up for. A trip, a new suitcase, an instrument, dance lessons, your passport, a new set of tarot cards…whatever it is, it’s a lot easier to save money when you have that really awesome thing in mind. For me, Burning Man is on my mind, and then a November trip to Brazil. That’s what is going to make all the penny-pinching and Netflix nights and Spotify commercials worth it. 🙂

Oh, and a bonus: get insurance for your belongings

It seems a little counterintuitive to save money by spending it, but insurance that will cover the items you own (like renter’s insurance) is incredibly valuable. My dude recently had something expensive of his stolen from my apartment, and his renter’s insurance covered it. So ask yourself: if you had to replace your phone, computer, or another pricey item tomorrow, could you? If money would hold you back from doing that, then you should get insurance to cover these things. Hopefully you won’t even need it, but if and when you do, you’ll be incredibly grateful to have the coverage.

What’s the most valuable money-saving tip you have?

Photo credits:
Death to the Stock Photo

43 thoughts on “10 Ways to Actually Save Money

  1. Pingback: 30 Things to Do When You’re Bored or Broke (or Both) | Tremendous Times

  2. Thanks for putting together a great list. Many of these items are common practice in a lot of the higher rating personal finance blogs, but there certainly are some very ordinary personal finance blogs out there that only skim the surface with the most basic of tips like the daily coffee.

    It’s great to see a blog combining two of my favourite things as well – personal finance and travel.

  3. Great tips, especially planning inexpensive events with friends. A Saturday hike is cheaper and can be just as much fun as a night out. I have learned the hard way though that diy hair cuts and waxing don’t always end well haha

      • I actually prefer the DIY to the salon. I was fortunate enough to find a guy that is great with the shears. He offered to give me a haircut when we first started dating. I asked him how he would do it. He explained his technique, showed me the leather case with the expensive shears and crazy me said OK. He gave me the best haircut I had gotten in years. Now he is the only person allowed to cut my hair. Never gave me a bad haircut or cut off too much. It saves me hundreds a year. I wouldn’t go back to the salon even if it was free.

  4. Hey 🙂
    I wanna thank you for the tips you gave in this article. I think they are better than anything else you find in the internet, because you share your personal experiences. I guess many people, who write about money problems, haven’t got some, so their tips are useless.
    I like the tips you gave and I will try to use some of them for my own. 😉

  5. I can’t understand how people can get those high debts with credit cards. Don’t you know how much money you have to spend?? I mean no direct offense with this, I just can’t understand because it wouldn’t happen to me. I grew up with the idea of “saved money is well spent money” and I don’t even have a credit card. Aren’t debit cards a thing out there?? I think they’re the greatest thing the banks invented.

    • Credit cards are just so easy to get carried away with. It’s when it doesn’t feel like real money and just a piece of plastic that you start using it here, there, everywhere…and then it’s just out of hand.

      Debit cards are great and it’s what I use now, but credit cards do have their perks — when used correctly. If you find the right card for you, you can get rewarded for spending the money you normally spend. Travel hacking is a way to travel using those points, essentially getting free travel, and I’m bummed I haven’t been able to partake because of my existing credit card debt. I can’t wait to pay it off, get a new card for travel perks, and ONLY use it to buy things that I have money in my bank account for. 🙂

      Thank you for reading! I appreciate you asking questions & starting a discussion!

  6. Great post! Exactly my thoughts on the tips you see elsewhere about cutting down on starbucks and switching off lights! I can relate to almost everything that you have put here, especially the shopping part, I started saving money when I curbed my impulsive shopping habits.

    • Yup, it’s crazy to think how much money I was spending before on clothes that I didn’t even need that much. I’m much happier with my purchases now and they all get more use. Thanks for reading!!

  7. These are great! I hear you on the super frustrating “don’t buy coffee out!” type tips, especially as someone who has always been pretty conscious of money.

    Other things I’ve found helpful in saving $/paying off debt are: the You Need a Budget program, Ready for Zero app, and allotting a specific “fun money” fund every week. I can blow it on whatever I want, but once it’s gone, I’m done. Having this little freedom helps me to stay within budget (and keeps me from going insane).

  8. It’s so nice to see a list that doesn’t repeat every other list almost tip for tip! My top tip is when you go travelling, try to use a combination of your tips of planning and shopping around – you can literally save hundreds of pounds by booking early. Also by breaking up things like train journeys by buying tickets from A-B, B-C rather than A-C (but not actually moving your butt off the train), you can sometimes save a surprising amount of money

  9. Pingback: 10 Ways to Actually Save Money | lostprose

  10. Superb ideas! I used to save money for my travel,like every pay day I make sure to keep a little amount in my coin bank and regard it as nothing so that I won’t mind them anymore and reading your blog today add my techniques on how to say money. Thanks for posting.

  11. Pingback: 10 Ways to Actually Save Money | Harmonibyak

  12. Great list. I just posted my own tips too. It’s so useful to share things like this coz some thing’s that are second nature to you may have never crossed my mind and visa versa. I am always reading loads of general advice blog posts trying to find new ideas.

  13. Thanks for the list which “actually” works for the one who “actually” want to save money.
    But I would just like to add a most important point that is don’t get discouraged with whatever you are starting. No matter how little you’re starting with, it’s always possible to begin saving money. The sooner you start, the sooner you can be on your way to financial security. And you must remove luxury from your budget if you are really serious about saving.

  14. Just discovered your blog and I love it! Being pretty thrifty myself, I always appreciate a good money-saving list to renew motivation. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  15. This is a great post, with great tips to save money. I particularly like the “love what you have” point– I would much rather wear the same couple of boots and jackets that are a few years old and put the money saved towards travel. Not everyone feels the same way! Thanks for your great piece.

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