How to Save Money: 17 Tips

Find long-term savings by shopping smart, bundling services, canceling subscriptions and more.

Courtney JespersenMay 13, 2020
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17 Ways to Save Money

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You’re human. Of course you want to save more money, but trimming your spending feels like a sacrifice.

Thankfully, there are relatively easy ways to save money — whether you want to trim a few or a few hundred dollars from your budget.

17 ways to save money

We compiled 17 proven ways to save money, from adjusting daily habits, to cutting monthly bills, to making long-term changes.

1. Use an automated tool

Find an app or bank account that takes the work out of saving. Digit and Qapital both automatically transfer small amounts from your checking account to a separate savings account. Learn about apps that automate savings for you.

2. Count your coins and bills

Empty your pockets each day and start collecting that extra change. Then take your collection to the bank and put it directly into your savings account instead of your checking account. When you want to watch your spending, use dollar bills instead of credit cards. It’s harder to part with cold, hard cash.

3. Prep for grocery shopping

A little work before you go to the grocery store can go a long way to help you save money on groceries. Check your pantry and make a grocery list, then use coupons and loyalty programs to maximize your savings as you shop.

4. Order smaller servings at restaurants

Opt for appetizers or split an entree with your dining companion to save money when you eat out.

5. Get discounts on entertainment

Take advantage of free days at museums and national parks to save on entertainment costs. You can also ask about discounts for seniors, students, military members and more.

6. Map out major purchases

Time your purchase of appliances, furniture, electronics and more according to annual sale periods. Don’t buy anything hastily, either. Always wait a day or two before buying to limit buyer’s remorse.

7. Restrict online shopping

Make it more difficult to shop online. Instead of saving your billing information, force yourself to input your shipping address and credit card number each time you order. You’ll probably make fewer impulse purchases.

8. Make your own gifts

Go the DIY route or save money with affordable gift ideas, like herb gardens and gift baskets.

9. Lower your car payment

Refinancing your auto loan and taking advantage of lower interest rates could save you considerably over the life of your loan.

10. Bundle cable and internet

You could lower your cable bill by as much as $40 per month by changing your cable package. And you could save more than $1,000 over two years by bundling your cable and internet service, depending on your carrier.

11. Switch your cell phone plan

Changing your plan is one way to save money on your cell phone bill, but it’s not the only way. Removing insurance from your plan could save you nearly $100 per year, per line.

12. Monitor your electric bill

Big and small changes in your energy usage can help you save hundreds annually on your electric bill.

13. Lower your student loan payments

Income-driven repayment plans can lower your monthly student loan payments by several hundred dollars each month.

14. Cancel unnecessary subscriptions

Uncheck the auto-renew option on any subscriptions you aren’t using regularly, such as subscription boxes or streaming services.

15. Track spending

Keep track of your monthly cash flow — your income minus your expenditures. This will also make it easier to mark progress toward your saving goal. Try a budget app that tracks your spending. (NerdWallet has a free app that does just that.) Or you can follow these five steps to help you track your monthly expenses.

16. Refinance your mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage to snag a lower interest rate can save you several hundred dollars each month. Use our mortgage refinance calculator to find out how much you could save.

17. Set savings goals

Set a specific but realistic goal. It may be “save $5,000 in an individual retirement account this year” or “pay off my credit card debt faster.” Use a savings goal calculator to see how much you’d have to save each month or year to reach your goal.

Implement money-saving tips with a budget

One smart way to manage your money — and hopefully hold on to more of it — is to follow a budget.

At NerdWallet, we think about a budget as a spending plan because saving money doesn’t mean you have to quit spending altogether. It just means you have to prioritize some financial goals over others.

We recommend the 50/30/20 budget for smart money management. Devote 50% of your income to necessities, 30% to wants and 20% to savings. If you find one of your allocations exceeds these percentages, make some adjustments to fit the formula.

As you work toward your ultimate financial goal, make sure to put your newfound funds in a good high-yield savings account to maximize your money. Some of the best online accounts pay interest rates that are much higher than large traditional banks.

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