When it comes to saving money, small changes can add up quickly. Following a budget, adjusting a few daily habits, cutting monthly bills and leveraging tools that automate savings can make a big impact.
We’ve highlighted some of the best ways to save money with minimal effort. These money tips can help you save for a large purchase, an emergency fund and more.
1. Set up direct debits to your savings account
By setting up a direct debit from your everyday account to your savings account each month, you can build your savings with minimal effort. This technique can be especially useful when your savings accounts are dedicated to specific goals, such as establishing an emergency fund, going on a holiday or building up a house deposit.
2. Save your coins and small notes
A more manual option is to collect any coins and small notes you’ve accumulated over the course of the week and pop them in a savings envelope or jar. After you have a sizable amount, you can deposit it directly into your savings account and watch it grow.
🤓 Nerdy Tip:
If you want to slow your spending, try using cash instead of cards. For some, it can be harder to part with physical money. And the less you spend, the more you can save.
3. Get the most out of your supermarket visits
A little work before you go to the grocery store can go a long way toward helping you save money on groceries.
- Check your pantry and make a shopping list to avoid impulse buying something you don’t need.
- Shop at supermarkets with competitive prices.
- Choose seasonal produce when possible. An easy way to do this is to flip through your preferred supermarket’s flyer — you may even score a coupon.
- Sign up for your preferred supermarket’s rewards program, if they offer one, to earn points while you shop.
If you use a credit card that offers cash back, you could save on the money you spend at the supermarket. As with all credit cards, you’ll want to be sure to pay off your bill each month to avoid paying credit card interest and fees.
4. Minimise restaurant and takeaway spending
One of the easiest expenses to cut is restaurant meals or food delivery, since eating out or ordering takeaway tends to be pricier than cooking at home.
If you do eat out, skipping alcoholic drinks and dessert can help stretch your budget. If you travel or dine out frequently as part of your job, aim to make at least one meal in the day yourself.
5. Get discounts on entertainment
You can take advantage of free days at museums and national parks to save on entertainment costs. Your community might offer free concerts and other in-person or virtual events; check your local calendar before splurging on pricey tickets to private events. You also can ask about discounts for older adults, students, military members and more.
6. Map out major purchases
You can save by timing your purchases of appliances, furniture, cars, electronics and more according to annual sale periods, like the end of the financial year or Boxing Day. It’s also worth confirming a deal is actually a deal by tracking prices over time. You can let tools do this step for you; certain browser extensions pull in coupon codes and check for lower prices elsewhere.
7. Restrict online shopping
You can make it more difficult to shop online in order to stop spending money on things you may not need. Instead of saving your billing information, opt to input your shipping address and credit card number each time you order. You might make fewer impulse purchases because of the extra work involved.
8. Delay purchases with the 30-day rule
One way to avoid overspending is to give yourself a cooling-off period between the time an item catches your eye and when you actually make the purchase.
If you’re shopping online, consider putting the item in your shopping cart and then walking away until you’ve had more time to think it over. In some cases, you might even get a coupon code when the retailer notices you abandoned the cart. If 30 days seems like too long to wait, you can try shorter periods like one week or 48 hours.
9. Get creative with gifts
You can save money with affordable gift ideas when you go the do-it-yourself route. Baking cookies, creating art or preparing someone dinner can demonstrate that you care just as much as making an expensive purchase, and perhaps even more so. You also can give someone the gift of your time by taking them to a local (free) museum.
10. Lower your car costs
Shopping around for car insurance regularly can help you cut costs compared with simply letting your current policy auto-renew.
You also can cut ongoing car maintenance costs by driving less, removing heavy items from your boot and avoiding unnecessary rapid acceleration.
11. Reduce your petrol usage
You can’t control prices at the pump, but you can do several things to cut your petrol use and save money. Try using a petrol app to track fuel prices and help you locate the cheapest possible petrol near you. And opt for public transport when you can.
12. Bundle your pay TV and internet
To lower your internet, pay TV or streaming bill, consider bundling a few services under one plan.
Another option is to reduce your subscriptions to one or two streaming services. To reduce costs further, it’s worth downgrading to versions with ads.
13. Switch your mobile phone plan
Changing your plan is one way to save money on your mobile phone bill, but it’s not the only way.
Here are some ideas:
- Sign up for paperless statements. Some providers offer discounts when you opt out of paper bills.
- Bundle your phone with other services, like the internet.
- Skip the phone upgrade.
14. Reduce your electric bill
Big and small changes in your energy usage can help you save hundreds annually on your electric bill.
Consider plugging any insulation leaks in your home, using smart power strips, swapping in more energy-efficient appliances and switching to a smart thermostat.
Even switching from a desktop computer to a laptop computer can save energy — laptops consume roughly 90% less energy than desktops, according to the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.
15. Cancel unused subscriptions
Reviewing your credit card or bank statement carefully can help you flag any recurring expenses that you no longer need.
Avoid signing up for free trials that require payment information, or at least make a note or set a calendar reminder to cancel before the free period ends.
16. Set specific and realistic savings goals
The more specific you can be, the better. Your goal might be “contribute $5,000 to my super fund account this year” or “pay off my credit card debt in two years.” Use a calculator to see how much you’d have to save each month or year to reach your goal.
17. Track your monthly spending
Keep track of your monthly cash flow — this is your income minus your expenses. Being aware of your incomings and outgoings gives you a better idea of how much you can save. You can use budget apps that track your spending automatically, or manually go through your credit card bill and general bank account each month.
18. Pay off high-interest debt first
Debt payments can be a huge burden on your overall budget. If you can pay off high-interest debt more quickly through extra payments, you’ll reduce the amount of interest you pay over time. Less money spent on interest means more money in your pocket.
19. Take advantage of high-yield savings account
High-yield online savings accounts can help you get the most out of your money. And with interest rates on the rise, there’s no better time to save.
20. Create a 50/30/20 budget
One smart way to manage your money — and hopefully hold onto more of it — is to follow a budget, which means setting priorities for your spending.At NerdWallet, we recommend the 50/30/20 budget for money management. This approach means devoting 50% of your after-tax income to necessities, 30% to wants and 20% to savings and any debt payments.
Frequently asked questions about saving money in Australia
Saving roughly 20% of your paycheck is a solid goal.
High-yield savings accounts have higher interest rates than standard savings accounts, so you can grow your savings faster.
An emergency fund can be there for you when you face an unexpected cost or income loss. Building one starts with setting a savings goal and working toward it.
If you’re in the United States, read this article on the NerdWallet US site.