Budgeting Personal Finance Saving

7 Painless Ways to Save Money

Sometimes we need to save a little bit more money, but cutting out activities and hobbies we enjoy is a deal breaker. If you want to save more money without feeling the pain of budgeting, check out these easy-to-follow tips to get started.

1. Substitute with Store Brands
Did you know that many store brand items are made by the same manufacturer as the name brand? Sometimes the product is even the same, just in a more generic, boring box.

On a few products, there is a difference in quality from store brand to name brand, but most products are virtually identical. Whether you are on the pharmacy aisle, the breakfast aisle, or even shopping online – check out Amazon Basics – there is likely money to be saved by shopping around and trying different brands.

Sometimes there is a little trial and error finding the store brand products you like and don’t like, but sometimes there are big surprises where you can save money and find a better quality product at the same time. We call that the jackpot.

2. Skip the Daily Coffee Shop Visit
It is easy to pick on coffee shops because they charge so much for something you can get really cheap, or even free, elsewhere. Making coffee at home, even with a single cup coffee maker, only costs cents per cup rather than dollars, and most offices give you free coffee just for showing up to your job every day.

If you spend $4 per day on coffee five days per week, that is $80 per month or almost $1,000 per year. A Keurig costs about $200 plus around .50 cents per K-Cup, which leads to a break even point around three months after purchase. Buying a traditional coffee maker, you save even more money.

And yes, most offices have coffee that pales in comparison to the quality at coffee shops, but at the end of the day coffee is still coffee, and free coffee is better than paying $1,000 per year!

3. Find Less Expensive Replacement Activities
Going out to dinner with friends is fun, but it can also get very expensive quickly, particularly if you enjoy adult beverages and dessert with your meal. Cutting down on restaurant visits is a great option to save money, and it doesn’t have to feel like it’s cramping your style.

Consider hosting a rotating potluck with friends, going to a local park to grill, or try a progressive dinner with neighbors where each home hosts a different course. Themed progressive dinners can be a lot of fun. Have each house pick a country or choose a unifying ingredient to tie each stop together.

Every activity and hobby has a less expensive option or alternative, so think outside the box for ideas to continue with activities you enjoy, but substituting out one part to make it more affordable.

4. Shop Around for Insurance
It is easy to forget about the expense of car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, and other insurance you purchase yourself because it is on automatic payments or paid infrequently, but those dollars add up fast throughout the year.

Shopping around for insurance every couple of years can save you big. I recently changed car insurance companies for a 50% savings each year.

You don’t even have to wait for the end of the policy to change companies. If you find a better rate and want to change insurers at any time, just sign up for the new policy and call your old insurer to cancel. They will give you a prorated refund any prepaid months you have not yet used.

5. Use Automated Savings Apps
Savings apps like Digit, Dobot, and Acorns making putting away money into a savings or investment account simple. Digit and Dobot are both free and Acorns starts at $1 per month for accounts up to $5,000.

Digit makes random, small, automatic transfers from your checking into a Digit savings account that you control via text message. Dobot makes scheduled weekly transfers into an account divided up into different goals. Acorns rounds up your spending to the next dollar and transfers funds into an investment account for you.

These apps have something important in common. Without even thinking users are hiding away money for a rainy day. Those small dollars add up fast!

6. Meal Plan Before Grocery Store Visits
Common advice says to avoid the grocery store when hungry so you don’t overbuy and buy things you don’t need. Impulse purchases at the grocery store become an expensive habit for millions of people.

Rather than shopping and cooking, consider meal planning in advance. Buy only the ingredients you need to feed yourself. If you want to buy snacks and other goodies, add them to the list as well. When you get to the store, only buy what is on the list. Do not give yourself any slack on that rule.

Meal planning can also help avoid eating out at restaurants, saving even more money from this simple task.

If you are new to meal planning, check out some of the many great resources online. To get started, check out 5 Dollar Dinners for some fun ideas.

7. Cut Spending on What You Don’t Value
I used to pay $70 every month for cable TV. I would come home from work and zone out in front of the TV, wasting both time and money simultaneously. I realized that I would rather use my time for more valuable pursuits, and cut that $70 per month expense. I have since saved over $4,000 on cable TV.

Maybe you love your ESPN and could never part ways with cable. That’s okay. What is the thing you can cut to afford the life you want? Just because a neighbor, friend, or relative enjoys and values something doesn’t mean you have to value the same things.

You can’t afford everything, but if you put your mind to it and budget correctly, you can afford the things in life you value most. Cut spending on what you don’t value so you can afford what you do.

How do YOU cut back your budget to save some extra cash? What sacrifices can you afford to make?

About the author

Eric Rosenberg

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer originally from Denver, Colorado living in Ventura, California. When away from the keyboard, Eric he enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers, and spending time with his wife and baby girl. You can connect with him at his own finance blog Personal Profitability.

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