Looking for tips on how to save money in the new year? You’re not alone.
More than half of Americans who set New Year’s resolutions aim to make better financial decisions in the year ahead.
Whether you’re looking to save money on groceries or set aside a few dollars a week in a money-saving challenge, this post will help you make a plan for meeting your own financial goals for this year.
Better financial management is one of those goals that never seems to go away. Each year, we set out to do better and, hopefully, we see some success. But that success makes us want to do even more.
Where can we cut expenses further? How can we make budget tracking easier? How do we set aside more for the future?
This is a good thing. Finances and spending habits can be a bit like a wild beast that needs taming. It doesn’t happen all at once. It’s a process and it takes time.
But as the beast slowly submits to your authority, you gain greater control over it and learn to work together with it to meet your goals. So, at the risk of sounding brash, let’s whip our finances into shape (and leave the wild animals alone).
The more you invest yourself in shaping and cultivating healthy spending and saving habits, the better results you’re going to see.
Perhaps you’re reading this in January, right after the Christmas season, and you’re determined to get your finances sorted out after some unexpected expenses in December. Or maybe you’ve landed here in June and you want to get back on track with the financial goals you set at the beginning of the year.
Either way, it’s fine! Wherever you are at today, it’s a perfect time to start developing better habits. It’s never too late to take greater control over your spending and follow these tips for saving more money.
Why Do You Want to Save More Money?
But before we get into the tips, take a moment to reflect.
Why do you want to make this change in your life? What are you hoping to achieve by learning to save more money?
A goal not driven by a purpose will lose its priority as soon as something more pressing comes along.
So, first, figure out your why: why do you want to spend less or save more this year?
Are you seeking the freedom of being debt-free?
Do you want to save for something special like a home, your children’s education, or a family vacation?
Would you like to create a financial buffer so you have more flexibility in your working hours and more time with your family?
Articulating your internal motivators will strengthen your determination and give you greater motivation when your willpower is low and temptations are high.
Knowing what your greater goal—or vision, if you prefer—is and what it will mean for you when you get there, will also help you choose the money-saving strategies that are best aligned with your goals.
There are countless money-saving tips out there, but not all of them are going to be for you. If you know your bigger goal, you can eliminate any strategies that don’t align with it.
For example, one reason I want to save more money is so our family can spend more time together. Therefore, money-saving strategies that take me away from my family or distract my attention too much have a counterproductive effect.
I’m going to skip those ones and focus on the ones that actually help me spend more time with my family now, while I’m working toward these goals.
Once you know your why, you’re ready to move forward.
10 Foundational Money Saving Tips
Sometimes our mindset plays a greater role in our spending (and overspending) than our desires and needs do. Changing the way you look at money and how you spend it can bring lasting positive benefits to your financial management style.
Make a Zero-Based Budget That Works
A zero-based budget is one in which your bottom line amounts to zero each month—that is, every dollar coming in is accounted for in some way. That’s not to say it’s all getting spent. Your savings and investments are included in there as well. It’s just that you’re making yourself accountable for everything you have.
Marissa from Simple Money Mom does a great job of explaining how a zero-based budget works and how you can set one up for yourself. She also has a free printable yearly bill tracker to help you manage your payments.
Try a 52-Week Money Challenge
Saving money can be a drag if you don’t have something to look forward to. When your frugality is tied to a specific, tangible goal you’re trying to achieve, you’ll be more likely to stick with it for the long run.
Ginny at Savor and Savvy challenges her family to save a little money each week to fund their travels around the world.
In this post, she discusses this decision and how she makes saving a fun game in her household. She also offers free printables you can use to track your own savings.
Create an Emergency Fund
One of the main reasons that people fail at saving money is unexpected expenses. You might find an entire month of savings wiped out if an unexpected car or home expenses creep up.
Fortunately, there is a way to combat this problem. Before you start saving towards bigger goals, start with an emergency fund. How much you put into your emergency fund is up to you. But a good rule of thumb is to work towards saving three full months’ worth of income.
Set Strict Spending Limits for All Non-required Expenses
The funny thing about non-required expenses (like entertainment) is that they often come in small amounts. But ten small amounts quickly add up to a large amount.
When creating your budget, be certain to create strict spending limits for non-required expenses. This will make it much easier to decide things like which streaming services you’ll be keeping and which ones you can live without.
Move Your Savings Out of Your Savings Account
When it comes to savings, there is just no reason to tempt yourself by keeping your nest egg accessible. Simple savings accounts, like the ones you’ll find at your local bank, typically pay the lowest interest.
Instead, consider using a money market account or a short-term certificate of deposit. These will require you to take extra steps to retrieve the money, making it less tempting to use your emergency fund on that new car you’ve had your eye on.
Use Different Bank Accounts for Spending Money and Bill Money
If you are paid by direct deposit, consider having your income placed in two separate accounts. One account should hold money for all expenses that you are committed to monthly.
The other account will hold spendable money for things like groceries, gasoline, and entertainment. Keeping your money separate will not only ensure that you don’t spend money from your bill budget, but it will also work to subconsciously remind you that you have less spendable income available.
Use a Budgeting App
The first step in any effort to manage and control spending and savings must be the budget. If you don’t have a plan for where your money is going, you have no control over it. You’re just throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks.
In this budgeting tips post, Steffa from Money Tamer walks you through the entire process of setting up your budget, from setting goals and tracking income to using a budgeting app (we use Mint and we love it) and separating your needs from your wants.
She also covers common budgeting mistakes and tips for keeping things on track.
Use Credit Unions for Better Rates and Lower Fees
Banks are notorious for nickel and diming the average customer but unlike banks, credit unions are typically more customer-centric. That means lower fees and better interest rates for everyone involved.
Increase Your Financial Literacy
Sometimes our mindsets play a greater role in our spending (and overspending) than our desires and needs do. Changing the way you look at money and how you spend it can bring lasting positive benefits to your financial management style.
Use Biblical Principles to Improve Your Finances
The Bible is a source of wisdom when it comes to our approach to money. God knows how much temptation money and spending present to people and he laid out systematic principles to help us overcome these challenges. Rachel Norman at A Mother Far From Home offers 8 financial habits based on biblical principles to keep money in its proper place in your life and prepare for unexpected financial emergencies.
20 Great Tips to Save Money on Food
Do a Grocery Audit
Again, the first step in managing your spending is knowing where your money is going. Conducting a grocery audit is a great way to figure out what you are currently spending on food and develop a plan for meeting your food purchasing goals.
Learn What Grows in Each Season in Your Area
As a vegetarian family, we buy a LOT of fruits and vegetables. And we go through it all. A friend was visiting last week when my weekly groceries were delivered and she marveled at how much food we bought. “Come back in five days,” my husband and I joked simultaneously. “The fridge will be empty.”
But buying fresh produce comes at a cost—that stuff isn’t cheap!
If you’re not too attached to your meal plan and have time to shop around a bit, check out this post on saving money on your produce from Lisa at A Day in Our Shoes.
Create a Rotating Meal Plan
Aside from housing, food is our family’s biggest monthly expenditure. With seven people in our house and others visiting regularly, I often feel like I’m pumping out meals at the rate of a small restaurant.
After learning I was sensitive to wheat and dairy, I attempted to cut these foods out of our diet as much as possible. You can imagine what this did to our grocery bill. It soared even higher. If you’re on a wheat-free or gluten-free diet, check out these tips from Sharon at the Helpful GF for saving money on gluten-free foods.
Even if you’re not on a special diet, there are many steps you can take today to save money on your grocery and food bills.
Wash and Prep Fruits and Veggies
If you have a habit of purchasing fresh produce that gets tossed out at the end of the week, then this tip can help save you hundreds of dollars monthly.
When you bring your produce home, wash and prep them right away and then store them in see-through airtight containers. You’re much more likely to grab a bowl of watermelon if it’s already cut up and ready to be eaten.
Here’s your chance to channel your inner homesteader. No, I’m not talking about following #farmhousestyle on Instagram, although, yes, technically that is fun too!
Rather, I’m referring to the time-tested habits people on farms have developed for living simpler lifestyles and using and reusing as much as possible.
This epic money-saving post from Original Homesteading offers some awesome conservation tips. Among my favorites: learning to fix things yourself, managing your use of heat and hot water, and revolutionizing (or de-revolutionizing, I guess) your clothes laundering process. Enjoy!
Be Wise about Eating Out
Most people suggest that you never eat out when you’re on a strict budget. But in reality, this is probably the budget rule that’s most frequently broken.
Rather than determining to never eat out again, start being smarter about where and when you eat out. Choose restaurants where kids eat free or use coupons whenever possible.
Opt for Online Shopping over the Grocery Store
A trip to the grocery store can be a huge hit to your budget. Shopping online allows you to watch your overall spending without being tempted by aisles filled with goodies.
Consider a Subscription to a Warehouse Store
Bulk buy stores can be quite beneficial if you have a large family. However, it’s important to remember that purchasing things in bulk is only beneficial if they are the same things you would normally buy in smaller quantities.
Before assuming that your local warehouse store is the best bargain, do a side-by-side comparison online.
Switch to Water
Sweet drinks are harsh on your budget and your waistline. Whether you’re out to eat or sitting at home, switching to water can be a huge money saver.
Make Your Own Freezer Meals
Storebought freezer meals are a catch twenty-two. On one hand, they may keep you from eating out on a night that you’re just not up to cooking. But on the other hand, they are pretty hard on your shopping budget.
By making your own freezer meals, you’ll have quick and easy meals on hand without breaking your budget.
Split Bulk Items
One of the difficult parts about bringing home bulk items is that a portion of them tends to get wasted. However, this can be easily avoided by splitting bulk items and storing half of them in airtight containers or freezing perishables for later.
Avoid Food That Spoils Quickly
If you’re on a really tight budget, it may be in your best interest to avoid foods that spoil quickly. Foods like avocados or mangos are expensive and usually go bad within a few days.
Many generic foods (and medicine) are made up of the same ingredients. A little-known fact is that some food companies sell their product to be packaged as both brand-name products and store-brand products.
So next time you’re grabbing a gallon of milk, forego brand loyalty and save a dollar.
Add a Starchy Food to Your Dinners to Make Them More Filling
Adding rice or potatoes to your dinner plate can make a little food go a long way. The best part is that these foods are also inexpensive to purchase.
Purchase Eggs or Meat Locally
Locally sourced items are often a healthier and less expensive way to buy. Many local butchers will sell meat in bulk. If your family is vegetarian, too, you may still consider purchasing eggs from your local farm.
Purchase Blocks of Cheese Instead of Sliced
Making small changes like slicing or shredding your own cheese may not seem like it would make a big impact, but over time, the savings are worth the minor inconvenience.
If family meals tend to turn into leftovers that get tossed out after a few days in the fridge, consider planning meals that will allow you to repurpose leftovers. Meals like veggie tacos can be easily repurposed in Vegetarian chili.
Use an Instant Pot for Quick and Easy Meals
Another way to make sure you have an easy dinner on hand is by using an Instant Pot to create pressure-cooked meals that taste as though they’ve been cooking all day.
Use Store Loyalty Programs for Savings on Food and Gas
Next time you’re at the store, take a few minutes to sign up for their loyalty program. If you don’t like the idea of carrying cards around, you can download an app on your smartphone to hold your loyalty cards.
Only Use Coupons on Items You Use Regularly
Many people think that coupons are one of the best ways to save money on groceries but in reality, coupons are meant to convince consumers to purchase items that they may not otherwise try. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always equate to savings.
20 Ways to Save Money on Monthly Bills and Expenses
Save Money on Your Internet Service
Internet service is one budget area whose price can fluctuate substantially. Depending on your area, the type of service you need, and the providers operating near you, you may have more options than you know when it comes to reducing your Internet bill.
I’ve read stories of many frugal families who’ve saved hundreds of dollars a year by simply doing a bit of research and calling their current provider and asking for a better rate. Find out how you can do the same.
Avoid Late Fees with Autopay
If you have a habit of forgetting due dates, consider using autopay for any bills that charge a late fee. Just remember to mark these dates in your budgeting calendar so you don’t end up with bank fees for insufficient funds!
Get Rid of Your Gym Membership
Gym memberships are one of those things that we intend to use but often don’t. Instead of pouring hard-earned money into the gym’s bank account, commit to working out at home or simply taking a walk around your neighborhood.
Become a Cord Cutter
A “cord cutter” is someone who has stopped paying excessive amounts for cable television and has moved to streaming services instead.
With a Roku streaming stick or a Roku TV, you get their streaming service 100% for free. If you’re looking for specific channels, premium upgrades are also available.
Use Your Credit Card Instead of Your Debit Card to Pay Bills
If you have a large credit card balance, consider paying it off this month and then using the credit card to pay your bills. If you continue doing this monthly, you’ll avoid interest charges, instantly dropping your expenses.
Pre-pay Full Premiums Instead of Making Monthly Payments
Many services–like car insurance or Amazon Prime–offer a discounted premium for paying upfront. If you can swing it, paying premiums outright can make a big difference.
Install a Programmable Thermostat to Decrease Energy Consumption
Programmable thermostats allow your home to regulate temperature rather than simply allowing the furnace or air conditioner to run endlessly. Spending a little bit to upgrade to this technology can have a big impact on your monthly bills.
Take Advantage of High Deductible Health Plans with an HSA
If your employer offers a high deductible health plan with an HSA, consider switching. Regular health plans can cost hundreds of dollars monthly but these high deductible plans are much more affordable and often covered completely by employers. When you couple it with an HSA, you often ended up paying little or nothing out of pocket for your health care.
Switch to Smart Bulbs and Smart Plugs for Electric Savings
Smart bulbs are another great investment that pays for itself over time. Using an app, you can set up your smart bulbs to shut off automatically, ensuring that you’re never paying for electricity that you don’t actually use.
Try Walking or Carpooling to Save on Transportation Costs
With the cost of gasoline going up, it’s becoming increasingly more important to find ways to save on transportation costs. If you live close to your employer, walking is a great option. But not everyone is that lucky. Instead, you may consider carpooling or public transit to reduce the cost of commuting.
Call Your Heat Company about Energy Efficiency Grants
Let’s face it: winter in North America (or most of it, anyway) is super cold. Heating is a necessity. But paying through the roof for heating doesn’t have to be. Carrie at One Crazy Mom offers some practical tips for saving money on your heating bill this winter.
You may also want to check out our tips to heat a home in winter.
Find a Cheaper Alternative to Your Mobile Phone Plan
With the number of mobile providers out there, it’s not that difficult to find one that fits your needs and your budget. If you’re on a tight budget, switching mobile providers can be a huge boost to your budget.
Opt For Commercials over No-Commercial Plans
If you’re already a cord cutter but streaming services are killing your budget, try checking your provider’s available plans. Most providers have a discounted plan for people who are willing to watch commercials.
Call Your Creditors to Negotiate a Better Deal
Not everything is negotiable but most people are surprised to find out that most things can be negotiated. Credit card companies will often offer a lower interest rate. Also, cable, phone, and even insurance companies will often find discounts to offer if you just call in and ask.
Spring for Auto Repairs Instead of Purchasing a New Car
People frequently claim that it’s “cheaper” to buy a new car than to pay for the regular repairs their old vehicle requires. However, the math on this one simply doesn’t work out. In all reality, it may be less expensive at the moment, but in the long run, you’ll pay tens of thousands of dollars more than the repair costs to purchase a new car.
Update Your Water Heater for Energy Efficiency
Old water heaters can be a big drain on monthly expenses. If your water heater is more than twenty years old, consider replacing it as soon as possible.
Consider an Income-based Repayment Plan for Student Loans
If you’re paying a large student loan payment each month, consider applying for an income-based plan. These are especially great options for people considering loan forgiveness.
Choose Quality Items Whenever Possible
There are some things that we simply can’t do without, and for these, we can regularly examine our spending patterns to make sure we’re making the best decisions possible.
The cheapest option is not always the best one. If you have to replace something frequently because it’s not built to last, you will end up spending more in the long run than a more expensive option made with attention to quality.
7 Debt Eliminating Tips That Help You Save Big
Consider Consolidating Debts into One Lower Payment
Consolidating your debt tends to get a bad reputation. But in reality, if you can consolidate debt and get both a lower interest rate and a lower payment, then it’s actually a wise financial decision. Try shopping around for a new loan company that may be willing to offer a lower rate.
Pay More Than the Minimum Payment
Paying off debt is all about figuring out how to pay down the principal amount owed. But most of the time, loans and credit cards have high-interest rates that don’t allow you to pay off the principal very quickly. Making a payment that’s higher than the required minimum will help you pay off the debt quickly and pay less overall.
Pay Off Your Most Expensive Loan First
When you’re working to get out of debt, you should always start by paying the loan with the greatest interest first. This means that over time, you’ll be paying less overall.
Make Loan Payments Weekly or Bi-weekly
Getting out of debt is one of the most important elements of financial freedom but most people feel like it’s an insurmountable obstacle. However, by making smaller, more frequent payments, you’ll reduce the amount of interest accrued on your debt, allowing you to pay loans off several months earlier than you would otherwise.
Eliminate Car Payments by Selling Your Second Car
Having two cars often means two loans and higher insurance premiums. Making the switch to being a one-car family can be one of the quickest ways to make a huge impact on monthly expenses. It may also go a long way towards getting rid of your overall debt.
Use Your Tax Refund to Pay off High-Interest Debt
If you’ve got high-interest credit cards or a small personal loan, consider using your tax refund to pay it off.
10 Ways to Save Money on Big Purchases
Avoid Impulse Buys by Setting Time Restrictions on Big Purchases
When making large purchases, it’s a good idea to invoke a 72-hour waiting period. This will help you avoid making impulsive purchases that will impact your budget for a long time.
Make Big Purchases at the Right Time of Year
When you’re considering making a big purchase, it’s important to know when to buy. Purchasing appliances, cars, or even a new mattress can be a big expense but what most people don’t know is that huge discounts are available to those who know when to buy.
Always Comparison Shop Before Making Big Purchases
One of the hardest parts of making big purchases is saying no to an overly eager salesperson. But giving yourself a hard and fast rule to comparison shop before all big purchases will go a long way to helping you stand firm.
Purchase Used Cars Instead of New Cars
Many people don’t realize that purchasing a brand new car is one of the biggest financial mistakes you could make. The moment that you drive a new car off of the car lot, it depreciates severely. If you’re buying from a car lot, opt for a low mileage used vehicle.
Try a Working Vacation
When you’re on a tight budget, many people may opt to forgo family vacations. But if a vacation is non-negotiable for you, then consider trying out a working vacation. Websites like volunteerhq.org have amazing options to make vacationing more feasible.
30 Quick Ideas to Make or Save Money on Everything Else
The lists above will help you save money on regular expenses and big purchases but it’s often the little things that add up to make a big dent in your budget. Below is a curated list of ideas to help you start saving quickly.
- Shop at thrift shops
- Find free ways to have fun
- Try a 30-day no-spend challenge
- Learn how to do routine car maintenance yourself
- Use apps like Ibotta to receive rebate checks on everyday items
- Use Groupon to find the best deals on local entertainment
- Sign kids up for local sports instead of private lessons
- Opt for reusable products like dishtowels instead of paper towels
- Use your local library instead of expensive book/audiobook services
- Make the things you buy last longer
- Purchase quality over quantity when possible
- Give up expensive habits
- Sell your toilet paper rolls on eBay
- Repurpose old things
- Use the local beauty school instead of expensive salons
- Opt for commercials over no-commercial plans
- DIY your cleaning solutions
- Repair damaged clothes when possible
- Negotiate a better rates on your current bills
- Give DIY gifts instead of purchasing them
- Consider switching energy providers to save on energy costs
- Buy seasonal items just after the holiday season
- Sell your old clothes on websites like thredUP
- Rent out a room in your home
- Have a yard sale and purge everything you can
- Wash clothes in cold water instead of hot
- Buy rechargeable batteries to save on replacements
- Take a bagged lunch to work instead of eating out.
- Roll down the windows instead of using the AC in your car
- Buy your electronics refurbished or renewed from eBay or Amazon
I’d love to hear what has worked for you when it comes to saving money. Share your top tips for saving money in the comments below.
Sophie Agbonkhese is a writer, homeschooling mother of four, and a recovering overachiever (who occasionally relapses). She is the founder of My Cup Runs Over, a site dedicated to helping busy women simplify and enrich their lives. When she’s not writing or debugging websites, Sophie spends her time reading, dancing, bullet journaling, reading, gardening, listening to audiobooks, and striving fruitlessly to have a clean house for at least five minutes.