Have you ever thought about how nice it would be to save more money? Or spending less money? Or both? Think about what your life would be like if you always had tens or even hundreds of extra euros in your account, or even a lot more?
What freedom would that offer you? How would it change your perspective on work? How would it change your ability to help others?
What would you do if you were truly financially free thanks to a huge balance in a savings account? How would it change your career? Would it help you consider your dream job?
Let’s take a look at a list of the many different ways you can save money. Some of these include learning to spend less. We’ll also look at tricks to save more. The result is the same either way – more money in your bank account.
In this article, we’ll look at how not to spend unnecessarily, especially on yourself and your household. So it’s not necessarily about finding discounts, but rather about good habits. Other ways, such as refinancing your loan and more, we’ll save for another article.
Interested? Let’s do it!
Table of Contents
The best ways to save money
Probably everyone who lives on debt or paycheck to paycheck thinks that better ways to save money could be found. A small paycheck is almost always to blame. After all, if we earned more, we’d have more money, right? Of course, there are situations where the salary is really low and saving money is really hard. More often than not, however, the problem is not the salary, but thinking about money the wrong way or spending it on things we don’t really need.
Robert Kiyosaki, in his bestseller Rich Dad, Poor Dad, calls it the‘rat race’. We always tell ourselves:“I wish I earned more.” But when it actually happens, we buy a better car, eat more expensive food or straight up eat out at restaurants, move to a bigger apartment, go on more expensive vacations, but still don’t skimp. So we never create a portfolio of investments that passively make us money, we just spend and spend without making ourselves happier.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be about buying luxury clothes or the most exotic vacations. The problem often lies in the habit of buying a lot of cheap stuff without realising how much money we end up spending on something we don’t really need and that doesn’t improve our standard of living.
The goal of this article is not to make you feel bad, but to get you into some habits that will help you save money without compromising your quality of life. Almost everyone will find that not only could they spend less, but that they could spend a lot less.
Here are some ways you can save more money by spending less. I’ll start with four tips that might throw you off a bit.
They are more about common sense than money. But they will create a foundation in you that is likely to influence your handling of money. Are you ready?
1. Start tracking your spending
Tracking your spending is a point that can change your financial life. If you would ignore all the other points, don’t ignore this one too. Yes, I know it seems like a lengthy and tedious task that will yield little. I challenge you to write down all your expenses for 30 days.
This is not to change your habits, on the contrary, you should try to live as you have been, but keep an honest record of all your expenses, even the smallest ones. Also, don’t just rely on having everything on your bank statement. Many payments are made in cash, and we can’t tell exactly what the money was used for when the actual ATM withdrawal shows up on the statement.
You can use an Excel spreadsheet or the online equivalent of Google Sheets, a paper notepad or any mobile app to take notes. They’re not the most modern solutions, but they all work the same.
This point will help to realise that it’s often not about the amount of salary, but about living beyond one’s means. “Insignificant” expenses in units of euros, which one does not think too much about, can add up to hundreds of euros a month, and tens of thousands at the end of the year. Writing down expenses often reveals dozens of unnecessary expenditures on nonsense that we don’t even know we bought five minutes later.
It’s hard to remember all the small everyday purchases. Expense tracking gives you a quick overview of your monthly spending.
This overall view will give you the information you need to re-evaluate your purchases. This assessment will help you with tip #2 for saving money.
2. Start thinking about your purchases in terms of value
I believe that good money management has a lot to do with your state of mind. If you teach your mind to think about money differently, you can learn to be a better money manager.
When I started tracking my own purchases, I found that I was making a lot of small, insignificant purchases. The problem was that these small purchases led to large expenses and virtually zero savings or outright debt.
But I learned to think about money a little differently. I started converting expenses into values and wondering if a given spending spree was really worth it
An example of value-based spending
For example, let’s say you earn €10. One day after work, you stop at a restaurant and buy dinner for 10 euros.
You know you could make an equally nutritious and good dinner at home for €2, but you’re tired and it’s too late. In a world where you spend according to value, you would stop before buying food and ask yourself: Is this purchase worth me working an extra hour?
Then more questions would follow.
For example, you would have to ask yourself if the money could be put to better use. A way that would be more in line with your financial goals.
With value-based spending, there is no right or wrong answer. Only you can decide which purchases are worth the effort you put in to earn them. For someone on a really high salary, it’s not a problem to spend money on a ready meal at a restaurant because it’s worth the time. On the other hand, for someone who really needs to save money, shopping for restaurant food on a regular basis might just be living beyond their means.
If you know the answer to the question of whether a purchase brings real value to your life, you can forgive yourself for making purchases that aren’t based on value. On the contrary, it opens the door to investing in things that save you time. Isn’t it really better to invest in a gadget that saves you a lot of time in the home? If you have more time for yourself, you might get better results at work and increase your salary.
If you think about whether your hard-earned money is worth investing before you buy, you’ll think differently about spending. And thinking based on the value of spending will be even more motivating if it’s preceded by this next step.
3. Make a list of your financial goals
Have you ever made a list of your financial goals? Do you have an idea of your financial goals? Many people don’t have any.
Instead, they just try to get through the month, pay their bills, and hope they have something left in the bank.
Yet a list of financial goals can help you get a broader perspective on your money. I recommend making a list of short, medium, and long-term financial goals.
Short-term financial goals are goals you can achieve within a year or less. Medium-term financial goals are goals you can achieve within 5 years.
Long-term financial goals are goals that will take you five years or longer to achieve. Here are some examples of short, medium, and long-term goals that can help you create your own list of goals.
Ideas for short-term financial goals
- Paying off €1,000 worth of credit card debt
- Save €1,200 on a holiday
- Save €1,200 for an emergency (Something goes wrong? We can buy it debt-free)
Medium-term financial goals
- Repay all consumer loans
- Save €10,000 on a new car
- Build up a comfortable reserve of 6 months’ salary
Long-term financial goals
- Pay off the mortgage
- Save €200,000 in 20 years
I’m sure you understand what this is all about. All you have to do is set aside a few dozen minutes one afternoon and really think about what’s important to you. What really matters to you when it comes to money?
Is it being debt free? Is it financial independence? Creating a regular passive income through a portfolio of investments?
Only you can decide which financial goals are most important to you. But when you do, you get the drive to help you make value-based spending decisions.
This drive will motivate you to spend and save more. You’ll get a goal to stick to that will give you the power to not spend on things that don’t matter in life, and instead not be afraid to invest where it really matters.
4. Save money by setting a budget
The fourth part of the money game involves living on a monthly budget. Prepare a plan to track your spending. Learn about value-based spending. You’ve created a list of financial goals that are important to you.
Learning to create a written budget and living by it each month will help you achieve those goals. A budget will help you create a foundation that will guide your spending.
I used to think that a budget was limiting. I hated the idea of having a piece of paper dictating how I could spend.
However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that a budget actually gives you freedom. A budget gives you a plan for your spending that ensures you actually reach your financial goals.
It’s like your money’s best friend – it will always help you take the next step towards a great financial life.
Next, we’ll take a look at how to save money. We’ll discuss all the little tips and tricks you can use to save more money.
Housing is one of the biggest expenses a person or family can have. Here are a few ways you can save on housing.
5. Don’t spend as much as your mortgage representative tells you
While mortgage companies try to make sure that people can actually make payments and see how they are spending and how much they are earning, they are also trying to sell the mortgage and make a profit. If a representative tells you that you can spend so much and so little, it’s more of an absolute upper limit of what you can actually afford. The reality should be lower.
When you start thinking about buying a house, one of the first things you should do is get pre-approved for a mortgage.
Do yourself a favor and don’t spend as much as the mortgage representative tells you that you can.
In cash-strapped months, you’ll appreciate the extra room in your budget.
6. Planning ahead for big expenses
One of the ways home ownership can get seriously expensive is through repairs. Repairing or replacing a roof, furnace, siding, or other renovations can be quite costly.
That sometimes requires an investment to account for major repairs, even though we may not know exactly what will need to be repaired or replaced. Therefore, we should not be caught off guard when this investment is really necessary and borrow for these expenses. Instead, set aside a little money each month in a savings account dedicated to home repairs
. Just include the monthly amount in your budget and the money will automatically be deposited into your savings account.
That way, you’ll have cash available in case of a big expense and won’t have to go into debt.
Another way to save on housing is to keep track of your energy consumption. Recklessly running the water, insisting on a perfectly comfortable temperature in the house, and leaving lights on in unused rooms will cost you money.
We can usually pick up tips on where to watch our consumption from our parents. Here are some tips to help you save money in this area.
7. Keep an eye on your water consumption
Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. Run the water with less force when washing dishes.
Adjust the water level in your washing machine according to the size of the load you are washing. Don’t water the grass if rain is expected during the week.
Install low-flow toilets and showerheads. All of these small steps can add up to big savings on your water bills, albeit with some initial investment, but that will pay for itself in a very short time.
A very good investment that will pay off in the long run is buying a dishwasher. This is not just for the sake of saving time, but especially for the sake of saving water. Even the sturdiest hand dishwashing uses many times more water than modern dishwashers.
8. Saving money on heating and air conditioning
Utility bills can be high when you own a house. Here are some tips on how to save on utility bills.
Turn down the temperature (or air conditioning) when it’s nighttime or when you’re away during the day. If no one is in the room, be sure to turn off the lights.
In the winter, leave the blinds open so the house can be heated by the sun. In summer, keep the blinds drawn to keep the house cool.
Have a professional assess your home for energy leaks. Many energy companies do this free of charge.
Small steps to reduce energy consumption will result in big savings in the long run.
9. Spend less on home repairs
We’ve already talked about how important it is to save money on home repairs. There are also ways you can spend less on household repairs when they do occur. For example, consider making repairs or renovations yourself
. Small jobs, such as fixing a leaky faucet or replacing linoleum, can be easy with a little training.
Watch YouTube videos or visit your local home improvement store for instructions on how to make small repairs yourself.
If you must hire someone else to do the repair, get recommendations from friends or use various comparison sites and reviews. Thanks to the internet today, it’s not hard to find out who offers good prices and does quality work.
10. Renting rooms in your house
Another way to save on living costs is to rent out rooms in your house. You can rent them out throughout the year and have roommates who will pay money to use the spare rooms.
Or you can use Airbnb and rent out rooms to business travellers and tourists. With Airbnb, you can choose how and when you rent out rooms in your house. It’s not for everyone, but if you have a part of your apartment or house unused and separate from your space, it can be a very nice way to make some extra income.
Are you a renter? Don’t worry. There are ways you can save on housing costs, too.
11. Find a cheaper apartment
If you’re spending more than you’d like on your rented flat or house, look for cheaper places. Finding a place to live is usually no problem thanks to online search engines, and if you find a place that suits you better, you’ll get a return on the time you’ve invested.
12. Be the apartment manager
Some apartment complexes allow tenants to become managers of the owners’ association or co-op, which usually doesn’t require as much work, but you can make some extra money.
These duties sometimes involve helping other tenants with basic problems. You may need to call a repairman for a leaky faucet.
Or you may need to help a tenant replace a lost key. Management duties vary for each rental property, but they can all save you money on rent or by losing some money on your bill each month.
13. Swap the work for a rent reduction
If you are renting a house, your landlord may reduce your rent for work done on the property. For example, if you mow the lawn every week, you can get a discount on your rent.
Or you may get a discount for making basic alterations or repairs, such as redecorating. Talk to your landlord about your options. It doesn’t always work out, but sometimes a landlord is willing to trade the money you earn for more time and convenience, plus he knows you’re taking good care of his property.
Transportation is a necessity in most areas. However, there are ways you can save on transportation. Here are a few ideas.
14. Don’t succumb to the lure of a new car
Car dealers and banks tempt you to get a new car every few years. They tempt you with shiny new cars and cheap finance.
But even if you get a 0% interest loan, you’ll still have a high repayment hanging over your head every month. And your new car will lose value the moment you drive it off the lot. Consider buying a reliable used car and pay cash instead.
15. How to save money on the way to work
Most people have to commute to work, and sometimes that means driving. However, you can save money by finding alternative modes of transport.
For example, you can carpool with someone who lives nearby. Or you can travel by bus occasionally. If you live close enough, you can walk or cycle to work.
You can also try working from home one or two days a week.
16. You live in an area where everything is within walking distance
Walkable locations are those where many everyday necessities are within walking distance. The grocery store, library and local doctor are all within a few hundred yards or a few miles at most of your home.
Many communities today are planning to make walking a viable transportation option for residents. If you don’t live in a location where everything is walkable, consider moving to such a location if it makes sense to you. One bonus is that walking will help keep you fit for free.
There are several ways you can save on groceries at home. These tips can work whether you’re single or raising kids.
These costs are quite high and saving on food should be on the agenda without compromising on the quality of your diet.
17. Plan your diet
One way to save big money on groceries is to make a weekly menu. Opt for seven dinners for the week. Then I’ll buy the ingredients I need to prepare those dinners.
Finally, I’ll add to my grocery shopping list the foods for breakfast and lunch. Putting together a weekly menu will help ensure that you never order takeout because you have nothing to eat at home.
18. Make a list of cheap meals
Sometimes you have to treat yourself, but if you plan to save money, you have to accept that you shouldn’t treat yourself every day
Therefore, we should make a stockpile of foods that are nutritious but not expensive.
Creating a target amount to spend on food will help you keep your food budget low, but still indulge in more extravagant meals or go to a restaurant every now and then.
19. Grow your own food
If possible, start a garden or join a community garden. Seeds of different crops are very cheap and the yields are often very high.
20. Buy local produce
Buying at local farmers’ markets and from local farmers will also help you save money on food. Although supermarkets offer a very convenient way to buy pretty much all types of food, they don’t necessarily offer the best prices. Farmers markets, on the other hand, are very convenient for buying mainly raw materials.
21. Buy in bulk (if that makes sense)
Buying in bulk can save you a lot of money – sometimes. The key is whether you actually use the food you buy in bulk. Then you might get a better deal, but it’s still not worth it because you’ll throw some of it away.
22. Watch out for food waste
It’s estimated that around a third of the food you buy ends up being thrown away. That’s a lot of money ending up in landfill.
By following these tips, you can save money and reduce food waste in your home:
- Use leftovers for lunch or use them for your next dinner
- Prepare smaller meals
- Make a weekly menu so you only buy what you will use
- Don’t buy things your family doesn’t like
- Clean your fridge of leftover food once a week in the evening
Reducing food waste can save you tens or even hundreds of euros a month. Usually it’s the exact amount that’s missing from your budget.
Do you spend a lot of money on entertainment, such as going to the theatre and restaurants? Here are a few ways to have fun for less money.
23. Hosting movie nights at home
Limit your cinema visits and host movie nights at home instead. Turn out the lights, pop some popcorn and settle down on the couch with your favorite movie. It’s much cheaper than going to the cinema.
24. Find hobbies and activities that are free
There are many ways to have fun for free. Plus, nowhere is it written that the more expensive the hobby, the more likely you are to enjoy it. On the contrary, many activities that are (almost) free or only require a one-time investment often bring much more enjoyment. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something you spend nothing on, but rather a cheaper version of something that can cost a lot of money. Here are a few ideas:
- Go for a bike ride
- A trip to a state or county park
- Attend a concert with free admission
- Gather with friends for a barbecue or potluck
- Play card or board games
- Go for a walk
- Host a triathlon for family and friends
If you’re willing to be creative, you can do many things for free. Next, we’ll move on to how to save money on health.
Try these tips to save money on health care. You might be surprised how much money you can save.
25. Focus on prevention
As with most things, prevention is often cheaper than cure
. Make sure you get annual preventive checkups with your doctor, dentist, and eye doctor. Avoid activities or habits that are known to be harmful to your health. Examples are smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
Exercise regularly and eat plenty of green vegetables. Be moderate in your consumption of sugar and processed foods. Take care of your health to avoid expensive medical expenses.
26. Take advantage of insurance discounts
Health insurance often includes a range of benefits and services with discounts. These may include various checkups, screenings, or even free or discounted surgeries or hospitalizations.
27. Free exercise
Instead of spending money on an expensive gym membership, consider a free exercise option. Create an exercise plan that you can do at home. Or walk, jog or bike on local trails or in nearby parks.
Exercise to the exercise shows you find on TV, or buy a set of DVDs focusing on your favorite exercises. Exercise with a friend or loved one to make free exercise more appealing.
The fact that raising children can be expensive need not be discussed at length. Here are some ideas on how to spend less when raising children.
28. Choose extracurricular activities
Instead of signing your child up for every extracurricular activity available, be picky. Let them choose one or two activities each year that are important to them.
This will help you save money and time.
29. Be creative when it comes to spending on clothes
It can be tempting to buy your kids expensive designer clothes. When your kids are in their teens, they may insist on it. Consider the following ways to save on children’s clothing.
- Shop for used goods at thrift stores, Facebook Marketplace, eBay or other sites
- Stock up on clothes on sale at the end of the season and buy your kids a size bigger – they’ll grow into their clothes by the start of the next season
30. Introduce a “rethink everything” budget
Using a “rethink everything” budget can be a great way to spend a lot less money.
The concept is simple: take each item on your monthly budget and find a way to reduce or eliminate that expense.
I hope some of these simple money-saving ideas help you improve your financial situation. With a little creativity, you can save more money.
If possible, there is no advice in the article that says we should save on things we love, on vacation, or that we shouldn’t splurge our pocket money here and there. We should try to save money on ordinary expenses that are not so essential to our quality of life. It is quite normal that we go on holiday from time to time, but we should take this into account so that we do not go into debt because of the holiday, i.e. perhaps we should regularly put aside a certain amount of money which will then go towards some item or experience.
I hope some of these tips will help you save and your bank account balance will only improve.