We’ve all lived paycheck to paycheck at one point in our lives. But we all don’t have to live this way. By saving more, you can increase your financial stability and work toward breaking free from the paycheck-to-paycheck rat race.
Most people fall for the myth that saving money has to be a drastic action but the truth is that every little bit counts.
I’m sure we all would like to save more money and luckily, there are plenty of ways to save on expenses today and in the future. Here are 70 effective ways to generate savings today and tomorrow.
Ways To Save Money When Living Paycheck to Paycheck At Home
1. Flip the Switch
Leaving the lights on in a room that’s not in use is an overlooked way to save money. My son used to be scared of the dark so we spent years leaving a hallway light on. Eventually, we just got some nice string lights to hang up in his room at night and that did the trick plus it was way more efficient energy-wise.
Another trick you can try for a nightlight is battery-powered holiday lights. They usually have a timer on them so they will automatically shut off each night after a few hours.
Be sure to turn off all lights when you’re not using them and you’ll see an improvement in your energy bill cost.
2. Decorate On A Dime
The dollar store is a treasure trove of great finds! Check it out for decorative pieces or items that can help you create D-I-Y decor. Check out the YouTube channel Do It On A Dime for great dollar store decoration ideas!
3. Rent Out a Spare Room (House Hack)
Renting out space in your home, whether short or long term, can help you save money by significantly reducing your monthly mortgage payments.
4. Take Control
A ton of money is wasted each year through poor home temperature control. Update to a smart thermostat and utilize its advanced programming to help you save energy.
5. Don’t Power Trip
Did you know that you have phantoms in your home? Most electronics that are plugged in but turned off cause phantom power drain.
Try using a smart power strip to conserve the power use of plugged-in electronics or simply unplug electronics that don’t need to be run 24/7.
6. Replace Furnace/AC Filters
Filters are only supposed to be used in your system for a few months. Some people forget which isn’t good for your furnace or air conditioner and forces it to work a lot harder then it needs to. Changing the filter every 1-3 months can not only save you money, but also extend the life of your system and improve the air quality in your home.
7. Stay One Step Ahead
These are great ways to save you money and headaches from massive repairs and high energy use bills.
8. Replace Your Lightbulbs
Replace your incandescent and older light bulbs to extremely energy-efficient LED bulbs. They are also long-lasting, durable, mercury-free and cost-efficient so they are well worth getting to light up your home.
9. Stop Wasting Water
Another resource that’s wasted a lot in homes? Water. To cut your water bill significantly install low-flow fixtures, run full loads in the dish and clothes washer, take fewer baths and more showers.
Want to take efficiency to the max? Use a timer for showers to control water use as well.
10. Turn Down The Heat
Lower your hot water heater temperature a few degrees and you’ll save a bundle! Even though it still hasn’t warmed up much in our area, we don’t keep the heat on all day. Instead, we just dress warm in the house and open the curtains so the sun can get through.
11. Shop Around
Mortgage rates are competitive so you should shop around for when the time is right to ensure you get the best deal. You can also shop around for better insurance rates using resources like The Zebra and compare prices for your cell phone service.
When it comes to clutter, Americans are crushing the stats. Decluttering your home not only can help with physical, emotional and mental clarity, but it can help you save money from having to store all these things while earning some extra money.
If you have Netflix, turn on Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and get inspired to declutter your home. Who knows, maybe you’ll even find some items you can sell for extra cash.
Ways To Save Money On Entertainment
13. Utilize Free Community Resources
When you have a library card! Visit your local library to borrow books, videos and other media forms for free. We also have a free little library in our neighborhood where you can borrow and donate books.
14. Use Coupon and Discount Sites
Every time I want to do something fun with my friends or family I always check out discount sites like Groupon and Local Flavor. You can find discounts on restaurants, local attractions, services, products, and more.
15. Challenge Yourself with a No Spend Weekend
A no-spend weekend will help you stick to your budget but it also doesn’t mean you have to be bored the entire time. Get creative with activities in and outside of your home. Pull out old games you haven’t played in a while, make a delicious dinner with food from your pantry, and go on a long hike to explore a new trail or state park in your area.
Related: 75 Free Things To Do This Weekend
16. Bundle Up and Cancel Streaming Services
Yes, that’s right. While everyone is telling you to switch to streaming services like Netflix, ESPN, and Disney Plus, I’m actually recommending you limit the number of services you have. If you sign up for multiple streaming services, you could be paying as much as you would for cable.
Narrow down which service you like best and stick with that or see if you can bundle. For example, Hulu has partnered with Disney Plus to offer both services to users for one low fee.
17. Be Open to Sharing
To save even more money, go in on a subscription for Netflix or Hulu with a friend or neighbor. I know Netflix will allow you to stream from multiple devices.
Ways To Save Money On Food
18. Learn How to Cook With Fresh, Whole Foods
Ordering takeout is nice to do every now and then, but it’s important to know how to cook if you want to save money while living paycheck to paycheck. With helpful websites and YouTube channels that share different recipes, you’ll find some great tips, learn new cooking techniques, and be able to feed your family well for less.
19. Pack Your Lunch
After you cook your amazing dinner at home, pack a lunch of leftovers for work instead of buying lunch to save money on costly daily lunches. Or, just plan out what foods you want to bring to lunch then prepare and pack everything the night before.
Get into a routine of bringing your lunch to work and it will quickly become second nature.
20. Skip the Coffee Shops, Make Coffee At Home
If you love having some java in the morning to get your day going, make your coffee at home instead of picking it up from a gourmet coffee shop. While it seems like a minimal daily expense, coffee purchases add up quickly!
You don’t have to completely cut out Starbucks runs, but you can easily limit them by investing in a decent coffee maker and brewing your own lattes at home.
21. Take Advantage of Price Checking Policies
Most grocery stores offer the option of price matching to save on groceries and goods. This is a great and underutilized way to save a lot of money at the cash register!
22. Use a Cashback Rewards Site
While you may not want to go to the level of those you see on the show Extreme Couponing, but you don’t have to in order to save money on groceries. Instead, use a cashback rewards site like Fetch Rewards to get rebates on foods you normally buy at your favorite stores.
This is an effortless way to save money at the store so be sure to check out my review below to see exactly how Fetch Rewards works.
23. Have a Potluck
Hosting dinners and events can get expensive if you do it often enough. Still, you don’t have to limit fun times with your family or friends. Have a potluck with friends or family every month instead and keep being social without it burning a hole in your pocket every time.
24. Stock Up
We run a lot of errands especially on weekends. One thing you can do is carry snacks and drinks in the trunk of your car so you don’t feel tempted to buy them for marked up prices at gas stations (You can buy them from wholesale warehouse club stores like Costco).
25. Meatless Mondays
Meat can be expensive so this is a fun way to slash your grocery spending and try some new recipes out.
26. Eliminate Food Waste
We also save on food waste by using resources like Eat By Date. We also shop for groceries every 2-4 weeks which helps us save on food overall since I’m not in the store every week buying stuff.
27. Plan Out Meals
Meal Prep may take a bit of time, but it’s well worth it and will help you save money in the long run. In fact, planning meals actually saves me a lot of time and stress during the week. Check out these $5 Meal Plan if you’re looking for ideas and freezer meal prep options to help you get started.
28. Make A List Based On Your Meal Plan
Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach and without a list! Creating a grocery list will help you stick to your budget and reduce your picking up impulse items that add up fast.
Before you leave the store, check your receipt to ensure errors aren’t made. This happens more than you think and can cost you more than you intended to spend.
29. Buy Your Favorite Foods in Bulk
Take advantage of awesome bulk stores and wholesale warehouses such as Costco. You get a substantial discount when you pay for larger amounts of items at once plus it saves you weekly grocery shopping time.
30. Get A Green Thumb
It’s easy to plant your own vegetables and herbs so if you have the space (herbs can even be grown in your home), set up a garden to help you reduce your grocery bill.
Ways To Lower Your Shopping Costs
31. Bulk Order Your Necessities Online
We order all of our toiletries for the month via Amazon Subscribe and Save. This is a free Amazon feature that lets you ‘subscribe’ to receive certain products each month, every 2 months, or quarterly.
You save 5% automatically, but when you subscribe to 5 or more items you’ll save 15% per item. This allows us to save big on items we use all the time like toothpaste, soap, toilet paper and avoid overspending when shopping at the store.
32. Local Resale Options
For my first apartment, I was able to get all my gently used furniture for just $50 from a local furniture bank. Now, I typically buy some of my furniture around major holiday sales, used online, resale shops and places like Habitat For Humanity. I’ll admit, I’ve also grabbed some pretty great finds that have been on the curb in my neighborhood for garbage day.
33. Christmas In July
Why wait until the next holiday season to stock up on gifts?! Do holiday shopping right after the season or in the off months to get great clearance deals.
Related: Debt Free Christmas Challenge
34. Buy Household Items With Free Gift Cards
There are some household items that you just have to get each month. Why not save money on these purchases by using free gift cards? You can earn free gift cards by taking surveys online during your spare time with sites like Survey Junkie and Opinion Outpost.
35. Earn While You Spend
Start using Swagbucks, Rakuten, and other rewards programs to save money and earn cashback. I use cashback rewards programs to automatically save for Christmas each month. I use programs like Swagbucks and Rakuten to earn cashback and rewards that I add to my holiday savings account.
My easiest strategy is downloading the Swagbucks search browser extension. It works just like Google and you can actually earn points for searching online (something I do for work often during the day). Those points can be redeemed for gift cards or cash via PayPal. I can also use this strategy to earn free gift cards for dining out and coffee shops.
36. Recycle & Reuse
When it comes to buying clothes, check out resale shops before buying from big box stores. ThredUp is an awesome online consignment that is well worth a look for fantastic and well priced secondhand items. Also, try setting up a clothing swap in your neighborhood and do some trading!
37. Only Bring the Cash You Need
If you’re afraid you may overspend at the store or when you go out, try bringing on the cash you need in your wallet. Leave your debit card at home. That way, you can’t go over budget. I’ve been using a cash budget for some of my spending categories for the past 2 years and it’s helped a ton.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Budgeting
38. Use the 48-Hour Rule
Sometimes we spend money based on emotional impulse then regret the purchase later or find it was unnecessary. The next time you’re thinking about buying something, use the 48-hour rule. Sleep on the idea of making the purchase for at least 48 hours. Reassess whether you truly want or need the item at the end of that time period.
If you haven’t thought about the item much in the 48-hour period, it may be best to just not buy it.
39. Milk Your Birthday
Utilize all free gifts and offerings from stores and restaurants on your birthday! Most companies offer something a great birthday perk if you sign up for their mailing list or subscribe to their apps so don’t miss out on doing so for your favorite brands.
Related: Birthday Freebies Roundup
40. Simply Ask
You never know until you ask but discounts are sometimes available. Be sure to ask if there are additional markdowns (usually given for items that will be final sale) you can take advantage of.
41. Read Reviews Before You Buy
Don’t forget how important reviews are to helping you save money! Take a look at a few reviews before you buy products, especially big-ticket items. Sometimes people share great coupon codes in there as well!
Ways To Lower Your Most Common Bills
42. Make It Automatic
Setting up automatic bill payments will help you avoid late payment fees and lowering your credit score.
43. Become The Negotiator
Negotiating medical bills is another thing I’ve started doing that helps a ton. Speak to your medical company administration team and see if you can work out a lower payment or a suitable payment plan.
44. Switch to Term Life Insurance
If you’re paying for life insurance you could be overpaying. Term insurance is pure insurance without bells and whistles which means you pay much less.
Grab a free quote from Bestow, a tech company that’s shaking up the life insurance industry. You’ll find out in seconds how much coverage you can get and how much you’d pay.
Related: 7 Reasons To Get Term Life Insurance
45. Switch to a Family Phone Plan
Consolidate your phone bill -If multiple people in your household have a cell phone, see if you can get a family plan or switch to an affordable prepaid company to lower the bill.
Most of the popular prepaid cell companies use a cell service from leading well-known companies (Sprint, Verizon). If you all have different plans, see if you can switch to the same service plan and use the ‘bring your own phone option.
46. Shop For Cheaper Internet Service
You may or may not have other options for internet in your area. You never know until you search and compare. Some internet providers will let you try the service for 30 days and switch companies or upgrade or downgrade if you need to.
For example, Xfinity offers prepaid internet starting at $40 per month.
47. Avoid Getting Into Long-Term Subscription Contracts
You want to be able to cancel services as you see fit so be sure to read the fine print. For example, your gym membership may come with a 12-month commitment while others allow you to cancel with just a 30-day notice.
Another example would be home security companies. My husband and I unknowingly got locked into a 3-year contract which prevents us from canceling the service to free up more money without paying a high fee.
48. Exercise at Home For Free
Start working out at home instead of at the gym and save money on your membership. You can download free fitness apps or check out YouTube channels like 305 Fitness or Jillian Michaels.
49. Consider Cheaper Housing
A good rule of thumb is to keep your housing expenses lower than 30% of your income. This means, if you bring home $3,500 per month, your housing costs shouldn’t be more than $1,050. This is a nice threshold to keep in place because it ensures you’ll have enough money to cover other important expenses.
Explore your options and see if you can find affordable housing in your area whether that means renting a no-frills apartment or getting a roommate. If you live in an expensive city, you may want to move to the outskirts of town or the surrounding suburbs to save money.
Related: 10 Cheap Housing Alternatives
Money-Saving Tips (Personal Finance)
50. Stop Paying Bank Fees
Reduce your banking fees by switching to a no or low fee bank account. I’ve been using Capital One 360 for several years now and I love how they have no fees and allow me to keep several checking and savings accounts open.
51. Monitor Your Bank Account to Avoid Going Overdraft
Limit and control your auto withdrawals to make sure you don’t go into the negative and have to deal with over withdrawal fees. Some banks will even let you set up overdraft protection.
52. Use Credit Cards Wisely to Get Points
If you use rewards credit cards, use them wisely as often as you can to save even more points and cash back. For example, I have a general cash back card that I use to for some regular monthly expenses. I use my cash rewards to help pay for travel and holidays.
53. Cash Is King
We use the cash envelope system for our flexible spending categories. It’s easier to stay on track when budgeting with cash because you don’t have anything extra once the envelope is empty so you make it work and spend more mindfully.
At first, I was using just plain white envelopes, but I ordered some fun colorful ones on Amazon that I can reuse every month.
I was able to get some fun, reusable budgeting envelopes on Amazon for cheap.
54. The Countdown Is On
Another thing I like to do is budget down to zero each month. I used to leave extra money in my budget without assigning it a job but I found it more effective to budget and set a plan for every dollar of income that comes in.
There are awesome ways to help you keep track of your budget. I recommend tracking your finances with a spreadsheet or my worksheet bundle and mapping out your monthly goals using a planner like the Living Well Planner. Both will help you get your budget down to zero each month!
55. Start Investing Spare Change
A fun way that I like to save and invest (outside of automating) is by using apps like Acorns. Acorns rounds up spare change from my purchases to the dollar and invests the difference. For example, If I spend $4.30 at Starbucks, Acorns will automatically invest $0.70 (rounding it up to the nearest hour). I hardly miss this money but it adds up over time.
56. Establish Sinking Funds
My bank allows me to have multiple savings accounts where I can save for planned expenses like travel, our pets, large household purchases, and car repairs. I call these sinking funds and contribute a portion of our income into these ‘buckets’ monthly. I love seeing the account balances grow!
57. Monitor Your Credit
Monitoring your credit score is crucial if you want to maintain a good credit score. Securing lower prices for major purchases such as a car or a mortgage rate can save you thousands. Be sure to keep on top of your credit score with the free app Credit Sesame. It will help you ensure you save money in the long run.
58. Start a Savings Challenge
Challenge your friends and family to start saving spare change with you. You can set a goal to save $1 a day, every $5 bill you have, or any other savings challenge to help you stash money away more easily.
59. Refinance Student Loans
Are your student loans a heavy load? To help you save money on payments refinancing may be a good option. Check out these student loan refinance companies like LendEdu to see if this could work for you.
Ways To Save Money On Transportation
60. Give Your Car a Break
Rather than spend money on filling up your car with gas try an alternative such as walking, biking or public transportation. If you have to drive then try carpooling instead!
61. Keep Up With Maintenance
Take your car in for service appointments and preventative maintenance. Keep up with car maintenance – I found this article to be a great example of how keeping up with car maintenance can save you lots of money over time.
62. Ask Your Employer For a Transportation Stipend
I know this may not work for everyone, but it’s worth exploring if you do a lot of commuting for work. One of my first jobs was a paid internship and once they found out I would be commuting since I lived further from the office they offered to pay for my train fare.
This easily saved me $300/month. If your employer can’t cover your commuting costs, see if they’d be willing to provide a small transportation stipend or even reimburse for mileage.
63. Shop Around For Car Insurance Rates Every 1-2 Years
Regularly shop around for lower car insurance rates to make sure you’re always getting the best deal.
64. Wash And Clean Your Own Vehicle
Taking your car to a car wash or getting it professionally detailed sounds nice but is probably not a necessary expense to have when you’re living paycheck to paycheck. All you need is a bucket of water, soap, and a rag to wash your own car at home.
You can also vacuum your car out for around $1 at most gas stations.
Ways To Save Money On Health & Beauty
65. Start Cutting Your Own Hair
Going to the salon is always fun but it can be a drain on your wallet. Learn how to cut your own hair and your family’s hair to save a bundle.
66. Have a DIY Spa Day
There is no reason why you can’t relax in a luxurious way at home! Do DIY spa days in the comfort of your own bathroom. Check out this article filled with awesome inexpensive spa ideas to create a fun spa day at home!
67. Switch to a Health Sharing Ministry If You Can’t Afford Insurance
Back when I couldn’t afford health insurance and when I became self-employed, I used a health sharing ministry to cover medical expenses for myself and my son. (I’ve used both Liberty Healthcare and Christian Healthcare Ministries).
68. Stop Spending Money on Unhealthy Habits
If you are looking to save money and your health, quitting bad habits such as smoking, drinking or other vices will be a big help to your savings.
69. Switch to Dual-Action Products
Look for products that offer multiple functions such as a two in one cleanser or a moisturizer that does double duty.
70. Practice Self Care at Home For Free
Don’t let your budget lead you to put yourself on the back burner. I love these free self-care ideas for moms but anyone could benefit from them really.
Living paycheck to paycheck can make you feel limited in terms of how fast you can pay off debt and what you can save. The key is to get creative with your budget and how you manage money.
Start with these 70 tips if you’re looking to save and also realize that living paycheck to paycheck doesn’t have to be your future. Take steps to start building up your emergency fund, increasing income, and taking specific action steps to improve your financial situation.
Also, check out my Budget Beyond Your Paycheck worksheet bundle to help you stay on track.
What ways do you like to save money?
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