9 Smart Money Saving Ideas That You Already Know About But Aren’t Doing

money saving ideas
Ken Mellott/stock.adobe.com

Are you among the millions of people that say you want to or need to save money? According to CBS News, 8 out of 10 Americans is living paycheck to paycheck. When you consider that there are over 320 million people in the United States, that is a lot of people.

We all know what we should be doing to save money, but are we doing it? Here’s a few of those money saving ideas.

1. Quit your dining out habit

It is so easy to stop on your way home from work to grab something to eat. You already worked all day. Maybe you also had a lengthy commute. By the time you get home, you just want to eat, relax, and go to bed. You don’t want to spend time making dinner.

Whether you are getting fast food or you are going to a sit-down type restaurant, this is costing you way more than just making the food at home would. According to The Simple Dollar article “Don’t Eat Out as Often”, the average cost of going out to eat is $12.75 per person per meal, while the cost to eat at home averages $2-$4 per person per meal.

If you are a single person and going out to eat once a day, that is $61.25-$75.25 that you could be saving each week if you completely skipped going out.

Just reducing the number of days you go out to eat could save you a substantial amount. This is one of the top money saving ideas according to a recent survey. American’s can save the most by simply minimizing eating out.

Back to the problem though. You just had a long day at work, why would you want to go home and spend time cooking? You don’t have to! You have TONS of options.

You could prep your food in the morning and use a slow cooker so it is ready for you when you arrive at home. You could prep all your meals for a week or even a month over a weekend, so you just have to stick them in a slow cooker or an oven to eat.

Maybe your problem isn’t that you don’t have time to cook, it is that you’re just not good at it. There are options for that too!

There are many meal subscriptions services. You sign up, they send you the ingredients for your meals and step by step instructions to follow. You don’t have to be a chef to make them. And, you would still be saving money!

2. Bringing your lunch to work

The second on our list of money saving ideas are once again in the food category. Bringing your lunch to work is a really simple way to save money. It is a tough thing to get in the habit of thought. To bring your lunch to work, you actually have to pack a lunch!

That cost we just talked about when it comes to eating out applies to eating out for lunch too. Here is another place where you have many money saving options!

The first question, do you have the ability to heat up your food at work? If you can heat up food at work, you have a few options. You could pack up leftovers from the night before.

That is easy enough! Instead of worrying about your lunch in the morning. When you are cleaning up your dinner, stick the leftovers into lunch-sized containers instead of one big container.

Next question, do you have a refrigerator at work? If you do, why not pack your food for the entire week and bring it all in on Monday. Then you only have to think of it that one day. The rest of the week you are set! Another option if there is a freezer, bring a few frozen meals. Then on the days you don’t have time to pack a lunch or you forget, you have something already available to you.

If you don’t have a way to heat up food, your options are slightly more limited. You can still pack a lunch though. You could back a sandwich, a salad, nuts, fruit, veggies, the list goes on and on. If you are stuck on what to bring, do a search for “lunches you don’t have to heat up.”

Another hint, even if you don’t have a refrigerator at work, keep some type of food at work. Keep things like granola bars, nuts, raisins, trail mix at work. This is another way to be prepared for that inevitable day when you didn’t have the time or forgot to pack your lunch.

3. Unplugging appliances or turning off lights

Obviously, there are some appliances you just cannot or will not unplug. But there are plenty that you could unplug after each use. How many things in your house are plugged in right now but not being used?

Think of it from a simple level, do you have a cell phone? Assuming your answer is yes, most likely you have a cell phone charger plugged in somewhere around your home, go unplug it! Plug it in to charge your phone and when you’re done using it, unplug it. Do you have a laptop? If you aren’t using it right now, it doesn’t need to be plugged in. Turn it off and unplug it.

Now think bigger.

What about your TV, cable box, gaming system, stereo system, is that all plugged in? Probably. Why not hook it to a power strip? Then when not in use, you can “unplug” everything at once with the flip of a switch.

No, you won’t be able to just press a button on your remote to turn everything on, but don’t you think the savings on your electric bill are worth it?

Turn off the lights! How many times do you leave a room and leave the lights on for a day? It is really simple to shut off lights.

When you are getting ready in the morning, the lights in your bathroom and your bedroom don’t need to both be on. You don’t need to leave lights on if you aren’t home.

The hallway light doesn’t need to be on 24/7.

For some of those lights that are in higher traffic places, you could put sensors on them. You could put a sensor in the hallway light so when someone walks down the hall it turns on and then shuts itself off. You could put a sensor on a light on the exterior of your home, so when someone pulls into your driveway or walks up to your house, the light turns on.

money saving ideas

4. Selling what you don’t need

Do you hang on to things you don’t need? Do you have clothes that you don’t wear anymore that just sit in your closet? Do you have a garage or basement filled with things that you never actually use? Why can’t you get rid of that stuff?

If you have gone over a year without using something, chances are you aren’t ever going to use it again, so why not make some money off of it. 

Those items that you no longer need are worth something to someone. Whether you use social media to sell each individual item or you have a rummage sale to get rid of it all at once, your pocketbook will benefit. You may not get what you paid for it, but it isn’t benefiting you by taking up space either.

5. Buying what you need and not what you want

This one is so hard. Think of it from the perspective of a grocery store trip. What did you buy that wasn’t on your list?

Things you didn’t really need for the meals you have planned, but you wanted. How much would you have saved if you skipped that bag of chips or that candy bar? It probably doesn’t seem like much, but when you add it all up it is. The grocery store is a very small example of this.

What have you ordered online lately? Did you really need your last order?

Phones and websites being able to save credit card information make it all too easy to make a purchase. 

A simple way to prevent these purchases, don’t save your card information. Then every time you have to make a purchase you have to go get your card. Another way to prevent these purchases, leave an item in your shopping cart for at least 24 hours, after 24 hours if you still want it, then make the purchase. These two small tips will help prevent you from purchasing things you don’t really need.

6. Skipping your credit cards and pay cash instead

Did you know it is way harder to spend cash than swipe a credit card? When you actually spend your cash, you watch your money decrease. When you swipe a card, you don’t see it. This is especially hard in a world that is going to plastic.

Just like only buying what you need, don’t save your card information anywhere. This will help you to use your card less frequently.

Carry cash with you and if you don’t have enough cash, then don’t make the purchase.

If you don’t want to spend the cash on the item you are looking to purchase, it might not be something you actually need to buy.

You may be thinking, but my credit card gives me rewards and I will pay it off each month. If you can be disciplined enough not to buy things you don’t need or overspend using your card, that is great.

Many people start out planning to use their card for the rewards and just pay it off each month, then they overspend once and they can’t get caught back up.

7. Going to a coffee shop regularly

Are you a coffee drinker? Do you make it at home or do you purchase coffee each day? If you go to the gas station 5 days a week to buy coffee, you are likely spending $1-$2 a day on coffee. That is $5-$10 a week and $260-$520 a year. Think of what you could have spent with that amount of money.

But what if you went to Starbucks? Do you ever just get a regular coffee at Starbucks? A regular venti coffee is $2.45.

If you get a different drink, you are likely spending $4-$6 on those drinks. If you went 5 days a week that would be $20-$30 a week and $1,040-$1,560 a year! Save your money and make your coffee at home.

Now maybe you’re thinking, but I don’t drink coffee. That’s fine. What do you drink or buy that you could be getting a better deal on? Is it energy drinks? You can buy them in bulk for less than the one at a time you buy from the gas station. Is it soda?

Buying a case of soda is much cheaper than buying one at a time. Think about your routine and what you could be buying in larger quantities or making at home in order to save money.

8. Buying generic medications

First, let’s start with prescriptions. Do you take prescription medication? Are you taking a brand name drug? Is there a cheaper version available? It doesn’t hurt to ask!

Generic is just as good as Brand name, you are not paying for quality, you are paying for a name. So next time you go to the doctor or next time you go to your pharmacy, ask them if there is a cheaper alternative.

What about your non-prescription medications? Check the active ingredient. The store brand version is just as good as the name brand version as long as they have the same active ingredient. You might say that you trust the name brand more. That’s why they are getting your money!

That’s why they are able to charge you so much more!

You see the name and you think that somehow means it is better than the alternative. It really isn’t! All FDA approved drugs went through the same testing, it doesn’t matter if they are name brand or generic.

9. Reviewing your insurance policies

Do you ever review your insurance policies? Maybe when they go up you do, but do you ever check out what your coverages are. If you review your insurance policy you may discover you are paying for coverages you don’t need or maybe that there is an error in your policy.

If there is something in your insurance documents that you do not understand, contact your agent! They know the policy and the terminology and will be able to help walk you through it.

It is a good idea to regularly review your insurance policy to make sure any of your life changes that would impact it are included.

Think of all you are going to do with the money you are going to save by following these money saving ideas!

BA in Accountancy, he entered the entrepreneurial world by starting his first online marketing business in 2004. Passionate about personal finance, the stock market and a digital marketing addict. I also love to read books on entrepreneurship and technology and always on the lookout for new opportunities. I'm an avid golfer and currently a 15 handicapper.

Moneylogue articles delivered straight to your inbox

Disclosure: This site uses affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, we sometimes receive a small compensation if you purchase through the links within our articles.