Americans used to save a lot more. “The bottom 90 percent of households saved 10 percent of their income in the first Reagan administration.” But, in 2016, according to a Federal Reserve study, almost half of Americans (46%) could not cover a $400 unexpected expense without borrowing money.
Clearly, Americans have a saving problem. But it doesn’t need to be that way! Saving just involves thinking ahead, which all of the 101 people listed below have done for you. Adopting a couple of these unique suggestions can help you keep more money in your pocket.
Where can you stash that extra cash? Consider opening a Simple Bank account or an Acorns investing account – as both automate your savings.
- Further reading: 100 Money Making and Money Saving Apps
Now, let’s take a look at how 101 people save money.
Colin Ashby, freelance writer and digital marketer
“The most notable challenge is the 52-week saving challenge. If you’ve spent any amount of time on a personal finance site, you’ve probably seen it. During the challenge, you saving an increasing amount each week. The dollar amount corresponds with the week. So the first week you save $1, the second week $2, third week $3 and so on. On the 52nd week of the year, you save $52. By the end of the year, you will have amassed $1,378.” – Young Adult Money
Alan B., retired insurance agent
“I have always recommended setting aside 10% of your income to meet your family’s retirement needs. Some of my friends and policyholders agreed to set this money aside for the future; however, some people can’t seem to start their retirement. With my career with Prudential, I had set aside 25% of my income for retirement, saving for college for my daughters, autos, emergency funds, and money for trips. Since my career in 1972, I have kept the same 25% of income, and, as my income grew, so did the money. A couple old ideas worked for me: ‘I need to pay myself first, and if human nature tells me if I don’t have it, I won’t spend it.’ ”
Allen B., U.S. Marine
“I put all my coins in a jar, except quarters which I save for washing my truck.”
Harlan B., retired math teacher
“When I was growing up, I received a small weekly allowance for which I kept a detailed log of money received and money spent. I also had my own savings account at the bank. This early training by my Mom & Dad set the tone for my future saving behavior, making it easy for me to save more and want to spend less of my income.”
Jaclyn Brown, weight loss queen from HealthyWage
“On a whim, [I] Googled “ways to make money by losing weight” and discovered it was actually possible! This is how [I] found HealthyWage.” – The Penny Hoarder
Michael Beck, retired Army officer
“[Playing games] can add up to quite a bit of savings — we saved almost $10,000!” – The Penny Hoarder
Emily Guy Birken, former English teacher and personal finance blogger
“Each of the following savings apps has a different approach to automating your finances and helping you achieve your savings goals. Some will round up your savings (aka “keep the change”), some use sophisticated algorithms to understand your ability to save, and some simply let you have full control – set it and forget it. While many will give you the push you need to beef up your savings, some savings apps offer you the opportunity to invest your savings as well. We've tried to make a note of which apps let you invest, save, or both.” – PT Money
Lindsey Conway, writer at Magnify Money
“Employer matches [to retirement accounts] are like free money to add to your retirement savings account.” – KiiiTv
Paula B., former debate coach and home educator
“[H]ow do I save money? Hehe…I steal it. I was thinking of just leaving that statement with you but decided I should explain instead. We have a budget (or at least we do when I handle the money), and each time I put money in flexible accounts, I steal some. For example, the mortgage, insurance, car payment, and the like are not flexible. They all have fixed amounts. But items like food, household items, toiletries, gas, etc. vary depending upon needs. I take money (sounds better than stealing) from those accounts and put it in an envelope [my husband] knows nothing about. Then, when I reach my goal, I surprise everyone with a trip to King's Island or something. I actually saved enough money when we were first married to put a down payment on this house. It works! And, it's sort of fun knowing I have a secret that everyone will love when the time is right to reveal it and makes the sacrifice easier.”
Kelly F., stay-at-home mom and baker extraordinaire
“I save money through making money and selling these items: Sea salt; Sea salt caramels; Marshmallows; Greek puts chips, tzatziki, and baklava; Birthday cakes; and Eggs from our chickens. I set aside enough money from sales to reimburse myself for expenses, save the money I set as a goal, and then spend the rest into more food sales or usually… Amazon Prime.”
Alan Henry, writer on Life Hacker
“It may seem to go without saying, but your first step is to embrace your grocery store's sale flyer. They still come in the Sunday edition of the newspaper, but if you don't get one, just visit your grocery store's website. They'll usually have it posted there, or let you sign up to have it delivered to your inbox every week. Look over the sale items. Instead of thinking ‘what am I in the mood for?’ think ‘what delicious, healthy things can I make with what's on sale this week?’” – Life Hacker
Jay Leno, comedian and late night talk show host
“I had two jobs because I realized that was the quickest way to become a millionaire. I didn't buy my house until I had cash. . . . When you own something and you don't have to write checks every month, you're just better off.” – CNBC
Vic Lim, data analyst
“One of the easiest ways I've found to cut costs was on our cell phone bill. When my wife and I were with Verizon over a year ago, we spent about $160 a month on our cell phone plan. However, when our daughter was born, I wanted to find ways to cut costs without sacrificing our quality of life. We got rid of our cell phone contracts, bought unlocked phones and signed up for prepaid plans. Now we spend only $63 a month, saving almost $100 a month or $1,200 a year. This is why I will never get a cell-phone contract again.” – The Penny Hoarder
Janey Osterlind, personal finance blogger
“If you are paid biweekly (rather than once monthly or exactly on the 1st and 14th of the month), the Gregorian Calendar is structured in such a way that you will be paid 26 times per year (as opposed to 24 for those paid on exact dates, like the aforementioned 1st and 14th). That is, twice per year, you will receive three paychecks in one month. Most people have certain expenses that come out of their 1st paycheck of the month, and others that come out of the 2nd. Well, what if you just mentally “skipped” the two extra paychecks? You could save an extra few hundred dollars (or more) per year!” – Wise Bread
Bill Prindle, deputy director for the nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy
“The rule of thumb is that you can save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat.” – I Will Teach You to Be Rich
Carissa P., stay-at-home mom
“I prefer to grow my own bacteria and yeast. . . . Kombucha, yogurt, Kiefer, sourdough starter!”
Gil P., consultant
“I get $100 from the ATM every Thursday. That’s my cash for the week. On the next Thursday, I get another $100, and whatever is left in my wallet from the previous week goes into an envelope in the fire safe. That technique grew to about $4000 over 2 years.”
Annemarie R., former speech teacher
“Budget – budget – budget AND stick to it! Also (on the advice of a millionaire), I throw all my loose change [pennies, dimes, quarters, half-dollars] in a piggy bank. My nickels go in the car for loose change. Every six months, that money gets invested (not in the savings account or vacation fund – INVESTED). You can choose to use it for another specific fund or project but once that designation is made – stick to it.”
Amanda Stewart, writer on Budget and the Bees
“The 365-Day Money Challenge is a great way to start saving money or add to your current savings. While it doesn’t set you up to save thousands like some other money challenges might, it does allow you to save nearly $700 over the span of a year, one penny at a time.” – Budget and the Bees
Daniel S., math graduate student
“I look for banks and credit cards that give me rewards. Some banks will give you $300 just for opening a checking account and/or $200 just for having a certain amount of money in a savings account for six months. I got a credit card that would give me $150 just for opening it and another $25 for adding my wife as an additional user. Finally, I look for cards that give me cash back, and choose which card to use based on how much cash back I’ll get for each type of purchase (gas stations, supermarkets, restaurants, etc.).”
Danielle S., stay-at-home mom
“My daughter recently started using an app called Digit. You link your accounts to it and over time it removes small amounts of money from your checking/savings and places it in a ‘rainy day fund.’ She’s using it to save money for spending while on vacation.”
Donn S., former attorney
Read Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, and especially The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, which is widely regarded as the best book ever written on investing. Save everything that you can.
Ramit Sethi, New York Times bestselling author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich
[Y]ou really have two levers to control when it comes to your money: Making more (revenue) and spending less (costs). Most Americans only think about cutting costs, resulting in frugality websites that frantically try to out-do each other with the most inane and meaningless tips of all. Don’t eat out at all! Scrape foil off the sidewalk and use it to pack your lunch! Ok, I’m sure I’ll do that. We forget about the lever of earning more money, which is the most powerful of all. You can do this in a bunch of ways:
- Negotiate your salary at work (I’ll write about this in an upcoming post)
- Start a second job (yes, about 4 billion people in the world do this…instead of reading blogs)
- Freelance for something you’re very good at
And on and on. – I Will Teach You to Be Rich
Rebekah S., copyeditor
“Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to save all I can,’ come up with a reasonable monthly goal for saving and stick to it. This will allow you to still make fun purchases while also making sure that you’re saving something. Think about your goals.”
Mike Timmerman, founder of Michael Saves
“If you take a look at the bottom of your receipts, most of them will tell you how much you “saved” by purchasing items at a discount. But does buying things on sale get you any closer to retirement? After all, you’re still spending money. For the last two months of 2017, I set a goal to “save my savings.” I added up the “you saved” amounts listed on the bottom of my receipts and transferred the total to my bank account — $162.36 for November. The more I “save” at retailers, the more my savings account balance grows. It’s that simple!” – Clark
Alexa Thorn, tech expert
“Max out your retirement contributions by July. We know how tough it can be to keep far-reaching goals such as retirement top of mind. Alexa Thorn has a special method to max out on her Roth 401(k) contributions. In fact, she hits her retirement goals by mid-year. She pulls this off by aggressively saving for the first six months of the year and maxing out on her annual Roth 401(k) contribution of $18,000. For the second half of the year, Thorn saves a sizable chunk of her income to live off of. She then repeats the cycle.” – Chime Bank
Ellen T., music teacher
“This may sound strange but a tip I have would be to have two checking accounts. The first one is the account you have your paycheck auto deposited to, and the other one is the one you use debit card on or write checks. From the first checking, I move money over to the second one to cover expenses and money for some extras. The tendency will be to only move what you need. When you see that first account start to grow like a savings account, it will motivate you to save. I then accumulate enough to put into a CD or money market account or register savings.”
- Consider using Simple Bank for your second checking account
Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator and author of All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan
“The Balanced Money Formula:
- Must-Haves: 50%
- Wants: 30%
- Savings: 20%”
Karen W., former homeschool mom
“If one wants to save money, one must establish a reasonable amount to tuck into savings on a regular basis then take it out on payday. Taking it ‘off the top’ is easier to do if one's employer electronically processes paychecks because most banks will auto-deduct into a savings account.”
Douglas Antrim, founder of Start Saving Money Today
“It’s true: How cutting your own hair can save you thousands of dollars. It’s not a new practice, and it doesn’t have to be difficult.” – My Millennial Guide
Conrad B., YMCA director
“Cheap store brand dishwashing liquid makes superior bubble bath and keeps the tub seriously clean . . . seriously. AND . . . grocery shop on a full stomach – limits hunger based impulse purchases.”
Tyra Banks, supermodel and American television personality
“When she first moved into the offices of her now-defunct talk show, Banks didn’t like the carpet and wanted to change it. However, after finding out how much it would cost to replace the carpet, she went a different route. She told the New York Times, ‘I picked out a color palette that would go with this carpet, and I painted the walls instead. Painting is much less expensive than carpet.’” – MyBankTracker
Michael Bloomberg, billionaire and former New York City major
“You do something called resoling and reheeling [my two pairs of shoes]. You don't have to throw them away and get new ones, you can use the old ones.” – The Guardian
Yazmin Cruz, guest blogger on BargainBabe.com
“Vacuum Refrigerator Coils: Your fridge coils are collecting dust as you read this post and this impairs the fridge’s efficiency. This means your fridge is working extra hard to keep things cool. This means you’re paying for this in your utilities bill. Yikes! To keep your unit running smoothly, make sure to vacuum the coils every few months.” – Bargain Babe
Adam Dachis, author on Life Hacker
“We've looked at several ways to save on your energy bill, but among them all nothing does the job better than air sealing.” – Life Hacker
Sarah DiPeppe, author on Everyday Good Thinking
“Not only will juicing at home save you time, it will also save you money. Buying juice at a juice bar or at the grocery store isn’t cheap, and subscription cleanse programs can break the bank. Juicing at home is a great way to avoid the costs of those pre-made drinks and save some money while you’re at it (maybe that’s another one of your New Year’s resolutions).” – Everyday Good Thinking
Julie E., teacher
- In high school I had this assignment for home ec class. I compared the cost of making French salad dressing to buying a bottle at the store. It was pennies compared to dollars at the time. I'm not sure what it would be now, but even if it didn't save much, there is the added benefit of the fresh taste. Over the years I've done this for granola, yogurt and bread just to name a few. All good ways to save. The trick is you have to have time to do it. I could get overwhelmed if I tried to make all those things every week. So I would just content myself with making what I could, knowing that I had to find the balance between time and money.
- Never shop when you're hungry.
- When you go shopping, if you only need milk, then make it a challenge to yourself to walk out with just milk.
- I'm not a big coupon person. I found they usually just increased my grocery bill because most of the coupons were for expensive things I would never have bought otherwise.
Andy Farmer, education resources manager for Virginia Energy Sense
“You might want to set it to 120 degrees, suggests Andy Farmer, education resources manager for Virginia Energy Sense, a statewide initiative developed to encourage electric energy efficiency and conservation in Virginia. ‘The default manufacturer setting for many water heaters is 140 degrees Fahrenheit,’ Farmer says. ‘However, 120 degrees is typically sufficient for your water heating needs all year round, according to the Department of Energy.’” – U.S. News
Benjamin Franklin, author of The Way to Wealth
“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.”
Lee G., medical doctor
“While in medical school, I chose to make all my Christmas gifts . One year I made painted pottery items: plates for some, glasses or coffee cups for others.”
Trent Hamm, founder of The Simple Dollar
“Remembering that these numbers are very much a “back-of-the-envelope” example, cutting your daily shower from twelve minutes to four minutes will save you somewhere between $10 and $130 per year in water use and energy use, depending on such factors as the flow rate of your shower head, the local cost of water, the efficiency of your water heater, the local cost of energy, and the heat level of your shower.” – The Christian Science Monitor
Lesley Kennedy, writer at ShopAtHome.com
“Hunting for glasses that are totally on trend yet won't set you back hundreds of dollars? How about prescription contact lenses at a bargain? Consider your search over. We've found the best places to score deals on eyewear. Dr. Glenda Secor, communications chair for the American Academy of Optometry, says with proper, unexpired prescriptions in hand, ordering online is a safe option. Just be sure the lenses you’re ordering meet certain standards, she says.” – Today
Watha K., founder of Knickers for New Life
“I ironed my business man husband's shirts versus sending them to be done professionally. Over his career, that definitely added up. It also was some time and effort on my part. No doubt this savings compounded led to his early retirement.”
Heather Levin, freelance writer
“You can easily make chemical-free laundry detergent at home, and save a lot of money in the process. Homemade laundry detergent costs pennies compared to what you pay for name brands like ALL, Clorox, Gain, Purex, and Tide. How much you can save depends on how much you spend on detergent. Most people who make their own detergent say that they save at least $0.10 to $0.20 per load. If you do five loads per week, that’s $0.50 to $1 in savings each week. More importantly, you don’t expose yourself, or your family, to all of those toxic chemicals.” – Money Crashers
Michelle L., mom extraordinaire of four boys and financial guru
“Best money saving tips:
- Utilize public library for entertainment (for us, it includes free DVD rentals, book clubs, classes, etc.).
- Make “copy-cat” recipes at home rather than go out to eat.
- Play hide-n-seek in your house or yard as a family.
- Peruse local publications for free or low-cost activities (my kids learned to snow-ski for free–lessons, lift tickets and rentals–plus got all that for a return visit for $20).
- Hang clothes on the wash line–it is meditative, thoughtful, and a process.
- Visit area parks, take walks, and do work-outs with youtube.
- 2nd hand stores.
- Board games
- Camping and road trips vs flying.
- Using a budget (when the boys were all old enough to have money, I gave them a set amount for each meal we would be eating on our road trip to Missouri. One came home with $$ in his envelope and another spent his entire envelope on the way out.).
- Look for alternatives to hotels–Airbnb, friends, cabins.
- Use group lessons for swimming or music rather than private.
- Alternative cell phone carriers.
- Health insurance alternatives like Medishare or Samaritan's Ministries.
- Save emergency fund in high yield savings account rather than in bank where it doesn't earn interest.
- Make your own coffee.
- Buy used vehicles.
- Ask insurance agent for discounts that might apply.
- Check your bills for accuracy.
- Apply for scholarships and show up (one of my sons applied for a school sponsored scholarship his freshman year and was the only one who entered–$911 dollars for him and he entered a speech contest where they offered 1st-3rd places monetary awards. He won 1st ($250) but there was only one other contestant. No one took home the 3rd place prize.).
- Look for low-cost or free programs for students (one son went to Samoa for free and another traveled to Israel for $500–not through a particular college).
- Ride bikes.
- Read books out loud as a family.
- One of my sons went backpacking this weekend and instead of going to the National Park ($30 entrance fee, $15 backpacking permit, no fire permit). He went to a nearby “wilderness” area, which had no entrance or backpacking fees and he got a fire permit. Scenery was just as awesome.
I could go on, but I’ll stop. I love saving money!!!”
Dana Meredith, editor and writer
“Apply Portion Control. Get creative with your order, especially if you have a lighter appetite. Try ordering an appetizer as the meal (often, appetizers are smaller portions of main course items, but at a much lower cost). Is the lunch menu still available at dinnertime? Choose an entree from that list. Again, portions will be smaller, but so will the bill. Or order a main entree and split it between two people. There’s sometimes a fee of a few dollars for splitting, but it’s still much cheaper than ordering a second $20 meal. Last but not least, if you do order your own entree, cut it in half before you dig in. You’ll be more likely to eat less, and you can take the other half home for tomorrow’s lunch, effectively getting two meals for the price of one.” – Taste of Home
G.E. Miller, writer on 20 Something Finance
“Changing your vehicle’s air filter is an extremely easy way to save $30 or so per year versus having a mechanic or auto dealership do the same thing. And the great thing is, it literally takes about 5 minutes to do. I have been quoted between $35-40 for the parts (an air filter) and the labor from an auto shop to replace the air filter in my car. That doesn’t sound bad on the surface, and if you’re not a DIY’er or scared of opening your car’s hood, you might jump at something like that. Don’t! I was able to purchase the exact same air filter at a local auto parts store for $7 and replace it in minutes.” – 20 Something Finance
Isaac M., township employee
“My tip would be simply don't spend it. In all seriousness, though, cutting out fast food or limiting it to one or two days a week [is a great way to save money]. You spend so much on fast food or stopping at a gas station for something to drink. It adds up quick. Cutting back on the little things can save a lot of money.”
Paul Michael, senior writer
[How Water Can Save You $977 a Year.] Here's the math:
- We eat out 3.1 times per week.
- 3.19 people make up the average family.
- With 52 weeks in a year, that makes roughly 514 glasses of soda every year for an average family.
- 514 x $1.90 = $977!
What could you do with an extra $977 a year? Right now, you could buy a really nice laptop, a whole new wardrobe, or it could go towards a vacation for your family. And all for substituting water for soda only when you eat out. It's not like you're giving it up entirely. Think it over. – Wise Bread
Alfred Morris, professional football player (running back)
“Alfred Morris apparently is a fan of unconventional rides. The Washington Redskins running back made headlines earlier in his career for cruising around in busted-up 1991 Mazda. Morris had that car restored back in 2013, but with summer weather still lingering around the D.C. area, it looks like he’s adopted a vehicle of the two-wheeled variety.” – NESN
Steph Newman, former social media assistant
“Finding solutions other than throwing away clothes isn't just environmentally friendly. Pippa Bray of Make Do and Mend cites the sentimental value of clothes that serve us well over the years: ‘Good clothes are like old friends and it's nice to see when people don't have to throw away a jacket or something they've had for 20 years.’ It's also a great way to curb excessive spending. By investing in sustainable, good-quality clothes that can be repaired, you're saving the price of the cheap n' nasty garments that fall to pieces after just a few wears.” – 1 Million Women
Harriet P., former restaurant owner
“Stretch your feet according to your blanket.”
Karl P., farmer
“Pre-eat before going to a restaurant.”
Lloyd Phillips, blogger
“I used to shower and shave at the gym. Before having a shave I sat in the sauna or steam room for 15 minutes which would ensure shaving was a 30 second job, and a quality shave at that by opening the pores and softening the follicles.” – The Extra Income Project
Susie Poppick, author on Time Money
“It turns out skipping animal protein doesn’t just add years to your life: New research suggests vegetarians can save at least $750 more than meat-eaters per year.” – Time
Joshua R., Ph.D. candidate in Physics at MIT
“Especially since food is pricey here in the city, I tend to buy most of my generic stuff from Walmart.com or Amazon, in bulk. I have most of a shelf full of tomato sauce and canned chicken right now. That way I don’t have to carry all that heavy stuff back from the grocery store either. Also, I usually grab a giant wad of napkins from Chipotle on my way out each time I get a burrito and have a big stack of them on my desk, which I use as my own napkins and as tissue paper, so I never have to buy either of those.”
Kelley P., high school student
“My mom saves checks uncashed. Then when she needs the money, she will cash the checks. That way they’re not tempting, and it’s not extra money.”
Remember, though, checks can become void after 90-180 days, so don’t hoard your checks for too long! Kelley’s mom makes sure to cash them before the expiration date.
Mark Phelan, writer at Detroit Free Press
“As the summer driving season begins, five minutes at the air pump could save you time and money. Keeping your tires inflated to the right pressure improves fuel economy and reduces the likelihood of breakdowns and even accidents.” – USA Today
Jeff Rose, founder of GoodFinancialCents.com
“Stop buying designer jeans, driving a BMW or redecorating your home once per week to show it off on Pinterest when you can't afford it.” – MSN
Bonnie S., homemaker
“We pretty much never used paper towels (until now as empty nesters). I had a stack of rags (one color dedicated to toilet cleaning) that got washed over and over again. If it couldn't go in the wash, some rags were disposable.”
Steven Saunders, D.D.S.
“Floss is relatively cheap—only a couple dollars (come in for a cleaning and we will give it away) and lasts for a long time. Why not spend a few dollars now and save thousands of dollars in cosmetic dentistry work later? Flossing is well worth its small investment in time and money for your teeth and gums.” – Saunders DDS
Steve Stewart, founder of Money Plan SOS Podcast
“Stewart said he likes to offer his kids a cash reward when they help him save money. For example, ‘While eating at a sit-down restaurant, pay your children $1 for drinking water,” instead of a soda or juice, Stewart said. “Not only does this reduce the total of the bill and tip, it keeps the kids away from unnecessarily consuming sugar and provides them some spending money.’” – MSN
Mara Sweet, founder of BargainBabe.com
“[M]ake store pickup your best friend. If you’re not familiar with store pickup, here’s how it works. Don’t go into the store when you need to buy something. Instead, place an order at target.com, and when you check out, choose “store pickup” at your local Target. You will get a text or email when your order is ready (usually within a day, often in just a couple hours). Once you receive that notification, you go to your store and head directly to customer service. They will ask for id and then go in back to retrieve your order. Your credit card is charged (remotely) when you take possession of the items and you receive your receipt via email.” – Bargain Babe
Jennifer T., homeschooling mom
- Always drink water at restaurants.
- Brew coffee at home.
- Pack lunches.
Justin Timberlake, pop singer
“I will just say that I am pretty frugal. I'll probably shop [for clothes] for myself once a year, and that will last me for the rest of the year. What was it that Prince said? ‘Money can't buy you happiness, but it can help pay for the pursuit.'” – The Guardian
Lori T., pastor’s wife
“Watch you tube tutorials – you can fix your own car door handle for free, learn to cut your own hair, and even save a trip to the doctor – no joke!”
Natalie Gould Tomko, author at Don’t Waste Your Money
“In the first year, I would save $44.11 by air drying my clothes [calculating the cost of a drying rank AND time to hang clothes]. That’s a 35 percent savings. In year two my profit would grow to $84.11, a 66 percent savings. Of course, this is just based on my own personal calculations — yours may look a little different!” – Don’t Waste Your Money
Deb W., homemaker
“I use plastic bags from groceries to line trash cans instead of buying trash bags.”
Elisabeth W., medical student
“A big one for me has always been buying second hand. I've needed to build a wardrobe of professional clothing over the last couple of years and have found almost everything ‘second hand’ at Clothes Mentor or its equivalents. I can get name brand items (either in like-new condition with tags on) for a fraction of the cost. I especially love it when the label with the original price is still on it. “Why yes, I would like this $127 dollar dress for $12!” Also, in the summer I make french press coffee the night before then turn it into iced coffee by pouring it into a mason jar with some sugar and cream before chilling in the fridge. I can grab iced coffee on my way out the door to keep myself from being tempted to stop on my way to work/school.”
Ken W., deep thinker
“Don’t use credit cards. Ever. When you have a fixed income, one without unnecessary debt, you can live within the parameters. Credit cards shrink that. Monthly. Sometimes daily depending on the card.”
Dami A., college student
“I know one person told me that you shouldn’t buy anything that is not of necessity if you can’t afford to buy it twice. So if I really want to buy a new pair of shoes for $100, I shouldn’t buy it if I can’t afford to buy two of them. That way when I buy it, I won’t be at a total loss, if that makes sense.”
Barbara B., attorney
“I think the biggest and best advice I’ve ever gotten on finance is put at least 20% down on a loan to purchase a home because it gets rid of the private mortgage insurance and don’t purchase a home that takes more than 30% of your family’s net income. Also, my husband and I have been able to make at least two extra mortgage payments a year, which takes about seven years off of a thirty-year loan, which is huge. That is probably the biggest thing people can do for themselves because it’s usually their largest loan.”
Cory B., stay-at-home dad
“One thing we did is take student loan debt and put it on interest free credit cards and pay it off without having interest from the loan of a bank. And since I do most of the shopping and have time to look for coupons and sales, I’ve been able to save quite a bit at the grocery store and also at retail stores as well. I grew up that way and my wife didn’t, so we are definitely in the right roles for clipping coupons!”
Donna B., retired teacher and homemaker
“Always take a list when shopping and stick to it! Beware of coupons. You will buy things you don't need, and, often times, the store brand will still be cheaper. When traveling, take a cooler of water, drinks and snacks, instead of purchasing every time you get gas.”
Gary B., senior analyst
“A pizza place (Romeo’s) offered a special where you could spend $80 and get $100 in gift cards. I did that and then joined the frequent customer program, which got you $10 of pizza for every $100 you spent. Thus, I saved $30 and got $110 worth of pizza for $80.”
Hannah B., college student
“Get a job at a place where you get a good discount on things you like or need.”
Joanie B., teacher
- My former pastor (Tom Darnell) gets credit for this one, but I bet he wasn’t the first to say it: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Just spend money on what you need! Easier said than done.
- Spend a little time comparing price per unit when shopping. Sometimes the name brand is actually cheaper than the generic brand, and sometimes they trick you and sell a bigger box of Cheerios cheaper than a smaller box!
- The cheapest one is not always the best option. If it doesn’t hold up, you’ll wish you paid more for an item that would last. Look for a balance between quality and price.
- When getting fast food or dining out, always order water to drink.
Judy B., educator
“Pick one drugstore to patronize and then get a loyalty card. Use them religiously to get coupons, reward dollars, and sales discounts. Combine with clipped coupons from the newspapers and online coupons. Coupon sites such as Hip2Save or Southern Savers will give you advice on how to stack coupons with weekly sales and how to earn reward dollars to use for future purchases. I save a ton on personal care items doing this.”
LaRue B., educator
“If the credit card gives you a limit, stay below that limit, don’t go over it, and pay it off every month. And marry a man [or woman] who knows how to manage money!”
Rachel B., teacher
“Go to the dollar store for some items: 1) greeting cards, often $1 or less, tissue paper, and gift wrap 2) some food items like candy and pistachios (I found an 8oz bag of Wonderful Pistachios for $4 when it was $7 on sale and with a coupon at a grocery store), and 3) basic items like toothpaste and holiday decorations. They are often the same quality as you’ll see at a regular store at a much more expensive price.”
Warren Buffett, American business magnate and investor
“I've seen more people fail because of liquor and leverage—leverage being borrowed money. You really don't need leverage in this world much. If you're smart, you're going to make a lot of money without borrowing.”
Jeff Concepcion, founder and CEO of Stratos Wealth Partners
“[He] suggests limiting a splurge to a small percentage of your savings so it doesn’t eat significantly into important money goals—you wouldn't want your purchase to undo progress you've worked diligently toward. ‘For some folks that might be $50, for others, $5,000,’ he says.” – Learn Vest
Gord Crowson, senior vice-president of My Grocery Deals
“Wednesday is a hot day to buy groceries. ‘For about half of the country, this is the day when approximately half of the retailers start their weekly sales,’ says Gord Crowson of MyGroceryDeals.com. But to be sure, it's best to check to see when the flyers and circulars are released in your community. The Web site also recommends shopping in the evening, or a couple of hours prior to closing. ‘This is the time when perishables are typically reduced for quick sale. If the Produce, Bakery or Meat departments are concerned about having too much stock left over at the end of the day, they will often reduce the price by up to 50% to encourage quick sales.’” – CBS News
Kathy C., teacher
“When you want something and you go to the store to check price etc., do not purchase it that day. Wait at least 24-48 hours before purchasing. 9 times out of 10 you won’t buy it. You’ll decide you don’t need it, or you don’t want to spend the money. It works like a charm!!”
Henry Dimbleby, writer for The Guardian
“Both women [my mum and mother-in-law] learned to cook in the postwar years: they hate waste and take pride in never throwing anything away. Where their approach to leftovers differs, however, is that while my mum is a freestyler, my mother-in-law is a planner. She follows the classic template of thrifty housekeeping: start the week with a Sunday roast, the leftovers from which can be eked out into a week's worth of carefully planned suppers. A roast chicken, for example, might reappear as cold cuts, then risotto, then soup, and finally – once the bones have been picked cleaner than the Queen's porcelain – boiled up into stock.” – Business Insider
Todd F., technical operations analyst
“This is going to sound counterintuitive, but it works. Buy quality whenever possible. Yes it might cost 10 or 20 percent more, but normally the cost differential works itself out in the product usually lasts longer and does a better job.”
Dylan Grosz, former intern at Apartment List
Through a lot of burrito research and even more company write-offs and office burrito donations, I’ve discovered these 6 tips that can increase the size of your burrito by 86% without spending any more money.
- Tip 1: Get a burrito bowl with a tortilla on the side
- Tip 2: Double wrapping (asking for two tortillas)
- Tip 3: Order both kinds of rice
- Tip 4: Order both types of beans
- Tip 5: Half/half meats
- Tip 6: Ask for fajita veggies and corn salsa
Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA
“If you look at me now, I don’t think I’m wearing anything that wasn’t bought at a flea market.” – The Telegraph
Marty K., retired engineer and current fisherman
“Use Gas buddy app to find cheapest gas, especially when traveling. Over the years, you will save thousands of dollars!”
John D. Rockefeller, business magnate and philanthropist
“The practice of keeping a little ledger by young men just starting in business and earning money is of greatest value. This little book shows largely what I received and what I paid out during my first years of business. I paid my own bills, and always had a little something to give away, and the happiness of saving some. It is true I could not secure the most fashionable cut of clothing. I did not make any obligations I could not meet. I lived within my means, and my advice to you young men is to do just the same.”
Rose S., former librarian
“Don’t invest in the lottery.”
Will Rogers, humorist and showman
“Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people that they don't like.”
Donald Trump, businessman, television personality, and 45th president
“Sometimes your best investments are the ones you don’t make.”
Mark Twain, author and humorist
“October: This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.”
Carrie Underwood, country singer
“Doing the weekly shopping, I stock up on stir-fry kits, Amy's meatless burgers, and armloads of onions and garlic. I put onions and garlic in everything. Ack, as usual, I forgot my coupons. (Yes, I do clip them!)” – Rachael Ray Magazine
Laura U., teacher
“We are really trying to cut our food budget! We will be eating out less, only go grocery shopping after planning and having a list in hand. Buy seasonal produce items that are a better price and shop sales for meat & seafood!”
Chris Walters, writer for Policygenius
“Opt for term, not permanent insurance. Why: OK, there are a few times permanent life insurance is called for, most notably if you have a complex estate or special needs dependents. But most people just need a plain vanilla term policy, which has a hard expiration date, no cash value component and, as such, is significantly less expensive. If an agent pushes you to consider a permanent policy, get a second opinion from a qualified financial planner. We've got a crib sheet to figuring out if you need term or whole life insurance here.” – Policygenius
Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House books
“It is still best to be honest and truthful and to make the most of what you have.”
Mary W., retired teacher
“Shop with coupons when you can. Self evident, but true. I sometimes have found free peanut butter and eggs in Kroger coupons. Makes you wonder if they put them in there to see if you are looking. Get off brand food. The quality of off brand is very high. Very. Get portions to what you will eat/use. No sense in buying a bulk load of things that you throw out. Buy things on sale that you will use. Great deal on a load of TP? Why not? Gas coupons credits. I normally save 40 cents per gallon at Kroger using their gas plan.”
Pamela W., brand promoter at Le-Val and restaurant co-owner
“CVS ExtraCare Bucks!! Never shopping at Michael’s without a coupon. Being willing to switch brands (within reason) if something is on a good sale. Also, if I’m buying something in cash, I never use change, only bills. Then I take all that change and save it up. Talk about unnoticed money creating little windfalls. And, I periodically go through my accounts looking for subscriptions and recurring charges we don’t really need or use. Why do I need Sirius XM when I’ve got Spotify? Saved $19/month = $200+/year. Same with Dropbox, Evernote, etc. It’s not about how much we make, it’s about what we do with it.”
With 100 unique ways to save money, you’re bound to find at least one idea that you can implement today. Let’s change the statistics of how much Americans save for the future! If all else fails and you’re feeling really frugal, you can always save money the way my grandfather did . . .
Richard Basinger, World War II veteran, farmer, and carpenter
Rather than take your male cat to the vet, find someone to help you, put the cat in a burlap sack, tell your assistant to hold the sack tightly, and neuter it yourself!
How do you save money?
Rachel Basinger teaches humanities part-time at a private school in Jacksonville, North Carolina and is the permanent blog writer for Hero Care Packages. She loves to talk about personal finance topics from saving money to great investments.
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There’s a very clear pattern in terms of much of this saving advice. You need to ensure that you’ve committed to a savings plan: whether its committing to putting aside an increasing amount each day or simply setting aside a percentage of you income each month. Either way, the key is commitment over the long term
Awesome advice and great point. Finding a savings strategy that works for you is key. Commitment is far more important than picking the “perfect” strategy. Thanks for sharing.