You need two things to travel – time and money. You don’t need a buttload of either, but you do need at least a little of both. Luckily, cutting back on expenses and saving extra pocket cash isn’t as hard as you might think. Once you cut down on a few different expenses, you realize that you don’t actually need much to get by day to day.
The best part of all of this is that there are a bunch of different options to save, so pick and choose what work for you.
Here are 30+ methods for cutting down on your expenses and saving extra money.
1. Change your mindset
You probably thought we were going to start with something obvious, like drawing up a budget (tip #2 haha). But honestly, I think the most important thing about saving money is your mindset.
Here’s what I mean.
My dad loves a good steak. But he will only eat one every now and then, as a treat or on a special occasion.
Once while on a supermarket trip when I was young, I saw him put one steak in our shopping cart. But wait, I thought, why not just buy ten steaks? Then he can eat steak every day, or at least every other day.
“Why would I do that?” said my dad. “If I eat steak all the time, it won’t be special anymore.”
I carried this lesson with me, not just regarding food, but with everything. Overindulging makes things lose value. His steak tasted so good because he was able to enjoy it every now and then. If he ate steak every day, it’d become just…normal food.
And not overindulging means saving more money. Bingo.
2. Write a budget
Budgeting doesn’t necessarily stop you from making purchases – it’s more a method for tracking where your money is going.
It’s a great way to highlight your expenses to see if you need to cut back in any particular area, or if you want to redistribute your spending to other categories. It’s also a great way to manage debt.
Use budgeting apps like You Need a Budget ($84 a year) or Mint (no fee), or just use good old fashioned Excel (or Google sheets in my case).
3. Skip the coffee
Sure, you can still get a $1 coffee at your local bodega, but that iced mocha two pump latte with extra whip is going to cost you a few more bucks. Those dollars really add up, especially if you’re a caffeine addict and drinking multiple cups a day.
Skip the coffee run and make coffee at home. It’s an easy ritual to fit into your morning routine, and it’ll save you money.
I limit my coffee purchases to once a week, and only buy a cup on Sunday mornings when I take my dogs to the dog park. Every other morning, I drink my coffee at home or fill up my travel cup if I’m taking it on the go.
4. Change your lightbulbs
Go green and save some green by using energy-efficient light bulbs. They’ll cut costs on your electricity bills and last way longer than traditional bulbs.
I switched to these a few years ago and haven’t looked back.
5. Learn to cook
Eating out is convenient, but it’ll quickly burn a hole through your wallet.
Start cooking your own meals at home. It’s the cheaper, and often healthier option.
Since cooking every day can be tough, especially if your schedule’s tight, try meal planning. Check out resources like WorkWeekLunch for some new ideas.
6. Use public transportation
Cars are expensive. Besides the actual cost of owning a car, there’s insurance payments, repairs and gas. Yikes. Not only that, but these days automotive debt is a silent killer, meaning it’s best to avoid predatory car loan programs altogether.
Public transportation is a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly option. You can ride the bus, a subway, ferry, bike or walk.
If you have to drive, consider carpooling or using BlaBlaCar.
7. Buy secondhand
Why buy new, when you can buy second and for a fraction of the price?
Some of my favorite places to shop secondhand online are eBay, Craigslist, thredUP and Poshmark.
If online is not your thing, hit up your local thrift shop. Thrifting is fun! Use Google Maps to find local thrifts like Salvation Army or Goodwill, or consignment shops in your area. Other options are garage sales, flea markets and estate sales.
8. Make your gifts
Some of the most meaningful and fun gifts I’ve given and received in my life have also cost the least.
Here are some ideas:
- Print out their best photo from Instagram and put it in a nice frame.
- Create a scavenger hunt.
- Make a coupon book for fun events to do together (see a movie, cook a dinner go on a road trip).
9. Get pet insurance
Accidents happen, and you want to be prepared when they do. Pet insurance is a safety net for pet owners, should an accident or unexpected illness occur. It’ll save you loads in the long run.
We use this pet insurance and highly recommend it! It’s the only pet insurance that will cover your pet while traveling.
1o. Get on a family plan
Your cell phone bill drops dramatically when you’re on a family family versus flying solo. Gather together a few trusted friends or family members and get a plan together. Everyone’s bill will drop, so it’s a win-win.
Research plans and join one with perks, like discounted phones or free Netflix.
11. Get rid of cable
Face it. Cable is expensive, distracting and downright unnecessary. We’re in the golden age of streaming services. Get yourself a (shared!) Hulu and/or Netflix account. They should be enough to cover all of your viewing needs.
12. Get a Charles Schwab bank account
With no account fees or ATM charges, what’s not to love? Charles Schwab bank accounts are ahead of the curve. Make the switch today and never feel bad about taking out money again.
13. Get cash back
If you’re going to spend money, you might as well sign up for cash back. It’s like getting a discount, even when there’s nothing on sale.
Many credit cards offer cash back offers, but if you don’t want to sign up for a new one, there are other ways too.
Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) and Mr. Rebates both give you cash back when you’re shopping online. Join Rakuten (and earn $10!) here and Mr. Rebates (and get $5!) here.
14. Cut down on alcohol
Alcohol is expensive. One beer in a New York City bar can cost you more than a whole six pack from the grocery store.
Have a drink at home before going out, or invite friends over to pre-game – yes, adults can pre-game! Think of a nice glass of wine in place of beer pong.
Plus, why pay $14 for a craft cocktail when you can enjoy two buck chuck in the comfort of your own home?
15. Stop smoking
No offense, but smoking is gross. It won’t only drain your bank account, but it’ll take years off of your life and make you smell.
The base price of cigarettes in NYC is $13 a pack. If you buy a pack a week, you’re spending $676 a year. That’s enough money for an international flight. If you buy a pack a day, the number jumps to $4,745 a year. That’s enough to live in Central or South America for a couple months.
There’s a great (free!) app that will track how much money you save each month by not smoking. If your general health isn’t enough of an incentive to ditch cigarettes, your wallet should be.
16. Use a reusable water bottle / drink water
This one is a double whammy.
Invest in a reusable water bottle so you don’t have to purchase water on the go. You can fill up at home, at the gym or at public water fountains. You’ll be helping the planet and saving money.
That one is easy, but this one is a bit more controversial: drink water!
Juice and soda have been woven into American diets to such a degree that some people barely drink water. But, as someone who grew up drinking only water, you really don’t need them. Head to flavor-town with the food you eat, not the liquid you drink. Drinking water at meals saves money and cuts down on your sugar intake.
If you can’t give up on soda, get a SodaStream and make your own at home.
A side hustle is a great way to make some extra cash.
When I was 14 I started selling things on eBay and making pocket money to supplement my minimum wage job as a theater usher. Back then it was a great side hustle, but nowadays, there are so many more options on what you can do.
Check out Airbnb, Lyft, Eat With, Get Your Guide, Bla Bla Car or TaskRabbit.
If you’re knowledgeable about a particular subject, you can make a manual, guide, e-book or book that you can sell online.
18. Use the library
My mother-in-law is a book fanatic, but for the amount she spends on books in a year I could probably fly across the country and back.
Don’t get me wrong, I love books and I love to read. It’s a favorite past time of mine, and it’s a great way to escape mindless scrolling or Netflix. But my local library makes it so I can read to my heart’s content and not drown in books (or debt) at home.
Get yourself a library card and then check out your local library’s website or app. You should be able to put books you want to read on hold, borrow e-books for your Kindle or e-reader, and even get audiobooks.
19. Deliver items when traveling
If you need help funding your next trip, why not let people at your destination help out? Grabr is an app that lets people request items they want from other countries, and pays travelers to bring them over. People can request all sorts of items, in a variety of sizes and prices.
20. Cut coupons
I don’t like to pay full price for anything, and in this day and age, there’s really no need to.
Take advantage of coupons like Groupon, Honey and loyalty cards that cut costs. Don’t forget to save purchases for times when there are major discounts, like Black Friday, any major national holiday (Memorial Day, Fourth of July, etc), and tax free weekends.
21. Buy in bulk
I know I said not to hoard, but there are some items you’ll always need. Toilet paper, for instance. If that’s the case, buy in bulk. You’ll often pay less money per item if you get more than one. Remember to always check the unit price and compare pricing.
22. Travel hack
How do free flights, free nights at a hotel, or free upgrades sound? They’re all possible when you travel hack.
Get started with travel hacking by signing up for a credit card with miles. Then use those miles to do all of the above. Voila!
23. Sell your stuff
In the words of Marie Kondo, does this spark joy? If not, it’s time to let go.
But why pay to put it in storage when you can just get rid of it?
Sell your items and turn your trash into money. eBay, Poshmark, Gumtree and ThredUp are all great online options, or try Craigslist or your local consignment shop to sell in person.
24. Go to free events
Having fun doesn’t have to cost money. Check out free events in your area.
If you’re in the NYC area, we list dog-friendly and dog-themed events happening in the area – and many of them are free!
25. Sign up with perks
If you’re signing up for anything – a new credit card, a subscription service, a cell phone plan – make sure there’s a perk involved. From small perks, like a year of free Netflix, to large ones, like enough miles for a roundtrip flight to Europe, always expect some kind of sign up bonus.
26. Stop snacking
The truth is, no one needs five to ten snacks in between meals. But, if you do tend to need a small pick me up, plan ahead. Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand, rather than buying pricey snack food on the go. Buy nuts or dried fruit in bulk, and chow down.
27. No impulse shopping
A shopping high goes a little something like this: you see something you like, your eyes widen, you buy it and get a rush of adrenaline. Chasing that momentary high will leave you with an empty bank account and a lot of stuff, most of which you probably won’t need.
Resist the urge. No spur of the moment purchases.
A good way to stop impulse shopping is to wait a period of time before making the purchase. Sleep on it, and if you still want the item after a week, then purchase it.
28. Do the Mason Jar money challenge
The Mason Jar Challenge is a great way to ease yourself into saving money.
Here’s how it works. At the start of the year, grab a mason jar. On week 1 (January 1 -7), put $1 in it. On week 2, put $2 in it. On week 3, put $3 in it, and so on and so on. On the last week of the year, put $52 in it.
By the end, you should have $1,378 saved – enough for a roundtrip flight to Europe and then some.
29. Get rid of tempting apps
I used to keep apps from my favorite clothing stores on my phone. I turned off notifications, so I wouldn’t get tempting reminders about big sales or discounts, but even so, the apps were still there, taunting me. I’d open them when bored, just to look around and see what’s new, and boom! before you knew it, my virtual shopping cart was full.
These apps were just temptations, calling me when I didn’t really have a need to buy anything, and just there to scratch my consumer-driven itch.
The best way to deal with them, and keep your shopping cart empty, is to delete them altogether. That’s right, press down on those apps, make them jiggle, and swipe them off your screen. Your bank account will thank you.
30. Review your subscriptions and don’t get new ones
My eyes widen when I see magical words like SALE, or FREE SHIPPING, or BOGO in my inbox. I can’t resist a good deal. But if you don’t need anything, why give in to these buzz words? Resist the temptation by unsubscribing from newsletters and cleaning up your inbox.
31. Ask for money or gift cards as gifts
Do you really want another random gift to store in the back of your closet? Nope.
If the opportunity arrises and you feel comfortable, then politely ask for money or gift cards.
If you don’t get the opportunity, then take the gift, thank the person, and re-sell it on eBay – just kidding! Kind of…
32. Make your own cleaning supplies
Making cleaning supplies is easier than you think, and often ends up being cheaper and lasting longer than store bought. Plus, you won’t have to keep purchasing plastic bottles.
I make my own laundry detergent. One batch lasts my household of two more than six months. This means fewer trips to the store, fewer Amazon purchases, and better ingredients for my clothes and skin.
33. Keep the change
It’s easy to lose track of loose change you get. I have a guzzler that I’ve converted into a change jar that I keep at home. Get something similar, really any sort of container works, and throw your change in when it fills your pockets and wallet. When your container is full, that nice chunk of change can be taken to the bank and turned into dollars!
34. Buy one, get rid of one
It’s easy to amass just…stuff, and especially if you have hoarder tendencies, like I do. Employing this simple rule has kept my shopping, as well as my closet, under control.
If you buy one, get rid of one, meaning if I buy a new sweater, I must donate or sell one already in my closet. It’s a great way to limit shopping to things you need, instead of want.
35. Get rid of your credit cards
Hear me out. Credit cards are great for certain things – online shopping, large purchases, reward miles and so you don’t have to carry around wads of cash. But it’s also much easier to spend when all you’re doing is swiping a card.
It’s easy to lose track of just how much has been deducted from your wallet, when literally nothing is missing. If instead you have a $50 bill, and you’re left with two bucks and a couple dimes when you get home, then you’ll feel it.
If you’re having a hard time controlling your spending, put the credit card away. Leave it in a drawer at home, to be used for emergencies or large purchases. Instead, take our your budgeted amount of money for the week in cash, and use that.
36. Join your local Buy Nothing group
Buy Nothing are free neighborhood groups where you can give away, lend, or share amongst neighbors. It’s a great way to get to know your community, while de-cluttering and saving money.
This worldwide social movement, with groups in over 30 nations, is hosted on Facebook, and free and easy to join.
I’ve benefitting from my local Buy Nothing group immensely. I’ve met neighbors, given away things I no longer need or use, and avoided the guilt of contributing to the world’s trash epidemic. Plus, I’ve gotten items like a humidifier, knife sharpener, and a laptop charger, saving me a good amount of money.
What are your best tips for cutting back on spending? I’d love to hear in the comments.
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