With prices on everything always on the rise, saving money can become a little more tricky. There are plenty of ways to save money on groceries, enjoy a budget-friendly Easter or have a frugal camping trip.
You can even find out how to save money on bills with unusual tips to cut costs on water usage and your energy bill. But sometimes you just want to save even more money, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
Here are some radical ways to save money.
Easy ways that you can save money every month
Save money on disposables
Don’t use disposable things
This includes napkins, plates, paper towels, and plastic utensils. While the idea is great and there are several families out there that are happily living a disposable free lifestyle right now, it’s not always feasible for everyone else. However, not buying them can definitely save you a lot of money every year.
Cut paper plates in half for toddlers
While this may not be great for messy foods, it can be great for easier snacks such as cut grapes or chips. Plus, it’s slightly better for the environment and reduces waste by that much more.
Cut paper towels in half
Some paper towels already come in half sheet options, but if you pay attention to the price per roll and how much is in each roll, they aren’t always cheaper. Sometimes the price breaks down to the fuller sheets being the more frugal option. Cutting them in half, or even cutting a half sheet into a quarter piece and using them for small messes can help to stretch a dollar much further.
Use un-paper towels
Un-paper towels are just like washrags, in the sense that they are used, washed, and reused over and over again. They can be great for helping to stretch a budget and they look pretty cute too! Some even snap together and can roll up and sit on the counter just like regular paper towels.
Single-ply toilet paper
Single ply toilet paper is normally cheaper than double ply. But if you want to get really creative with saving money, you can separate two-ply toilet paper. Honestly, this way past my comfort zone.
Wash plastic utensils
Plastic utensils are bought all the time for potlucks, family gatherings, lunchboxes and then some. Unfortunately most people use them once and then toss them out. Get more use by washing them and reusing again.
Switch to cloth menstrual pads
The benefits here is that it no longer feels like you’re wearing a diaper between your legs. The designs can be customized and colorful and they can be easy to wash and reuse.
Believe it or not, this is more popular than you may think. A lot of mom groups on social media rave about how their family switched to cloth instead of toilet paper and it saves them money.
I don’t doubt that it saves them a large chunk of change every year, toilet paper prices are crazy! Some women have suggested every family getting a different cloth color and only using it for a pee while keeping toilet paper exclusively for the heavy duty cleaning.
Choose cloth diapers
Disposable diapers can cost you a few dollars a day from birth until your baby is potty trained. Using cloth diapers gives you cute tushies to look at and save you money. They are an upfront investment though, but can be used for years and even through multiple siblings or resold for close to face value.
Use tap water and a refillable bottle
Bottled water from the store might only be a few cents per bottle when you break down the math, but it’s also not earth-friendly. By switching to a refillable water bottle and tap water, you can save yourself money and not pollute.
How to save money on household items
Make your own cleaning products
Vinegar makes a great cleaning product for almost anything. You’d be surprised how much it can do for you from helping with normal wipe downs to laundry washing.
Buy everything you can in “used” condition
This includes toys, clothes, cars, and furniture. If you can buy it used, you instantly remove a huge portion of money you could have spent on it brand new. This means that you save money instantly. A lot of resold things are still in great condition with plenty of life left to give.
Cut dish scrubbers in half
This one I personally do. Buying large dish scrubbers is great, but when you can cut them into half or a quarter of their original size, you can squeeze out that much more life from them.
Crochet your own dishcloths
Crocheting your own dishcloths is an easy way to make several for the cost of a small skein of yarn. They are also a great craft to sell for a side hustle. So if you make a few of them, you can sell some and keep the others. This can help you to recoup the cost and turn a profit.
Use wool dryer balls instead of dryer sheets
Dryer sheets have their pros and cons, one of the cons being that it can cause a build up on your clothes and you have to continually buy more when they run out.
Wool dryer balls are proven to help reduce the drying time, thereby using less electricity to dry your clothes and it’s a one time purchase.
How to save money on monthly bills and expenses
Walk or take public transit
The cost of gas is always going up. Choosing a few days every month to walk or take a bus to and from a place really helps to cut your costs and save you money.
In one of my neighboring cities, there is a bike share program. You pay for a few hours to use a bike and leave it at your location. The next nearby user takes it and does the same. At the end of the day, the company uses GPS and gets it back to the starting location.
Use Hulu and Netflix instead of paying for cable
Cable packages cost a lot of money. Chances are high that you aren’t even using most of the channels you’re paying for. So why bother? With so many cheaper tv show streaming programs, you have plenty of variety to choose from.
Alternate your Hulu and Netflix subscriptions using vacation mode so you never pay for more than 1 at a time. Great for not getting sick of the same programs always being on, and it makes it more exciting with options.
Only spend cash and make a rule not to spend anything less than a $20
So the $10’s, $5’s, $1’s and change go into savings. Now you have to think extra hard about purchases and whether or not it’s worth it. A $6 coffee will hurt your budget by $20, or you can brew it at home for the cost of a few pennies. Doing this can really make you more mindful of your purchases.
Only pay cash for gas
As inconvenient as it can be to go into the gas station and pay with cash, especially if you have kids in car seats, it can save you money.
Cash options are normally several cents per gallon cheaper than debit/credit cards so you can instantly save money by choosing cash instead of a card.
Use LED lightbulbs
Another great way to save money, especially on your energy bills is by switching to LED lightbulbs. These use less energy and have a longer lifespan than regular lightbulbs.
Hang laundry to dry
If the sun is hot and the air is windy, it’s a perfect day to save money! Hang your clothes or linens outside and make mother nature work for you. This saves you from heating up your home and helps to keep your energy bills down.
Save money on food
Keep those extra condiment packets from restaurants
Ever ask for some barbecue sauce for those 4 nuggets in the bag and get 4 packets of barbecue sauce? Who on earth needs so many sauce packets for such a small amount of food? Apparently, you do. So instead of simply tossing the extras in the trash, store them and use them. You may be able to survive without actually buying condiments for a long time.
Using coupons is one of the more obvious ways to save money on food. There are plenty of ways that you can get free coupons online, in newspapers and in store. Even if you don’t take it to extreme couponer heights, any savings is good savings.
Use rebate apps like Ibotta
Rebate apps like Ibotta are another great way to save money on groceries. They may not help you to save money up front, but they do help give you back the money you spend through small rebates. Check out my review on Ibotta.
Ration the food in your house
Have you ever noticed that after a large grocery trip, when your house is fully stocked with food that it doesn’t last as long as you initially planned?
You might notice that this is even more true during summer months when kids are home from school.
By only putting out small portions of snacks at a time, the family doesn’t go through them too quickly. Store the rest in a bin somewhere and only put out a few days worth at a time. This can help it to last much longer.
Raise your own food
If you’re not lucky enough to live somewhere in the country where you can freely grow your only animals for food. Goats, cows, chickens, and pigs may not be the kind of food you can raise up yourself, but you do have another option.- Gardening
There are several easy gardening methods for everybody including those living in tiny apartments on the 9th floor of buildings in the city.
Pack a picnic lunch instead of eating out
If you know that you’re going to be out running errands all day or be so busy that you’ll most likely miss a meal time, it can be easy to stop at a fast food place and grab a quick burger and drink. That’s also money that you could be saving.
Take a small cooler (if you need one) and pack a picnic style meal instead. It doesn’t have to be an actual picnic with a blanket on the grass, but keep the idea and concept of it. Cold, easy to eat foods needing little to no utensils.
Examples– pasta salad, Caesar salad wraps, giant sub sandwiches precut into individual servings, fresh fruit and carrot sticks. Now you can eat a good and frugal meal even if you’re stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and at a standstill.
Stretch meat into as many meals as possible
A $5 rotisserie chicken, a $10 pork shoulder roast and 5 lbs of ground beef can get you through a couple of weeks worth of meals if you stretch them far enough. Using smaller portions of meat in your meals can help to cut your food budget. Use cheaper proteins to fill in the void and you can maintain a well-balanced diet.
Buy a kitchen spritzer instead of buying spray cooking oils
If you’re anything like my family, you really go through a lot of spray cooking oil. Unfortunately, the good stuff is expensive and the cheap stuff have you regretting your purchase when it comes to the dishwashing aftermath.
I recently found this nifty tool on Amazon. It’s a kitchen spritzer and it’s saving us a lot of money. Fill it with whichever cooking oils you may prefer and then spray. It’s super easy and I’m honestly thinking about having one exclusively for my cast iron seasoning oils.
Don’t eat out
This one is a pretty common suggestion when people are talking about different ways to save money. Eating out can easily cost $10 per person plus 20% tip at a sit-down restaurant. This adds up incredibly fast for larger families.
By learning to make recipes like the ones you enjoy at your favorite restaurants you can cook together at home and save yourself a lot of the cost.
Even simply cutting back on your eating out habits can make a difference to your budget.
This is good for many health reasons but can easily be done so for your budgets as well. Some ways you can save money with water are:
- At home
- Choosing tap water (even if filtered) is much cheaper than constantly buying bottled water
- At work or out and about
- Carrying a reusable bottle of water with you can help keep you hydrated and from experiencing thirst masquerading as food cravings and hunger.
- This can help you avoid those overpriced soda vending machines, convenience store priced drinks and is better for the environment.
- When at a restaurant
- Soda and special drinks at restaurants are overpriced and expensive. Ordering water is usually free and includes free refills.
Make tea/coffee at home
Making your own specialty drinks at home can take a little effort to master but is easily one of the best ways to save money.
My normal Starbucks drink is a Venti peppermint mocha with almond milk and no whip (I’m currently dairy-free). This drink alone costs $6.58. If I ordered one every day for a year I’d be looking at $2,342.48!
Instead, I pay $10 for a months worth of ground coffee, use a reusable coffee filter and pay $3.59 for a container of dairy-free coffee creamer per week. Costing me an average of $306.68 which is less than a dollar per day.
Always take your lunch to work
Depending on your work situation, this isn’t always the easy option. But in most cases, some creativity can help to pull something together. Cold lunches like sandwiches, or foods that should be heated up in a microwave are both two routes to go.
Other options are to find some stable temp foods that can survive both temperature extremes if you don’t have a fridge or microwave handy on site.
Examples– Mixed nuts like trail mix, freeze-dried fruits, fresh fruits (not something like a banana, look for hard to bruise fruits like apples), muffins, snack bars, and granola.
Leftovers are free food
Well, I’m not technically wrong here. You paid for it the first night, after that it’s free food and getting your monies worth.
A lot of people actually hate the idea of eating leftovers, and I totally understand. I am personally not a fan of eating the same foods too often. But something cool is repurposing leftovers into a new dish.
Turning stews into gravy filling for pot pies or serving over rice. Making spaghetti into a baked spaghetti pie or leftover taco meat into a delicious salad or chili are also great ways to create something new from something old.
Meal planning can be tricky when it’s new for you, but after getting some practice with it you can find that it’s really easy. You can make each night have a theme or cycle through family favorite and your Pinterest board of recipes you say you’ll try but never do.
Having a game plan for dinner when you go shopping helps you to not impulse buy, as well as avoiding the takeout and delivery options. It doesn’t matter if you plan weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, the end results are more savings in your pocket.
Plan your meals with extra to freeze
One simple way to keep your house stocked with budget-friendly food is called “double batch cooking.” By making more than enough for one night (preferably enough food for two family meals) you can have one now and freeze one for later.
This is great for things like mac and cheese, lasagna, enchiladas and so much more.
Doing double batch cooking before a new baby is born or major scheduled surgery can help ease the burden of cooking when you should be resting. It’s also great for when budgets are tight and you don’t have money for food or are simply wanting to enjoy a lazy day.
Keep a stocked pantry and freezer
Extreme couponers have huge stockpiles of everything and you have most likely seen clips of the tv show or photos of fully stocked garages that look like mini convenience stores inside someone else’s home. This is a tad overkill.
I personally bought 20 bottles of Head & Shoulder 2 in 1 shampoo for my husband 3 years ago for just the cost of the tax, and haven’t had to buy any since. I’m still working on my deodorant and body wash stockpiles from 5 years ago. Things like this can survive for ages, but you don’t need 300 of everything unless you plan on illegally reselling them.
You can create a small stockpile of food with as much as $10 per month!
Simply set that much money aside in your grocery budget each month and focus on pantry stable (or freezable) products that you can safely store. Only get foods you know your family will eat.
Things like bagged rice, sandwich bread, canned fruit/veggies are all easy to set aside. Bread needs to be frozen, and rice (as well as flours and pasta) can get tiny bugs if left for too long so rotating through it is a great idea to prevent food waste!
Meal plan around what you already have
The easiest way to make a budget-friendly meal plan is by utilizing what you already have in your house. You can take this one step further by doing a pantry challenge and trying to reduce as much grocery shopping as possible.
Don’t buy processed foods
There’s a lot of back and forth about processed foods being bad for your health and what’s wrong with the world. I’m not here to say anything about that because as a mother of 2, I have no problem sprinkling popcorn and Oreos on the ground and letting my kids pick at it like birds so I can get 2 minutes of peace and quiet.
I will go at this from a financial standpoint though. 70% of the year, processed foods are overpriced. Before school starts, cereal goes on sale. During holiday months, scalloped potatoes, instant mashed potatoes, pudding mixes and more all go on sale. Watching sales cycles can help you buy processed foods when the prices are low.
Cook from scratch
Cooking foods from scratch can be daunting if you aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, but even a 3 ingredient dinner of bratwurst, cabbage, and red potatoes tossed on a sheet pan in the oven is considered a home-cooked meal. It’s also cheaper than eating out.
Making foods from scratch can help to save you a lot of money in the long run. It may cost more per dish, but when you look at the portion sizes you get from it and how you can name each ingredient without a Ph.D., it’s worth it.
Keep track of rock bottom prices
Watching sales cycles and paying attention to the lowest prices on your favorite products can have you learning to spot the rock bottom prices. This is when you want to stockpile and buy multiples (if you can). What you spend now, you can save later.
If you fear your memory isn’t going to retain all of the rock bottom prices, you can keep a record in a binder or notebook to reflect back on.
Learn to stretch your meals with inexpensive sides that are in season on sale
We often have friends coming over for dinner with only a few minutes notice. This is just one of the reasons why I keep a few cheap staples in my home.
Cans of beans (baked, refried, and black), a box of stuffing mix, canned and frozen vegetables, and noodles to name a few. We also have bags of salad or a lettuce head in the fridge, depending on which one is cheaper.
If my 2lb pork roast isn’t enough to feed 5 hungry adults and 2 kids I start adding to my meal.
- The original plan- pork roast, baked potato, and steamed veggie
- New plan- pork roast, mashed potatoes, steamed veggie, side salad, and baked beans. Just by adding those $2 worth of extra items, I now have more food to work with.
Another tip for stretching it out– is to cut the meat prior to everyone being served, this helps give a size measurement and honestly works great at portioning meats.
Make seasoning mixes
Something I didn’t realize until I was an adult was how easy it was to make my own seasonings. Taco seasoning get’s used a lot around here, so we mix it ourselves and keep it in a jar, only needing to remake it every few weeks.
Sloppy joe seasoning is practically just ketchup and mustard mixed with beef and vegetables you want to add.
Make your own salsa
Considering the cost of jarred salsa and the cost of all of the fresh vegetables from the grocery store, this may not be a cheap money saving trick. It can be a creative way to save money if you happen to be growing your own garden though!
Make your own snacks
There are so many easy ways that you can make your own snacks.
- Things like cookies can be done with egg, oil, and a box of cake mix if you don’t want to do make it from scratch.
- Granola is simple with oats, honey, and vanilla.
- Trail mix is better when it’s homemade, and you can add as many chocolate pieces as you want.
Breakfast bars, krispy treats, pudding, and snack mix are other ideas!
Shop at discount grocery stores
If you can shop at a discounted grocery store or a grocery outlet, you can save big money. I personally shop at a local chain called Grocery Outlet for a lot of random grocery items (you never know what is going to be in stock) and I shop at a discount bread store.
These places are great because just walking in the door, you save money. No coupons, rebates or actual effort required.
Educate yourself on expiration dates
Expiration dates and best by date are two different things. Knowing the difference and how long a product can be good for even after it has passed these dates is a good way to use foods that may have otherwise been tossed aside.
If you come across a killer deal on meat or things you can preserve then don’t buy 1 or 2, buy as many as your budget can handle
I have to share this story with you. My dad went to the grocery store a few weeks ago and bought some ground turkey that was marked down to $0.99 per 1lb container. Normally, they are $5 each but are seen on sale for up to half off ($2.50).
He called my mom to make sure she agreed that he could buy the 10 packs on the shelf instead of just the two he had in his cart. So when she said yes, he cleared that shelf. Then at the checkstand, he was surprised again when they rang up as buy one get one free. So 10 packs (10 pounds) of ground turkey only cost him $0.49 each! He talked about that story for days he was so happy.
Moral– Buying meat when it’s on a killer sale is a great way to save money on future meals! But double check that it is in your budget and that you have space for it.
Learn how to preserve food
Canning food, dehydrating, and vacuum sealing are all simple ways of preserving foods so that they can last much longer.
Another way is to simply toss carrot skins, celery leaves, onion peels and leftover chicken bones inside a zipper-topped bag and toss it in the freezer. Adding more to it until you’re ready to make easy overnight chicken stock in your slow cooker. This prevents waste and can save you from buying all of those cartons and cans of broth at the store.
Get freebies online
There are a ton of free things online that you can have sent right to you without ever leaving your couch. Free product samples, free coupons, free gift cards and more.
This is a great way to try products before you buy than and have fun doing it. The best part is that most don’t require you to spend a thing!
Do a “no spend month”
An extreme way to save money in a hurry is to do a no-spend challenge. This is when you don’t spend any money outside of your normal bills and try to use as little fun money and grocery money as possible. By being a little more aware of your expenses and trying to avoid as many as possible, you can really save big money fast.
I really recommend that everyone try this experience at least once a year. It’s a great way to use up food in the house, be creative, get over-do projects done and spend time together as a family. There’s a lot of no-cost activities that families can do together outside the house too!
Lastly, don’t be afraid to use food pantries if you need them
If you’re looking to save money, and are in need of food assistance. This is exactly what food pantries are there for. One time deals or reoccurring, they won’t judge your situation and they are full of volunteers wanting to help.
Using SNAP benefits and WIC are also great ways to save money on food, but they take time to implement and have strict low-income guidelines to follow. That being said, if you do qualify, use them! Not just for the food savings but also for the other great perks and benefits you can get with an EBT card.
And there you have it! Over 50 different ways that you can save money every day.
Do you have a different way that you like to save money? Share it with me in the comments below!
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