If you’re interested in saving money, retiring early and becoming financially independent, you’re in the right place. It may seem hard to save enough money to reach your financial goals – particularly when unexpected expenses come up – but with time, effort and diligence, it really is possible!
As you know, I don’t believe that there are any shortcuts to financial independence. It requires hard work, dedication, and a willingness to sacrifice for the future. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some quick and easy ways to start “trimming the fat” from your budget.
In fact, there are a number of simple things you can do that will help you save money and cut unnecessary expenses. So in this article, I’ll be looking at 50 of the best ways that you can start cutting your expenses and start saving money – right away!
All of these ways to save money fast are easy. It’s possible that not all of them will apply to you. However, even if you just follow a few of them, you’ll still be taking some great first steps toward financial independence. So, without further ado, let’s get started – and look at 50 ways that you can start saving money today!
1. Consider a new bank account
This is one of the easiest ways to save money. If you have not considered a new bank account recently, now is the best time to do so.
There are a lot of banks out there that are offering competitive interest rates – and some online banks have interest rates that are higher than traditional “brick-and-mortar” banks, which will allow you to save more.
You can also get bonus cash for opening an account and depositing a certain amount of money, in most cases – which lets you get the most out of your savings.
2. Clean out your closet & sell what you don’t need
Chances are that you have a lot of stuff in your closet that you don’t wear. Open up your closet and your dresser, grab all of your shoes and coats, and take an honest look at your wardrobe. You could probably get rid of 50% or more of it, in most cases!
You can sell shoes, coats and other clothing online or at local vintage stores. If you want, you can also give your old clothing to a local charity.
3. Avoid fast food & prepackaged foods
Fast food and prepackaged convenience foods (frozen meals like pizza, etc) are very expensive – and making a habit of eating them will cost you a lot of money. Not only that, but they’re unhealthy, which could lead to health issues if you make them a staple of your diet. Cooking fresh, simple meals at home is a better option.
4. Turn off the lights when you leave the room
This is one of the simplest ways to save money. If you’re going to be out of a room for more than 15 minutes, the Department of Energy recommends that you turn off the lights.
Lighting makes up about 12% of home energy use – so if you turn off the lights when you leave a room, you can make a serious impact on your overall power consumption.
5. Stop smoking or vaping
Smoking is extremely expensive, and it can cause health issues like lung cancer, COPD and much more. Vaping is also quite costly, and is thought to cause health problems such as “popcorn lung.”
For your overall health and well-being – and to save money – you should stop smoking or vaping right away.
6. Cut back on your alcohol consumption
Drinking alcohol in moderation is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be expensive – particularly if you go out to bars. Consider cutting back on your alcohol consumption, or reducing the amount you spend at bars and drinking beer, wine and liquor at home. This is a very easy way to save money.
7. Join your local library
Libraries are great. Reading is a fun, inexpensive and enjoyable way to spend time and learn about tons of different things, and local libraries also often have DVDs and Blu-Rays, video games, magazines, and other things that you can check out – all for free. Some libraries even offer free tool rentals and other such services, so join your local library today.
8. Swap incandescent bulbs for LEDs or CFLs
Incandescent bulbs are extremely inefficient. They produce a lot of waste heat compared to more modern bulbs that use CFL (compact fluorescent lamps) or LEDs (light-emitting diodes).
CFLs use about 70% less energy to deliver the same amount of light and last about 10,000 hours. LEDs use about 75% less energy and can last up to 100,000 hours. Swapping to CFLs or LEDs will save you a lot of money – and eliminate the need to regularly change lightbulbs.
9. Get a programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat will allow you to automatically change the temperature of your home depending on the time of day.
For example, you can set it lower (in the winter) or higher (in the summer) while you’re away at work, and then have it reset to your preferred temperature before you get home. According to the EPA, a programmable thermostat can reduce your heating/cooling bills by 10-30%.
10. Take shorter showers
Long showers may feel good, but they can also be quite costly. Water heating accounts for about 17% of your energy bill – and if you don’t have a low-flow showerhead, you may be using as much as 2.5 gallons of water per minute.
Combined, the cost of heating water and using up all of this water can cause your monthly bills to spike by quite a bit. If you tend to take long, 20+ minute showers, do your best to cut your daily shower to 10 minutes or less.
11. Compare prices at different grocery stores
Just because you’ve shopped at one grocery store for most of your life doesn’t mean that they always have the best prices. In fact, it’s usually worth shopping around and looking at local flyers and circulars to see the latest deals at different grocery stores – and see who has the best prices. Doing so is a very easy way to save money!
12. Identify (and prevent) stress spending
It’s easy to justify spending money on something you don’t need when you’re stressed or upset. For example, stopping by Starbucks on the way home for a $6 drink may seem like a good idea if you’re upset about something that happened at work.
But if you’re wondering how to save money fast, you should do your best to identify these “stress spending” habits and eliminate them. The less you spend on things you don’t need, the more you can save.
13. Keep your car properly maintained
If you have a car, take a look at the owner’s manual and service schedule – and follow it to the “T.” Doing things like keeping your tires inflated, changing your oil regularly and performing other maintenance tasks on time will ensure that your car lasts for years to come, and this is one of the easiest ways to save money.
14. Buy used items when you can
Buying used items is often a good idea, particularly if you want to purchase things like books, fitness equipment, electronics, furniture, and other such goods. These items can often be found at a low cost on websites & apps like Craigslist, Letgo and Facebook Marketplace. Before you buy new, see if you can find a good deal on a lightly-used item – this is a very simple way to save money.
15. Shop for new car/home insurance
Wondering how to save money fast? Finding a new provider for home insurance or car insurance can save you a huge amount of money – in just a day or two. If you haven’t shopped around to see how much different insurance providers are charging, you should do so – chances are that you can find a better deal!
16. Declutter your rooms, sell what you don’t need on eBay
Feeling overwhelmed by clutter? Clean out your home or apartment, and find all the stuff you don’t need. You can sell it on eBay or to local stores, and make quite a bit of money!
Not only that, but you may find that after you’ve decluttered your home, you may be able to live in a smaller home or apartment – which will also help you save money.
17. Cook more at home
Cooking at home is a great way to save money. You can make restaurant-quality meals for a fraction of the price as long as you know the basics about how to cook meat, make grains like rice, and prepare vegetables. Grab a few cookbooks, watch some YouTube videos, and learn more about home cooking – this is a very easy way to save money.
18. Cancel unused monthly subscriptions
Chances are that you have some monthly subscriptions you don’t use – whether it’s Netflix, a magazine subscription, or anything else. Take a look at the recurring charges on your bank account – and see what you can cut to save money every month.
19. Bring your lunch to work
How can you save money easily? By bringing your lunch to work! Buying lunch every day can cost you thousands of dollars per year. So don’t do it! Start “meal prepping” on the weekend, and you can pack yourself a delicious, nutritious and inexpensive lunch every day.
20. Learn to fix things yourself
Fixing things like washing machines, cars, and even electronics is not that hard – especially with YouTube and so many other online resources. Next time something you have breaks, do a little research and see if you can fix it on your own – chances are you’ll be able to save some money.
21. Get a chest freezer & buy in bulk
A chest freezer is a great option if you cook a lot at home. These free-standing freezers are cheap and you can often find them used and second-hand. With a chest freezer, you can buy meat and other groceries in bulk and freeze them to save on your grocery bill.
22. Start gardening
Starting a garden can be rewarding, and it’s a great way to spend your time in the warmer months. Not only that, but you can grow nutritious and healthy fruits and vegetables that are much higher in quality – and cheaper – than those that you would get from the supermarket.
23. Take public transit instead of driving
If possible, you may want to consider taking public transit like buses and trains instead of driving a car. In some areas of the world, this may not be possible – but if you can eliminate your need for a car, you could save thousands of dollars per year on loans, car insurance, fuel, maintenance and more.
24. Consolidate & refinance your student loans
If you have student loans, you may want to consolidate and refinance them to reduce your interest rate. Doing so will help you pay them down more quickly – and save a lot of interest in the long run. This is definitely one of the best ways to save money if you have one or more student loans.
25. Shave with a safety razor
This applies to both men and women! Safety razors use just one blade and are incredibly cheap compared to fancy name-brand razors. If you shave often, you could save hundreds of dollars per year by making this switch – see a guide on shaving with a safety razor here.
26. Make sure you’re maximizing your company’s benefits
If you work for a large company with benefits like a 401(k) or pension plan, health insurance, and other such benefits, make sure you know what benefits you qualify for – and make the most of them. Contact Human Resources, and you can learn more about what’s available at your particular company.
27. Don’t speed when driving
Nearly 1/3 of all car accidents are caused by speeding. The average cost of a speeding ticket is $150. Driving over the speed limit can increase your fuel consumption by 20% or more. For all of these reasons, you should avoid speeding when driving – always obey posted speed limits.
28. Start eating less meat
Meat is expensive. If you replace just one or two meat-based meals per week, you could save hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Not only that, but meat is also responsible for a lot of greenhouse gas emissions. By eating less meat, you can save money – and also contribute to lower emissions, and help protect our environment.
29. Start exercising more
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body. Even just walking 30 minutes per day has been shown to help prevent heart disease, improve mood, lower your blood pressure, and improve your digestion. Regular exercise will help keep your medical costs down and provide you with a better overall quality of life.
30. Always look for coupons
Coupons can help you save a lot of money. If you shop at several different grocery stores regularly, sign up for digital and physical coupons – and use them to save. When shopping online, you can often use Google to find coupons for online retailers and save big! This is definitely one of the best ways to save money.
31. Learn to mend clothing instead of tossing it
In our culture, we often throw away clothing that has a hole in it, has been worn-down or is stained. But this is not usually necessary. In many cases, you can repair clothes instead of throwing them away – by patching a hole in your jeans, darning your socks, or re-attaching buttons to your shirt. This article has a good introduction to the basics of mending clothing.
32. Invite friends over instead of going out
Seeing friends is great – but going out to restaurants and bars regularly can eat into your budget. Wondering how to save money fast? One of the best ways is to start inviting friends over to your house instead of going out.
Compared to going out, you’ll spend much less – and you can still enjoy spending time with those who are close to you.
33. Write a shopping list (and stick to it!)
This is one of the best ways to save money if you have trouble with impulse purchases at the grocery store. Look through your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before you go shopping. Then, write a list of all the things you need – and make sure that you only buy what’s on the list. No exceptions!
34. Observe the “30 Day Rule”
If you want to buy a non-essential item (a gadget or gaming console, a new coat, a pair of shoes, etc.), then I recommend observing the “30 Day Rule.”
The way it works is simple. Write down a note about the item you want to buy, and put it in a safe place. Then, after 30 days, take a look at it. Do you still want the item? If so, consider buying it. If not, you’ve just successfully avoided an impulse purchase!
35. Sign up for rewards programs when you can
Most stores have some kind of membership or loyalty rewards program. Usually, you can get things like cash back, free shipping, or even exclusive coupons for joining. These savings add up quickly, so make sure you join the rewards programs of every retailer at which you regularly shop. Then, you’ll be able to get the most for your money.
36. Use credit cards wisely
First, make sure that you are able to pay down your balance in full each month when using credit cards. Never carry a balance – otherwise, you’re just wasting money on interest.
In addition, make sure to maximize the rewards you get from your credit cards. Many credit cards offer cashback rewards on things like groceries, gas, dining and other such things. If you spend a lot of money on those kinds of categories, find a credit card that will reward you for your spending.
37. Save by shopping at yard sales
Yard sales are a great way to get things like dishes, silverware, furniture, tools, antiques and other household goods for extremely low prices. You can purchase these items for yourself, or buy them and re-sell them for a profit, in some cases. Keep an eye out on local newspapers and in community centers to see if there are any yard sales in your area, and take a look at what they have to offer.
38. Get generic items when you can
Buying generic medication and “store brand” groceries can save you quite a bit of money. Usually, these products are just as good as their “name-brand” competitors – and they cost less, too.
Depending on where you shop, you may be able to cut out as much as 30-50% of your grocery bill by shopping for generic items – and that means you can save a lot of money in the long run.
39. Stay out of the mall
Even if you tell yourself that you’re just “window shopping,” it’s not a good idea to go to the mall without a specific destination in mind – particularly if you’re prone to impulse purchases. Unless you need to go to the mall to visit a specific store, you should stay away – even if you love “people watching” and enjoying the atmosphere. Consider going to the park, watching a movie on Netflix, or going on a hike instead!
40. Rent out unused space in your home
Wondering how to save money fast if you own a home? If you have unused space – such as a spare room – you can consider renting it out for extra income.
You can rent it out to a tenant long-term if you want. Or, if you live near a major city or tourist destination, you may be able to use a website like Airbnb to rent it out on a temporary basis. Either way, this results in a lot of extra income that will help you supercharge your savings.
41. Find a cheaper place to live
Even if you like your current home or apartment, it may be worth trying to find a less expensive place to live. The rule of thumb for housing is that you should spend 30% or less of your gross income on rent or on your mortgage.
If your current home is costing you more than 30% of your gross income per month, this is likely impacting your cash flow negatively. You may want to consider finding a cheaper place to live, as this will help you save money more quickly.
42. Participate in free community events
Instead of paying to go to the movies, to eat at restaurants or to drink at bars, consider participating in free community events instead. Most towns, cities, and neighborhoods have plenty of fun, free community events that are hosted all-year-round, but particularly in the warmer months. If you find that you are spending a lot of money on recreation each month, this is a great way to cut costs.
43. Get a bicycle
Riding a bike is good for you, and it’s fun. Not only that but riding a bike can save you a lot of money, particularly if you make a lot of trips that are under 4 miles. Driving a car costs about 58 cents per mile – riding a bike costs less than 10 cents per mile.
Even if you still drive a car, riding a bike more frequently can save you on insurance costs if you drive your car under 5,000 miles per year, eliminate the need for a gym membership, and save you money on parking if you live in an urban city.
44. Don’t overspend on personal hygiene
Spending too much money on personal hygiene products, makeup and cosmetics can damage your monthly budget. I recommend that you take a look at your personal hygiene routine, and identify products that could be removed – or replaced with a lower-cost alternative. For example, you could start using generic shampoo and conditioner instead of name-brand products.
45. Seal your home to get rid of drafts, air leaks
Reducing drafts and air leaks in your home with proper insulation can save you up to 20% on winter heating costs and summer cooling costs.
You can seal your windows and doors to reduce drafts, and add more insulation in areas like attics, basements and crawl spaces to reduce heat loss and save on your monthly energy bills.
It’s possible to do this yourself to save even more money. Here is a quick guide to the basics. Check it out now, and see how much you can save.
46. Cut down on your vacation budget
Got big plans for a vacation? Maybe you should consider a lower-budget alternative. Instead of flying halfway across the world, for example, you could just take a road trip. Or, instead of staying in a luxury hotel, you could save money by staying in hostels – or even camping during your vacation. There are tons of different ways you can have a great trip without spending an arm and a leg – so think about how you can cut down your vacation budget.
47. Use online bill pay to save
If your bank offers an online bill pay service, this is a great way to save. Most banks offer this service, which allows you to send a check directly from your bank to a recipient on a selected date. For example, you could set your bank to automatically send your rent check every month.
Online bill pay lets you avoid late fees and other additional costs and automate your finances. Not only that, but you can save on stamps, envelopes, checks and other supplies that are required to manually send payments.
48. Don’t buy new cars
Buying a new car is one of the worst things you can do if you are trying to retire early and become financially independent. A brand-new car will depreciate by more than 10% within 1 month, and 20% within 12 months of your purchase.
If you buy a gently-used car that’s 2-3 years old, you will essentially be getting a brand-new vehicle – but it will already have taken the largest depreciation hit. Basically, you can get a car that’s got all the latest bells and whistles for a much lower price, as long as you purchase it from a reputable dealer.
49. Pack food for road trips
Eating at restaurants during road trips can cost you a lot of money. Of course, you should try to experience local cuisine when driving on a road trip, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Consider bringing a cooler with foods like vegetables and fruits, lunch meats, cheese, and other such foods on your road trip, and bring bread, crackers, peanut butter, and whatever else you like. If you bring your own food and eat most of your meals “picnic-style,” you’ll find that you will spend much less while traveling!
50. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake
The final tip I have for this article about the best ways to save money is this – don’t panic, freak out, or feel bad if you make a mistake.
Making an impulse purchase, spending too much at the bar, overspending on vacation – this kind of stuff does happen. But the only thing you can do is move forward.
Look at the mistakes you made, think about how you can prevent it in the future, and use that knowledge to save even more. If you do that, you’ll be able to stay on track – I guarantee it!
Thanks for reading, and I hope this guide has been helpful on your journey to financial independence. Want to learn more? Check out these posts about financial independence on my blog.