Cardia is a Barbadian University student who loves writing and helping others. Her topics include college experiences, DIY, and hair care.
Sometimes, saving money is a job within itself.
Let's face it - it's hard to save money, especially during tough times. Bills, taxes, groceries, unplanned purchases – it can all certainly drain your pocket!
Not to worry - there are many ways that you can save money and cut back. Here is a list of both basic and creative ways to save your cash.
1. Do grocery shopping with a list.
Aimlessly walking around in the supermarket can result in more impulse buys. Instead, write out a list of items that you need, and only go to the aisles that have these groceries. This can definitely cut down on unplanned purchases.
2. Buy things in bulk.
Things such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, paper products and light bulbs, among others, can be bought in bulk. This would save on multiple shopping trips, and if bought wholesale, can be much cheaper in the long run.
Be sure to look up wholesale sellers in your area (think PriceSmart and Sam's Club) and see what else you can buy in bulk. Other items that can be bought wholesale include baby diapers, canned foods, baking flours and cleaning products.
3. Track your spending.
Keep a ‘spending journal’: get a notebook, and simply write down every purchase that you make – the date of purchase, the item, and how much it cost. Also, make sure to save your bills. Keeping a log of your purchases can help you track where your money goes, and it’ll help you figure out what you can cut back on.
If you prefer to track your purchases digitally, there are apps for tracking your spending - Dollarbird, Wally and PocketGuard, just to name a few.
4. Turn off electronics when not in use.
You’re probably used to hearing this, but there are indeed benefits to turning off electronics that are not being used at the moment. Doing this can lower your electricity bill, plus save money on buying replacement batteries.
5. Weigh out the pros and cons on big purchases.
Luxury items such as brand name clothing, shoes and makeup are very desirable, but they can definitely take a large chunk out of your wallet. Before rushing out to buy it, think about why exactly you want it, and if it’s something that you would wear often.
Often, quality items that are made out of leather or stronger materials do last longer than the cheaper version sold in 'fast fashion' stores, so you would save money in the long run.
6. Wait a day before making that big impulse buy.
Picture it: you’re out shopping and you suddenly see something that you absolutely love. It’s a new outfit, a pair of shoes, car accessory or a piece of home décor. It’s absolutely perfect, yet the price could send you screaming out of the store.
This happens often with all of us. Instead of making that purchase on the spot, spend some time thinking about it, and if it’s worth the price. Do some research and read other user reviews if necessary. A day is enough time to think it through. If after that you still really want to buy it, then go right ahead.
7. Keep your spare change in a jar
Spare change – we all have it. However, keeping our coins can help save more money than you think!
Keep all of your spare change in a jar or container, and when it’s full, take it to the bank and have them changed to bills or deposit it to your account. It’ll add up to a lot more than you think!
Also, don’t be embarrassed to pick up coins if you see them on the ground – every penny does count!
8. ...Or save certain bills!
This is quickly growing in popularity, and for good reason - it's an easy and neat way to save money!
All you have to do is this - decide on a certain denomination of money that you are going to save, for example, $5 bills. Now every time you spend or receive money, save the $5 bills - don't spend them. By the end of the month or week, you would've saved quite a bit of money without too much effort! Think about it - four saved $5 bills add up to $20.
9. Keep a reminder in your wallet.
Do you have something that you’re saving up for specifically? Maybe a new electronic gadget, or a trip in the near future?
Write it down on a piece of Post-It notepaper, and stick it in your wallet or purse in a very visible area. That way, each time you open your wallet to make a purchase, you’re reminded of what you’re saving for, and if this purchase is really worth the money.
11. Pay off credit card bills as soon as possible.
Paying off all your credit card bills as soon as you can will prevent your interest from rising.
Plus, sign up for credit card programs that have added benefits such as earning airline miles or discounts from stores. You'll be earning while you're spending!
12. Bring your own lunch to school/work
Instead of buying something in the cafeteria at work or school, bring your own lunch and snacks with you. Plus, you can take your own bottle of water, carry a travel mug of hot coffee or tea, or even some juice boxes with you.
13. Check out free entertainment options.
Be sure to check your local newspapers and Facebook for free or inexpensive events in your area. Events such as poetry nights, Zumba classes, comedy shows, and local band concerts are normally tons of fun and not too pricey. Bring along some friends and make a great time out of it!
Also, have get togethers with your friends at one of your houses, where everyone can bring a snack, food or beverage. Movie and game nights are a great way to have a night with your friends without breaking the bank.
14. Make your own presents
Instead of getting store bought gifts for people for their birthdays or Christmas, how about making your own?
Handmade items such as jewelry, paintings, knitted items, and home décor all make excellent gifts. It’d save money, plus it’d be more personal and therefore more appreciated.
Look at websites such as Craftgawker, Craftster and Etsy for inspiration.
Carpooling to school or work with friends is a great way to cut back on gas prices, plus you’d have company on the journey there!
16. Sign up for exclusive memberships.
See if your favourite stores, restaurants and websites offer memberships to their customers – these are normally free or very inexpensive, and are full of benefits. Benefits can include free gifts (such as on birthdays), entries for sweepstakes, and discounts for both online and in-store purchases.
Also, sign up for email updates on websites, - this way, you'll be in the know whenever they have a sale or deal!
17. Find flight and hotel bargains online.
Start looking for flights months in advance, as airlines often hike up their prices as it gets closer to the travel date. However, some websites also offer “last minute deals” on hotel rooms and plane tickets, so be on the look out for those as well.
18. Buy clothes on sale.
This one is pretty obvious, but buying items like clothes on sale can save you some serious dough. Visit stores that are advertising sales and specials, and also check out online retailers.
Most stores also give discounts on clothes that are out of season, in order to get rid of stock. So you can buy some awesome summer outfits during the fall and winter seasons.
Also, don’t be afraid to buy things from the thrift store! You can get an entire outfit for just a few dollars. Just be sure to thoroughly clean them before wearing.
However remember – don’t just buy it because it’s on sale.
There are many ways to stay fashionable while on a budget, as listed here.
Coupons can be used to get discounts or even freebies when shopping, so it's best to always be on the lookout for them. Some companies have exclusive coupons online that you can simply print off and take with you. If you're on company mailing lists for email updates, be sure to check these for coupons as well. Plus, check the bottom of your bill the next time you shop - sometimes stores have a coupon printed on there to be used the next time you shop with them!
There are also smartphone apps that can get you instant discounts!
Angel Harper on August 30, 2018:
Useful advice!! 14 is something I'm definitely going to try out, I always overspend on presents!
Jacobb9205 on February 25, 2015:
Great ways to save money thank you!
Cardia (author) from Barbados. on January 04, 2013:
Thank you, carol7777 and alocsin for your comments! :)
Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on January 03, 2013:
Excellent advice. I especially like #8, which also has the advantage of being a more heartfelt encounter. Voting this Up and Useful.
carol stanley from Arizona on December 29, 2012:
All really good ideas..we just have to do IT! Thanks for reminding us what we need to do.
Cardia (author) from Barbados. on December 27, 2012:
Thanks! Yes, I thought of it just before publishing!
SkeetyD on December 27, 2012:
I see you found one more tip to add to your list! All these tips can come in very handy, the last one especially. You would be amazed the amount of money you accumulate.