Efficient Admin (aka Michelle) is always looking for ways to save money and not waste it on things that will not matter two months from now.
Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Paycheck
Most people don’t realize how many opportunities there are every day to stretch a paycheck. Here are some frugal habits that could really add up in the long run, from grocery store shopping to cleaning the house. Below you will find where to save money throughout the week.
One way to accumulate cash is to stop wasting it. Although many of the tips below will only save you cents at a time, they will eventually add up to a considerable sum of money over time.
If you ever want to splurge on something that your frugal life otherwise would not allow for, then you can certainly try these ideas as a way to set aside cash. If you are being really diligent, however, you will probably want to save or invest the extra money. Either way, it is good to know that even when you are on a tight budget, you have everyday opportunities to save your money.
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- If your pastor is driving a Rolls Royce, keep your money to buy groceries and pay the electric bill.
- Create a budget. What do you want to spend? This step must be completed. Where is your money going? Good websites to check out include Fpanet.org and The Dollar Stretcher.
- Use a credit card. Wait! Did you just say use a credit card? I thought using credit cards was not helpful if you want to save money! True. But if you use the card and then immediately pay off the balance every month you may earn benefits and get rewards from your card. Just make sure there is no annual fee. For example, my Belk Department Store credit card gives me points toward a $10 coupon every time I use the card. I use the card mostly for clothing and when I get home I immediately write a check to cover the balance. Then when the statement comes in I mail the payment right away. I don’t accumulate interest charges and I get a $10 coupon in the mail.
- Bank your extra paychecks. If you get paid bi-weekly you will have 2 extra paychecks in a year. This is a great way to start building an emergency cash fund. You are already used to only getting 2 paychecks a month.
- Find the right bank for you to avoid all fees. Never pay to access your own money. Avoid late fees.
- Work at a temporary seasonal job to start a rainy-day fund in a savings account.
- Save money by paying bi-annually or yearly for insurance or memberships.
- Avoid overdraft fees. Your bank is quite happy to cover you when you spend more than what you have in your checking account, then slap you with a "courtesy overdraft fee" for covering your mistake with the bank's money. Check your account regularly and keep track of your balance. If you are getting close to zero, stop spending. If you sign up for overdraft protection that links your checking and savings account to cover the overdraft, the fees may be lower than if you bounce a check.
- Grow your own vegetables and spices.
- Avoid individual packaged snacks – make your own.
- Use coupons. Plan meals around coupons. Get coupons on-line for items you really need, not want. Sign up for GroceryGame.com. Buy a Sunday paper for grocery store coupons.
- Always check and compare between the generic and name brands. Generic products can sometimes cost much less than the brand names. Products like flour, sugar, salt, spices, milk, eggs, meat, pain relievers must all follow the same federal standards regardless of brand.
- Always shop with a list and do not deviate from the list!
- Do not shop when you are hungry. You will spend more.
- Shop during a special event, such as when coupons are doubled and/or tripled.
- Peruse the sales page offered at front of grocery store.
- Join a price club such as Sams, BJs, or Costco for grocery shopping.
- Purchase day-old breads and meats that are on sale.
- Avoid impulse buys at the checkout.
- Use a grocery store card for further savings.
- If you are shopping with children, don’t walk down the toy aisle.
- Buy only the fruits and vegetables that are in season.
- Watch your items as they are being scanned to catch any errors. Go over your receipt and look for discrepancies, as they are more common than you would think.
- Substitute ingredients such as buttermilk and chicken broth. Neither buttermilk nor canned broth is cheap. For 1 cup of buttermilk, use 1 cup of milk and 1 Tablespoon of real lemon juice and whisk until frothy. Buy the chicken broth powder or bouillon cubes and use 1 cube or 1 teaspoon of powder for 1 cup of chicken broth.
- Bake your own bread.
- Always save extra food for leftovers. Pack up leftovers for lunch or work the next day.
- Make your own pizza for family movie night.
- Properly store vegetables in the crisper to prevent them from expiring early.
- Use a non-stick canola spray instead of butter or oil.
- Reuse Ziplock bags.
- Make inexpensive foods like rice and beans a staple in the kitchen.
- Find free recipes on the Internet (especially on Hubpages!).
- Never buy ice at the store. Always make it at home.
- If you are out of an ingredient, check your pantry for a substitute.
- Cook up everything in your house before returning to the grocery store.
- Carpool, bicycle, or use public transportation whenever possible.
- Conserve gas and drive sensibly. Several short trips take more gas than longer trips. Hard braking and acceleration will use more gas.
- Keep up with the maintenance on your car.
- Vacation off season, especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- Use an independent mechanic to fix your car, not the dealership (unless you are still under warranty).
- Use a bicycle for short trips.
- Consider public transportation for longer trips.
- Fill up your gas tank in the coolest part of the day.
- Use a gas rewards card.
- Keep your tires balanced.
- Change your oil regularly, as it will save you in repairs later.
- Replace your car’s dirty air filter.
- Never leave your car idling for longer than three minutes.
- Never use a commercial car wash, always do it at home.
- Join AAA, as you will enjoy many discounts and emergency road-side assistance.
- Do not sit in the first-class section of a plane.
- Buy airline tickets in advance.
- Never travel by plane during the holidays.
Meals and Entertainment
- Make smart restaurant choices. What deals are there? Go to Restaurant.com or Groupon.com for coupons.
- Never order sodas at restaurants! Order water instead.
- Movies: go during matinee times, free summer movies, $1.00 nights.
- Form babysitter circle or swap childcare duties.
- Don’t cook too much food where leftovers get thrown away. This is money down the drain. Brown bag leftovers or go to www.supercook.com
- You can also use Supercook.com to enter every ingredient you already have in stock. It will bring up recipes you can try to use up what you have.
Health and Education
- Attend local community health fairs for free vaccinations, etc…
- Take advantage of all health benefits through employer-sponsored benefits.
- Use the library for education or entertainment. Borrow books or movies instead of renting or buying.
- Quit smoking and/or cut back on alcohol consumption and try drinking more water.
- Become a product tester – you can get free products.
- Don’t throw out good items. Sell them at e-bay or at a garage sale.
- Never spend your change. Put change in a jar at the end of the day. It adds up fast and it’s like free money.
- Don’t pay for storage. If you have so much stuff that you need to pay to store it, well, you just have too much stuff. Sell or donate what you don’t use or need. A very small storage unit can run up to $50 per month. The larger units cost more than that. Unload this stuff and your wallet will grow.
- Avoid late fees. If you are a late payer, you probably already figured out the fees are extraordinarily high. Late fees on mortgages, car loans, credit card accounts, auto registrations, and property taxes can add up to a lot of dough. Anticipate the due dates for these bills, or set up an auto bill pay directly with the service provider, or use your bank’s online bill paying service.
- Eat a large breakfast at home. It reduces your chances of eating out later in the day.
- Request more perks, such as a company cell phone.
- Make your own coffee at home and take it with you to work in an insulated cup.
- Pack a lunch every day.
- Don’t leave work during your lunch hour. Hang out in the break room instead.
- Take advantage of any employee discounts you may have.
- Carpool with coworkers.
- Request a performance review from your boss so you can negotiate for a raise.
- Save receipts for any work-related purchases so you can be reimbursed.
- Have your paychecks directly deposited into your bank account.
- Have a pre-determined dollar amount taken out of your paycheck every payday to go directly to your savings account. You will most likely not miss it. Start with a small amount and you can accumulate an emergency savings nest egg in no time. Either the payroll department at your place of employment can do this, or you can ask your bank to set it up.
- Talk to HR about a less expensive insurance plan.
- For blood stains, pray the stain with hydrogen peroxide and the blood stain will literally disappear. Fill up a spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide and spray the blood stain. It works best when the stain is fresh.
- Use baking soda as a multi-purpose cleaning agent.
- You really don't need to fill up the prewash soap container in your dishwasher. Just fill the Main Wash container with your dishwasher soap and your dishes should come out just as clean. This makes your dishwasher soap last much longer.
- Dilute sprays from concentrate to go further.
- Change your vacuum bag frequently to avoid repairs.
- Invest in a steam mop to clean your floors. They don’t use cleaning agents or chemicals and come with reusable microfiber cleaning pads.
- Spot clean large surfaces like rugs rather than cleaning the entire area.
- Don’t hire outside help for housework.
- Use a quality doormat to keep out dust, dirt and pesticides.
- On rainy days, ask visitors to take off their shoes at the door.
- Use lemon juice as an inexpensive stain remover.
- Use refillable soap dispensers.
Lawn and Garden
- Mow your own grass.
- Only water your lawn when it needs it.
- Water the lawn during dusk or dawn.
- Set your lawnmower to make the shortest clip.
- Start a compost pile and use it as fertilizer.
- Instead of harmful and expensive chemicals, use vinegar to kill your weeds.
- Grow a vegetable garden to save on food expenses.
- Make your own laundry detergent.
- Buy clothes in the off-season.
- Frequent second-hand clothing stores and consignment shops. I once saw a new Jones of New York suite for $20.00 and originally it was probably around $120.00.
- Buy clothes on eBay.
- Purchase underwear and socks in bulk.
- Organize your closet to find clothing you forgot you had.
- Don’t buy clothes that are too small for you in the hopes that you will lose weight. It can be the most disappointing way to waste money.
- For name brand clothes, look to your local outlet mall.
- Breastfeed your babies for an extended period.
- Buy disposable diapers in bulk.
- Try store brand disposable diapers, you may be pleasantly surprised.
- Opt for cloth diapers instead of disposable ones.
- Use a damp washcloth instead of baby wipes.
- Outfit your children in hand-me-downs from older siblings.
- If at all possible, do not give your children a cell phone.
- If you do give your child a cell phone, make it a prepaid phone.
- Pack your children’s lunch for school every day.
- Only eat at restaurants that serve children for free.
- Work from home to avoid daycare costs.
- Start an account to save for your child’s college education.
- If possible, pay off your balance in full each month. If you pay off your balance every month you won’t rack up finance charges, plus this helps to build up your credit score.
- If you are paying a high interest, transfer your balance to a card with an introductory rate of 0% APR.
- Seek out a rewards card that fits your lifestyle.
- Keep your credit cards at home to avoid impulse buys.
- Use your cards for emergencies only.
- Don’t sign up for credit card theft insurance. If your card is stolen, by law you are liable for $50.00. Most banks will waive this fee and replace your card.
- Don’t sign up for credit card disability insurance. This insurance promises to cover your payments if you get sick or disabled. However, read the fine print –- interest will continue to accrue and you will rack up debt.
Savings and Investment
- Find a discount brokerage to avoid large, hidden fees.
- Comparison shop for a bank with the best rates.
- Learn how to properly file your taxes without using a CPA. However if you are going through some really complicated life changes like divorce and splitting property all while working in two different states, you may save money in the long run by just hiring a CPA.
- Sit down and create a reasonable household budget.
- Request your free yearly credit report from the government.
- Start a loose change jar.
- Ask your payroll department if you can have a certain dollar amount subtracted from your paycheck every payday and have that amount automatically deposited into your savings account. It’s like paying yourself first. You won’t even notice it’s missing, and even a deposit of $5 per paycheck is a good start to accumulate an emergency fund.
- Buy floor model electronics at a reduced rate.
- Skip the extended warranties.
- Buy refurbished electronics that come with a guarantee.
- Buy discontinued models that are on clearance, or try to keep your current model computer for as long as possible. I held on to a Dell computer system for 10 years and it was still working fine when I donated to charity. The only reason I donated to charity and upgraded was because I couldn't find any of the latest software I needed that was compatible with Win98! So it was a forced upgrade.
- Before you buy expensive software, check to see if there is a freeware product available that is very similar.
- Thoroughly clean your computer at least twice a year with a vacuum hose/can of compressed air.
- Look to eBay or Amazon for inexpensive electronics.
- Don’t overspend on unnecessary accessories for your computer, video game console, etc.
© 2012 Michelle Dee
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on July 24, 2020:
MarloByDesign, thank you for reading and commenting. What this means (and I may need to revise that sentence) is bring your own lunch to work and eat in the lunchroom. Normally if people leave the office every day and spend money eating out, it can add up to a lot of money over time. If you bring your own food from home and eat at work you can save a lot of money. Hope that is much clearer. Thank you for your question.
MarloByDesign from United States on July 20, 2020:
Why do you say "Don’t leave work during your lunch hour." I am curious.
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on July 14, 2020:
Abby, so glad you found them helpful, thank you for reading and comments.
Abby Slutsky from America on July 13, 2020:
Thanks for all your good ideas.
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on May 25, 2015:
monia saad - I'm very glad you found this information beneficial. Thank you for your kind comments and for reading. I sometimes get sidetracked and have to review this hub as a reminder to myself!
monia ben saad from In my Dream on May 24, 2015:
A great article indeed. I benefited a lot and I can be more careful in the future .. thank you
Jacobb9205 on February 19, 2015:
As am I ;) No problem :)
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on February 19, 2015:
Jacobb9205 - I am glad you found this helpful. Thank you for reading and for your comments.
Jacobb9205 on February 17, 2015:
Awesome! Thank you for the list of places to save money!
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on June 18, 2013:
Deb - thanks and I'm glad Dave Ramsey is helping people. I always listened to Larry Burkett and his books inspired me in 2001 to let go of credit cards and pay in cash. It was a real eye opener and I haven't used a line of credit card since 2002 and don't miss them at all. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment.
Deb Welch on June 17, 2013:
Wow - thoroughly excellent Hub. You covered everything very well. I listen to Dave Ramsey once in a while on Christian radio and most of the people who call in for help - earn a huge amount of money and lost control or the unexpected happened. Many of the items - I do use and it is proven that you save money. Useful, Awesome, and Interesting.
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on April 28, 2013:
Kasman - thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed this article and hope it's very helpful. Thanks for reading and commenting and I do appreciate the vote.
Kas from Bartlett, Tennessee on April 27, 2013:
Extremely helpful tips all around. I especially love the one about the pastor driving the Rolls Royce.....had me laughing. I was impressed at how long this article was, you covered a great amount! Voting up, sharing!
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on February 05, 2013:
barbergirl28 - thanks I'm glad they are helpful.
europewalker - you bet, every penny counts nowadays. It's a good idea to save whenever possible.
alwaysamber - every bit helps! Thanks for reading and commenting.
Anthony Binks - thank you very much. Yes there are a lot of scams out there. I am trying to find part time gigs I can do at home. Thanks for stopping by and reading.
Anthony Binks from Northern Ireland on February 05, 2013:
Fantastic hub with loads of great ideas. I would love to become a product tester but all the sites I have seen are scams of some sort.
A great hub andf thanks for sharing.
alwaysamber on February 04, 2013:
Awesome tips! I am always looking for ways to save money. Bills come around WAY too fast, so saving tips are always helpful!
europewalker on February 04, 2013:
Very informative hub with helpful tips. These days every penny counts:)
Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on February 04, 2013:
These are great tips!!
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on January 08, 2013:
Thanks cptjarum. I'm glad you found them helpful.
jane from perth on January 07, 2013:
Wow.... thanks a lot for the tips great hub!
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on December 16, 2012:
DrMark1961 thanks for reading and I'm glad you found some new ones to use. Every little bit helps.
Mark dos Anjos DVM from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 16, 2012:
This is really comprehensive. I already use most of these tips but there are some new ones on here, even for me. Thanks.
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on November 30, 2012:
Express10 - I agree - the Dollar store in my area has beautiful ceramic plates, cups, and dishes that would cost a pretty penny in a department store. It would be a great place for someone who is just starting out and needed to stock a kitchen at their first home. Thank you very much for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it and thank you for the vote!
H C Palting from East Coast on November 29, 2012:
I enjoyed reading these tips. A lot of people overlook the dollar store for things such as school supplies, throw away items such as various holiday décor, cheap dinnerware and glasses, or books. Often we overspend simply because we don't look around for better values. Voted up and useful.
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on October 10, 2012:
Edwinoel - thank you for such a beautiful comment and for reading.
I hope these tips are very helpful and I am always up for God using me to help others.
Edwinoel Tanglao from Los Angeles, California on October 09, 2012:
Thank you Efficient Admin, for the very useful and interesting tips in helping save 'for the rainy days.' I see in you a very organized and frugal person which is a good trait for one who carefully plans for the future. And I can see your diversified interests showing your God given talents, and using them to help others cope up with the pressures of life. Godspeed as we celebrate life in godly ways, and as we KJOH.
tipstoretireearly from New York on October 06, 2012:
Comprehensive list! Very useful.
Michelle Dee (author) from Charlotte, NC on October 06, 2012:
Michele - thanks for visiting and your vote. I'm glad there is useful info here.
pstraubie48 - thank you for stopping by. Every bit helps!
donnah75 - thank you for stopping by and for your vote. I add cinnamon to the coffee grounds before brewing and it makes a difference. I bet you are saving a ton by not buying coffee everyday! I hear some coffees cost $3-5.00 a cup and that adds up to...Wow...$60-100 per month!
Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on October 06, 2012:
Wow, what a great list! When I started to question where the money was going a few months ago, it dawned on me how much money I was spending just buying coffee. I am saving a bundle now, as I set myself up to make it at work everyday. Good tips. Voted up and sharing.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 06, 2012:
Good tips. I no longer receive a paycheck but still find these are helpful tips to use.
Knowing how to cut corners and still have what you need and perhaps desire is always something to think about. Thank you for sharing this with us.
Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on October 05, 2012:
Thank you for writing such a wonderful hub. A lot of information, that is very helpful.
Bookmarked and voted up.