Ways to Save Money NOW! 50 Things to Do if Your Money is Tight
Mr. V. and I are in a life changing place right now. I recently retired early from my teaching career, which essentially cut my income squarely in half. Mr. V. is getting ready to retire this Fall. We are selling our home, and planning to move. So, money is really tight for us right now. And that's ok, because sometimes you go through some rough times to get to better ones, right?
In the process of saving money these days, we are practicing some really frugal habits. Here are 50 of my best ways to save money when your finances are tight. Feeling a financial pinch? Try some of these money-saving ideas!
Note: There are affiliate links scattered throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I'll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you SO much for helping support Healing Harvest Homestead--Heidi
Ways to Save Money Now!
1. Spend mindfully.
One of the best things I've learned to do recently is spend very thoughtfully. I used to be a big-time impulse buyer, but I've learned over the years that is how I've wasted a TON of money. Here is an article on How to Shop Like a Minimalist, and has some great ideas for mindful shopping!
2. Buy quality.
This is addressed in the linked article above, but it's true. If you spend a little more for quality, it's likely you won't have to replace the item later. Just be sure it's not a "fad" item. Things like tools are good examples.
3. Turn down the water heater.
This will save you a lot of money in either gas or electricity!
4. Make freezer meals ahead.
When I was raising my kids still, I liked to spend a couple of hours on Sundays getting meals ready for at least a couple nights for the following week. I worked full-time, and my boys were in year-round sports, so it was always go-go-go! On nights where I could pull out a quick meal and heat it in the oven, my life was so much easier and I saved money not going through the fast food joints. We stayed healthier too.
I haven't made freezer meals ahead in a long time, but I found 24 Easy Freezer Recipes from southernliving.com. They look amazing, and I'll be giving these a go!
5. Make extra for dinner and use the leftovers for lunch the next day.
This is one I do every single night on work nights. My husband has to get up at 4 a.m., and it's nice that his lunch is already to go--and I didn't do anything extra besides cook up a good dinner the night before!
6. Get a reusable water bottle.
I love my stainless steel water bottles! I can add things to the water, like a drop of peppermint or lemon essential oil, lemon wedges, or apple cider vinegar...then just drink throughout the day. Not only am I saving money on buying water, but I'm going green and using less plastic--and my water tastes the way I want it to! Triple WIN!
7. Don't upgrade your phone.
I was cleaning out one of our desk drawers the other day, and came across an old iPhone 6 that was in perfect shape. I loved that phone. I could have saved a lot of money just by keeping that model! I am always in awe of people I come across occasionally who still have their old flip phones...and they work great!
8. Don't use credit.
Interest rates are killer. 'Nuff said.
9. Make a shopping list.
When you go to the store with a list, you will buy less. You may still end up picking up a thing or two that you forgot to put on the list (this happens to me all the time), but I'm much less likely to buy what I don't need.
10. Run your errands once a week.
This saves gas and time. When we moved out to the boonies and now need to drive about an hour to get to a store, I think long and hard about whether or not I really need to go. And when I do go into town, I make sure I've got a plan and get as much done as possible.
11. Sign up for Rewards programs.
These are great! Most banks have some kind of reward plan set up, as do many stores. Take advantage! I've saved hundreds of dollars in gas and products using these.
12. Cancel recurring payments--especially if you don't use them.
After I retired last spring, and my income was literally cut in half, I decided to go on a frugality binge. One of the things I did was go through our bank statements. Oh. My. Goodness. I couldn't believe all the recurring payments we had going out! Between horse training videos, subscription sites, Netflix, and more---I got rid of them all.
13. Use Netflix instead of renting DVD's or buying VOD.
Well, we don't even use Netflix any more these days---and honestly, we don't really miss it much. But if you HAVE to watch movies, it's a lot cheaper than renting or VOD.
14. Grow your own.
Not only is growing a little (or large) garden an empowering thing to do for yourself, it's so much healthier for your family too! PLUS, your food costs SO much less this way!
15. Read eBooks!
I used to have an addiction to the bookstore. In fact, my daughter and I would go once a week and spend hours in the bookstore. We'd then walk out with our books for the week---SUPER expensive. I was NOT frugal in those days.
So--use the library! OR, I say better yet, buy eBooks! You own them forever, and depending on the format, you can even print out the parts you like. And nowadays, you can even get GREAT deals by buying eBooks and eCourses in bundles!
16. Take care of yourself and stay healthy.
Staying healthy is probably one of the best ways to save money. If you're not spending time and money at the doctor's office, drugstores, and trying to get well in bed and missing work (and income), then you will save loads!
Exercise, eat right (get rid of processed foods please--and anything that is a sneaky poison), and get enough sleep. Also, take care of your immune system and the immune systems of your family..
This will save you money on expensive fertilizers, plus you'll be helping the environment. I use these handy kitchen composters to keep my scraps nice until I can get them out to the compost bin in the backyard.
18. Use cloth.
Yep! I cut up old towels and use them instead of paper towels. I save a ton this way! I used to spend about $6 a week on paper towels--no more that! Here's how I easily made my own "UN-" paper towels.
19. Don't compare yourself to others.
If you are trying to keep up with the Joneses, as the saying goes, you will forever be feeling less than and spending WAY too much money trying to keep up.
20. DIY gifts and cards.
The best gifts and cards are homemade. That's my opinion. One year, my daughter made me a Mother's Day card, and I treasure that card! It's worth more to me than any physical "thing" she could possibly have gotten me. Home made gifts speak volumes. Here's a great soap recipe for Christmas--Frankincense & Myrrh Hot Process Soap.
21. DIY cleaning products.
I'll NEVER go back to buying expensive, toxic-laden cleaning products ever again. I make my own, and they work better, cost less, and smell great. Best of all, I know what's in them and that they are safe. Here's how to make my favorite cleaning spray.
22. MIY beauty and personal care products.
Like my cleaning products, I like to make as many of my own beauty and personal care products as I can. I'm still working on my hair products, but for everything else, I think I've got it down. Soaps, body creams, herbal salves---I make them all. Even our medications---I make all of these too. Once you learn how, it's not hard, and it literally saves thousands of dollars.
23. Learn skills.
Anytime you can invest the time and money in yourself to learn how to do something necessary, that's a big long-term win, I say. For example, knowing how to change your own oil, how to fix simple plumbing problems, how to install a fan, how to grow your own food, how to make your own meals from scratch--the list goes on and on. Even if you have to pay a little bit to learn--you will have saved money for the future.
Here's my article on 18 Necessities I Never Buy at the Store Anymore, and What I Do Instead. It may give you some ideas of things you can start doing right now!
This is one of my favorite ways to save money! Everyone has different skill sets. Take advantage of this, and trade what you know how to do with others who do things you can't! Doesn't that make a lot of sense!?
25. Fix your clothes.
Learn simple sewing skills, so that if something rips on a seam, let's say--you can fix it easily by hand or on a machine. A zipper breaks? Learn to fix it yourself. It doesn't take much time, and it will save you from buying a whole new hoodie! Or something.
26. Grocery shop on a full stomach.
I've learned this lesson the hard way quite a few times in my life. Whenever I go to the store while hungry, I send a LOT more than I would normally. Every time.
27. Buy in bulk.
Costco is my friend. As long as I follow Rule #26 and Rule #9.
28. Make your own alcoholic beverages (beers, wine, etc.).
Not only is this a fun thing to know how to do, it will save you $$$! Plus, it's healthier and your own brew won't have the chemicals involved. Plus, you'll be getting all the healthy probiotics. Here is one of my articles on how to make your own home brew.
29. Turn down the heat and AC.
This is kind of a no-brainer. You just have to be able to deal with a little discomfort. We don't have air conditioning up here where we are. In winter, our home is heated with propane. Since propane costs over $3.00 a gallon in this area, we are super frugal---I've learned to stay warm without much heat, except for extreme days.
30. Use less.
Just. Use. Less. You'll save $.
31. Make your own grab and go snacks.
Those snack bars, fruit snacks, and other chemical foods that kids love are not only horrible, they are expensive. How about putting your own snack bags together? A few nuts and dried fruit---and you have instant trail mix! How about making your own fruit leathers? They're easy, taste great, and last a long time!
32. Cut your own and family's hair.
I've saved about a thousand dollars just this year by cutting our own hair, and also using henna for natural hair dye. I'm serious. About a thousand dollars. Unreal.
33. See if you can refinance your vehicle to a lower interest rate.
We refinanced one of our vehicles this year, and ended up saving about $300 a month!
34. When baking, make more than you need and freeze the extra for later.
I just made a huge batch of chocolate zucchini bread, and saved most of it in the freezer for later. My husband loves this, because he always has a sweet treat. I love this because my zucchini did not go to waste! WIN!
35. Learn to do without.
It's surprising what you don't need. Ruth Soukup wrote a book called Living Well, Spending Zero, and challenges a 30 day spend fast! I'm still reading it, and will be starting soon! Ruth is one of my favorite authors, too.
36. Buy in season.
Don't you just love local orchards and farms that allow you to go pick your own vegetables and fruits? I sure do! When I buy local and in season, we save a ton, and we eat fresher and healthier.
37. Make your own staples (breads, cheeses, fermented foods, sauces, etc.)
This sounds harder than it is. I used to make our own bread from scratch years ago as a young mom with absolutely no money. And everyone loved it! These days, I still do make my own bread, but I'm a little more choosy about the time I spend on it. Here is a quick and easy seeded whole wheat bread recipe you can make with minimal effort and cost!
38. Repurpose and reuse--
There are all kinds of things you can repurpose and reuse. Here are just a couple of examples: Grocery store bags can be turned into garbage bags. Those plastic nets on lemons, oranges and avocados can be scrunched together and used as scrubbies. Glass bottles and jars are great to repurpose for crafts or storage! The options are limitless!
39. Switch to LED lightbulbs.
Evidently these save tons of money. My husband says.
40. Hang your laundry to dry.
Your clothes will last a LOT longer, have that fresh outdoor scent, and you'll save electricity!
41. Cut the end off toothpaste tubes and lotions that come in tubes when they're almost out--
You can use the rest of the product for at least three more days most of the time.
42. Go to yard sales and thrift stores
Years ago, I was able to buy my oldest son a complete baseball practice uniform, complete with cleats at a good thrift store. I was sold!
43. If you buy your chicken meat, buy the whole bird.
It costs less to purchase the entire bird, rather than just the parts. Also, you won't waste anything. You'll have the whole carcass to make a great healthy bone broth with!
44. Stay on top of car maintenance (tires, oil, etc.)
Similar to keeping your own body healthy, keeping your car healthy will save you money. Keeping your tires inflated properly and your oil changed in a timely manner can save a lot of money over time in gas and repairs.
45. Start vegetables from seeds instead of buying seedlings.
I love my little seedlings. This is kind of higher level gardening skill, but once you start growing your own seedlings, you'll realize how much money you save! Here is an article I wrote last spring about keeping a seed bank, and starting seeds.
46. Try some pallet projects!
My friend, Delci, has made some great pallet projects. Mr. V. created our compost bin from pallets! I love pallets--just be sure they're not treated with chemicals. You can find lots of ideas on Pinterest!
47. Use free hot spots.
If you are on a data plan that costs a lot of money for wi-fi (like we are), it pays to use free hot spots. In fact I have a deal with one of my great friends in Las Vegas where I can sit behind her house if she is not home and use her wi-fi---because hers is great, and mine is practically useless.
48. Use power strips and remember to turn them off when not using the items plugged into them.
We are off the grid, and are powered completely by solar panels. Therefore, we are very careful about our electricity usage. But even if you are on city power, just starting some electricity saving tactics in your own home will save you money!
49. Hand wash your dishes. Then use the gray water in the garden.
We don't have a dish washer. So, I've had to wash my own dishes. However, I can tell you that I'll probably never use a dish washer again. My dishes are cleaner, and I know we're saving a ton of energy.
50. Make your own tea blends for health and pleasure!
Commercial herbal teas are EXPENSIVE, stale, and often filled with chemical flavorings. Why not create your own herbal teas for health and pleasure (this is my eBook).
Final Thoughts on Saving Money
I look back on my life and realize how much money I've wasted--and that's a kind of yucky feeling. The good news is that there is no better time to start saving money than right now! It feels great to not spend, to save, and to live healthier in the process! What do you think?
I'd love to know your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Especially if you have an idea I missed, please share it in the comments!
Hugs & Self-Reliance,
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