The recent economic downturn has hit all of our budgets pretty hard. As if war, the post-pandemic office return, and inflation weren’t enough, we have to contend with the rising prices of everything from bread to gas. You need to be thriftier than ever to save money in this economy.
So, how do you find savings in such a fiscally tight climate? To help you out, we've compiled 10 practical tips to save money in ways that you might have overlooked.
1. Have Frugal Fun!
Having fun doesn't necessarily mean you need to spend a lot of money. In fact, there are ways that you can have a great time without spending a lot of money whether you're a family with young children or single and looking for love.
Instead of going to the movies or amusement parks, a great option for having some cost-effective fun is to look for free days for the local museums in your area. Most museums have at least one free day a month that community members can take advantage of.
The same is true for zoos, conservatories, and art centers. You can also check out your local community calendar to find free events or events that are more cost effective than you can typically find at major venues.
2. Use Coupons When Grocery Shopping
Now we're going to get old school with a tip. You should be taking advantage of coupons every time you head to your local grocery store.
Yes, there are still physical paper coupons that you can use to save a lot of money when you buy groceries and home goods. You can find these coupons and local mailers, newspapers, or even in magazines at your grocery store.
Coupons are now part of our digital environment. You can get free coupon apps that can also help you save in addition to these physical coupons.
3. Trim Subscription Services
We've all got too many subscription services that are slowly siphoning away our budget.
This is especially the case when you consider the fact that everyone from Netflix to Amazon Prime has increased the monthly, or yearly, cost of their subscription services.
You have to pay more than ever before to manage subscriptions and the truth is, most of them just aren't worth it.
Luckily, there are ways that you can cancel subscription services that are fast, easy, and reliable. These can even help you find subscriptions that you forgot you signed up for it or that you thought you canceled.
4. Visit Your Local Library
Your local library is also a way to save money if your budget is tight.
This obviously applies to anyone who likes reading a new book every now and then, the libraries have so much more than just paper books.
You can get movies, audiobooks, and even rent hardware for DIY projects at your local library. You just might be surprised by the amount of services your library has to offer.
Libraries also sponsor community events and host group meetups. Check out the community calendar of your local library system to see what events are coming up.
5. Stick to Your Shopping List
So many people go shopping without a list and wind up coming home with more than double their budget spent on unnecessary items.
Your local grocery store is designed to get you to spend more money than you intended on. After all, there's literally a section called “impulse buys” right by the register!
Writing a grocery list and sticking to it is a great way to save money while shopping.
Here's a great tip if you're bad at sticking to a grocery list. give yourself a few open slots on your list that you can fill in if something catches your eyeball shopping.
6. DIY and Skill Share Savings
A great way to save money in tough times is to build up your DIY skills and share those with friends, family, and even other people in your community.
Basic DIY skills like learning essential home repair, learning how to sew, and car maintenance 101 can all help you save a ton of money. Best of all, you can share these skills with others.
This is what we call a skill swap.
Let's say you've gotten really good at sewing and your neighbor happens to be a plumber. You can agree to hem a few pairs of pants and trade for them repairing a drain. It's a cost-effective way to Leverage your DIY skills.
7. Negotiate Better Rates
The next time you have to renew for your cable package, internet, or your phone service, you should negotiate for better rates.
Most of these companies have a stock policy for giving better rates to customers who really put their foot down about saving money. This is especially the case if you can shop around to other brands and quote their lower prices.
8. Take the Bus
Gas has gotten so expensive, but you can cut down on those costs by using public transit or biking.
People living in larger cities, or cities with strong transit infrastructure, are going to be able to make the most of this cost saving tip.
Save the car ride when you can carpool with friends, are going to pick up heavy items like groceries, or when you're heading somewhere that public transit just can't reach.
Not only will they save you on gas, but it'll save you and wear and tear on your vehicle.
9. Shop Smart
It's time to get caught in the fast fashion trap and buy new clothes from an expensive name brand retailer. However, you can save a ton of money by shopping at your local charity shop.
Thrift stores, resale shops, and even pawn shops can be great places to shop for second-hand items at a great discount.
10. Meal Prep and Other Food Savings
We're going to close this list on a few practical food prep tips to save you on your grocery budget.
Planning out your meals for the week is an excellent way to save. Preparing meals in advance can also help you save money and eat healthier.
You should also try buying the store brand version of items rather than the name brand—unless they're on sale. Most of these items are largely the same, besides their cost.