15 Easy Ways to Save Money on Your Path to Financial Independence
I reached financial independence (FI) several years ago by following three simple guiding principles: sensibly spending, actively saving, and soundly investing. While all three were key in my journey, I consider the principle of sensible spending habits as my foundation for achieving FI. By optimizing how I spent, I could save and invest more. Some have shared drastic examples like downsizing homes, relocating, or taking on more jobs in order to save more. However, many don’t want or need to make such significant changes to save considerably. Whether you are just trying to save a bit more or are looking to juice up your FI plans, you have many options to save without huge lifestyle changes. Here are 15 easy ways to save money now.
Note: This article doesn’t focus on saving more via the points and miles hobby. I’ll dive into that angle in a future article.
15 Easy Ways to Save Money
#1. Lower Your Wireless Data Plan
How often do you review your cell phone bill, and just as important, your usage? How much of your data plan do you actually consume? Many individuals pay for much more data than they actually use. If you’re on an unlimited plan, how important is it to be online so often? Simply bump your data plan down a bit to save. If you don’t have any option to do so with your current provider, consider a change. I’m a fan of Republic Wireless and Mint, but many other reasonable, low-cost providers exist. Changing providers may be easier than you think.
#2. Revalidate Your Internet Service
Whenever I have a special introductory rate on any service, I contact the provider prior to paying the normal (inflated) rate. I’ve done this periodically over the years with my same reliable internet service provider. I maintained my same plan, and they kept the fee at the introductory rate – until about a year ago. When I last called in, the rep said that I could change to the best rate online – which he couldn’t even offer over the phone (at least, that’s what he said). Long story short, I checked online, and I decreased my bill by $10 monthly and doubled my service speed in the process. Check what’s available in your situation!
#3. Order Takeaway Rather Than Eating at the Establishment
We enjoy dining out, and we’ve come to love the takeout version more due to the pandemic. By ordering takeaway, you can stay safe and also cut out high markup items, like beverages. Instead, buy drinks at cheaper prices elsewhere.
#4. Plan and Combine Errands
This may sound obvious, but plan to take care of multiple errands in the same trip to save gas (if you must drive a car) and time (my most precious currency). Impulse trips out are inevitable, but you can minimize them by scheduling out your weekly errands (when possible).
#5. Visit Museums
While at home or during travel, consider visiting museums. I’m consistently pleased with the entertainment and enlightenment that museums provide, and they often do so at very low prices, or sometimes for free! No doubt, many high-priced museums exist, but do your homework to find financially sensible options. If you have a Bank of America credit or debit card check out their free museums on us program.
#6. Embrace Generics
Buy more generic groceries from your favorite supermarkets. We absolutely love the generics from our favorite chain, Wegmans, and we consistently save. Also consider discounters like Aldi and Lidl for your grocery needs. While they may not have everything, we’ve been able to substantially save while enjoying their quality items.
#7. Buy the Higher Quality Item Once…
…..rather than buying lower quality items multiple times. We can all think of examples. Our most recent one is a child’s backpack. We could’ve gone to a budget department store and weeded through a stack of backpacks to find what we’re told is a good deal. Instead, we paid a bit extra for an L.L. Bean backpack that will last much longer. No, we didn’t get it monogrammed.
#8. Rethink You Fitness Club Membership
Many have already done so during the pandemic. To those who haven’t, how important is your fitness club to you? Do you get sufficient enough return on what you pay? Depending on your situation, negotiate a lower price at your current club, join a cheaper one, or quit your club altogether and work out from home.
#9. Slim Down Your Streaming Services
A new entertainment streaming service seems to show up daily. News flash – more hours in the day do not! Many consumers simultaneously subscribe to multiple streaming services without gaining substantive value out of them all. Decrease the number you’re concurrently subscribing to, perhaps even down to one or none! Indeed, plenty of free streaming services exist. I still enjoy over the air HDTV via antenna, also. Read more of my streaming tips here!
#10. Check Out That Book – Don’t Buy It
It’s easy to forget we have an outstanding option for learning and selecting endless amounts of entertainment and fulfillment – they’re called libraries! Indeed, I largely ignored them for years until I quit my job. Check out stuff like books, movies, and music instead of buying them. Sure, owning certain items of particular importance is warranted, but libraries offer easy ways to save. I put stuff on hold on my library’s website for pickup like it’s Amazon. Often, when they don’t have the item, they’ll procure it when I ask. You can probably do the same. Remember, we really don’t need a wall of books behind us in order to Zoom.
#11. Say Goodbye to Bottled Water
Okay, me being a Gen Xer is coming out here. My first memory of bottled existing was in college. Even then, I still didn’t regularly consume it, and when I did, I never paid for it. I like to think I’ve turned out alright. While it’s not available everywhere, potable water is readily available to most of us domestically. Consider buying a water filter and drink from your local provider, if that’s a safe option. Save a bunch of money in the process.
#12. Read Your Junk Mail
I love junk mail, and not just for credit card offers. Paper coupons are dwindling, but they still exist. And many arrive via junk mail. Clip, save, and repeat.
#13. Make Your Own Coffee
Coffee is a great coping mechanism. Okay, maybe that’s a bit strong (pun intended), but many of us love it daily (some of us, much more than once). Instead of rationalizing a coffee purchase daily (“I’m saving ’cause Pike Place is the cheapest”), buy a great all-day travel mug and make your own at home. The great Mr. Money Mustache illustrates the savings here to an extreme.
#14. Consume What You Already Own
It’s become way too easy to buy stuff nowadays. I can boil this down to two words thanks to Amazon: one click. It’s become so simple to buy, many consciously or subconsciously decide they’d rather buy more junk than consume the stuff they already have. The list is endless, but here are just a few examples: clothes, games, kitchen appliances/counterspace occupiers, tools, the aforementioned books, etc. Some people then rent storage units to store all the stuff they haven’t gotten around to consuming, ignoring the items even further. Enough!
#15. Do Chores
I tell my little ones to do their chores, and I’m often met with groans. Truth be told, I remind myself of chores I have to do, and sometimes I groan at myself! I’d rather be doing other stuff, and occasionally that involves unnecessary spending (it can happen to anyone). Make a list and do your chores! When I finish chores, I feel squared away, and I haven’t wasted money in the process. Often, I find stuff I’ve been looking for or other things I didn’t know were missing – maybe even a gift card with a few bucks on it. 😉
15 Easy Ways To Save Money – Conclusion
This is by no means a complete list of simple ways to save without turning one’s life upside down. Indeed, I’m glad the list is unending – that means it’s consistently easier to save than I think. Consider trying one (or maybe more) of the above methods to save for the future. In the process, you may enjoy it more than you expect. I’ll keep refining my methods in the meantime, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the future. What’s your favorite simple way to save?