Today, I’m going to give you 22 money saving tips that myself and Just One Dime team members have actually used.
Don’t worry: I’m not going to come after your morning coffee and avocado toast. Instead, we have put together actionable advice that we have personally tested.
Before we get too far, let’s acknowledge a hard truth: No one else is going to help you but you. You may have to face hard times. You may have to make sacrifices now for a life of financial freedom in the future...
But It’ll be worth it. Let’s dive in.
1. Enjoy Free Entertainment Options at Your Library.
Public libraries are free to use. With today’s digital sorting systems, you can easily find just about anything you’d want to read or watch at your local library 📗.
Library cards are easy to set up if you don’t have one. Take a proof of address document—such as a utility bill—to your library and sign up.
Once you have your card, you can visit your library and check out as much content as you want for free. And you can save thousands of dollars by borrowing rather than buying (if you’re a book binger like me).
If you don’t read for fun, books aren’t your only option. You can check out DVDs, magazines, even board games 🎲. So next time you feel like hosting a movie night, consider borrowing that movie for free rather than renting or buying it for yourself 🎥🍿.
Speaking of entertainment…
2. Get the Best Entertainment Bang for Your Buck.
Sometimes you do need the latest and greatest, which usually means paying for your entertainment. But when you do, focus on how you can squeeze maximum entertainment from each dollar.
Typically, you see the most return on your entertainment dollars with tv antennas and video games.
A TV antenna is a one-time cost that allows you to get all of your local channels for free in perpetuity, or as long as tv antennas are relevant technology 📡. That’s unlimited access to entertainment that you end up paying microcents per hour on, depending on how often you watch.
Video games are a one-time expense for the console (or your computer) and a game 🎮. You can get hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of low cost entertainment from a singular older video game that costs about $20. Plus, you can borrow more games from your local library (see what we did there?).
For example, consider the Mass Effect trilogy games. You can purchase the set for $60.
Then, you have unlimited access to the storyline. And it’s so in-depth, you can play and replay it for hundreds of hours without scratching the surface of its narrative and combat options.
And don’t forget about subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, etc. You can get each of these for $15 per month or less. That amounts to way too much time in front of your television if you’re looking for something inexpensive to do. But maybe just pick one.
3. Remove the Subscriptions You Don’t Need.
First off, one major subscription you don’t need is cable. Satellite TV provides plenty of basically free TV options. Also, you won’t miss dealing with cable companies.
Second, take stock of the streaming services you do subscribe to. If you have more than one, consider cutting most.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, needs all of the available subscription services: Netflix, Hulu, Disney +, HBO MAX, Prime, Peacock, Apple TV Plus, ESPN+…you get the idea. There’s a ton of options. Pick just one.
Most of these subscriptions allow you to stream on multiple devices. If you can, share accounts with a friend or family member to split the cost.
Just a quick tip, YouTube is free 📺!
Finally, subscription services are not limited to streaming.
Go through your bank and credit card statements, identify any monthly charges you can do without, and cut them. To be clear, I mean charges like the virtual fitness coaching service you forget to use or the meal delivery service you could swap out for grocery shopping. I’m not suggesting you stop paying important monthly charges like your trash bill.
4. Do Not Fall Prey to the Sunk-Cost Fallacy.
The sunk-cost fallacy is the false idea that because you’ve already invested time, money, and energy into something that you must keep investing in that item to make your initial investment worthwhile. In other words, just because you have spent time and money on something does not mean you should keep spending time and money on that thing.
Oftentimes we follow through with something we don’t need to (or shouldn’t) because we’ve previously invested in it.
For example, if you have an Amazon PRIME subscription, it costs $14.99 per month or $139 per year. But do not feel as if you must make a bunch of Amazon purchases because you pay for PRIME (although if you have PRIME, take advantage of its digital content).
Here’s a more serious example: If you’ve been in a long-term relationship that’s irreconcilable, don’t marry that person simply because you’ve already invested years into the relationship. Weddings are expensive 💍💐. Divorce is expensive. And they both cost way more than your lost time is worth.
That said, at least with weddings you can rent a lot of your setup.
5. Rent the Things You Need to Use for One Specific Task Instead of Buying.
Fancy tools, eccentric costumes, and karaoke machines can be such a waste of money, especially if you only use them once.
The next time you’re planning a big home project or a fancy party, save money by renting the equipment you don’t already own (unless you happen to have a decades-old karaoke machine in your basement). Afterall, when was the last time you actually used a circular saw?
For example, I once needed a belt sander for a home project. I could have bought my own for $284.
Instead, I opted to rent that same exact model in near perfect condition for $16 at Home Depot.
At that rate, I would need to complete 18 home projects that require a belt sander to justify purchasing my own. Since I’m not a woodworker, the chances of that happening are slim.
However, there are some things that are worth shelling out more money for.
6. Buy Quality Necessities to Avoid Having to Replace Cheap Items Over and Over.
By that I mean: When you don’t have a lot to spend, it’s easy to get stuck buying cheap, temporary solutions.
For example, consider a standard pan. It’s a household staple that, unless you exclusively eat out (which we do not recommend), you will likely use more than once.
You could buy an inexpensive pan for $12.
Or you might choose a more costly, sturdier $40 pan.
After enough use, the handle on your less expensive pan will break and the pan will lose its “non-stickiness”. Now you must spend time and money to replace it. On the other hand, a $40 pan that costs more upfront will last longer and save you time, money, and hassle in the long run. Just be sure you take proper care of it.
Another place you should stick to the “quality over price” motto is electronics.
I’m not saying buy the latest technology. For example, a singular iPhone will last you years even though Apple might make you think you need each new edition 📱.
But if you need a computer, consider one with more RAM and storage 💻. That way you probably won’t need to replace it three years later.
When you’re actively trying to save money, shop value before price. Just make sure you’re being financially responsible by budgeting for these one-time expenses. And if you need something but don’t currently have the cash, don’t put it on your credit cards.
7. Train Yourself to Be Financially Disciplined by Spending Cash Instead of Cards.
This trick is as old as the credit system. If you’re prone to wielding your credit card willy-nilly, this tip can help you curb that quickly 💳.
Your brain reacts differently when you physically hand over paper bills and metallic coins versus quickly swiping—or tapping—your card. When you pay in actual dollars and dimes, it feels more real 💵. You process the loss of those finances more acutely.
Learning to pay with cash will help you pause before spending. It can also prevent overspending: You can only withdraw as much cash as you have in your accounts.
Once you’ve achieved more financial discipline, you might wean yourself off of this practice. No one wants to carry around piles of dollar bills and spare change.
But when you do go back to cards, make sure you’re still saving your loose change and investing it or putting it towards something useful. You never know what you might achieve with a singular dime.
8. Pay Off Your Credit Card in Full Each Month.
This might be tough if, as we mentioned in step 7, you run through your credit like it’s water.
When used properly, credit cards are a tool to boost your credit score 👍. Used improperly, credit cards are a recipe for debt 👎.
Do not fall into the trap of purchasing something you do not currently have the money for because, “I will in a month or so—if I do x, y, and z.”
Instead, treat your credit card like your debit card: Only spend the money that you have at that moment. That way, you will be able to pay off the card in full each month, which boosts your credit score.
Avoid the credit card pitfall of paying interest and going into debt at all costs. If you do not have the self control to not spend, get rid of your cards (But don’t deactivate your oldest card, or it’ll hurt your credit score).
And if you’re in debt now, don’t add to it. Quit spending on that card and pay it off quickly.
If you are stuck in deep credit card debt, check out this post on budgeting. We’ll show you how to take control of your finances and even tell you where in your budget you can find the money to tackle that debt.
The only good type of debt is the kind that can provide you with a return on the investment later, such as a house or a business (but not a car).
9. If You Travel by Car, Buy Used Cars From Reliable Brands.
Unlike buildings or businesses, cars go down in value. Therefore, car debt does not benefit you in the same way that home ownership debt does 🏠.
If you purchase a new car, it drops in value as soon as it leaves the lot. On top of that, new cars lose 15%-25% of their value each year for five years.
Next time you consider buying the latest model, let someone else bite the bullet first. Then in a year or two, you can buy that same car, gently used for way less money.
Of course, used cars come with their own concerns, specifically the wear and/or accidents previous owners have put their vehicles through. You might end up with alignment issues, a broken alternator, or worse.
However, that risk drastically decreases if you choose a used car from a reliable manufacturer such as Toyota, Subaru, or Honda 🚗.
Additionally, when you do buy that used car, only buy the car you need. Don’t buy a souped up Toyota Tundra just in case you ever need to tow a backhoe. If you do need it, great. But odds are, you won’t. Save where you can.
10. Watch Your Electricity Intake.
Speaking of saving, here are some quick ways you can reduce your electric bill:
- Turn the light off in every room as soon as you leave it 🔆.
- Unplug your toaster 🍞 and other small appliances when they’re not in use 🔌.
- Switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs 💡.
- Set your AC to 76 or 78°F 🔥.
You might have to become comfortable with discomfort to save money. But by cutting a little here and there, you’ll end up on top.
11. Look for Housing Bargains From Individual Complex Owners.
One of the Just One Dime team members used to live in LA at a time when the average rent was $2,200+ per month. With some financial savvy, however, his rent was one third that amount.
First off, he’ll tell you it was an unpleasant living situation, but it did the trick.
Second of all, you can often scout deals from individual complex owners.
Massive leasing companies don’t have the best deals, or any deals at all. You’ll probably have to settle for less-than-ideal digs to find affordable housing. But the money you can save is worth it. And you’ll be able to put those savings towards your dream home in the future. Living situations aren’t permanent.
As you’re looking, have patience. Scan deals on several rental sites like apartments.com, zillow, and trulia, to see where you can snag the most bang for your buck.
It’s so easy to overspend on housing, but try to only spend 25% of your income or less on your home.
After housing, food is often where you can save the second most.
12. Do Not Buy Fast Food. Cook at Home.
Myth: Eating healthy is expensive.
Fact: Unless you exclusively eat a singular dollar menu item for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (which is not enough to make you full), buying from the grocery store will be cheaper than eating out.
When you shop at the store, you can and should aim to create healthy meals for about $2 each.
To show you what I mean, let’s compare hotdogs 🌭:
Representing fast food is Wienerschnitzel: A hotdog chain available in Austin, TX. Their cheapest offering, the plain dog, costs $1.69.
And plain does mean plain. That dog doesn't even include mustard.
On the store side, Texas local H-E-B grocers sells an eight pack of franks for $0.81.
They also offer an eight pack of hot dog buns for $0.96.
Together, our $0.81 pack of franks and $0.96 pack of hotdog buns costs $1.77 for eight at-home hotdogs, or $0.22 per dog. That easily beats the fast food chain’s $1.69 for a singular dog.
At the grocer’s price, you even have leftover money to splurge on mustard and other toppings to build an easy meal that takes less time than waiting in a fast food drive thru. Plus it tastes better.
Sure, hotdogs are not the healthiest option. But you get the point. It’s easier to spend less money at the grocery store than at restaurants.
Aim to shop in-season produce and avoid “healthy” buzzwords like organic and gluten free, unless you medically need that option.
If you are tight on funds, aim to spend $5 max per meal.
13. Don’t Go Grocery Shopping on an Empty Stomach.
This is a recipe for disaster.
Even if you make a grocery list, your resolve will be weak. You’ll likely walk away with (uhealthy) foods you don’t need, like doughnuts 🍩. Set yourself up for success instead by shopping after you’ve eaten a healthy, satisfying meal.
14. When Grocery Shopping, Always Compare Price Per Ounce.
Most grocery stores label the per ounce/gram/count/etc. price in tiny print alongside the full, per-item price. Find the greatest value by shopping the lowest per ounce, count, etc. option.
For example we can see the per-count and per-ounce price of different hotdog buns on the H-E-B website:
Now we can choose the best deal!
15. Trade in High Cost Foods for These Less Expensive Options:
I smell a delicious, healthy meal!
Even if you’re not vegetarian, tofu is an excellent, nutrient-dense meat substitute that, dollar for dollar, cannot be beat in terms of protein. Meat is one of the most expensive items on typical grocery lists.
For a quick comparison, this 14 ounce packet of tofu costs $1.99 and contains 36 grams of protein.
Meanwhile, a serving of chicken breast contains about 25 grams of protein.
It definitely costs more than $2.
Everything in our tasty meal is not only filling and inexpensive, but also has a long shelf life.
If you must buy meat, make sure the packaging is airtight so that you get a chance to eat it before it spoils.
16. Replace the Drinks in Your Fridge With Filtered Tap Water.
Tap water in the US costs, on average, $0.003 per gallon. If the tap water in your city tastes awful, purchase a water purifier.
A $4 filter can last up to 40 gallons, or $0.10 per gallon.
Even the cheapest, bargain brand soda costs at least $1 per liter. Health aside, soda and sugary drinks are detrimental to your budget.
17. Keep Yourself Fit Through Running and Floor Exercises.
If you are on a low income, it is imperative that you keep yourself healthy. Unexpected medical incidents can cost you thousands in bills and missed income if you are unable to work.
Gym memberships can be costly. Rather than competing for floor or class space at the latest fad gym, stay or get in shape at home or outside. You don’t even need equipment.
Running is an easy way to shed weight and increase your cardiovascular fitness to keep your heart healthy for years to come. Plus, running outside is free 🌳!
If you don’t like running there are thousands of at-home workout videos you can follow along with on YouTube. And your body weight will provide all the resistance you need.
18. Get Preventive Healthcare.
Regular physician checkups are fairly low-cost. They can also help prevent major health issues by identifying potential problems you can work to address before they cost you thousands.
19. Buy Store Brand Products Rather Than Name Brand Products.
There is a huge difference between the perceived value of generic and branded products.
We’re extremely familiar with this concept: We teach our students to build Amazon businesses with their own branded products.
But if the product in question is a consumable like printer ink, a can of pinto beans, or an over-the-counter pharmaceutical, nine times out of ten the generic is the exact same as the branded version. And it costs a lot less.
For example, regular acetaminophen and branded Tylenol are both literally and legally required to be the exact same product. Yet shoppers will pay more for Tylenol because they trust that name. Fortunately, you’re now equipped with the knowledge that plain old acetaminophen is better for your budget 💊.
20. Wait for Deals on Items You Need.
Coupons are a financial trap. You see one, it’s a good deal for that item, so you buy the product and save money compared to its original price. Except if you had no intention of buying that item before the coupon, you’ve just poured money down the drain.
Only buy the stuff you intend to. It doesn’t matter how good the deal is if you don’t need the item.
Even better, if you can wait a little bit, watch prices on larger purchases you intend to make and see if you can’t snag them at wholesale stores such as Costco for less.
21. Only Buy New Clothes When You Absolutely Need Them.
Consider this: If you purchase a designer shirt for $300, it costs that label about $1 to make 👕.
Do not overpay.
If you’re on a budget, pick function before fashion. And consider if you actually need new clothes.
For instance, maybe you can find an old coat balled up in a store room rather than buying a new one. And you can always wash the clothes you have and wear those, provided they fit. In fact, I have shirts that are old enough to drive.
22. Make Money in Your Savings Work for You.
You might be thinking, “How can money work for you? It’s just papers and numbers.”
When you invest your money, it can earn more money!
However, if you’re in a position where you don’t have money left over to invest, check out this post to learn how you can quickly increase your cashflow from home.
Also, grab your free budget template below!
Today, I make passive income from my investments. But I also make passive income selling on Amazon.
If you want to increase your income so that you can break the death-by-paycheck cycle, visit JOD.com/freedom. Let our team of experts show you how you can start earning more money so that you can do the things you love with the people you love.
What tip for saving money are you most excited to put into action? Let me know in the comments.