Last Updated on January 23, 2022 by Rebecca Lake
How to Save Money Live Better
Would you like to be able to save money live better and improve your financial situation? Are you tired of getting to the end of the month and having nothing left over to save?
Everyone can benefit from saving money but for many people, it’s a real struggle.
More than half of Americans making between $50,000 and $100,000 a year struggled with paycheck to paycheck living over the last year. Millions of people rely on credit cards to make ends meet, leading to a pile of debt.
Setting a savings goal–whether it’s saving $10,000 in a year or just saving $100 a month–is a good thing since it can help you feel better about your finances. And you don’t necessarily need a ton of money to start saving.
In today’s blog post, I’m sharing some of the best ways to save money live better (without credit cards), even on a tight budget.
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Save Money Live Better: 20 Simple Ways to Save Lots of Money
Finding ways to save money and live better can seem overwhelming but it’s all about making small changes.
Even if you don’t feel like you have enough money to save, you might be surprised at how many extra dollars you can find once you take control of your finances.
I was able to do it as a struggling single mom. Whether you want to save a lot of money or a little, these tips can help.
1. Budget to save money
Perhaps not surprisingly, 65% of Americans have no clue what they spend from month to month.
If you don’t budget regularly, then adopting this one smart money habit is the first step toward saving more and living better.
There are different ways to budget, including:
- 60 30 10 budgeting
- Cash envelope budgeting
- 50/30/20 budget method
- 70-20-10 budgeting
- Budgeting with a mobile app like Personal Capital
If you want to save money live better, adding savings into your budget as a line item is an easy way to do it.
Go over your monthly bills and expenses and look for any amounts you can save. Remember, even small amounts count.
Then, make those savings amounts a regular part of your monthly budget. This can help break your reliance on credit cards.
Here's a FREE budget template to help you plan out your monthly spending!
2. Try a spending freeze
A spending freeze or spending diet is a commitment to not spending money unnecessarily for a set period of time. You may also hear it called a no spend challenge.
The main goal of a spending freeze is to help you stop spending money on the little things (and big things) that could be making it harder for you to save.
You could try a no spend weekend, a no spend week, a no spend month or even a no spend year if you’re really ambitious. The main goal is to give your credit cards a rest.
If you’re ready to try a spending freeze to save money live better, here are 10 tips for crushing a no spend challenge.
3. Set savings goals
Setting a savings goal can motivate you to get on the right track financially.
You might have one main goal, like building a $10,000 emergency fund. Or you may have smaller goals, like saving for a vacation or new furniture.
When setting personal financial goals, think about what’s doable and realistic, based on how much money you have in your budget to save.
Remember, saving small amounts is better than nothing. And if you can find ways to earn extra income, you can divert some of the money to savings.
If you’re looking for ways to earn extra money to save, try these ideas for odd jobs:
- Get paid to take surveys with Survey Junkie
- Start a proofreading side hustle online
- Become a virtual assistant
- Make money teaching kids online
- Sell things you don’t need for extra cash
- Earning free gift cards with Swagbucks
Related post: 23 Best Side Hustles for Women (Make Extra Money Now)
4. Get the best deal on a savings account
Where you choose to keep your savings can affect your progress when trying to save money live better.
Online banks can be the best savings options because they can offer higher interest rates and lower fees than a traditional bank or credit union.
Your savings options at online banks can include:
- CD accounts for money you don’t plan to spend right away
- High yield savings account for your emergency fund
- Money market account for short- to mid-term savings (i.e. vacation funds or home repairs)
You can open any of these accounts at CIT Bank. CIT is an online bank that offers some of the most competitive rates around for savers, with no hidden fees.
5. Automate your savings
Automating is one of the easiest ways to save more live better.
There are different ways to automate savings, including:
- Regular contributions to your 401(k) at work from your paychecks
- Direct deposit into a separate savings account each pay period
- Automatic transfers from your checking account to savings
Both apps link to your bank account but they work a little differently.
Acorns tracks your purchases and rounds them up, investing the difference in the stock market. So if you spend $35.41 at the grocery store, Acorns rounds that up to $36 and invests the $0.59 for you.
Digit scans your spending habits and finds extra money that you can save. Then the app transfers that money to savings for you automatically.
These apps make it as easy as possible to save more live better. So if you’re not using them yet, consider giving Acorns and Digit a try.
6. Negotiate the best deal on bills
If you feel like you’re paying too much for monthly bills, negotiating savings could be a solution.
You can contact your service providers to try and get a better deal on:
- Utility bills
- Cable TV service
- Cell phone bills
- Credit cards
- Internet service
- Auto insurance
- Homeowners’ or renter’s insurance
- Bank fees
If you don’t have a lot of free time to call your car service providers, a service like Truebill can do the work for you.
Truebill reviews your monthly expenses to look for opportunities to save. It then takes the next step and negotiates savings on your behalf.
7. Cancel subscription services
The average household spends $55 a month on streaming services.
Too many streaming services can eat into your budget and defeat your save money live better goal. Getting rid of unused subscriptions can save money and it doesn’t take much time if you’re using Trim.
Trim is a financial manager that helps weed out the junk in your budget, including unused subscriptions and recurring grey charges. It’s a simple save money live better hack.
8. Plan your meals
If your biggest expense after housing is food, you’re not alone.
American families spend over $3,500 a year on fast food and other meals out on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That doesn’t include money spent on food at home.
If you’re spending too much money on food during nights out (or overpaying for groceries), meal prep and planning can make a huge difference in your budget.
By planning meals at home, you can stop spending so much on takeout or restaurant food. And you could also save money on groceries this way.
As you meal prep and plan, be smart about where you shop.
Wal-mart stores, for example, can offer some of the lowest prices on groceries and other household items like laundry detergent (That’s why their new slogan is “save more live better” after all.)
Remember to check unit prices to make sure something is a good deal. And before you toss groceries in the trash, check the expiration date as food may still be good as long as it’s not spoiled, according to the USDA.
Ready to start meal prep? You can grab a free meal planning template in the Resource Libray. Or check out $5 Meal Plan for budget-friendly, pre-made meal plans.
9. Lower interest rates on debt
Credit cards and other debt can be a roadblock to your save more live better plans if you’re paying high interest rates.
One thing you can do about it is to work on paying down debt as quickly as possible. And getting lower interest rates is an easy way to get ahead.
For example, you could:
- Refinance student loans to a lower interest rate (Check out Earnest student loan refinancing for a good deal)
- Transfer balances on credit cards to a card with a 0% APR
- Use a low interest rate personal loan to consolidate credit cards and other debts
- Refinance your mortgage (Check rates from different mortgage brokers with SuperMoney)
You can also use a tool like Tally to shave money off interest charges.
10. Stop impulse buying
Impulse buys can blow your budget, making it much harder to save money live better.
Even if something seems like a great deal, that doesn’t mean you should spent money on it. A simple way to avoid impulse spending is to impose a waiting period for unplanned purchases.
For example, instead of buying something right away, you can give yourself 48 hours, two weeks, a month–however long you’re comfortable with–to think it over. You can also use this time to try and find the item at the best price.
If you’re still committed to making the purchase after the waiting period ends, you can look at your budget to see if it’s doable.
And you might decide it’s not worth it after all, which is a simple way to reach your save money live better goal.
11. Find free ways to have fun
Having fun doesn’t always mean you have to spend money.
In fact, you can save money live better without spending a dime if you’re willing to be creative about how you do it. Here are some simple ideas for enjoying night outs (or in) without spending money:
- Instead of going to movie theaters, have a movie night at home
- Skip pricey travel expenses and plan a frugal staycation
- Roast marshmallows in the backyard and enjoy the fresh air
- Attend free events in your local community (like movies in the park, concerts or festivals)
- Bake cakes at home for special occasions instead of buying them
Finding free ways to enjoy your extra time can help you stay on the right track with your save more live better goal.
12. Save your windfalls
Free money is great because it’s money you may have to put in little effort to get and you can add it to savings.
You can also check for unclaimed money, earn money for doing simple things like playing video games or surfing the web or invest for passive income.
13. Save your spare change
If you’re trying to break away from using credit cards, you might switch to using cash temporarily.
Paying cash can help you spend less versus paying with a credit cards.
And you can sock away your spare change to save.
If it’s been a while since you kept a piggy bank or change jar, you might be surprised at how quickly your savings can add up. And remember, you can use an app like Acorns to save spare change automatically.
14. Start a side hustle
Side hustles are a great way to make extra money when you want to save more live better.
Doing odd jobs or side gigs in your free time could even turn into a full-time income.
Having certain skills could give you a competitive advantage when starting a side hustle.
For example, you might try:
All of these are legit ways to make money and earn an extra $1000 a month or more.
And there are plenty of easy ways to make $100 a day from home, your phone or just about anywhere.
But if you need even more side hustle ideas, here are 140+ ways to make extra money online or off.
15. Stay healthy
Taking care of your health, mentally and physically, can help you save money live better if you’re spending less on doctor visits.
If you don’t have health insurance (and about 33 million people in the United States don’t) then even something small like the flu could trigger a big medical bill.
Consider making some lifestyle changes that could help you get in better shape. For example, that might include:
- Making time for meditation
- Taking more walks
- Changing your diet
- Keeping a journal
- Staying connected with friends and family
- Improving your sleep habits
- Ditching your expensive gym membership and replacing it with home workouts
Focusing on improving your physical and mental wellness can lead to better financial wellness and a better life overall.
16. Declutter your home
Decluttering can make it easier to breathe in your home if you’re not surrounded by stuff.
It can also help you save money live better because it puts in perspective what counts as a need or a want.
Once you start getting rid of things you don’t use or need, you can focus on the things that are truly valuable to you. And you can stop buying so much of the stuff that just takes up space but doesn’t spark joy.
And as a bonus, you can make money from the things you declutter!
Here are 40+ things you can sell now to make extra money and create extra space around the house.
17. Get cash back when you spend
If you’re focused on trying to save more live better, you might be trying to curb spending.
But sometimes there are things you’ll need to buy, like groceries, clothes ,school supplies for the kids or new tires for your car.
So one way you can save money to live better is using cashback apps for those purchases.
Cashback apps pay you money back when you shop. Some even give you bonuses just for signing up!
My favorite cashback apps include:
All three let you earn cash when you shop on the things you plan to buy anyway. That includes groceries, online shopping and even travel.
Downloading these money-saving apps can put cash in your pocket with no extra hassle.
18. Drive less
Transportation costs can eat a hole in your budget if you’re spending a lot of money on gas, car insurance, maintenance and repairs.
Driving less or taking public transportation can be a good way to add money back to your budget if you’re spending less on fuel costs.
(An app like GetUpside can also help you save on gas if you live or work in small towns where public transportation isn’t available.)
You can also avoid driving during peak hours when there are more cars on the road.
This can save you on gas, since there may be less start-and-stop traffic. And it can reduce your odds of being involved in a costly accident.
19. Improve your credit scores
Credit scores are a measure of your financial health that are based on the information in your credit reports.
Higher credit scores can make it easier to borrow money. And they can help you qualify for lower interest rates, saving you money on loans or credit cards.
If your credit score isn’t where you’d like it to be, signing up for a free credit monitoring service can help.
Credit Karma, for example, lets you track your credit scores free monthly. And you can get helpful tips on how to improve your scores over time.
20. Get educated about money
A save money live better attitude is great to have. But if you don’t know the mechanics of how things like saving and investing work then you might have a harder time making it a reality.
So consider investing some of your free time in learning more about finances.
For example, you could try reading personal finance books or listening to personal finance podcasts.
You can also study the advice different money gurus offer. For example, a lot of people follow Dave Ramsey tips because his money management approach is easy to implement.
And of course, you’ll need to test things out for yourself.
For example, maybe you want to start investing but don’t know how. Choosing a beginner-friendly investing app like M1 Finance can be a great place to start building wealth.
The more you learn, the closer you can get to your save money live better goals.
Final thoughts on how to save money live better
If you want to improve your finances so you can save more and live a better life, then changing the way you think about money is a great place to start.
TV ads and social media can lure you into thinking you need to have this or buy that to be happy. But the reality is that kind of thinking will just keep you broke if you’re overspending on credit cards.
Sam Walton was able to accumulate billions using a business model built around low prices. That’s where the “save money live better” idea comes from.
Having a similar frugal mindset can help you get on the path to financial freedom. And the best time to start saving is now.