Looking for some simple, yet effective, ways to cut costs and boost your money-saving potential?
Wasting money is something a lot of people can’t afford these days, myself included.
But here’s the reality: 65% of Americans have no idea what they spend month to month.
If you’re living on a tight budget, then there are a few ways you can deal with it. For example, you could:
- Check out ways to earn extra income on the side
- Implement some frugal living tips and hacks
- Try a no spend challenge to instantly save money
And of course, you can make some tweaks to your budget to cut costs.
If you’re ready to start cutting the fat from your budget, here’s how to stop spending money on unnecessary things.
How to Cut Costs on Food
One of the biggest offenders when it comes to wasting money is food. Did you know that the typical American household spends $1,300 a year on food that ends up going in the trash?
If you’re guilty of wasting money in your food budget, these tips can help you save.
1. Make meals at home
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 56% of Americans ate dinner out two to three times a week. People who spent the most money on meals out spent just over $117 every week.
Over the course of a year, that adds up to $6,136.
Think about that. That’s $6,136 you could be saving, not spending.
Being able to stash that amount (or more) in savings each year is a great incentive to skip takeout or dinner at your favorite restaurant with friends and eat at home more instead.
Related post: 53 Dirt Cheap Meals to Try on a Tight Budget
2. Plan your meals
Taking a vow to eat at home more often isn’t a guarantee that you’ll stop wasting money on food.
If you’re really serious about cutting your food budget, then it’s time to become a pro at meal planning.
Meal planning can help you save money because you only buy the things you truly need. And that’s a plus if you’re trying to afford groceries on a budget.
If you need help with meal planning, $5 Meal Plan is a greater starter resource.
You pay $5 a week and your meals are planned out for you. If you compare the $260 you’d spend for weekly meal plans over the course of a year to the $6,136 you could save by not eating out, signing up is a no-brainer for saving money!
3. Ditch convenience foods
Convenience foods can make meal planning and prep easy but they aren’t always budget-friendly.
By convenience foods, I mean anything that’s already cooked or just needs to be heated up. Things like frozen lasagnas, Lunchables or a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store deli.
They can save you time but they can cost you money in the long run.
But you’re paying a price for it because convenience foods can be more expensive than buying ingredients and making it yourself.
Not to mention, these foods typically aren’t all that great for you anyway. So cutting back on them could benefit your bottom line if you’re trying to cut costs. And you might see an improvement in your waistline too.
4. Use Ibotta to save money on groceries
Sticking with the cheapest foods to buy (that are still healthy) can help with cutting food costs. But there’s an even easier way to save money at the grocery store.
With the Ibotta app, you can earn cash back on groceries every time you shop.
You download the Ibotta app, link your store loyalty cards, browse deals and shop to earn cash. You can even earn more cash back when you refer friends and family to the app!
If you’re not on the Ibotta bandwagon yet, here’s a complete guide to how to use Ibotta to save money.
5. Stop wasting money on bottled water
I’ll go ahead and tell you that I still buy bottled water. But I have a reason for that. The county we live in was recently ranked #1 in a study of places with the highest “forever chemical” concentrations in our water.
So we don’t drink the water ’round these parts because we’re not sure how safe it is. But if your drinking water supply is okay, then cutting out bottled water and investing in a good reusable water bottle is a no-brainer.
Think of it this way. If you spend $10 per week on two or three cases of bottled water, you could save $520 per year.
That’s a nice chunk of money you could set aside for emergencies or use to pay down debt.
6. Grow what you can at home
If you have space in the backyard or on your deck, growing some of your own vegetables is another simple way to cut costs on food.
Tomatoes, peppers and leafy greens are some of the easiest things to grow, even if you don’t have much room.
But once you get started, you might be surprised at how much you could save on food.
How to Cut Costs at Home
There are plenty of ways you could be wasting money at home, without even knowing it.
Here are some of the best options for cutting costs around the house and saving money on utilities, internet and more.
7. Switch to streaming services
The average person spends $217 a month on cable and they could soon be paying more, as prices are set to rise.
$217 a month is $2,604 a year and the truth is, you’re probably paying for a bunch of channels you don’t watch anyway. Switching to streaming services and cutting cable means you’re more likely to use what you pay for each month.
For example, at our house we have:
Altogether, I pay about $50 for these channels compared to the $125 I used to pay for cable. That’s $900 saved per year.
If you haven’t made the switch from cable to streaming yet, that’s 900 reasons to give it a shot.
8. Switch to prepaid cellphone service
Having the latest and great phone is fun but at the end of the day, it’s another way to waste money if you don’t need all the fancy features it comes with.
Forgoing an expensive contract phone for a prepaid plan instead is the easiest way to save money on cellphone bills.
With Tello, for example, you can get a family plan with unlimited data and unlimited minutes for $39 a month.
That’s super-cheap and much less than the $250+ we used to pay for a family plan with Verizon. Instead of paying $3,000 a year for cell service, you could pay less than $500.
9. Make your own cleaning products
Buying cleaning supplies might seem like a necessity. But this can be one of the best things to stop buying if you want to save more money.
Because you could make your cleaning products cheaper than you can buy them. And as an added benefit, homemade cleaning products that are chemical-free can be healthier for your family.
10. Update your light bulbs
Something as simple as swapping out your old lightbulbs for energy-efficient ones can be a simple way to cut costs and save money on utilities.
According to the Department of Energy, CFLs and LED lights can use anywhere from 25% to 80% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than traditional bulbs. Switching bulbs could cut your energy costs by up to 75!
Swapping bulbs is more time-consuming than anything since you can pick up a pack of LED bulbs on Amazon for fairly cheap. But it’s worth spending an afternoon changing out bulbs to reap the savings on your utility bills.
11. Adjust your thermostat
Did you know adjusting your thermostat by a degree or two could make a huge impact on your energy bills?
Setting your thermostat to 76 in summer and 68 in winter can help keep your HVAC system from being overworked. And that means less you have to pay to the utility company.
If you can’t remember to adjust the temperature or want a hassle-free way to do it, considering spending a few bucks on a programmable thermostat.
12. Unplug it
Unplugging things when you’re not using them is another simple way to stop wasting money at home.
After all, if your kids aren’t playing their gaming console or you’re not charging your phone, why keep those things plugged in?
You won’t be able to unplug the big things like the stove or refrigerator. But unplugging electronics you don’t use regularly and turning off light switches are two easy hacks for saving on electricity.
Related post: 11 Ridiculously Simple Ways to Save on Electric
13. Don’t buy things that just get thrown away
There are plenty of convenience items you might buy that just end up in the trash.
For example, Ziploc bags are handy but unless you’re diligent about reusing them, they’re just a waste of money.
Paper towels are another convenience expense that waste money.
They’re handy for cleaning up messes but the cost can add up. If you pay $8 a week for a six-pack of paper towels, that’s $416 a year.
On the other hand, you could spend $15 or $20 on some quality dish towels that will last you a year or more. This is an easy way to save money and once you get used to using dish towels, you’ll wonder what took you so long to make the switch.
14. Change up your laundry system
Doing laundry is a must, especially if you have kids. But there are plenty of ways you can do it without wasting money.
For example, dryer sheets can make your clothes smell good but they don’t do you any favors in the saving money department. You’re better off cutting those costs and using wool dryer balls instead.
They can help your clothes dry faster so you use less energy, they cut down on waste and you can use them over and over. And the best part is they’re not very expensive. You could even make them yourself.
Or you could try air drying some or all of your laundry instead. Indoor and outdoor drying racks aren’t super costly.
And remember to wash clothes in cold water instead of warm or hot. A cold water wash versus hot cuts your laundry costs from $265 per year to just $16.
How to Cut Costs Behind the Wheel
If you own at least one vehicle, then you already know how expensive cars can be. Between insurance, gas, repairs and maintenance, it can really add up.
Here are some tips to help you stop wasting money on vehicle expenses.
15. Consider selling or downsizing a vehicle
If you have more than one car, consider whether you could get by with just one.
Eliminating one vehicle means less money you have to pay toward insurance, gas and other expenses.
It’s one of the more extreme ways to cut costs but it could be worth if you don’t need an extra car. And you could make a nice chunk of cash off the sale that you could add to savings.
16. Carpool if you can
Carpooling isn’t really an option where we live because it’s such a small town. But if you’re in a larger city, you could easily cut vehicle costs by sharing rides with someone else.
If you can’t carpool, consider public transportation, biking or walking if those are options.
They could also save you mileage and wear and tear on your vehicle. And they may be cheaper ways to get around versus filling up your car with gas.
17. Switch your car insurance
Car insurance keeps you protected on the road but it’s possible you may be paying too much for it.
A lot of what you pay for car insurance has to do with how insurance companies set rates. And sometimes, car insurance companies don’t always apply rates equally.
So it’s up to you to find the best deal for yourself. You can do that by shopping around for car insurance quotes.
Ad be sure to ask about discounts for things like bundling car insurance with homeowners insurance or maintaining a safe driving record.
18. Earn cash back on gas
But the typical cashback app doesn’t pay you money back at gas stations.
GetUpside is an exception.
This app lets you earn cash back on purchases when you shop partner businesses, including:
- Circle K
If you buy gas at any of those brands, then using this app to cut gas costs is a no-brainer.
How to Cut Costs on Shopping
Shopping, whether you’re doing it online or off, can be a real money drain. So try these tips to cut costs on your next shopping trip.
19. Skip the name brands
It’s easy to buy name brands because they’re recognizable. But swapping them out for generic is a simple money-saver.
Spend some time comparing prices for name brands and store brands the next time you go grocery shopping. Add up how much you could save by choosing the store brand or generic.
If you can’t go cold turkey with avoiding name brands, pick a few things to splurge on.
For example, I always bought Huggies diapers when my kids were babies, even though the Walmart brand was cheaper. But those things just never seemed to hold up as well so I shelled out the extra money.
Your kids might be beyond the diaper stage but you get the idea. Keep those must-have name brands and get rid of the rest. Chances are, you won’t even notice the difference for most things.
20. Save money on clothes
Clothes can make up a big part of your budget, especially when you have growing kids. But that doesn’t mean you always have to buy new.
There are plenty of ways to get kids’ clothes (and clothes for yourself) on the cheap. For example, you could:
- Host a clothing swap with other moms
- Shop local thrift stores and consignment shops
- Look for deals on used clothes on thredUP
Those are all ways to spend less on clothes and save more money every month.
21. Look for deals on secondhand items
While you’re adding new clothes to the list of things to stop buying to save money, think about what else you can buy gently used.
Some things aren’t negotiable. Like, if you’re having a baby then you probably want to get a brand-new car seat.
But other things you might have wiggle room with.
For example, I just bought a house and I don’t have a dining table and chairs yet. I’ve been looking in local bargain groups and thrift stores to try and find one used because I don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for a set.
Meanwhile, our dishes came from a thrift store, we got our rug from the previous owner and I bought a used riding lawnmower for $300 versus paying $1,000+. The house feels like home and I don’t care at all that everything isn’t new.
So next time you’re planning a purchase, whether it’s big or small, ask yourself if you need to spend money on new stuff when secondhand might do just fine.
22. Be selective when buying clearance items and markdowns
Buying clearance items and markdowns may seem like a great way to save money. The problem is that you might end up spending money that you didn’t plan to.
The next time you’re lured in by those red clearance stickers at Target or you’re drawn to a bargain bin, stop and ask yourself whether there’s really anything you need there.
Sometimes the best way to cut costs and save money is to walk away, even from something that seems like a great deal.
23. Cut back on kids’ toys and games
How much do you spend on toys and games for your kids each year? Do you even know?
If you’re a typical family, it’s probably a lot more than you’d like. But if you’re serious about saving money then this is one spending category you have to be prepared to cut out or at least cut back.
And not buying toys or games doesn’t mean your kids can’t or won’t have any fun. In fact, less stuff can be a good thing if it encourages them to find creative ways to fill their time.
24. Steer clear of buying trendy items
Trendy items are the worst when you’re trying to save money.
You know how it is. Something comes out that seems like a must-have and everyone else is buying one, so hey, why don’t you?
The problem with buying something that’s trending is that you have no idea how long it’ll be useful or popular.
So before you buy something that’s trending, give it some time to cool off first. You’ll find that some things have more staying power than others.
Instant Pot is a great example. Not long ago, everyone and their cat was buying one. I was skeptical but it turns out, it’s actually quite useful to have in the kitchen.
The bottom line, by being thoughtful with your purchases and not giving in to trends, you can save money and avoid ending up with a closet full of junk.
25. Say no to impulse buys at the checkout
The checkout lane is a danger zone if you’re trying to save money. The aisles are filled with crap that you don’t need but is oh-so-tempting.
There are two ways to avoid falling into the impulse buy trap when checking out.
One, commit to developing serious tunnel vision when it’s time to pay. Or two, take advantage of your store’s pick-up service.
Most of the time pick-up is free when you have a minimum dollar amount on your order. Letting someone else shop for you means you don’t have to worry about spending on impulse.
26. Skip extended warranties
Raise your hand if you’ve ever purchased an extended warranty for something you bought.
Now, raise your hand again if you’ve ever actually used an extended warranty.
I’m guilty of this myself. I’ve paid extra for extended warranties, then never used them even when the thing I bought them for needed to be replaced.
It’s just money wasted. So this definitely belongs on the list of things to stop buying to save money.
Here’s what you’re better off doing instead. Focus on buying quality stuff that’s designed to last. Or just buy less stuff altogether.
Either one can help you keep more money in your pocket long-term.
27. Use cash back apps to save on shopping
Cash back apps offer a simple way to cut costs and save money on just about everything you buy.
You link cash back apps to your debit or credit card, shop at partner stores and earn a percentage of what you spend back.
It’s so simple, there’s reallyno reason not to use at least one cash back app to save on shopping.
Try these cash back apps to save now:
Related post: 12 Best Money Saving Apps to Download Now
How to Cut Costs on Debt
The average American has just over $92,000 in debt.
Debt can be a roadblock to achieving positive things with your money. So here are some ways to make it more affordable.
28. Refinance your student loans
If you have student loan debt, refinancing could be a simple way to cut interest costs.
Refinancing means taking out a new loan to pay off your existing loans. If your new loan comes with a lower interest rate than the old ones, you could save money.
If you’re interested in student loan refinancing, check out Earnest. They offer competitive rates on student loan refinancing so you can pay off your education debt faster.
29. Lower your credit card’s APR
Credit cards can be convenient for spending but they can cost you big if you carry a balance month to month.
Lowering your card’s APR can help you save money and cut costs on debt repayment.
There are a few ways you can lower your card’s APR, including:
- Asking for a rate reduction
- Transferring balances to a card with a 0% APR
- Using Tally to save on interest charges
If you’re not familiar with Tally, it’s basically a personal finance app that helps you get a lower rate on credit card debt so you can pay it back faster.
30. Consider a mortgage refinance
If you own a home, that’s probably your biggest debt. And refinancing a mortgage could yield savings if you’re able to lock in a lower rate.
First, do the math on refinancing to estimate how much you could save. For some people, refinancing isn’t always worth it.
Then take time to compare lenders and loan options. You can get multiple refinance quotes in one place at SuperMoney.
31. Consolidate debts with a low-interest personal loan
Personal loans are great because there are so many things you can use them for, including debt consolidation.
Consolidating debts with a personal loan can help you cut costs if you’re able to save money on interest charges.
Again, it’s important to estimate your savings first to see whether applying for a loan is worth it. Then you’ll want to look at different loan options and rates to see who offers the best deal.
If you’re ready to explore personal loan options, take a look at SuperMoney.
32. Improve your credit score
Do you know your credit scores? Or why credit scores are important?
Your credit scores can be a money-saving tool if you’re trying to refinance or consolidate debt. The better your scores, the better your odds of qualifying for the lowest interest rates.
If you haven’t check your scores, you can see them for free at Credit Karma.
You can also use Credit Karma to monitor your credit and get tips on how to improve your score. It’s free to sign up, no credit card required.
How to Cut Costs on Everything Else
Looking for more ways to cut costs?
Here are a few final tips for saving more money each month.
33. Audit your streaming subscriptions
Your budget can easily get bogged down when you’re paying for multiple streaming services or subscriptions every month. And even though each one may only be costing you a few dollars, those few dollars could be standing in the way of saving money.
So if you’re primarily streaming, consider which ones you can ditch and won’t miss.
For example, I recently canceled Sling TV since we weren’t watching it and they just kept hiking up the prices anyway.
Canceling added almost $50 back into the budget that I can add to the savings pot.
If you’re not sure which subscriptions to cut, let Trim help. Trim is a financial manager that finds subscriptions and unnecessary fees and cuts them out of your budget.
34. Disable in-app purchases
Here is a really easy and smart hack for saving money: Disconnect your bank and credit cards from your phone’s app store.
Do you know what happens when you do that? You can’t just spend money at the click of a button anymore.
Because that’s so easy to do if you play games or use other apps on your phone. Plus, it can also save you from unauthorized purchases your kids might make if they’re using your mobile devices.
35. Negotiate your bills
When was the last time you tried to get a better deal on any of your household bills?
If you said never, then you could be missing out on a chance to cut costs.
A simple way to negotiate bills and stop wasting money on expenses is to let someone else do the work for you.
These services evaluate your monthly spending, find bills to negotiate, then get you a better deal. It’s a painless way to save more each month.
36. Increase your insurance deductibles
Raising your insurance deductible is another simple fix for saving money.
A higher deductible can lower your premiums. Assuming you never need to file a claim, you can save money in the long run.
And while you’re at it, look at what you’re paying for insurance.
It’s possible that you could save money on car insurance, homeowners insurance, renters insurance or health insurance by switching providers.
37. Unload magazine subscriptions you don’t read
Magazines can be fun to read and some of them are useful but they can be a drain on your finances. This is one of the best things to stop wasting money on, but it’s one of the hardest if you have a serious magazine addiction.
But there’s an easy fix for that. Instead of wasting money on magazines, you can get them for free by taking surveys with RewardSurvey.
RewardSurvey is one of the best sites for earning rewards and you can redeem them for subscriptions to your favorite magazines. You still get your magazines and you save money–it’s a win-win!
38. Work at out home
Gym memberships can be a cash suck, especially if you don’t use yours as often as you thought you would.
Instead of paying money to go to the gym, you can save that cash and look for other ways to break a sweat.
YouTube is always a great resource for finding free workout routines. Or you could invest in a piece of workout equipment that you know you’ll use over and over again. (I love my recumbent bike!)
Even taking a walk around the block with the kids is a free way to get active. Plus, you might have more fun chatting with them and checking out nature than you would watching other people sweat at the gym.
39. Cut your own hair or try facials at home
At-home haircuts and beauty treatments aren’t as glamorous as going to the spa. But doing these things yourself is an easy way to cut costs.
Spending $30 or $40 on a hair clipper set versus spending that two or three times that a month on haircuts is a great investment. You could easily save a few hundred dollars a year this way.
40. Consider working at home if you can
This last tip for cutting costs may not be doable for everyone. But it’s still worth considering if you want to trim your budget.
Working at home means you can save money on:
- Commuting costs
- Lunches out
- Clothing (every day is casual Friday!)
- Chipping in for office parties/coworker gifts
True, you’ll spend more on utilities. And you might need to upgrade your laptop.
But if your employer allows you to work at home a few days a week, it’s worth testing out to see what you might be able to save.
Or you could look for ways to work at home to make more money in your spare time.
Here are some posts that can help you find the perfect online side hustle option:
How do I stop wasting money?
If you want to stop wasting money and cut costs for good, then you really need to be intentional about budgeting and spending.
Here are some tips that can help you avoid wasting money:
- Impose a 30-day rule for larger purchases
- Try a no spend challenge to stop spending money unnecessarily for a day, week or month
- Keep a spending journal that tracks where your money goes
- Plan purchases ahead of time
- Use debit cards or cash and avoid paying with credit
If you’re still struggling with getting your spending under control, you may want to talk to a credit counselor. A credit counselor can help you come up with a plan for making a budget and sticking to it.
Where can I cut costs?
This post has given you 40 ideas for where to cut costs. But ultimately, how you go about finding savings so you can stop wasting money is up to you.
Start with the biggest culprits first.
For example, check how much you’re spending on things like food, clothing, entertainment and self-care each month. If these expense categories seem bloated, consider how you can slim them down.
Next, look at the smaller expenses that might be eating away at your cash flow.
Keeping a spending diary can help. This is where you write down what you spend and where, as well as what drove your decision to spend.
By keeping an eye on your bigger purchases and smaller ones, you can find the right balance to cut costs and spend more intentionally.
Final Thoughts on How to Cut Costs and Stop Wasting Money
Finding ways to cut costs and lower expenses can help you create more room in your budget to save more and live better. Knowing how to avoid wasting money can help you feel more in control when it comes to your finances.
These cost-cutting tips can help you find those areas where you may be overspending.
And don’t forget to pin and share this post!