10 Beginner Tips to Save Money

piggy-bank
Photo by Damir Spanic on Unsplash

I’ve written a few articles here on how to invest money in the stock market. There’s also an article about how to spend money in line with your values. But this is the first of a three part series to help you save more.

Part 2: 10 Advanced Tips to Save Money

Part 3: 10 Tips to Save Money While Saving Our Planet

Here are some quick and easy ways that I save money so that I actually have some to invest in the first place.

Most of these methods don’t require any additional action; they are mostly focused around inaction or making one decision over another. Check out my post on Advanced methods to save money, which will require a bit of time and energy, but will also save you additional money.

1.Don’t buy it.

This is seriously the number one way to save money and I’ll say it over and over again.

2. Okay, okay, but if you must buy the thing, get the most cost efficient option.

Do you NEED the performance engine in that new car, or is the base model perfectly suitable to commute to and from work? Opting for the base or middle option of a car may also have the added benefit of better gas mileage. Better for your wallet and the environment.

3. Don’t buy name brand items.

Especially clothes and groceries… Dave Ramsey estimates you could save about $1000 per year by switching to store-brand or generic groceries.

Also compare generic medications to the name brand ones. As long as the active ingredient is the same, buy the store brand version. For example, Allegra sells my allergy medicine for 38% more than the Kroger brand. The active ingredient in both is the same chemical compound at the same potency level. Having taken both, I can confirm there is no difference. Guess which brand I choose?

But if you must buy name brand items…

4. Wait for a sale, shop clearance, or use coupons.

Many grocery stores send coupons in the mail still and even have digital apps if you don’t want to physically clip coupons. I save at least $10 each trip to the grocery store by using digital coupons found in the Kroger app for the exact things I was going to buy anyways!

It also pays to shop for clothing when it reliably goes on sale. Don’t buy a new beach towel in June… buy it in September. Don’t buy a new winter jacket in November, buy it in April. A little planning and forethought can go a long way to figuring out when cyclical items may go on sale or clearance.

woman shopping
Image by gonghuimin468 from Pixabay

5. Keep it one more year.

If you can get just 10,000 more miles out of your rusty old beater car, or another winter out of your jacket, try to milk it for what it’s worth!

But if you must get something new…

6. Buy the previous model.

If you want to buy a new Samsung Galaxy, do it around when they release the new model and buy the previous one. There usually aren’t any groundbreaking changes from one model to the next. Big model differences usually take at least a few generations to be really noticeable.

And for cars, US News has a great car comparison feature that lets you compare what’s new with a new car year. Sometimes the differences are truly negligible.

7. Compare price based on $ per unit, or $ per lb.

Grocery stores put this nifty little comparison metric in fine print on most price tags. So even though the smaller item on sale may look like a better deal than the bigger normal priced item, it might not be.

comparison price tag
Use this feature to compare two separate products.

If you can afford it and have the space, buying two packs or bulk may also be a great option to lower the overall cost. For example, we have a gallon of Clorox spray, and we just pour it into the individual sprayer when the bottle runs low.

8. Skip the appetizers at restaurants.

If you normally order a drink and appetizers before dinner, just choose one. I know it may sound “cheap” to skip this pre-dinner ritual, but you’ll end up enjoying your dinner that much more because you didn’t order the fried, salty, cheese sticks that were microwaved from a frozen bag anyways.

9. Handmade gifts.

We’ve all been there. Trying to think of another item to add to our significant other’s birthday present pile. But would ANOTHER Yeti travel mug or pair of headphones made in China really be more appreciated than a hand-made card, collage, love poem, or scrapbook of memories? Doubt it. Plus, studies show that acts of love like this can contribute to your emotional bank account as well!

10. Buy the more expensive option.

I saved this one for last because it requires the most explanation. IF, and ONLY IF, the more expensive option is truly higher quality, and it will last for a much longer time, you should consider it. The cost of buying the same tool twice because the cheaper one you bought first broke is more than just buying the higher end version in the first place.

I’ve already pointed out that this usually isn’t the case with a turbo charged car vs. the base model. It’s not as if the base model has a worse engine, it just doesn’t have the FASTEST engine. But here are some examples where it pays to spend extra:

  • Shoes/boots/jackets (assuming you wear the item a lot and so your “cost per wear” goes down)
  • Tools
  • Luggage
  • Furniture (assuming you don’t change your style preferences)
  • Electronics like tablets or headphones
  • Linens such as towels or sheets
money growing
Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay

Follow these tips and watch your money grow!

There you have it. My ten favorite money saving tips for beginners. Let me know your favorite way to save money in the comments! Did any of these work for you? Did any not work? Are you a millionaire yet? No? Save harder!

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