We recently asked the Tiller community to share some of their favorite money-saving tips.
As mentioned in that post, Americans spend over 65% of their income in three categories:
- Food at home
Hundreds of people responded with next-level ideas for saving money in those categories and more. The tips came in from around the world; that’s why you’ll see £’s as well as $’s in the list below. But these money-saving tips apply everywhere.
Share your money-saving tips in the comments at the bottom of the post!
- Save on Groceries & Dining Out
- Budgeting Tricks
- Mindset & Saving Strategies
- Getting Discounts
- Save on Transportation
Save on Groceries & Dining Out
Start off by adding $10 cash to wallet for each week/day you don’t eat out. It feels good to see money pile up.
For the little things that add, like coffees and eating out, focus on behavior over budgeting. For example, make going out for lunch a treat again by only doing it once a week — and never alone! If you’re eating at your desk, you’re brown-bagging it. This will also help you be more intentional about building relationships one lunch at a time.
Split every purchase in the supermarket into two categories:
1) I’m confident I will definitely buy this again
2) I’m unsure or know I won’t buy this again
Everything that falls into #1 (Washing up liquid, food, waste bags), ignore the price tag and look solely at “Price per…”. Buying 1L of Washing up liquid at £2.00 is better than 500ml at £1.50.
Things you’re not sure about… this might not be as smart, but you can still try it. It may make your weekly/monthly shop feel more expensive, buy over the year you will have purchased 10 lots of £2 washing up liquid, instead of 20 lots of £1.50 washing up liquid. Generally, you’ll spend ~25% more, for ~50% more product.
Don’t pay for probiotics ; brew your own Kombucha, ferment your own sauerkraut / yogurt / kefir. These products are highly marked up and are a cinch to make yourself.
Start a diet! I started intermittent fasting and wound up cutting out creamer with my coffee, breakfast, and occasionally lunch. Losing weight and saving money FTW!
I started buying coffee from a local coffee shop instead of getting Starbucks or pre-made stuff at the grocery store, and it’s both cheaper and better for the environment (no plastic packaging!)
Bulk purchase can result in better pricing per unit but a higher cost overall. But if you split a purchase with friends or family, you can keep the better pricing at a more manageable quantity.
Eat a meal before visiting the grocery store (or opening Instacart). You’ll reduce impulse purchases and instead shop for what you really need
We share meals when my wife and I go out on a date. At first it was an adjustment; now I don’t know how we ate so much before! 🙂 And, there is the added benefit of not leaving feeling stuffed.
This isn’t for everyone, but batch cooking can save you a lot of time, money and food waste. Research freezable meal recipes, then do all of your food shopping in one hit using ingredients from these recipes (Often allowing you to capitalize on savings like “buy 5 for x”), use this food shop to batch cook dozens of meals and throw them in the freezer. I have one cooking week and 3 eating up weeks every month. Less food wastage, more efficient shopping, and often less gas and electric bills due to cooking
Never eat your entire meal at a restaurant. Portion sizes are way too big to be healthy and you get a 2nd “free” meal eating the leftovers.
Each week we try to make a menu for the week and alternate cooking duties. Once we make a menu we then make a grocery list of what we need to cook with plus other items we might need that are listed in our grocery app on our phone, this way we only go to the grocery store once a week and only buy what is on the grocery app list.
Whenever I’m hungry and need a cheap meal, I always go to Costco to get a $1.50 (+tax) hot dog to fill me up. Sometimes, if I’m extra hungry, I’ll get 2 hot dogs for $3 (+tax). Can’t beat Costco hot dog prices.
Be aware of how much you’re spending. Knowing how much of my income goes to groceries and restaurants is hugely valuable in keeping that spending in check.
Always consider your daily discretionary income. For instance, I give myself $13 per day. This makes it crystal clear how long I’ll need to “save up” for a big-ticket item and just how much longer it will take if I get that $5 latte every day.
Awareness is key to saving money. Create a forward-looking 8-13 week cash flow projection to understand where the money is going.
Make your mortgage payment bi-weekly instead of just monthly. Reduces the interest paid on the overall loan.
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” – you gotta budget!
Mindset & Saving Strategies
Don’t buy immediately online, add it to the cart and wait a day. If you don’t know what was so special next about it the day, then empty the cart.
Make a wishlist for things you truly desire. By waiting for them or keeping track by saving up for it, the urge to buy it immediately disappears.
Take it off the top! I’m a freelancer so its a bit tricky with variable income- but I do get 1 payment/ month consistently- so with that one, I’ve set up an automatic payment to have half of that go to my CC debt.
Read & Listen to as many audiobooks / podcasts as possible (FIRE podcast, Mad fientist, Simple Path to Wealth etc) You’ll discover the money-saving tips that work best for you by learning as much as you can.
To best save money, know ALL your expenses, not just the big ones
Pay yourself first! You can’t miss money that never went into your checking account.
Practice kindness! When I feel connected to those around me, especially those with whom I share financial decisions, I’m less likely to make compulsive or uninformed purchases. What’s more, being generous with my words and actions brings a deeper reward than money can buy, which keeps me from looking for happiness at the cash register.
Never buy something right when you desire it. Give space and time to consider whether it is a worthy purchase. This may include talking to your spouse or just thinking about it later. But, focus mainly on not just going with your immediate desires. Use some self control and look towards how it will be beneficial.
My wife and I each have $50 a month blow money in our budget to use as we wish without questions asked. It might be for random Starbucks drinks or an entry to a fantasy football league, or can save the $50 each month for a bigger purchase down the road.
Try to set a personal record for a number of consecutive days spending less than $10 a day (don’t include bills and groceries). Then try breaking your record streak!
It may sound silly, but my biggest tip for saving money is to not be afraid to ask for discounts when making any purchases. My wife tells me that I just have no shame when I’m buying things like clothes or food. I’ll just straight up ask the cashier what kind of discount they can give me that day. It’s surprising how many times there are discounts available, all you have to do is ask. I’ve saved over 50% on many items but am usually guaranteed to get at least 10% off. And if they say no then I usually get them worked to at least laugh with me (or at me) and my lack of shame in asking.
Remember, shopping is not a good hobby.
Gamify your spending! Your personal finances are the subject of a game played between yourself and lenders/merchants. They have many advantages in this game, but it’s a game you can win as long as you are willing to meet them on the playing field. If you simply accept the limited field of choices they give you, then you’re not playing the game to your possible advantage.
If you have to spend money on something, say travel from your home to an overseas location, search for online bargains in the usual way – but then work to beat those bargains by making a game of it. For example, when booking a recent one way flight to San Francisco from the south of Ireland, I found all the usual cheap-flight-sites offering great prices. However, instead of accepting those, I made a game of finding a price that was even lower than the lowest I could found in a casual search. The result was a price so low that friends gasp when I tell them what my total cost was for a bus to Dublin and a flight from Dublin to Gatwick to San Francisco.
For young Canadians; Save & Invest in your TFSA (until maxed out) Before investing in your RRSP
Vinegar is cheaper, more effective, and better for the environment as a weedkiller than any commercially packaged products. same with diatomaceous earth for bug repellent.
While the media likes to focus on the cost of your daily coffee, it is a small expense in comparison to some of your bigger money sucks. Most people’s biggest expense is housing. In many cases, it is quite possible to cut over $100 off of your monthly expenses just by MOVING. Do you really need a 4 bedroom apartment with a pool and full service gym? Look for places with fewer amenities and you will definitely end up saving money. Or, if you have the savings, try out “house hacking”: buy a du/tri/quad-plex, live in one side, and rent out the other units. This helps you build equity and develop another income stream.
Use a squeegee after every shower or bath. Less time cleaning, less cleaners required, the fan needs to run less, grout and ceiling won’t develop mildew or need to be redone as often.
Switch your phone service to Google Fi and watch the savings pile up! I went from ~$700/yr with Verizon to ~$300/year with Google Fi and no sacrifice in service.
The Cash App debit card is awesome – it has this great feature called a boost. Some of the boosts give you a percentage off at places like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s which you can use up to once a day, but the coffee boost is by far the best. It gives you $1 off a single order at any coffee shop, and you can reuse it every 30 minutes!
I have a AAA membership, and really most of the savings aren’t real. You don’t save any more on hotels or rental cars than any other perk from a membership or loyalty card. However… if you shop online, AAA has a host of shops that they have affiliate links with. Start at the AAA website, search for the store you shop at, and follow the link. Order what you want, sales, coupons, etc. all work, and you get credits back to your AAA membership. I’m able to pay for my membership with the savings of items I already purchase (Tires, Home Improvement Items, etc.). I travel frequently in the summer, and I upgraded my membership due to my savings. I had to get a 175 mile tow, which was FREE with my membership… I saved hundreds of dollars this way. Having a high mileage (240,000+) fully paid off vehicle means sometimes you might have a breakdown… but I’m able to keep the car going and not pay for the AAA Membership, so it’s been a great money-saving tip for me.
Camelcamelcamel.com If you shop on Amazon, you have to use this site. They provide you a price history and allow you to set triggers so when a product drops to your target price you can get an email sent. I use this for those “wants” and not the “needs” so I spend the least on them when I do pull the trigger.
Maximize employee benefits! Many overlook some of the most common perks provided by employers. Fitness stipend, commuter stipend, on-demand services, cell phone reimbursement, etc. Depending on the company, this can easily top $100 per month.
Take advantage of your public library. Our library has an app where I can reserve an ebook and send it straight to my Kindle. We also like to rent movies on the weekends. I couldn’t tell you the last time I bought a book!
I’m also a major fan of utilizing credit card points for travel. As long as you have your cash flow mastered (with the help of Tiller of course!) leveraging the lucrative point offers can represent huge savings for travel you’re already planning to take!
Using 0% introductory purchase offers on credit cards, then saving the monthly spend into a high-yield savings or moderately conservative investment account. Coupled with a cashback or rewards points credit card, this can yield from 2.4% to 5% or more in savings on spending you’re going to do anyway!
Style, Grooming and Self-care
Over the past year I have taken a minimalist approach to my wardrobe, focusing on the idea of a “capsule collection”. The general premise is focusing on a smaller, simpler wardrobe with pieces that can be easily mixed and matched and do not go out of style. I now keep a note in my phone with an inventory of my closet as well as a specific list of things that I need to purchase. I have found that I am saving money by not impulse shopping trendy items that I might only a couple of times and/or buying repeated items (i.e. another black dress that I already had a dozen of).
DIY haircuts! My fiancé needs his hair cut once a month, and it costs $25 each time at the barbershop. I watched YouTube videos on how to cut a fade, and with a little practice (and patience!), we’re now saving $300 a year!
learn what the real fees are in my 403(b) plan. Then switch to a lower-cost option. The long-term compounded savings is tens of thousands of dollars.
Instead of buying frames at the eye doctor, just get an eye exam and buy your lenses/frames on ZenniOptical.com or EyeBuyDirect.com. Get frames/lenses for ~$25 instead of $150-$250.
Utilities & Telephone
You can get super cheap cell phone plans through mobile virtual operators. These companies lease or rent the major carrier networks so you get the same service and (usually) the same speed. We currently pay $15 per month (taxes included) for unlimited text, calls, and 3GB of high-speed data!
Save on Transportation
While I have many, the biggest bang to save your bucks is to pay off your car as quick as you can and to turn that savings into an account and begin saving for your next car. And don’t buy more car than your new frugal self needs. Get one that will keep you saving. I’ve managed in a couple years to save $5000+ for my next car, and that hopefully won’t be for a couple years. Pay yourself first!
I pay my auto insurance once a year instead of bi-annually. You get a discount if you pay in full bi-annually but I go one step further to pay just once a year so if there are rate increases, I’ve already locked in my rate for the year and no rate changes had I only paid for 6 months.
Shopping for car insurance saved me $180 per month. Went from Progressive to Allstate. It was worth the effort to shop around.
When you are away, call your auto insurance and have the insurance reduced to a storage rate during that time. Even if it’s stored in your driveway or garage.
Continue to drive my older car, a 2003 Chevy Trailblazer I bought new. It hasn’t broken down repairs a minimal. I do change the oil on the recommended intervals, but otherwise I keep the hood down. I do check the oil when I add gas almost every time.
Wash and wax your own car. The cleaners will last month’s The results will be better. The bucket, sponge, micro fiber clothes are inexpensive and last for years.
Buy a used car like a Camry (reliable) and keep it a LONG time.
Save on Travel
Zig when others Zag. Fly to Las Vegas on a Wednesday, celebrate Thanksgiving with your family the weekend before, buy candy the day *AFTER* Halloween / Valentine’s day / Easter.
Book your hotels last minute using Hotel Tonight (for random trips, not when attending large events). Unlike most purported hotel discount sites, booking last minute on Hotel Tonight actually works