19 Creative Ways to Save Money

Maybe you’re looking to build an emergency fund, save for a vacation or pay off your student loans quicker. Whatever your financial goals may be, finding different ways to save money each month can help. 

You can try making a small change, like canceling a subscription you’re not using. Or you might make a more consistent change, like actively cutting expenses to put a designated amount of money into savings each month. Read on for more creative ways to save money.

Key takeaways

  • By making small or large changes to your day-to-day spending habits, you might be able to cut costs and put that extra money toward savings.
  • You can identify different ways to save money on monthly expenses with a bit of research and planning.
  • Different budgeting techniques might also help you create a plan to track your savings and spending.

Creative ways to save on food and drinks

Check out these different ways to reduce your food spending.

1. Give meal planning a try

Before you head to the grocery store, come up with a plan for the meals and snacks you want to make for the week. This can help you stick to a plan to avoid impulse buys and overspending.

2. Ditch the takeout 

Even though takeout can be convenient, regularly ordering to-go meals can really eat up your budget. Try keeping up on groceries and exploring time-saving recipes to avoid the temptation of placing a spontaneous order at your favorite eatery. 

3. Buy in bulk 

You may be able to save money by buying groceries in bulk. There’s an upfront cost, but depending on the items you purchase, you may be able to save more money over time. 

For example, you can buy meat that’s on sale and freeze it to use later. Or stock up on big containers of grains, beans and nuts. To save more money, keep track of pricing and try to buy items when they’ve been marked down.

4. Pack a lunch instead

Instead of spending money to eat out at lunchtime, consider packing food from home. Avoiding takeout is even easier if you’re working remotely. You can use leftovers from dinner the night before or prep meals on the weekend for a convenient, grab-and-go lunch that helps you avoid extra spending. 

5. Look for dining specials

Consider searching for dining specials before eating out. You can look for coupons, check the restaurant for a daily special or—if you’re a parent—find “kids eat free” promotions to keep more cash in your wallet. 

Creative savings ideas for monthly expenses

Browse through some of these ways you can save money on recurring monthly expenses.

6. Compare insurance rates and adjust your policy

You may be able to save money by adjusting your insurance policies. You can start by comparing rates and plans across insurance carriers. Then, you can begin the process of adjusting your plan or carrier to help you save some money. Keep in mind you’ll also need to cancel your current plan and ensure there are no lapses in coverage. 

7. Cut down on subscriptions

Subscriptions to entertainment streaming services, meal delivery kits and news platforms can be a convenient way to access the things you like. But month over month, they can cut into your overall budget. And sometimes you might not even realize you’re paying for them. So try carving out some time to manage the subscriptions you’re paying for to see if there are any areas you can cut.

8. Save on utilities

It can be helpful to review the cost of utilities in your home and find ways to cut costs. Here are a few tips from the Department of Energy:

  • Opt for energy-efficient appliances, lightbulbs and electronics.
  • Seal air leaks in windows and door frames. 
  • Turn off your kitchen or bath fans after 20 minutes.
  • Lower your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

9. Consider your credit card use

If you’re using a credit card to make purchases, you can avoid credit card interest on new purchases by paying off your balance each month. You can also cut costs by finding ways to avoid some of the common credit card fees. 

You may consider a cash back credit card for everyday expenses, too. A cash back card may not help you save money directly, but it could offer rewards to help offset the cost of things you’re already buying. And some cash back cards provide rewards for certain categories, like groceries or dining. So if you have a specific rewards goal in mind, you could compare credit cards to find the best option for your financial goals.

But applying for a new credit card may affect your credit score temporarily. So it may be a good idea to space out credit applications and consider checking whether you’re preapproved before applying.

Budgeting strategies to help you save money

Here are some budgeting techniques you can use as part of a savings strategy. 

10. Avoid impulse buys

While the occasional unexpected purchase is normal, making impulse buying a habit can add up over time. You can save money and avoid buyer’s remorse by trying a few of these strategies:

  • Stick to a budget.
  • Delay gratification—or wait a period of time before purchasing an item you’re interested in.
  • Unsubscribe from tempting promotional emails.
  • Make a shopping plan or list before going to the store.

11. Consider zero-based budgeting

Zero-based budgeting accounts for every dollar that you earn in a set period of time—typically on a monthly basis. This means all of your monthly expenses, debt payments and savings contributions, subtracted from your income, should equal zero at the end of a given period. 

You can create a zero-based budget by adding up all of your sources of income. Then, categorize your monthly spending based on fixed vs. variable expenses and savings contributions. From there, allocate every dollar from your income toward a category until you hit a zero balance.  

12. Pay yourself first

Paying yourself first works by setting aside money toward your savings goals from each paycheck—before paying other expenses. The 50/20/30 budgeting approach—which entails allocating 50% of your income toward needs, 20% toward savings and 30% toward wants—can also be considered a pay-yourself-first type of budget.

13. Try out digital money-saving options

Having different budgeting platforms at your fingertips can help you set a budget and stick to it. There are a wide variety of platforms available to help you save money, depending on your preferences, financial goals and price point. Here are a few offerings from Capital One:

  • Budget with a card. You can use your Capital One credit card to further your budgeting goals by setting up account alerts, auto-pay and creating spending limits. Check out 7 tips to budget with a credit card for more information.  
  • Capital One Mobile app. You can use some of the Capital One Mobile app tools, like monitoring upcoming bills and subscription charges and blocking recurring charges, to better manage your finances. 
  • Eno, your Capital One assistant. Eno is an intelligent assistant that makes account management easier so you can spend more time doing the things you love. 
  • CreditWise from Capital One. CreditWise is a digital tool that can help you monitor your credit health, understand your credit score and keep up with changes to your credit reports. It’s free, and using it won’t hurt your credit.

14. Set up automatic transfers to a savings account

Make saving money a routine by scheduling automatic transfers to your savings account. You can choose a small amount of money to start with and then increase it to bulk up the funds in your account. Plus, Capital One customers may be able to get paid sooner by setting up direct deposit.  

Other creative ways to save money

Here are a few other ways you can cut costs to further your savings goals.

15. Reevaluate your gym membership 

You can prioritize your fitness goals without sacrificing your budget. If you already have a gym membership, see if there’s a lower rate that’s being offered that you can take advantage of. You can also check if your employer or insurance will offset some or all of your gym membership cost. 

16. Look for free events

You can save money by looking for free entertainment and recreational activities. Consider a free outdoor activity like hiking or going to a park. Or check out a local festival or parade to pass the time without breaking the bank. If you want to stay inside, check to see if any local museums offer low-cost entrance fees or free hours or days. 

17. Remember your local library

Don’t forget about the resources your local library may offer before purchasing things of your own. 

In addition to books, some libraries offer movies and game rentals, as well as events you can attend for free or at a low cost. 

18. Learn to DIY

Maybe you can forgo the nail salon and learn how to do an at-home manicure. Or maybe you can make homemade treats to give as gifts instead of purchasing expensive presents. Get creative and think of ways you can DIY to keep more cash in your wallet.

19. Keep the change

If you’re paying for something in cash, set aside any loose change in a separate jar and keep it for a rainy day. Over time, this spare change can add up, and you can put it back into your savings account or use it toward a larger purchase.

Creative savings ideas in a nutshell

Putting away extra cash each month can add up over time to help you reach your savings goals. And you don’t necessarily have to make large changes to your spending habits to save money.

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