These 10 Simple Life Hacks Can Save You Money

Saving money doesn’t have to be a hardship.

Key points

  • Technology is your friend when it comes to saving money: There are apps that get you cash back and others to find restaurant bargains.
  • You could cut your electricity bill by 20% by switching off “vampire devices” at the plug.
  • Trimming down on subscriptions you’re not using and implementing a no-spend day can mean more money in your pocket.

Whether it’s the cost of groceries or the price you pay at the pump, we’re all feeling the pinch of rising prices. There are lots of ways to counter the pressure on your wallet, but the trick is to find the ones that fit into your life. Drastic money saving is like drastic dieting — if you go all in, you’re unlikely to be able to keep it going long term.

These 10 life hacks all offer more sustainable ways to save money. How many can you adopt this month?

1. Use apps for low-cost eating out

Sure, eating at home is cheaper than dining out. But if you’re going to enjoy the occasional restaurant meal, why not use an app to reduce the cost? Use apps like BigDish, Groupon, and Hooked to find deals in restaurants near you.

2. Switch off ‘vampire devices’

“Vampire devices” are appliances that are connected to the power and consume electricity even when they’re not in use. For example, your TV pushes your electricity bill up even when it’s in standby mode, as does your phone charger if it’s plugged in and not charging anything. A 2015 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council showed that you could cut your power bill by 20% or more by switching everything off at the plug at night. Appliances have come a long way in the past seven years, but there’s still money to be saved. 

3. Drive slower

Fuel prices are surging, but you can cut your gas costs by cutting your speed. According to the Department of Energy, every 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying $0.18 more per gallon of gas — depending on the type of car you drive. Don’t go too slowly though, driving below 50 mph can also use more fuel. It’s also worth keeping on top of car maintenance and pumping up your tires.

4. Have a no-spend day

A no-spend day is a day where you don’t spend cash on non-essentials. For example, you might take a packed lunch to work, skip the take-out coffee, and avoid doing any kind of shopping at all. Think of it as a spending detox. See it as a challenge and ask friends or family to join in — you might make it a monthly or even weekly event.

5. Use cash back apps

Check out our list of the best cash back apps to see ways to earn rewards on your everyday purchases. From grocery shopping to restaurant and hotel stays, you can get money back on all kinds of spending. Combine them with a cash back credit card to maximize your rewards.

6. Buy store-brand products

There’s often very little difference in quality between store-brand products and their big-brand equivalents. But studies show you can save 40% or more by skipping the big names. Look at the labels to see if the ingredients are the same, and don’t be afraid of a bit of trial and error. It might be that some own-brand food or cosmetic items are indistinguishable, while others just don’t taste or smell as good.

7. Review your subscriptions

Monthly, quarterly, or annual subscriptions can sneak into your spending and quickly add up. For example, during the pandemic lockdowns, I signed up for several streaming services that I barely use now that life’s more normal. Try to review them once every couple of months to weed out any you aren’t using. 

8. Buy pre-loved items

Check out your local thrift store for a host of clothes, furniture, toys, and other items. It’s a great way to save money as you can often pick up designer brands at a fraction of the cost. You can also shop online for second hand deals, helping the environment and your wallet in one fell swoop. 

9. Search for free activities

After being cooped up so long during lockdowns, there’s a big temptation to make up for lost time and splurge on entertainment. But you don’t have to spend money to have fun. Look for free concerts or festivals in your local area, and make a point of supporting low-cost community activities. Many museums offer free admission on certain days, and it doesn’t cost anything to visit local parks or libraries. 

10. Check your freezer temperature

An easy way to reduce food waste is to ensure you’re keeping it at the right temperature. Your freezer should be at 0° F (-18° C) and your fridge should be at or below 40° F (4° C). You can often cut your grocery bill by buying frozen produce rather than fresh, and freezing leftovers saves time and means less waste. 

Bottom line

Saving money doesn’t have to involve scrimping and making huge sacrifices. Incorporating a few of these hacks into your daily life could make a visible difference to your bottom line. Ultimately, every dollar you save is a dollar more in your bank account, and a dollar closer to meeting your financial goals.

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