40 experts in personal finance share their top tips and hacks on how to save money
Last week’s 20 money saving tips to save $7,500 a year wasn’t enough! The emails have started coming in asking for more tips on how to save money.
That’s why I reached out to 40 of the smartest in personal finance, the experts of the experts, to get their best ideas on how to save money. What I got back was a huge resource of ideas that covers nearly every aspect of daily life.
You'll find everything from how to save money around the house to saving money on regular bills and shopping. There are some common ways to save money and some that surprised me. Check out the list, then leave your own money saving tips in the comments!
How to Save Money Like the Pros
Reading through the responses I got, it became clear quickly that to save money like a pro – you had to start thinking like a pro! That means getting creative and finding how to save money on everything you can, no matter how small the expense.
Kim Parr of Eyes on the Dollar had a cool idea that can even help to bring the neighborhood closer together.
We like to save money during the summer by sharing lawn maintenance work with neighbors. If several of us need to rent seasonal equipment like rototillers or power washers, we go in together and do everyone's work on the same day. It saves time and money!
Paul Vachon of the Frugal Toad offered a tip on how to save money that is near and dear to my heart, saving money on coffee!
Here is a great frugal hack for all you coffee drinkers: Buy whole bean coffee and have the store grind to medium-fine 10 or 11 setting. By using a finer ground coffee bean and setting your coffee maker to strong brew (if you have this setting), you can get an additional 2-3 cups of coffee each brew cycle. You'll need to adjust the water you add to fine tune the strength of your coffee. Talk about the latte factor!
Cait Flanders of Blonde on a Budget suggests going cold-turkey on your shopping. I’m a big believer of challenging yourself with ways to save money that most would never even consider so I love this one.
Put yourself on a 30-day shopping ban. Don't let yourself buy anything outside of groceries/gas/toiletries. I promise it'll show you all you really need to be happy, and you'll save a lot more money in the months that follow.
Grayson Bell of Debt Roundup offered a money saving tip that could be the path to riches for the shopaholics out there.
The money saving hack I enjoy is the impulse purchase savings plan. Basically, when you make an impulse purchase, you transfer that same amount into your savings account. If you have an impulse purchase problem, your savings account can be nice and fat!
Kali Hawlk of the XY Planning Network suggests that you set the clock back a few centuries with an idea that could save you from even having to use money!
Barter when you can. If you're a freelancer or business owner, you can exchange services or products with others in a similar position, rather than buying with cash. And if you're not a freelancer or entrepreneur, you can still trade time, skills, or labor with friends, family, and neighbors!
The biggest expense most people face in investing are the annual fees paid out to broker and fund managers. Even fees as little as 1% can amount to thousands of dollars a year and much more over a lifetime. I highlighted Motif Investing in a recent post as the low-cost alternative to investing in stocks. With Motif, you pay one commission and no annual fees for as long as you hold the investment.
Beyond saving on investing fees, Motif can be a great tool to find types of investments and stocks to add to your portfolio. Scroll through some of the funds created by other investors to see how they are investing their money for ideas on your own stocks.
Alan Steinborn of Real Money Life had another idea that makes it easy to Love thy Neighbor,
We share garbage service with our neighbor. It saves us $360 a year!
Lee Huff of BaldFinance reminds us about the power of compound interest and how to save money on our bills.
If you have debt, make your payment as early in the month as possible. Also, whenever you have “extra” cash laying around, make an extra payment. These steps will reduce your average daily balance, which is used to calculate the interest that is charged. The end result is less interest owed and your debt paid off faster.
J. Money of the sites Budgets are Sexy and Rockstar Finance suggests an idea for how to save money with money you won’t even miss.
Put all extra money you come across into a new – separate – savings account and watch it add up over the year. All gift $$, pennies you find on the ground, stuff you sell on Craigslist, etc. It's amazing how much it adds up over time, and since you're not already counting on any of it you won't miss it!
How to Save Money around the House
We saw in last week’s article on money saving tips that spending around the house is likely your biggest expense. Families spend an average of $17,377 a year on housing and utilities, more than a third of total expenses.
That means these tips below on how to save money around the house are great places to start saving like a pro.
Tom Drake, Canadian Finance Blog
Want cold, filtered water without paying for packs of bottled water or even hauling the heavy water cooler bottles from the grocery store? Get a water filtration jug for your water cooler. It looks just like the water bottle that would normally go on top, but it can be refilled with tap water and then runs through a filter. Not only do we save money this way, but it’s much more convenient too!
Lance Cothern, Money Manifesto
My favorite money saving hack relates to saving money up for a down payment for a house. In order to start saving enough for a 20% down payment, simply adjust your housing line item in your budget to 33% of your income. However, instead of spending all of that money on housing, continue to spend the same amount as you have in the past. Then save everything between what you spend and 33% of your income in order to simulate owning your future home while saving money for it at the same time.
Philip Taylor, PTMoney
Buy refurbished electronics: Love Apple, but don't love the price tag for a new Macbook Pro? Check out the refurbished section on the Apple website. You can get certified Apple refurbed products at a 15-20% off full price. Check out local electronic stores like Best Buy which sometimes discount the prices of electronics that have opened boxes. Just be sure you shop from a reputable store or website.
Jason Cabler, Celebrating Financial Freedom
My favorite tip on how to save money is one that I wrote about in the most popular post on my blog- “13 Ways to Save Money on a Low Income”. I recommend replacing your old thermostat with a smart programmable thermostat such as a Nest or other brand. I have two smart thermostats in my house and they are saving me about 10% on my electric and gas bill, month in and month out.
All you have to do is set it up one time, and the thermostat does the rest by learning your schedule and reducing usage at the proper times. It's easy and automatic! The savings actually paid for the thermostats within 2 years time!
Elizabeth Colgrove, Reluctant Landord
Create your own annuity or pension plan by renting instead of selling your house. Through the simple sweat equity of dealing with the house in 30 years you have a paid off asset. Not including the cash flow and tax savings that have accrued over the past 30 years
Jefferson, See Debt Run
To save money on gas, try lightening your load. Take everything out of your trunk except for your spare tire and jack. The more your car weighs, the worse your gas mileage is going to be. So unless you are driving to the course, don't haul your golf clubs around.
Peter Anderson, Bible Money Matters
My favorite idea on how to save money is to try and fix things yourself, before paying for an expensive repair bill or paying to purchase a new item. Often you'll find the repair is easier than you had realized.
Robert Farrington, The College Investor
I recently switched all my light bulbs in the house to GE LED light bulbs. The bulbs themselves are expensive – about $7 per bulb. However, they use about 97% less energy than regular bulbs. What did this equate to? I spend $200 on light bulbs for my entire house. Month #1, with no change in usage, saw my power bill drop by $65. Multiply that savings by 12, and I'm going to save $780 year one.
Save money on those high interest credit card bills by consolidating your debt. A consolidation loan not only can help save money on interest but cuts the number of bills you have to pay each money. Check out PersonalLoans.com for their lending network where lenders compete for your loan.
Rebecca Green Neale
Not necessarily a money saving hack, but I would suggest just stepping back from the things people pay other people to do. Tweeze your own eyebrows, mow your lawn, do simple car repairs yourself. It is so much more rewarding than having someone else do it!
It's a little extreme but I have no electricity Fridays and Saturdays. It's a challenge sometimes but really gets you thinking about what you really need, plus it saves a ton on electricity.
How to Save Money on your Bills
Does anyone like that time every month when you sit down and open bills? Handling your monthly bills and how to save money on your budget is one of the most important ideas in personal finance but also one of the most difficult. Setting realistic goals and creating a workable budget was one of my first money blunders.
Fortunately, we had seven experts offer their ideas on how to save money on those annoying monthly bills.
Paula Pant, Afford Anything
This hack is a little ambitious, but if you're a dual-income couple, I recommend living on one income and saving the other. You'll automatically be saving 30-60% of your income by doing this — and if you ever decide to become a one-income couple in the future, you'll be more than ready.
Barbara Friedberg, Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance
Look at the biggest expenses; housing and transportation, then look to slash those expenses. You can save bundles, not pennies. Live modestly. Drive and old car. then use the savings to invest consistently.
Rocky Lalvani, Richer Soul
My best suggestion on how to save money is paying yourself first and not touching those accounts. As long as you do that, what happens to what is left doesn't really matter. Even if you hack your way to saving the money most people blow it on something else because they deserve it!
Call your car insurance company yearly to see if you can get a better rate, also shop around with different companies for the same coverage to make sure you are getting the best price. We got rid of cable years ago… have internet, netflix and free hulu for $41 dollars a month.
Besides negotiating with your current insurance provider, it's a good idea to compare other providers and rates available each year. You might be surprised how much you can save by playing the insurance companies against each other. I like Compare.com because it automatically compares rates from insurance providers in 48 states and is free to use.
Kate Dore, Cashville Skyline
My new favorite money saving hack: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee (BCBST) offers access to city-wide YMCA gyms, and others, for only $29 per month! You're paying for health insurance, so you owe it to yourself to snag ALL the benefits
Dan Zajac, Finance and Flip Flops
Get rid of “bad” debt and stop paying others interest.
Accumulate and pay off all your bills the same day each month (i.e. the 1st of the month). This will accomplish two things. First, it will give you a sense of what your actual monthly bills are. And second, it will get you out of the vicious cycle of always paying bills.
Vanessa, Vanessa’s Money
My favourite idea for how to save money is to not live like an average American/Canadian. Most parts of the world get by without take-out food, in small, shared apartments and without cars. We have WAY too much consumption/waste/frivolity in North America.
How to Save Money on Shopping
Why do credit card companies make billions every year in interest charges? Because shopping is just toooooo much fun! Everyone likes getting new stuff and ours is a consumer culture.
Check out what these four expert have to say about how to save money shopping.
Stefanie O’Connell, The Broke and Beautiful Life
I'm a big fan of freebies, so I subscribe to a few local newsletters and follow the social media feeds of companies and local services I love so that I can pounce on freebies when they're announced. Living in NYC, there's always something awesome happening at no or low-cost. Today I'm debating between a free yoga class or a free concert in the park.
Julia Scott, Bargain Babe
I saved more than $10,000 buying a used car instead of a new one. My “brand new to me” 2013 Prius V has 48,000 miles, drives like a dream, and the gas mileage is out of this world!
Donna Freedman, DonnaFreedman.com
Use discounted gift cards to pay for everyday stuff. Save from 2% to 20% on everything from gasoline to groceries. Get your pet supplies at Petco or PetSmart, or shop regularly at Target or Walmart, or go to the movies regularly, or bowl at AMF, or take the kids to McDonald's?
Pay with a card. Buy flowers, airline tickets, home-improvement items, furniture, clothing, cookware, windshield wipers, toys, electronics, sporting goods, coffee, camping gear and a ton of other items at a guaranteed discount.
Start at the aggregator site GiftCardGranny.com and pick the best discounts. Bonus frugal points if you order your cards through a cash-back shopping site like Extrabux or Mr. Rebates. Oh, and don't forget to do your holiday shopping this way: Buy the cards in advance (through a cash-back site if possible) and combine them with online coupon codes and loss leaders to stretch your giving budget.
Lena Presley Gott, What Mommy Does
Ask yourself, “Did I need it yesterday?” before making a purchase.
How to Save Money on Internet and Cable
Why is it that internet and cable TV are so expensive? It’s not like it costs the telecom companies extra for each subscriber. Maybe it’s because they know they’ve got you hooked with all those internet videos of piano-playing cats and reruns of The Simpsons!
These four pros offer some great ideas on how to save money by cutting the cord or playing hardball with the cable company.
Tracie Fobes, PennyPinchinMom
Every year or so, contact your cable provider and let them know you will be leaving for someone who offers a lower rate. They usually will do nearly anything to keep your business, which means they will often lower your rates to compete with other companies.
Sheryl Garret, Garret Planning Network
I pay approximately $100 per year for television… Streaming Netflix! I also invested $100 to buy a 360° antenna and a similar price to have it installed. Now I can get six networks and PBS channels for free. I started this over four years ago and my household has not missed having cable or satellite television options.
Check out Republic Wireless and their competitors. Republic Wireless works off your Wi-Fi Internet connection and when you're not in Wi-Fi range it'll seamlessly pick up cell lines from the major providers. I live in a very rural, mountainous area, which doesn't get reception from some of the major providers, however I was able to switch from Verizon and save approximately $100 per month on our group plan.
Join a CSA – also known as Community Supported Agriculture. I get a full family portion once per week from May through October, six months, for about $550 a year. Our weekly groceries from the farm provide 80 to 100% of the fresh produce we consume in any given week. Actually, the quantity is more than enough, a half order would suffice nicely. Between our CSA, a little patio/deck gardening, and neighborhood sharing of fresh fruit and vegetables during the season has enabled our family to eat very healthy on approximately five dollars per person per day.
Mark Morelli, Mathematical Investor
Get a HDTV antenna, Apple TV, and Netflix and cut your TV bill down by 90%. Also, Keep your tires inflated, your car tuned, and your seats/trunk empty — save on gas.
Get rid of the landline, RCN cable is offering 330mbps for $49.99, T-Moblie has 4 lines for $100 and $10 for each additional line. For T-Mobile family plan, you don't even have to live together. We have family members from 4 different households on our family plan. To save on a gym membership, we joined the NYC parks & recreation gym for $100 per year and there are also tons of free fitness classes offered all over the city by ShapeUp NYC.
How to Save Money by Moving Money
Sometimes saving money is simply a matter of moving it to the right place. Check out these four ideas on how to save money by setting goals and having a special stash for your cash.
Jim Wang, Wallet Hacks
If you really want to save money, have a goal in mind. Then leave reminders for yourself. It’s easier to save if you have a reason to help you make decisions and trade-offs.
Mrs. 1500, 1500 Days
Save all your change. At the end of the day/week put it into a jar, and when the jar is full, take it to the bank (dating myself – most banks no longer have coin counting machines…) or to coinstar. Coinstar takes 10% if you get the cash, but they give you 100% of your money if you put it onto a gift card like Amazon. You wouldn't believe how much money can be held in one of those jars, and who misses the nickel or dime?
Jeff Reeves, Investor Place
My favorite idea for how to save money is simple and effective: quarantine your savings.
Any bank under the sun will allow you to have both a savings and a checking account at zero cost to you. At the same time, the vast majority of employers allow you to do direct deposit to multiple accounts with incredible ease.
So take advantage of this by direct depositing your monthly budget into your checking account, and a fixed amount of savings into the savings account. You have to have the discipline not to dip into the savings, of course, but once you learn to live only what's in your checking account and budget your monthly spending accordingly, you'll be surprised how quickly savings can build once it’s quarantined and automatic.
Save for your future by pretending the government is imposing a 20% tax on your finances. You have to pay that 20%. Automate that amount to your retirement accounts so you never have to think about transferring the money. You'll be shocked how quickly your net worth grows.
Kate Horrel, KateHorrell.com
I don't think this is a savings hack, but I like to keep certain expenses in buckets. For example, I have an account for all the costs of running the house. Money goes in twice a month, and the mortgage and utilities are paid from the account. The leftover money builds up to be used for maintenance or repairs. I don't even really think about it – it's like magic!
One idea I've used over 25 years: Pretend I spent full price on anything I buy. Take the difference between full price and loyalty price (coupons, sales, discounts and what-have-you) and stash it back for IRA contribution time.
How to Save Money on Food
Next to a roof over your head, food is going to be one of your biggest expenses. Learn how to save money on food with these four tips and you might just end up healthier and richer!
Andrew Fiebert, Listen Money Matters
Get a slow cooker! You can buy a cheap cut of meat and it will come out fork tender in the slow cooker. It allows you to batch cook so you have leftovers and don't have to buy lunch at work. It also means you don't have to turn on the oven and heat up the house in the summer.
Pauline Paquin, Savvy Scot and Reach financial Independence
I cook several batches of an easy recipe like stew and freeze 4-5 extra portions for a lazy day. It saves on prep time, but also heating and cleaning. By freezing it you don't get tired of eating it for the next three days.
Every year I call my internet provider and ask to remain on the new customer discount in exchange for a 12 months renewal. It works every time.
Eva Webster, Bargain Moose
My favourite way to save money is to create a meal plan for all meals and snacks that week so I don't waste money on groceries we won't eat.
Meal planning. I do it each week based off of what's on sale and freeze the rest to eat later. If deals are great, I stock up on my staples and never let my pantry staples go more than 75% empty to cut back on last minute groceries. Meal planning is also healthy eating.
These 40 expert ideas on how to save money have hit on just about every facet of daily life from home to shopping, food and paying those dreaded bills. Got your own top tips and saving money hacks? Why not add it to the comments below and join the experts?
About the Author
Joseph Hogue is a financial expert and investment analyst. After serving in the Marine Corps, he started his career investing in real estate before becoming an investment analyst for some of the largest private investors. He's appeared on Bloomberg and on CNBC as an investment expert and has published ten books in personal finance. Now he helps investors reach their financial goals and invest in the stock market with some of the same advice he used when working for the rich.