Are you looking for Creative Ways to Save Money? This page is full of great ideas to help you spend less on everyday expenses!
You’ll find tips for saving money including using cash; tracking sales cycles; bartering; negotiating; shopping on CraigsList and military discounts. These are super frugal, creative and fun ways to make your money go further.
1. The Windfalls Plan Really Works!
One of the first MoneySmartFamily.com articles I read was about Windfalls. I found it interesting and told my husband about it that same night.
We both wrote down 5 things we each wished for. Some things on our lists were the same, some were not. We combined these and added debt payoff (50%) and charities (giving -10%). I typed the list up with a prayer at the bottom. Within 3.5 months my husband received 2 raises at work and we received 2 windfalls totaling $10,700.00, all completely unexpected!!!!!!
We completely paid off credit card debt and achieved a couple of our windfall goals.
Our other goals now have nice starting points too. It was so wonderful to know exactly where the money would go before it came in. No stress. No arguments or debates. It was all written down.
My husband also received 3 gift cards to local dinner spots and one to a movie theater. We were able to treat the whole family to an afternoon at the movies, something we almost never do.
We have been so amazed at the blessings and prosperity that has come our way recently. I absolutely love your newsletter. We have always been pretty good at keeping our debt down but we’ve been very “reactive” to our monthly paychecks. Not proactive at all. Your two most recent newsletters helped me so much. I am so motivated to get these accounts going. I have dedicated this year to make our finances proactive and to work for us. Thank you, thank you so much! Kelly – Glendale, AZ
Editors’ Note: The 3-minute interview below describes our windfall plan in more detail, and so does this blog post called Windfalls: Bonus or Bust?
2. Creative Ways to Save Money with Rain Checks
Here are several tips for smarter shopping at Target. Target offers rain checks for most items that go on sale, whether the item is sold out at the moment or not. They allow the substitution of a similar item with the same percentage off as the sale item. We use this to our advantage by obtaining a rain check on an item.
Then, we pick out an item that is similar but less expensive and use the discount from the rain check. Keep in mind rain checks do expire. Also, if you purchase something full price (God forbid!) and see that it has now gone on sale, you can take your receipt back to the store and get the difference back if it’s been less than 2 weeks since the initial purchase. Audra Roes – Chattanooga, TN
3. Online Savings 1, 2, 3
Here are four ways to ensure you get the best deal possible
- Test Go to the larger department stores to have a demonstration of the product you are researching. Be sure, particularly with computer printers regarding speed and consumable costs.
- Research Go home and do a search on the internet for the specific model you tested.
- Verify the online store. I only buy from reputable online stores that are located in my country – this way I can phone them first if I have any questions or doubts about their service.
- Compare prices and you’ll find vast differences – as a result, you can save much, much more. And, they courier to your door – sometimes at no charge.
By following these four steps I’ve found savings in excess of 30 percent with a full guarantee. D. Eller – Australia
4. Speak Up For Cash
I like to pay with cash instead of using other methods. However, there have been several times when I’ve run into difficulties at a store or restaurant when paying the cashier. After I’ve handed them a twenty-dollar bill, they’ll forget what I’ve given them and start making change for a ten! They swear that I only gave them a ten!
This is really frustrating. Since it’s my word against theirs, the business always seemed to win. So, I came up with an alternative strategy when paying. Now when I pay the bill with a twenty, I say OUT LOUD, “And here Sir (or Ma’am) is the Twenty-Dollar-Bill that I’m paying with.” I say this loud enough for my wife and usually several others to hear.
No more mishaps and everyone stays honest. In all fairness, there are many “quick change” artists that do pay with a ten and insist that it was a twenty, so I can understand the retailers’ caution. Curtis G. – Spokane, WA
5. Sales Tracker for Saving Money
I keep a 12-month calendar in a 3 ring binder. Regularly I make notes of sales with dates and other finds I come across. After the first year of doing this, I started my second calendar. Now, each month I look back at the previous year in anticipation of what sales should be coming up each month. This gives me a good idea of when to shop for certain items or at certain stores. Jennifer G. – Norfolk, VA
6. Electronics Component Compatibility
If you purchase electronics and want to purchase an additional accessory, later on, take the owner’s manual(s) with you to the store so the salesperson will know exactly what you’re working with. This is especially helpful if you go to a different store and will give you a better chance of having all of the components working together. Jennifer Dahl – Bayard, IA
7. Barter, It’s Smarter!
I am surprised I haven’t seen a tip on your website about bartering. I’ve found it to be a terrific way to save money. I make quilts (crib size to king size) and am always looking for ways to use my quilting as a bartering tool. Recently I placed an ad on a local free website offering to barter a quilt for someone laying flooring in our RV. I received replies from several interested people.
I have bartered quilts for massages and other things our family might need. It works great. You could even barter kids school uniforms-someone willing to trade size 6 uniform pants (4 pairs) in great shape for several size 8 shirts, etc. Bartering is a terrific tool. Jean Kester – Tolleson, AZ
8. Cheaper Technology Buys
My husband and I never buy new technology. We wait a few years for the glitches to be worked out, the size to decrease, and the price to go down. Then we buy on sale. Never pay full price for anything! Steven & Chrissy – Phoenix, AZ
I was in the military for several years and one thing that military people should always ask is “Do you offer a military discount?” Many companies and stores offer these types of discounts, but you have to ask. Also, we always took advantage of shopping at the military commissary and the exchange retail store. Laura L. – Houston, TX
Editors’ Note: If you’re are current military or retired military, you’ll want to read this blog about VetTix discounts and deals.
10. Low-Ball on Craigslist
In a past issue, one of your readers commented on the benefit of Craigslist. We agree wholeheartedly! We purchased a very nice treadmill and a like-new baby crib for hundreds of dollars less than their original owners paid. One trick we’ve employed is bargaining just before the listing expires. Craigslist ads in our area are limited to one week before they have to be re-posted.
Most sellers don’t want to field emails for another week or bother with re-posting their item, so we found that making a “low-ball” offer on items we want a day or two before they are about to expire, is a great way to get some awesome deals.
Susan and Stephen – Falls Church, VA
Learn more about picking the right treadmill for your family in this ConsumersAdvocate.org article.
Related Article: 25 Sites Like CraigsList
11. Negotiating Better
One great way to save money is to negotiate the price you’re willing to pay. We’ve negotiated at the grocery store, thrift store, universities, with people selling their own appliances, cars and with our own family members — especially for Halloween candy. These quotes below express how we view negotiating.
12. Saving Money Tip #12 – Bottom Line on Price Tracking
Every time you put away your groceries, put the price you paid on the bottom of the product. That way you will always know the price you paid and I try to always beat that price. It keeps me focused and I never forget prices. Marsha Munter – Hickman, Nebraska
13. 5 Ways I’ve Saved in California
Here are just five of hundreds of ways that I’ve saved money while living in Southern California:
1. Rent a room in your house (I’ve done this since 2001 to earn $400 each month). I look for tenants who are over the age of 40 and work full time. I clearly communicate the following rules: no alcohol, no smoking, no pets, and no visitors.
2. Rent your garage or yard for storage.
3. Buy TV’s, stereos, answer machines, telephones, etc. as separate components.
4. Use rechargeable NiMH batteries and a battery checker.
5. Take your lunch to work to save $l000 or more each and every year — I’ve done this since 1992. Al G., CA
14. All Around the Home
Last year was a tough year financially for our business, Jim Hodges Audio Books. I happened to be looking through a publication put out by the county I live in, that mentioned property tax relief. I called the number, asked them to mail an application form. Then I filled it out (it took less than 2 minutes, literally) and attached a copy of our 2016 tax forms. I’ve been granted $1227 worth of property tax relief on my dinky 2-BR condo in Annapolis MD because of low total income in 2016. Saved: $1227.
We also penciled in a 2 day stay in Ocean City NJ next weekend as a small family reunion location. My wife Monica checked online for condo’s or hotel rooms and the best she could find was $170 a night for a generic hotel room. The total would have been $340. Then Monica checked a home exchange site, listed our condo, and got a reply immediately for a 2 BR HOUSE, 2 blocks from the beach. It just so happened that the owners of that property needed a place to stay in Annapolis at the exact same time. So they are staying in our condo while we stay in their house. Saved: $340.
Total saved: $1567
It is amazing to me how much we do NOT spend.
Jim Hodges – Annapolis, MD
15. Fragile: Handle with Blankets
During our last move, we used all of our towels, blankets, sheets, etc. to pack our fragile items in boxes. It saved a lot of money in bubble wrap and packing paper and kept our fragile items from breaking just as well if not better! It also kept us from having a lot of trash to dispose of after unpacking the items. Kelli T. – Olney, IL
16. Money Smart Family Resources
My wife and I are surviving on Social Security. Your cost-cutting, resource management ideas have been very helpful — well worth the price of each of your books. Your free email newsletter is great too. Tom & Judy – Selah, WA
17. Creative Ways to Save Money Around the House
I want to tell you that thinking of saving small amounts of money has an unexplainable result in saving large amounts. I have saved $2000.00 in two months because I have limited my food buying to twice a month and have resisted spending small amounts here and there or spending what is not on my budget. I’ve always had a budget before but now I am not spending into my next credit card bill but keep everything current. Cora Hill – Seattle, WA
18. Saving Money with Transportation & School Tuition
My husband commutes 10 miles to and from work on his bicycle, three days each week. I run and bike for my exercise. We don’t own a gym membership and it really helps with gas money and vehicle maintenance. We are considering joining a carpool for our kids’ school— although all three of my kids would rather ride their bikes to school every day.
By the way, I don’t think you’re cheap, I just think you live within your means!!! I am a mother of three — my last one went to kindergarten this year! We’ve been living on one income for ten years. We did it because I wanted to stay home with my kids.
As the Kids Grow Up
Now that all three are in school, I’m working part-time from home. I still want to be home with the kids and this makes me available to drop them off in the morning and pick them up after school. I’m also able to be a helper at school.
So even though I am working, we are still on a strict budget. Our biggest “splurge” is paying Catholic school tuition— $1100 each month for all three kids, but we want this more than anything for them. This is what my income pays for now. Dianne Yusko – Raleigh, NC
19. Frugality: The Most Amazing Tonic
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the two of you for giving me so much hope and inspiration to not only save money but make it really work for me. I have been truly blessed by your wonderful outlook on life, the way that you’ve taught your children and the fact that you and your family are living proof of what it means to be really good stewards of what God has given you. Well Done!!!
You know, for so many years (about 22 years of married life), I’ve had this ridiculous notion that every time I would have to cut back, I’d feel like I’m being deprived.
Not Feeling Deprived Anymore
After reading and learning so many of your tips, I now see just how misguided my thinking was. I’m SO Excited for my family’s future. I am now the boss of my money and not it of me. While I certainly wish I’d heard about you years ago, I realize it’s never too late to start. What is so amazing to me is that the more frugal I’m becoming, the more I’m wanting to be this way.
I’m certainly not stingy, just really careful and wise. I’m finding that I’m just seeing bargains wherever I go, simply because I am now looking for them. They seem to be jumping out at me. I told my husband the other day that I know exactly how you feel when you tackle your coupons, bargain hunting, shopping etc. head on. It’s REALLY exciting. It’s like the most amazing TONIC.
Our First Frugal Month
In my first month of Frugal Shopping, I have saved approximately $330.00 (US). This is massive for me and I intend to keep improving on this figure. I am so very excited for the day that my Husband and I can plan our family holiday and surprise our children. This will be a first!
There are so many of my friends who have knowledge of some of what I’m busy doing, simply because they met up with me on my monthly shopping day and while they commend me, they’ve simply said it’s too much effort and they couldn’t be bothered or don’t have time.
Well, I’m sure hoping they’ll change their tune once they witness all the positive changes in our lives. I’ve told many of them about you guys and plan to keep encouraging them.
We, unfortunately, don’t have a coupon system here, but that is no reason for us to be hindered in our money-saving quest, as there are many other ways in which to save.
MSF Answer: We can’t thank you enough for your kind words to us. You are so right about many of the things you say. Deals are found everywhere, frugality doesn’t mean deprivation and our friends won’t understand at first why we have changed, but some may eventually ask.
Keep going and let us know about your continuing success!
20. Exchange Your Talents
Check out and consider signing up for U-Exchange.com. At this website, you can trade one of your talents for someone else’s. Annette Economides – Scottsdale, AZ
21. Famous Money Quotes
In business, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.
Chester L. Karrass
My father said: “You must never try to make all the money that’s in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won’t have many deals. J. Paul Getty
Necessity never made a good bargain. Benjamin Franklin
Quite often, your indifference can be the greatest negotiating weapon you have. Max Markson
You must be fully prepared to lose a great deal in order to make a great deal.
Collected by Steve Economides – Scottsdale, AZ
If you have a money-making tip or trick, please leave it in the comments below and we’ll review it for posting on this page.