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99 Simple Action Items to Help You Spend Less and Save More

Have you set any goals yet for 2015? Hopefully so and at least one of those goals was money related. Money is a driving force in our lives and financial goals help us tell our money what to go do with itself.

spend less and save moreDuring the last week of December I always look at the cumulative total of all that I spent during the year. This is really easy to find if you are using some form of money management software. I use Quicken so all I have to do is select a budget report of income verses expenses for the year and Quicken does the rest. In an instant of calculation I can see all my financial details from the year.

Inevitably, as I look through all the spending categories I end up remarking, “Whoa…how did we spend that much on (fill in the blank)?” I’m sure you’ve done that too. It seems our spending has a tendency to get away from us during the course of a 365-day year.

And if spending is getting away from us then so is saving. If we are spending more that means we are saving less. In years past I’ve been discouraged at how little we saved.

To Build Wealth, Spend Less

At its basic core, increasing wealth boils down to a simple equation: spend less than you make. The balance between what you make and what you spend should first go into savings then ultimately investments. Do that consistently and your financial situation can’t help but improve.

Do it for decades and great wealth will accumulate.

How do we spend less so we can save more? Lessening big purchases can have an impact, but more often than not it’s the little things we do incrementally that fill up the expense categories.

So, to get your mind rolling at the start of a new year, here are 99 small things you can do in 2015 – broken down into categories – to help you spend less and ultimately save more.

Ways to Spend Less to Save More

Surely you can find several action items here that will help:

Food

1. Brew your own coffee.

2. Begin using coupons.

3. Look for the buy-one-get-one deals when grocery shopping.

4. Don’t throw away leftovers.

5. Plan your meals ahead of time so that you…(see #6)

6. Eat out less.

7. Cook in bulk and freeze meals for later. (We do this all the time especially with home made soups.)

8. Shop at a discount food store.

9. Eat less meat.

10. Buy food at a warehouse club. (Just be disciplined…spending at warehouse clubs can go overboard.)

11. Purchase generic brands.

12. Pack your lunch when going to work or school.

13. Take advantage of every potluck meal your church or civic organization offers.

14. Stick to your grocery list when shopping and…(see #15)

15. Eat before you go to the grocery store. (Never shop on an empty stomach…you will definitely get a craving for something not on the list and buy it.)

16. Start a garden.

17. Pick your own fruits and vegetables from a local orchard or farm. (We do this in the summer at a local peach farm…we get a bushel of peaches for $5.)

18. Utilize a crock pot more often to save time and reduce energy usage.

Entertainment

19. Find a dollar theater for movies or…(see #20)

20. Go to a matinee.

21. Utilize the library for reading materials.

22. Play board games with the family.

23. Cut off the cable TV or…(see #24)

24. Purchase a Netflix subscription for cheaper entertainment. (We saved almost $1,000 a year by doing this when we were getting out of debt.)

25. Go to local high school athletic events instead of the pros.

26. Locate a hiking or biking trail (or other cheap means of outdoor entertainment).

27. Buy used video games or…(see #28)

28. Find free online game sites.

29. Take the kids to the park.

30. Go Geocaching. (Kids love this!)

31. Invite friends over to play cards, watch movies or just hang out.

32. Be honest with friends and family on your budget limitations. (Don’t feel like you have to go spend money just because they ask.)

33. Cancel magazine or other subscriptions not being used enough to justify the cost.

Money Management

34. Start and follow a budget. (Nothing on this list will help you spend less and save more than doing this.)

35. Avoid buying on impulse.

36. Use the 24-hour rule on all expensive items.

37. Cut up the credit cards or at least…(see #38)

38. Make your monthly credit card payment on time.

39. Get intense about your debt snowball.

40. Don’t bounce a check.

41. Avoid the ATM fees by planning ahead for your cash needs.

42. Ask your credit card company for an interest rate reduction.

43. Check all your bills for mistakes.

44. Make automatic payments from your paycheck to your savings each month.

45. Put the maximum into your company’s retirement plan (especially if they offer an employer match).

46. Pay your bills on time.

Health and Fitness

47. Run or walk outside instead of buying a treadmill or joining a gym.

48. Take vitamins to combat sickness.

49. Follow through on all routine doctor checkups (vision, dental, physicals, etc.).

50. Ask for generic drug prescriptions.

51. Drink more water (especially when eating out).

52. Give up expensive hobbies and…(see #53)

53. Cut back on or eliminate addictive habits (such as smoking, consuming alcohol or gambling).

54. Routinely wash your hands to reduce the spread of germs and viruses.

55. Cut or color your own hair.

56. Brush and floss daily.

57. Find free fitness classes or stream them online.

Clothing

58. Buy quality clothes that last longer, but when buying pricier name brands…(see #59)

59. Purchase items on sale.

60. Shop at second hand stores.

61. Frequent garage sales.

62. Dry your clothes on a clothesline.

63. Use cold water to wash laundry.

64. Take care of the clothes you have.

65. Save clothes that could be used as hand-me-downs.

66. Do a clothes swap or get used clothes from other families with same age kids.

Travel and Transportation

67. Use public transportation.

68. Car pool or…(see #69)

69. Ride your bike to work.

70. Routinely service your car’s oil, tire pressure, air filter and other fluids.

71. Consider moving closer to work or the kid’s school.

72. Drive responsibly…don’t speed.

73. If planning a trip, routinely check for discounted hotels, flights and activities. (Don’t be afraid to adjust your plans if a new deal pops up.)

74. Use your credit card rewards when traveling (but don’t overspend on your monthly budget just to get reward points).

In and Around the Home

75. Check all heating and air ducts for open gaps.

76. Insulate and seal around all windows and doors with caulk.

77. Add insulation in the attic or basement.

78. Use blinds to block afternoon sunlight in summer. Open blinds to let in sunlight in winter.

79. Use fans instead of the air conditioner.

80. Get a programmable thermostat and…(see #81)

81. Set the thermostat higher (for air conditioning in summer) and lower (for heating in winter).

82. Turn off the lights when you leave a room (Please for the love of Pete, kids…TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!).

83. Try to fix a broken item rather than call a repairman (only if you are comfortable with doing so).

84. Use surge protectors on expensive items.

85. Unplug clocks, televisions and computers when on vacation.

86. Take shorter showers.

87. Turn off the running water as you brush your teeth or do dishes in the sink.

88. Keep all appliances clean and keep them in good working order.

89. Purchase energy efficient light bulbs.

90. Ditch the yard service and cut your own grass.

91. Cut back tree limbs away from house.

92. Keep current your termite and insect protection plan.

Other

93. Check out the rates for other providers of homeowners’ and auto insurance policies.

94. Get rid of that whole life insurance and purchase a cheaper term life insurance policy.

95. Raise the deductible on insurance policies. (Doing so will reduce your monthly premium but increase your out of pocket expense if there is a claim to make.)

96. Investigate other carriers to reduce cell phone costs.

97. Sell items at a garage sale instead of throwing them away.

98. Use Wi-Fi where available instead of your phone’s data plan

99. Shop for holidays after the holidays to find bargains.

And one final bonus tip that will actually round this list out to an even 100…

100. Get busy reading some personal finance blogs.

I have some great ones listed in my blogroll if you are wondering where to start. The more you engage in learning about personal finance the more likely you will be to catch the spend less, save more fever. And that will have a great impact on your future wealth accumulation.

Questions: What do you plan to spend less on this year? How will you save more money in the coming year? Anything you can add to the list?

Image by ignatius decky at Flickr Creative Commons

Next Post: Would You Use Cheap Toilet Paper For a Penny?

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Comments

  1. Buying used video games is definitely a good strategy, they are so expensive!
    Simon Cave recently posted…How to stay motivated after starting your online businessMy Profile

  2. 99 + 1! I like your suggestions! And I think I might get some of it for my resolution. I have done one of it, planning what food I will have for a whole week is challenging but it’s worth it so that I will eat out less. I’d definitely read more PF blogs.
    Jayson recently posted…Goal Setting – What are you waiting for?My Profile

  3. Great list. As for #21, the library provides so much more entertainment than just reading materials. Ours has recent and classic DVDs to borrow, eBooks (and eReaders), audiobooks, magazines and graphic novels, classes, movie showings and concerts, even open mic night. It’s such a great resource! And I’d add to #34: tracking your expenses. That’s the key to making a realistic budget and sticking with it.
    Gary Weiner recently posted…Restaurant Discounts for the Senior/50+ CrowdMy Profile

  4. We honestly don’t have an issue at our house with leaving lights on, but we do have a problem with leaving ceiling fans going day and night. This past summer I tried to be diligent with turning off fans when we’re gone, and I did notice about at $10.00 average reduction in the electric bill. That inspired me to see where else I could make adjustments, but I’ll be the first to admit that I fail terribly with #86, though I keep trying to break that bad habit. We’re pretty disciplined when it comes to eating out vs. planning meals at home, but your suggestion to take advantage of potlucks is pretty clever – that made me smile:)

    • Oh…we’ve left that ceiling fans many a night. And I’m glad to see my family isn’t the only one who has issues with long showers. I’m five minutes max on mine. But everyone else loves to stay in there for what seems like forever. Especially the little two…I think they think it’s playtime. 🙂

  5. Thank you for #49 and I love #12. I remember when I used to buy lunch out quite a bit and usually spent around $10 a pop. It’s amazing how the little things do add up. I’m going to really work on our food budget. It’s not bad, but there is certainly room for improvement.
    Kim recently posted…Ways To Have More Money This YearMy Profile

    • The lunch thing can really turn out to be a biggie. Seems about impossible anymore to find a quality, healthy lunch for under $10 once you include a drink.

  6. Turn off the lights when you leave a room (Please for the love of Pete, kids…TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!).-Insert Mrs. Even Steven where kids are and I agree;)
    Even Steven recently posted…What Sacrifices Are You Making?My Profile

  7. Happy New Year, Brian! This is a great list. There are so many little, and often times pretty pain-free, ways to save money. And #82 – I’m glad that I’m not the only parent who has to deal with this too! Why is it so hard to turn off the light or turn on the TV when you’re done? In fairness, my parents probably thought the same thing! 🙂
    Shannon recently posted…The #1 Culprit Behind Your Goal FailuresMy Profile

    • I don’t know why lights are such an issue. Odd thing is in our house the big problem areas are the bathrooms. Lights ALWAYS get left on in there.

  8. This is an awesome list Brian!!! I am doing something similar on my blog in January because I am so tired of hearing “I can’t” from clients and friends. There are so many ways “YOU CAN” you just have to take the time and figure them out and then commit to them.
    Shannon recently posted…Music Mondays – Let’s Get It StartedMy Profile

    • In 7th grade one of my teachers made us bring in a soup can. We took the label off and then proceeded to cut out people’s eyes from pictures in magazines. We taped them onto the can and it thus became our “Eye Can” can. Every time we thought about saying “I can’t” to something she made us write “I can (fill in the blank with the difficult task)” on a slip of paper and throw it in our can. Amazing how quickly that filled up but I never forgot the lesson.

  9. #24 bugs me. I see it all over in the PF blogger world. But you see, spending money on Netflix is still spending money. I can attest that no one needs entertaining by television at all. If you cut the cable with #23 then you’re just backpedaling with #24. Sure, for people really addicted to TV and trying to wean themselves down, it’s a good step. But golly gee, why do all PF bloggers sing the praises of Netflix? That’s still $100/yr. for the ability to vegetate in front of a screen. Plus, almost everywhere you can get perfectly free over the air TV, at least a few channels. Sorry to take it out on you. I just see it all over and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    How about switching that one out with (since it is my big thing this month): living simply. Having less means less to care for, store, maintain, upgrade, replace etc. A streamlined home means a streamlined budget. : )
    Mrs. WW recently posted…Are you missing your mate?My Profile

    • “…spending money on Netflix is still spending money.” Yes, but $100/yr. is better than $1,000/yr. which is what you’d could easily spend on cable TV. We actually did over the air TV with an antennae while we were paying off our debt. I guess my focus here was on reducing expenses not cutting out expenses entirely. Besides, I still like to have entertainment options…and so do my kids. 🙂

    • I would never recommend paying for cable/dish/whatever, but I would only recommend dropping Netflix for those who are in the direst of emergencies or if they only plan on utilizing it once or twice a month. For everyone else, $7.95/month isn’t going to break the bank.
      Ben Luthi recently posted…My Goals for 2015My Profile

      • I don’t think the breaking the bank is the point (or shouldn’t be.) I think that the problem is the mindset. Seriously, the more time we spend sitting in front of screens (especially with the mindless stuff that is found on TV) is not healthy. It’s not healthy for your body. It’s not healthy for your mind. It’s not healthy for your course of life. Paying for the ability to be unhealthy anytime day or night is just not a good idea from my perspective. Again, Netflix is a very good step down from cable, yes. But it shouldn’t be the end game.
        Mrs. WW recently posted…Are you missing your mate?My Profile

        • To each his or her own 🙂 For PF bloggers, the cost is definitely going to be the main point behind the push toward Netflix. I personally agree that TV isn’t the best use of time, but I don’t mind spending a few hours a week watching a few episodes.
          Ben Luthi recently posted…My Goals for 2015My Profile

  10. We need to curb our spending on groceries and baby clothing/items. In our defense, she’s growing pretty fast, so we need to re-‘build’ her wardrobe at least every 2 months.
    dojo recently posted…The Pros and Cons of Saving Money for Kids’ FutureMy Profile

  11. What an awesome list Brian! We went through something similar at the end of the year and it’s amazing some of the things you can learn from it. I stay on top of things pretty well from month to month so it wasn’t anything outrageous but there is always room for improvement. Our first step will be #96 – our contract with Verizon dies in 3 months and I can’t wait to be free of them.
    John recently posted…If Michael Vick Can Do It, So Can You!My Profile

    • It’s funny how the spending can slip by. Like you, I stay on top of our budget monthly but when reviewed at the end of the year it always seems to produce a surprise or two.

  12. Mark Davidsaver says:

    You didn’t mention HOW much you could save cutting cable! This calculator shows you could pay CASH for a new car every 10 years. https://www.yourmoneypage.com/family/fam_lbb3.php

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