29 Ways I’ve Learned to Save Money in 29 Years

In this photo, Adaleta Avdic is holding her phone showing a coupon section from the Sprout's app to show how she saves money.

29 Ways I’ve Learned to Save Money in 29 Years

March 10, 2020

This post is sponsored and in collaboration with Lexington Law

It’s true. I’m 29 years old now (March 11th) and truthfully I’m excited for it. 30 is the new 20 and I know so much more about life, love, health, happiness and my family now in comparison to what I knew 5 years ago and let alone 10 years ago. If you remember my credit history story here, you know that I actually had pretty terrible credit when I was 18-20. I overextended myself, worked 2 part time jobs, was taking 15-18 credits at the time, and just couldn’t manage my money properly. 

With all of that experience, I’m sharing 29 ways I’ve learned to save money over the last 29 years. Some of these may be common sense, but some of them might make you think twice.

This is a flat lay of an Erin Condren planner including tips on how to save money in 2020.

1 Live within your means. This may seem obvious, but we have all spent more money than we should have on something we really wanted. It’s important that you don’t consistently spend more money than you can afford. Your credit cards should be earning you bonuses, but not adding more interest fees long-term. 

2. Create a budget. This seems cliche but it’s tough to organize your finances without a budget. Every major business manages budgets to ensure profitability and these same methods can be used in your personal life. 

3. Analyze your expenses. To create a budget, you first want to compile and analyse  receipts to understand the trends in your current spending. This will allow you to identify any target expense areas where you would like to set a more modest budget.

4. Create goals. In order to set an achievable goal, you first need to understand your individual approach to both spending and saving. You want to set reasonable goals that will allow you to make purchases important to you while meeting your savings goals. It’s a balance. A simple way to calculate this would be to re-allocate money from target expense areas to savings based on your expense analysis.

5. Stay organized. Try keeping accurate lists of groceries and other things you need, adding items to the lists before they are actually gone. This will allow you to better plan for those purchases rather than needing to run out for baking powder after reading you need it for your pancakes recipe.

6. Start retirement early. Retirement investments are our best way to save money for the long-term future. Most retirement investments make their gains from compounding interest. Starting an IRA at a young age, for example, will really add up in the long run, even if you are putting in $50 to start. You can contribute more as you earn more over the years. Cash is also typically better served within an investment account rather than a bank account.

7. Monitor and maintain your credit score. It’s important that you are aware of your credit score and work towards improving it where you can. Your credit score is used as a decision factor in most large credit purchases like a car or home. You are able to access free credit reports from any of the 3 major reporting agencies Equifax®, Experian®, and TransUnion®. Your credit card company will also typically provide you with your credit score within your online account. Don’t be afraid to seek help with Lexington Law to help repair your credit. When reviewing your credit, you also want to ensure that no one is using your identity to open credit lines. Lexington Law can help you with this.

8. Pay higher interest rate loans off first. Say you owe $2,000 on credit card A, and $2,000 on credit card B. If credit card A has an interest rate of 13% and credit card B has an interest rate of 22%, you should pay off credit card B before credit card A.

9. Avoid fees. Late fees, balance transfer fees, credit card fees, etc. Do what you can to avoid them altogether.

10. Avoid wasteful spending. We’ve all had buyer’s remorse, regretting spending money on something that maybe we didn’t end up loving or could have done without. Be honest with yourself when making a purchase. Do I need it? Will I actually wear it? Before clicking to purchase, let the merchandise sit in your cart for a night. If you still want everything in the morning, then complete the purchase.

11. Comparison shop medium to large purchases. Taking the time to comparison shop something that is sold by multiple vendors can really save you some money over time. This is especially impactful when shopping for large purchases. 

12. Share subscription services. Most subscription services provide family membership options. Find friends and family who are interested in the same subscription services and split the expenses. This reduces the cost significantly and makes content very affordable. Netflix, Hulu, ESPN+, Apple Music and Spotfy are all examples of shareable subscription services. 

13. Cook for yourself. This is one of the most impactful items in this list given food is one of our largest expenses, especially when eating healthy and staying away from fast food. Not only does cooking for yourself allow you to put your health in your own hands but it also allows you to mitigate one of life’s biggest expenses, food.

14. Find & use coupons. Coupons.com provides printable coupon options as well as the ability to add digital coupons to an existing shopping card. You can also find coupons in the mail as well as in your Sunday paper. Grocery stores will often provide in-store coupons as well.

15. Subscribe individual store’s memberships or loyalty programs. Vendors will offer member additional savings not offered to non-members. This is especially helpful when shopping at stores you are in love with and would be shopping at otherwise. The vendor will often provide additional savings the more you spend. VerizonUp for Verizon customers can get special deals every week with just 1 credit. e-newsletter signups often provide a one-time saving on your first purchase. 

16. Use mobile apps to unlock rewards. Chick-fil-A, McDonalds, Target, etc. offer savings only found within their apps. Not to mention free food.

17. Order your groceries online. This will help you better your meal planning while reducing the amount of extra stuff we buy when shopping in the store. Most importantly, it saves you time that can be used for other things. You also save on the driving and gas.

18. Group your errands together. You can save a lot on driving if you go to the store near your gym, for example. We often group multiple errands together so we can enjoy less driving around. Not to mention driving is the most dangerous activity we do on the regular.

19. Shop sales. This is a huge savings if done right. Stock up on things that you always use when those things are on sale (e.g. toilet paper, dish soap, etc.). One of our favorites is the Ulta 21 Days of Beauty event where you can get your fave products up to 50% off. You may also consider timing a large purchase with an upcoming sale. We will typically make most of our larger electronic purchases for the year around Black Friday. Slickdeal.com is also a great user forum that notifies you when certain things you are looking for go on sale.

20. Buy second hand. You can find great deals on second hand items. You can also find really cool stuff second hand, especially thrift clothing, furniture, and electronics. Look for estate sales, use OfferUp and Craigslist, and visit thrift stores for the best finds.

21. Buy a used car. An automobile is typically your 1st or 2nd largest purchase and also has the largest depreciation factor of anything you will buy. When shopping for a car, try and find a single owner of a car with 10,000-40,000 miles on it, depending on your budget and how close to new you are looking for. If you can’t find a single-owner vehicle, try to find one being sold by the second owner.

22. Don’t make one-time-use purchases. Need to borrow a tool for a single project? See if your friends have that tool rather than buying something that you will only use once. Look to rent If you don’t have a friend with what you are looking for.

23. Do it yourself. You would be amazed what you can do with some YouTube reference. First, decide if the project is something that you can truly pull off and be happy with. This decision usually comes after an analysis of the project’s complexity, time and effort, and cost if you were to do it vs how much it would cost to have someone do it for you. 

24. Invest in stocks. Socks are a great way to turn cash into more cash. You are also able to explore the markets with minimal investment and risk. There are a number of apps today that offer minimal transaction fees while providing bonus incentives just for using their platform. Dabbling in the stock market early allows you to better understand how the markets work and fluctuate, building a valuable long-term understanding of how you best invest your money into stocks. I like to invest in companies that I personally feel a connection to as well as a strong feeling the company I am investing in will indeed grow and provide me a return on my investment.

25. Invest in your health. Living a healthy life will not only make you feel good about yourself  but it will also reduce your overall health expense over time. Insurance companies offer discounts for healthy lifestyles, usually based on BMI standards. 

26. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ve found it’s not easy staying on top of everything listed above. Knowing exactly how to navigate these topics or how to fix bad credit can be overwhelming, Lexington Law can help fix and correct credit history issues.

27. Buy holiday items after the holiday and save for the next year. In case you don’t know, everything Christmas related goes on major sale on December 26th. The same thing happens with Valentine’s Day, Easter and so forth. The candy is super cheap the day after the holiday.

28. Have a self care day at home (sheet masks, paint your nails, soak your feet, etc.) 

29. Grow your own spices or grow a garden. This could save you money in the long term with herbs and spices. Not to mention a rose garden is epic, and will save a lot of money long-term, especially around Valentine’s Day. 

Ok so now I have to know which of these tips was helpful? Did you know some of them? Do you practice a lot of them? Dying to know if you have more tips that you’ve learned over the years. We can all help each other save money and maintain great credit. 

How’s your credit?

For further tips, contact Lexington Law.

In this photo, Adaleta is getting ready for an outdoor run and taking charge of her health.