12 Clever Money Saving Hacks to Improve Your Financial Health

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Written By tommy b.




Living paycheck to paycheck and barely making ends meet is far too common, but implementing some clever money saving hacks can help you keep more cash in your wallet. A 2019 survey by GoBankingRates found that 69% of Americans had less than $1,000 in savings. With stagnant wages and the rising cost of living, it’s no wonder many people struggle to get ahead financially.

Fortunately, with some discipline and practical money-saving strategies, you can stretch your dollars further and start improving your financial situation. This article will explore 12 ways to spend less and save more money even with a limited income.

Monitor Your Spending With Budgeting Apps

The first step towards managing your finances better is tracking exactly where your money is going each month. This allows you to identity unnecessary spending and make a realistic budget that aligns with your income and savings goals. Budgeting apps for your smartphone or computer make it simple and convenient to stay on top of your cash flow.

Popular and user-friendly money apps like Mint, YouNeedABudget, PocketGuard, and EveryDollar let you link bank accounts and credit cards to automatically categorize your spending. You can quickly see how much you are spending in areas like dining out, entertainment, shopping, bills, and more. Apps make budgeting feel seamless rather than like a chore.

Setting spending alerts and limits in your budget app ensures you don’t overspend in certain budget categories each month. The flexibility to adjust your budget on the fly when unexpected expenses come up helps keep you on track. Budgeting apps typically have free versions with all the essential features to get started.

Audit Subscriptions and Bills

Going through all your recurring monthly expenses like streaming services, gym memberships, phone bills, cable plans, and more to look for savings is hugely worthwhile. You may be signed up for subscriptions you forgot about or have options to downgrade to a cheaper cable package you rarely use to save money. Calling up customer service reps to ask about money-saving promotions you can switch to as a loyal customer also works in many cases.

For bills you pay regularly, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Providers would often rather give you a discount than lose your business. Look at what new customer rates are vs. what long-time customers pay. You have leverage to ask for better deals. Being persistent but polite with customer service reps pays off more often than you think.

Use Cashback Credit Cards For Everyday Purchases

Cashback credit cards offer an effortless way to get a little money back for purchases you make anyway like groceries, dining out, gas, and more. The best cards provide accelerating cashback bonuses in popular categories on top of flat-rate baseline rewards.

For example, the Citi Double Cash Card earns an easy 2% back on all purchases. Pairing that with the Chase Freedom Flex that provides 5% cashback on rotating quarterly categories can really maximize your rewards. The key is paying off balances in full each month to avoid negating rewards with interest charges.

Some popular category bonuses include:

  • Gas Stations – 5%
  • Grocery Stores – 5%
  • Dining – 5%
  • Online Shopping – 5%
  • Drug Stores – 3%

Do some research to find the right card pairing for your spending habits. The rewards really add up over time.

Buy Generic Brands to Save Big

Most consumer product categories offer cheaper generic options that perform just as well as higher-priced name brands. From over-the-counter medicines to canned vegetables to cleaning supplies, you can easily save 30% or more going with generics.

Always take a moment to scan shelves for store brand options and compare ingredients. In many cases, the name brand contracts the same manufacturers as the store brand. Unless you need a specific formula, go generic for all your household basics and keep more cash in your wallet.

Shop Thrift Stores and Consignment Shops

When it comes to clothing, furniture, home goods, appliances, and electronics, considering used items can lead to dramatic savings over buying new. Thrift stores like Goodwill and consignment shops offer quality second-hand products at bargain prices.

With some time and hunting, you can find excellent condition name-brand items for pennies on the dollar versus retail. Even minor imperfections shouldn’t deter you from quality pre-owned scores. Also check Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and garage sales for great deals on used stuff.

Use Apps to Earn Cashback on Shopping

Cashback apps like Ibotta, Rakuten, and Dosh reward you for your normal household shopping trips to stores like Walmart, Target, Kroger, Costco and more. Simply upload photos of your receipts and receive cash deposited to your linked account. Most also integrate directly with store loyalty accounts for automatic verification.

You can earn up to 10% back in some cases just by shopping for essentials you already buy. The cashback really adds up over time just for completing quick receipt scans. Combining these apps together maximizes how much you can earn back.

Cook Meals at Home and Pack Lunches

Eating out at restaurants is one of the biggest budget drains for many households. While convenient and fun, dining out too often has a way of consuming cash rapidly. Making meals at home saves you substantial money over takeout and restaurant meals.

Take time on weekends to batch prep simple recipes, casseroles, and one-pot meals you can portion out and eat throughout the week. Packaged lunches rather than going out also saves significantly. Limit dining out to special occasions rather than daily habits.

Call Insurance Providers for Discounts

Reviewing your insurance policies regularly for possible discounts and savings is wise. As your life circumstances change, your coverage should be reassessed to avoid paying for unnecessary extras. Insurance providers are often willing to adjust your premiums and offer policy discounts to keep you as a customer.

Consider raising deductibles for savings on home, health, and auto premiums. Also ask about multi-policy, multi-car, and multi-line discounts. Being a long-time customer gives you leverage when calling to request savings. Shop around for better rates as well if your provider won’t work with you.

Refinance Debt at Lower Interest Rates

If you carry debt like student loans, auto loans, or credit cards, researching options to refinance that debt at lower interest rates can lead to substantial savings. Even shaving a few percentage points off interest costs yields big results over months and years of payments.

With interest rates still near historic lows, exploring debt consolidation loans or simply calling current providers to request rate reductions on long-held loans is wise. Provide documentation of your loan and income to demonstrate you are lower risk than when you first borrowed. This can motivate companies to retain you as a customer with better rates.

Use Coupons and Store Loyalty Programs

Classic paper coupons still provide tons of grocery savings when stacked and paired properly. Utilizing store loyalty programs for additional digital discounts can often mean getting items for free or at steep discounts.

For example, combining a $1 off paper coupon with a digital loyalty coupon for $1 off may make that item free. Familiarize yourself with your grocery store’s loyalty program and policies on stacking savings. Coupon blogs detail the best pairings each week. Investing some time leads to major savings at checkout.

Cancel Unused Memberships and Services

Many people get signed up for memberships, subscriptions, and services that made sense at one time but no longer provide value or get utilized. Review all your monthly and annual expenses with a critical eye.

Cancel what you don’t use often enough to justify the cost. Things like unused streaming services, magazine subscriptions, yard care services, and gym memberships add up fast. Removing just a few underutilized services can free up a few hundred in your budget.

Pick Up Side Gigs for Extra Cash

Taking on a side gig leverages your spare time to earn extra income you can use to pay down debt, bulk up savings, or cover unexpected expenses without going into credit card debt. Side hustles like driving for rideshare services, paid online surveys, dog walking, and selling handmade crafts are increasingly popular.

You likely have more skills to monetize than you think. Teaching music lessons, doing freelance web development, running errands for others, and more can become lucrative side gigs. Even just 5-10 extra hours a week can produce significant extra earnings.

Final Takeaways

With discipline and consistency, small everyday savings through these clever hacks really add up. Cutting $20 here, $30 there may not seem like much but it frees up hundreds per month. Think through your regular spending habits to identify areas where these kinds of money-saving shifts can be implemented.

The key is developing positive financial habits over time. Start with a few areas to focus on optimizing your spending. Gain momentum and build confidence with money management skills. Gradually you will find yourself with extra breathing room and savings capacity. What money saving strategy are you excited to try first?

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