101 Ways to Boost Your Budget and Save Major Money

101 Ways to Boost Your Budget and Save Major Money

Sarah Landrum
May 1, 2017
(Image credit: Pixel Stories/Stocksy)

There's never a bad time to go over your budget with a fine-tooth comb and find everything that's draining your resources for little in return. Of course, it's not always an easy task to pinpoint the places where you could be saving — and that's where we come in. Here are 101 of the many, many ways to minimize your excess spending, maximize your budget and move your life a little bit closer to stress-free.

Bettering Your Bank Account

  • Try a spreadsheet or journal to track your financial goals and realities
  • Compare your credit card to others and switch if you find something with lower interest rates, a better rewards program, etc.
  • The same goes for your savings account—look around for something with a higher interest rate or other extras
  • Negotiate a lower interest rate for your credit card — or a higher interest rate for your savings account — and stick with the same provider
  • Set up an automatic transfer so savings are cut from your paycheck before you can spend them
  • Remove your credit card details from sites like Amazon so you can't make impulse purchases as easily
  • Make a debt-progress visual to help you chart and see your progress
  • Use online bill pay for quick payments that don't cost the price of a stamp
  • Plan ahead — like, way ahead — for big spending events like Christmas
  • Put extra money toward your mortgage each year to reduce the length of — and therefore, interest paid on — your loan
  • Map out your goals so you know exactly why you're focusing your budget in the first place
  • Pay your credit card bi-monthly to stall interest accrual
  • Use your tax return or work bonus to pay down your debt and save money over time
  • Take out spending money in cash to have a better idea of how much you're using and how much you have left
  • Check your accounts regularly so you know exactly where you stand

Going Green

  • Walk places as much as possible
  • Take public transit or carpool instead of driving on your own
  • Choose Energy Star-approved light bulbs — if everyone did, we could save a collective $1.5 billion in energy bills per year
  • Use cloth napkins and towels in the kitchen instead of paper ones
  • Don't use paper plates or cups or disposable plastic cutlery, either
  • Buy a reusable water bottle instead of buying cases of plastic ones
  • Turn the tap off and save water while you brush your teeth, wash dishes, wash your face, etc.
  • Cut down on shower time, too, and you can save some serious money over time
  • Turn your water heater down a few degrees to save energy
  • The same goes for your thermostat
  • Bulk up your home's insulation so you'll spend less money on heating or cooling the place over time
  • Unplug items not in use so they don't drain electricity you have to pay for
  • See how much energy your clothes dryer is using — and then start line- or air-drying your clothes when possible
  • Only run a full washer or dishwasher to save on water and energy costs
  • Start a backyard garden and grow your own produce, herbs and spices
  • Unless you've got cloth diapers to clean, wash clothes in cold water to save the energy wasted to heat it up
(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Smarter Shopping

  • Always go with a shopping list — and stick to it
  • Double, triple or quadruple that casserole recipe and freeze the extra portions, since bulk-buying ingredients is a lot cheaper
  • Come up with multiple recipes to make with the same ingredients so nothing goes to waste
  • Use less meat and partake in Meatless Monday to save money
  • Buy nonperishable staples, like laundry detergent and toilet paper, in bulk
  • Use generic and store-brand basics
  • Invest in big-ticket items so they last longer
  • Use Amazon's Subscribe and Save to slash prices on bulk buys
  • Know how much hired services, such as pet-sitting, should cost before you pay for them
  • Check out local ethnic markets for specialty ingredients at slashed prices
  • Check expiration dates before you buy, especially for bigger items you might use over multiple days or weeks
  • Bring your own grocery bags so you don't have to pay for them at the store
  • Ditch your landline phone if you've got cellphones instead
  • Make sure you're not overpaying for data or minutes on those cellphone plans, too
  • Wait 48 hours before making a big purchase so you can really think about it
  • Make big purchases strategically: That barbecue grill won't be on sale 'til the end of summer, for example

Taking Advantage of Discounts

  • Sign up for free customer rewards programs at your favorite stores, which often come with sign-on discounts and other incentives
  • Use your military discount to book a low-cost vacation
  • Use military, student, senior, teacher and child discounts whenever possible
  • Buy holiday cards and decorations for next year two days after the holiday passes this year
  • Use the grocery store's on-sale flyer to figure out what you'll cook this week
  • Compare prices between grocery stores before buying, too
  • Start clipping coupons
  • Use coupons in conjunction with flyers and price comparisons to get your groceries as cheap as possible
  • Talk to the HR department at work to see if you get any additional incentives, such as discounts on continued education, tickets to local sporting events, discounts on gym memberships through your insurance, etc.
  • Happy birthday! Use your special day to get all of the discounts available to you
  • Use apps like Target's Cartwheel and SavingStar to help you in your quest to find discounts and special offers
  • Go to the movies during the day for matinee prices
  • Don't forget about the gift cards you've received for holidays and birthdays

Dining on a Dime

  • Pack your own lunch for work rather than buying each day
  • Limit your fast food purchases to only once or twice a month — even though it's cheap, it adds up over time
  • Make your own coffee each morning
  • Only drink water at restaurants instead of spending extra on soda
  • Order appetizers or a handful of sides instead of a pricier main dish
  • Wait 'til your favorite restaurant has two-for-one specials or other discounts
  • Make leftovers taste less leftover-y
  • Go out for lunch — which is usually cheaper — instead of dinner
  • Save leftovers for another meal later
  • Have a snack before dining out so you're not starving — and therefore overspending on your meal
(Image credit: William Strawser)

DIY When You Can

  • Learn basic sewing skills so you can fix your clothes instead of paying someone else or throwing them away
  • Make your own birthday cards and gifts
  • Study up on basic home-repair skills so you can fix the little things yourself, hang pictures, snake the drain. etc.
  • Lift the hood of your car and learn how to change that oil yourself, too, which can save up to $15 per treatment
  • Start a compost pile to save on fertilizer and stoke growth of your backyard garden, which also saves green
  • Use Pinterest or other DIY sites to learn how to make at-home beauty treatments
  • You can also learn to make your own home-cleaning products
  • Try at-home remedies when you're feeling a bit under the weather
  • Cancel your garbage-collection service and drop your bags at the dump yourself
  • Make your own baby food for little ones: It's cheaper and you know exactly what your kids are eating

Entertaining at Home

  • Invite your friends over for movie or game night rather than spending big on entertainment
  • The same goes for dinner: potluck or barbecue, anyone?
  • Take advantage of your local library for book and DVD rentals
  • Take part in a no-spend weekend and use what you already have in your house to entertain yourself
  • Learn how to brew beer or make wine at home
  • If you have to get out of the house, search for free events happening in your hometown
  • Don't overspend on milestone events, like your wedding
  • Cut the cable channels you don't watch from your subscription
  • Cut cable altogether and just use cheaper Netflix, Hulu, etc. subscriptions for your TV-watching needs
  • Drop travel insurance if you're not planning any getaways this year
  • Opt for staycations instead of far-flung vacations and save big, too

Second-Hand Shopping & Selling

  • Look for well-maintained secondhand cars instead of new ones
  • Shop thrift shops or yard sales for glassware and place settings
  • Sell gently used toys your kids have outgrown to secondhand baby shops
  • When you really have to buy a book, try and do so at a used bookshop to save money and resources
  • Host a clothing swap with friends to get a fresh wardrobe without spending a dime
  • Turn to eBay to resell pricy purchases like once-worn heels, old cellphones and designer handbags
  • Furnish your home with low-cost furniture — or give your current furniture new life, once you spruce it up with a can of paint
  • Stop collecting stamps, figurines, comic books, etc. — and start selling them
  • Buy video games you know you can easily resell for a good price once you've beaten them
  • If you really need a new clothing item, try a consignment shop first, sale-rack second
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