8 Super Simple Swaps You Can Make to Spend Less and Save More This Month

published Oct 1, 2022
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Even if you’re the most financially savvy member of your friend group, you may lose track of your spending habits and need to rein it in a little from time to time, or hit the pause button to re-examine where your hard-earned cash is going.

Cutting down on spending doesn’t have to mean locking yourself at home and having exactly zero fun. (I’d never tell you to do that!) Instead, make a few smart swaps throughout the month everywhere from your grocery budget to your workout routine. These expert tips let you enjoy your life while padding that savings balance.

Switch to generic brands at the grocery store.

Unless you’re super devoted to a certain cereal, you can easily go from the brand name to the generic version and barely notice a difference. “Usually, the main difference between premium or branded items and supermarkets’ own is the price,” explains Brean Horne, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet. “You can lock in savings every time you buy these cheaper items, and if you’ve found they don’t match up and you can taste the difference, you’ve spent less and you can try an alternative product that suits your budget.”

Shop for groceries online.

Unless you opt for pickup, you’ll pay a delivery fee and tip, but shopping for your essentials via an app like Instacart can reduce the impulse spending you’d do in store. “Ordering your weekly shop online can reduce the temptation to impulse buy as you walk around the store, and is especially effective if you tend to food shop whilst hungry,” says Horne. “Cravings can result in buying far more unnecessary items than you had planned.” You can also click around for the best deals from the comfort of home, potentially saving more cash.

Hit a different gym.

If you’re not hitting the fancy gym you splurged on often enough, it may be worth switching to a slightly less expensive fitness center. “Switching to a national chain like Planet Fitness can be an easy way to save $25 to over $50 a month,” says personal finance expert Forrest McCall

If it’s been a long time since you actually hit the gym (no judgment!), consider canceling entirely and working up a sweat for free. “There are lots of free ways to get your workout in, from hiking at a local park to walking around a track at a nearby school to following a video on YouTube or streaming services,” says financial analyst Erica Seppala.

Think through your Chipotle order.

Did you know that chicken usually costs less than beef? When you’re grabbing lunch with a friend or picking up takeout, opt for the cheaper meat. “You may not have realized chicken is much cheaper on a percentage basis, and poultry prices have risen at a lower rate than beef over the last year,” says Lauren Anastasio, director of financial advice and CFP at Stash. “Swap your burgers for turkey burgers and steak burritos for chicken.”

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui | Food Stylist: Tyna Hoang | Prop Stylist: Casha Doemland

Do happy hour instead of dinner.

Keep up your social commitments and spend less. Instead of dinner or brunch, suggest getting together for happy hour so you can enjoy your favorite drinks and menu items at a lower price. “Most restaurants provide a hefty discount on food and drinks during off-peak hours,” says Anastasio. 

Sign up for loyalty programs.

If you order Starbucks every day and aren’t a member of their rewards program, you’re missing out on all kinds of free stuff! Many restaurants, coffee shops, and stores offer loyalty programs to reward return customers; take that punch card, share your email or phone number and start earning from the places you frequent. “Signing up for loyalty programs have a number of great benefits, from receiving exclusive offers and coupons to earning reward points that can be redeemed for free items or discounts,” advises Seppala.

Go through your subscriptions with a magnifying glass.

Are you paying for things you’re not actively using? Those $10 streaming services, $15 beauty boxes, and $8 monthly membership fees can add up quickly — and you may have even forgotten about some of them. If you’re putting them to use, great! Keep ‘em. But if those beauty samples are piling up in a drawer or you never read that online publication or newsletter, let it go. “The average household subscribes to four streaming services. Do you have services that are unused that renew automatically each month?” questions Seppala. “Evaluate the services you have and determine if those are truly a necessity.”

Take advantage of credit card benefits.

You’d think a saving period would mean freezing your credit cards in blocks of ice, but that’s not necessarily the case. “Credit cards, contrary to popular belief, can be great tools to help you save money, if you use them correctly,” explains McCall. “There are many cards that offer anywhere from 1 percent to 5 percent cash back on your purchases that can be a simple way to earn or save money each month.” Don’t spend just to spend, but if you’re planning on a purchase, you could save some extra cash by using your card.