How to Save Money: 20 Simple Ways

Whether you’re trying to pay off debt, save for a big purchase, or simply make ends meet, actively saving money should be a top priority. It’s the foundation for building long-term wealth and financial security.  

But let’s be real—saving money can be a struggle sometimes, especially if you’re living paycheck to paycheck.

The good news is that there are plenty of strategies and small lifestyle adjustments you can make to stretch every dollar further. Use these tips to save more money each month:  

20 tips for maximizing savings

1. Create a budget plan 

Creating a budget is the first and most important step toward figuring out how to save money. It helps you track your expenses, identify unnecessary discretionary spending, and prioritize your financial goals. 

As you create your monthly budget, make saving a priority. Put down the amount you want to save each month before listing your rent or mortgage, the car payment and streaming services, and even before the amount you plan to spend on groceries. 

This way, instead of saving only if there’s money left at the end of the month, you’ll do it consistently. 

2. Set savings goals  

It may sound like an easy step to skip, but setting savings goals can do wonders in helping you actually save money.

Because when you have a clear savings plan, you’re much more motivated to stash money away. This is one money mistake people often skip—not slowing down long enough to plan out some goals.  

If you don’t already have an emergency fund, start there. In total, experts suggest having at least six months of living expenses tucked away in case you lose a job.   

For example, when you need $3,000 monthly for essential expenses, you should put $18,000 away for a rainy day. However, you should adjust that goal based on job security. Self-employed workers, for example, might want to save more due to inconsistent income.  

Once you reach the amount of emergency savings you’re comfortable with, you could devote a larger portion of that category to other goals like paying off a debt or saving for retirement.   

3. Try a roundup program 

Using a round-up savings tool can be a clever way to save money without even realizing it. Often called microsaving, it involves rounding your purchases up to the nearest whole dollar and having the spare change swept into your savings account.  

While a few third-party savings apps have round-up programs, such as Acorns and Qapital, banks like Ally Bank and Bank of America also include them in their service offerings. 

4. Turn saving into a game 

Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore – in fact, turning it into a game can make the process fun and engaging. One way to do this is to set specific savings challenges for yourself or your family.  

For example, you could try a “no-spend month” where you commit to buying only essentials, or you could compete with friends or family members to see who can save the most in a certain time period with a prize for the winner. 

5. Cut down on some of your small daily expenses 

While a $5 coffee or $10 lunch might not seem like much, these small daily expenses can add up quickly over time. If you spend just $20 per day on random purchases, that’s $7,300 per year that could be going towards your savings instead.  

You shouldn’t cut out all of life’s daily luxuries–treating yourself to that weekly latte is fun and can bring you joy. But try to identify and reduce these types of expenditures where you can, if possible.  

6. Refinance debt if you’re struggling to pay it off 

If you are struggling with debt and finding it difficult to manage your monthly payments, refinancing or consolidating with a debt consolidation loan can provide some much-needed relief.  

Refinancing involves obtaining a new loan to pay off your existing debt, which is usually at a lower interest rate. Alternatively, you can consolidate your debts through a credit card balance transfer

7. Use cashback apps 

Cashback apps can be a great way to stretch your budget further and earn rewards for purchases you already planned to make. Most cashback apps allow you to earn money back on your purchases, either in cash or gift cards, simply by using the app to shop at participating stores.   

There are a variety of cashback apps available, such as Rakuten, Ibotta, and Dosh, and they each have unique features and rewards. 

For example, Rakuten offers cashback on purchases made through its app, as well as exclusive deals and discounts. In contrast, Ibotta offers cashback on grocery purchases, and Dosh offers cashback on travel and hotel bookings. 

8. Consider your streaming subscriptions 

One of the ways to learn how to live on a budget and save money is to consider your stream subscriptions. 95% of people now pay for more than one streaming service each month, according to a Forbes Home survey  

Evaluate what you actually watch and which streaming services can be canceled or at least paused while you focus on your financial goals, such as building up an emergency fund or paying off your credit card debt. 

9. Adjust the temperature 

Small tweaks to your home’s temperature can dramatically reduce your utility bill. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can save as much as 10% yearly on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7° to 10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting.   

10. Save your tax refund 

If you’re getting a tax refund this year, make a plan to put it directly into a high-yield savings account. Even if you need to use some of it to pay down debt or buy a new car, ensure it goes into savings first.   

This is because simply seeing that account balance rise and feeling the emotional satisfaction of having money saved may just be the momentum for a continued commitment to making saving money a part of your everyday life. 

11. Shop around for insurance 

Most experts recommend shopping around for insurance at least once a year to ensure you’re still getting the best deal. Whether it’s a car or home, research different insurance companies online and request quotes from a few of them.   

Look into any discounts or special offers that may be available–and don’t be afraid to negotiate with providers to try and get a better rate or coverage package that works for you. 

12. Increase your income 

If your expenses are about as low as they can go, and you’re still struggling to make ends meet, it may be time to look for ways to increase your income. This can be done in several ways, depending on your skills, interests, and resources.  

One approach is to look for ways to earn extra money on the side. This might include picking up a part-time job, starting a small business, or freelancing in your area of expertise.   

Another option is to consider ways to boost your earning potential in your current job. This could involve investing in training to develop new skills, networking with colleagues or industry professionals, or taking on additional responsibilities to demonstrate your value to your employer. 

13. Reward yourself along the way 

Saving money doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of all the things you enjoy. It’s important to leave some room in your budget for fun and relaxation so you don’t get burnt out or discouraged.  

Think of saving as a healthy lifestyle change rather than a strict diet. Celebrate your progress along the way by treating yourself to small rewards when you reach important milestones.  

14. Follow the 50/30/20 budget rule 

The 50/30/20 rule is a budgeting method that states you should spend 50% of your income on living expenses, 30% on nonessential spending and 20% on saving or paying off debt.    

For example, if you earn $3,000 after-tax per biweekly paycheck, here’s how the budget would play out: 

  • 50% (needs): $1,500 for housing, food, gas, insurance, cable, wireless, minimum payments for loans or credit cards and other essential bills.  
  • 30% (wants): $900 for nonessentials like takeout, entertainment and more.   
  • 20% (saving and debt): $600 for emergency and retirement savings or debt repayment.   

Notice that you have some flexibility to split up the 20% saving percentage category based on your goals. If your emergency fund is running low, you might decide to focus a larger portion of that 20% on growing your rainy-day fund.  

And if saving a full 20% is difficult, you can work up to that amount as you get raises, promotions, or grow your income through different side hustles.   

15. Decide where to put your savings 

The right place to put your savings will depend on what the savings are for. When it comes to spare cash, it’s a good idea to keep a bit of emergency savings in an account where you can draw money quickly in a pinch without penalty.   

For money you don’t need regular access to, investment accounts may provide you with a higher return on your money—but also note that investments in stocks, bonds or funds can lose value if the market goes through a downturn.

Here are the types of accounts to consider:   

  • High-yield savings accounts: Offer a higher-than-average Annual Percentage Yield (APY) than traditional savings accounts.
  • Tiered savings accounts: Offer an APY that increases incrementally as your balance grows.   
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs): Offer a fixed interest rate for a fixed term. CDs are good for savings you don’t need because withdrawing money early could result in a penalty fee.   
  • Retirement accounts: Tax-advantaged accounts like 401(k)s, IRAs or Roth IRAs are places to park long-term retirement savings and earn a return on money invested.   
  • Brokerage accounts: Taxable accounts don’t offer the same tax advantages as retirement accounts but could be another place to invest long-term savings for wealth building and other goals.

16. Avoid bank fees 

Do you know if you’re paying any bank fees? If you’re not sure, take a moment to log into your account.

Many traditional banks charge fees for monthly maintenance, overdrafts and ATMs—and you may not even realize they’re draining your account until you review your transactions.  

If you check your account and you’re paying fees, consider switching banks. Many online banks offer accounts with low or no fees. Even if you avoid a $10 charge per month, that’s $120 you can put in savings.  

17. Automate your savings 

Saving money in an account that’s connected to your checking account can be convenient—but you may also be tempted to transfer money out for non-emergencies.   

Setting up automatic transfers from your checking account into a high-yield savings account could help you earn a greater return on your money. And when money is in an account that’s less accessible, it could be easier to save without dipping into your cash.   

18. Save for retirement 

If your employer offers a 401(k) or similar retirement plan with a matching contribution, make sure you’re contributing enough to take full advantage of this benefit. Employer matching is essentially free money that can boost your retirement savings over time.  

For example, if your employer matches 50% of your contributions up to 6% of your salary, and you earn $50,000 annually, you could receive an additional $1,500 in your retirement account each year just by contributing $3,000 of your own money.  

It’s recommended to devote 10% to 15% of your pre-tax income to retirement (including employer contributions) each year. You can work up to that amount if you can’t save that much for retirement immediately. 

19. Take advantage of community resources 

Before paying full price for any activity or event, always check with your local library, community center, or tourism office to see if they offer any discounts or free passes. 

Many cities have free events and activities to enjoy without spending a dime. Even for attractions that typically cost money, such as museums, aquariums, and zoos, you can often find coupons, discounts, or free days throughout the year. 

For example, national parks across the United States offer several fee-free days each year, allowing you to explore these beautiful natural wonders without paying the usual entrance fees.  

Some libraries can also get you free access to the area’s top attractions. For instance, if you have a Seattle Public Library card, you can access the Museum Pass program, which provides free tickets to popular attractions like the Seattle Aquarium, Woodland Park Zoo, and various museums that typically cost $25 or more per person. 

20. Research government programs 

In addition to finding ways to increase your income, it’s also worth exploring government programs that can help alleviate financial strain. Depending on your circumstances, there may be various federal or state programs that can provide financial assistance or other types of support.  

For example, if you’re struggling to pay for basic needs like food or housing, you may be eligible for programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or the Housing Choice Voucher Program (previously Section 8).  

If you’re unemployed or underemployed, you may be able to receive benefits through programs like unemployment insurance or job training programs. 

Learning how to save money is a cornerstone of any financial plan   

The road to building wealth and financial freedom starts with consistently saving money, even if it’s a small amount initially.  

By developing smart money habits, cutting costs where you can, and making savings a priority, you’re setting yourself up for long-term success. 

Frequently asked questions on how to save money 

How can I save money on a tight budget? 

Living on a tight budget doesn’t mean you can’t save money. The key is creating a monthly budget, identifying any areas where you can cut back on discretionary spending, and making savings a top priority.  

Even saving just $25-$50 per paycheck can make a difference over time. Other tips include reducing energy costs, cutting daily expenses like coffee runs, and taking advantage of cashback offers. 

What is an emergency fund? 

An emergency fund is a stash of easily accessible cash reserves that can cover your essential living expenses in case of job loss, medical emergency, home repair, or another unexpected event.

Most experts recommend saving three to six months’ worth of living expenses for this rainy-day fund to give you a proper safety net. 

How much of my paycheck should I save each month?   

The 50/30/20 budgeting method recommends setting aside 20% of your monthly after-tax income for savings and debt repayment.  

If that’s not feasible, start with a percentage you can commit to and aim to increase it by 1% to 2% annually until you hit the 20% goal. Factors like your current savings, future goals, and job security may impact how much you should target. 

Written by Cassidy Horton | Edited by Rose Wheeler

Cassidy Horton is a finance writer who’s passionate about helping people find financial freedom. With an MBA and a bachelor’s in public relations, her work has been published over a thousand times online by finance brands like Forbes Advisor, The Balance, PayPal, and more. Cassidy is also the founder of Money Hungry Freelancers, a platform that helps freelancers ditch their financial stress.

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