When I got pregnant with my son, I knew that I wanted to be a SAHM. That meant we’d be going from a dual income to a single income family. So I set myself a mission to find as many simple ways to save money as I could.
I’ll admit it, even before I became a mom, I was careful with money. It must be in my blood, because both my mother and grandmother are exactly the same. We often joke that even if we won $50million in the lottery tomorrow, we’d still be frugal and be looking for ways to save money whenever we could.
One of the most common questions I get asked by readers is how to afford to be a stay-at-home mom on one income. I get it. When you’ve been used to living on two-incomes with no kids, it can be difficult to drop down to one income PLUS the additional expenses that come with having a baby.
But the good news is, there are lots of simple ways to save money, as well as creative ways to save money. I’ve written quite a few posts about saving money which I’ll link to below, and I’ve also got tons of other ideas.
I’ve put together this list of over 100 money-saving ideas (and some free money hacks) and it’ll continue growing as I come up with new strategies to save money!
100+ Simple Ways to Save Money
1. Join Ibotta. Ibotta is one of my favorite free apps for saving money. With Ibotta, you will get cash back on hundreds of different grocery items. You simply find the cashback offer you want to take advantage of, purchase the product then upload a pic of your receipt. You’ll get your cash back within 24 hours. I’ve made over $2000 since I joined. Click here to join and you’ll get a $10 bonus.
2. If you do any online shopping, join Ebates. Ebates tracks you purchases and gives a percentage of cash back. I’ve made hundreds of dollars using Ebates, and currently have a $225 on it’s way to me! Join Ebates here and get a bonus $10 gift card after your first rebate.
3. Join Acorns. Acorns is an app that invests your spare change for you by rounding up your purchase to the next dollar. For example, if you buy a coffee for $3.70, Acorns will round the purchase up to $4 and use that $0.30 to invest in ETF’s for you. Additionally, you can make $5 for every person you refer to the app. Join Acorns here.
*Limited time bonus – for the month of November 2018, if you refer 11 friends and family to Acorns, you will get a $1100 bonus! Join here to earn your bonus.
4. If you wear prescription glasses, check out Warby Parker’s Free Home Try On Program. You can get a full pair of prescription glasses (frames and lenses) for $95 plus they will send you 5 pairs of your choice to try on before you order, with free shipping both ways. This takes all the riskiness out of buying glasses online!
5. Clip coupons! I usually clip a few paper coupons here and there, in addition to using Ibotta. But I really love the convenience of the digital coupons on Coupons.com. That way I don’t have to buy the newspaper in the hopes that there might be a relevant coupon or two.
6. Keep track of all of your expenses so you can actually see where your money is going. Make sure you write down every single purchase you make. It might surprise you to see how much small purchases are really adding up.
7. Cancel your gym membership and use Beachbody on Demand (I’m in love with it!) It’s just $99/year and you get full access to all of the Beachbody programs, which is a HUGE savings. The Insanity Base Kit alone costs way more than that, so getting all of the Beachbody programs for $99/year is a sweet deal. Try it for free here for 30 days.
8. Fan of shopping on Amazon? Join the club, I’m obsessed. If you’re not a member of Amazon Prime, it’s worth checking out. It’s $99/year but you get free 2-day shipping plus instant access to tons of movies, tv shows and music. Try Amazon Prime free for 30 days.
9. If you buy a lot of organic foods, it’s worth taking a look at Thrive Market. They have a huge selection of organic brands for up to 50% off grocery store prices. Some of my favorite things to buy from Thrive Market include coconut oil, goji berries, cacao nibs, and hemp seeds. Right now you can save an extra 25% off your first order and get free shipping – just click here to try them out!
10. Make your own Miracle Cough Syrup at home. It’s cheaper, healthier and works better than any store-bought cough syrup I’ve tried.
11. Make your own energy balls for a health snack. I’m obsessed with energy balls but they cost $3-$4 each at the store. Here are 20 healthy energy bite recipes you can make at home and save tons of money.
12. Get an instant pot. Seriously, this thing is a lifesaver. Ok, maybe not a lifesaver but it’s definitely a time-saver and a money-saver. You just throw everything into the instant pot and a few hours later, voila! A delicious meal ready to eat. No more slaving away in the kitchen or spending too much money ordering takeout because you haven’t gotten around to preparing dinner. Why every busy mom needs an instant pot.
14. Plan you breakfast ahead of time. This’ll help you to avoid running through the drive-through for an expensive, calorie-laden muffin and latte. Here are 10 Healthy Make-Ahead Breakfast Recipes.
15. Get free Bath & Bodyworks products by signing up for the mailing list. They will often send out coupons for free body wash or small candles, in addition to coupons like $10 of a $30 purchase.
16. Victoria’s Secret Pink brand also has awesome deals if you’re on their mailing list, including free underwear! I’ve gotten about 5 or 6 free pairs of Pink underwear as well as awesome money-saving coupons.
17. Get free candy. After the holidays (especially Halloween) candy is always majorly on sale. If you keep all of your candy coupons and then use them when candy is on sale, you can sometimes get it for free (or at least, really cheap.)
18. Save your pay raise. My husband recently got a promotion at work and with that comes a pay raise. While it can be tempting to spend more money because you suddenly have more money, if you’ve been living fine without that extra cash, then the best idea is to just transfer it straight into a separate savings account.
19. Save Your Change. We have a metal ammunition box at home that all of our coins go into. Whenever we need to go to the car wash or pay for parking, we use the coins from this box as opposed to swiping our card. You’d be surprised at how quickly this money adds up.
20. Buy used brand name clothing and save a ton. I love shopping on Mercari and ThredUp for brand name clothing at bargain prices. Here’s the link to Mercari – use the code GGXFQB and you’ll get $2 off your first purchase. Click here to join ThredUp and you’ll get a $10 signup bonus.
21. Buy all of your books from Amazon. While I love browsing bookstores, the book prices at Amazon just can’t be beat. And if you have Amazon Prime you can download free books every month to keep, and you’ll have access to the Amazon Prime lending library. Click here to try it for free for 30 days.
22. Speaking of books, if you have kids make sure you join Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. I joined when my son was a newborn and each month we get a new book sent out to us for free. So kind of Miss Dolly <3
23. Skip the drive-through coffee. I know how difficult this one can be, but if you consider that depending on where you live, you’re looking at around $5 for a venti latte, you’re spending over $1800/year on drive-through coffee. You’re way better of buying a coffee machine and making it at home yourself. These coffee pods come in 10 delicious flavors and cost next to nothing compared to drive-through coffee.
24. Evaluate your needs vs your wants. Next time you’re out at the mall and you see a gorgeous pair of shoes, pause for a second and decide if you really need them or if you just want them because you saw them. Sure, it’s fun to buy yourself things sometimes, but if it’s a regular occurrence then it might need to be nipped in the bud.
25. Avoid unnecessary ATM fees by always withdrawing cash at your own bank’s ATM.
26. Stop buying disposable water bottles. Instead, buy a water filter like this APEC reverse osmosis system, and some refillable water bottles. I love these glass refillable water bottles with a silicone sleeve to prevent breakage.
27. Stop buying fabric softener. Honestly, you don’t need it. I have never used fabric softener on my laundry and my clothes feel pretty soft to me 😉 You’re just wasting money on chemicals you don’t need.
28. Bring your own snacks for road-trips. This’ll stop you from buying expensive, unhealthy snacks at the gas station/truck stop.
29. If you live near a Kroger and regularly shop there, make sure you have a Kroger club card. They will send you coupons in the mail for free and discounted groceries and you’ll also save lots of money with the fuel points.
30. Negotiate your bills. Make sure you contact everyone from your cable company to your cell phone company to your insurance company and ask for a discount. We saved 50% by switching to Geico (that’s not a paid advertisement, we seriously did save 50%!) and also saved quite a bit on our cell phone bill simply by saying that we were considering switching to another company.
31. Have a few meat free meals per week. Meat is usually the most expensive part of your grocery budget, so by switching out a few meals to meat-free, you’ll save lots of money. It’s also better for the environment and for your health.
32. Stay healthy! You’ll save money on doctor and dentist bills if you eat healthy, exercise regularly and always floss (I sound like a mom right now, don’t I? That’s coz I am 😉 )
33. Grow your own herbs. If you’ve bought herbs recently, you’ll know expensive they are. $5 for a small packet of basil? No thanks! By growing your own herbs you’ll save lots of money, and there’s nothing like picking fresh herbs to add to your meals. This Planters’ Choice Organic Herb Growing Kit allows you to grow basil, cilantro, chives and parsley easily at home.
34. Line dry your clothes. Fun fact – I grew up in Australia and everyone has an outdoor clothesline. Virtually no-one uses a clothes dryer. And while clothes dryers are definitely convenient, you’ll save lots of money by line drying your clothes.
35. Clean your air filters regularly. This will allow your heating/cooling unit to work more efficiently, which cuts down on costs.
36. Don’t purchase clothing that needs to be dry cleaned. No matter how good of a deal something is or how much I love it, if I check the tag and it says “dry clean only” I give it a pass. Dry cleaning is just too dang expensive to be paying for unless it’s a super special occasion (like a wedding.)
37. Compare unit prices when you’re doing grocery shopping, instead of the actual price. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy in bulk but sometimes (especially if there’s a special going it) it might actually be cheaper to buy the smaller package.
38. Buy generic prescriptions. Ask your pharmacist, but usually the generic prescriptions are exactly the same as the brand-name, but substantially cheaper.
39. Check your local newspaper and online entertainment websites for free festivals and events that are going on that weekend.
40. Start exploring the great outdoors. My husband, son and I going for a long walk every weekend at our local nature trail. Our son loves pointing out all of the birds, dogs, deer and squirrels he sees on the trail, it’s a great way for my husband and I to connect and get in some exercise, and it’s totally free.
41. Enroll your kids in team sports. Team sports like t-ball, baseball, soccer, etc., are usually substantially cheaper than individual sports like tennis lessons, horseback riding, etc. They’re also a great way to fill in the weekend without spending money.
42. Eliminate paper towels, instead make your own out of old rags.
43. Make your own DIY surface cleaner using cleaning vinegar, water and a few drops of essential oil (lemon and eucalyptus are good essential oils for cleaning.)
44. Always freeze leftovers immediately, so they don’t go into the trash and then have a “leftovers night” once a week/every two weeks.
45. Trade services with friends. Have a friend who’s an electrician? You could offer to babysit for a few hours so they can have a night out in exchange for installing a new electrical outlet (or whatever else you might need done.)
46. Stockpile when things you will actually use are on sale. Make sure you don’t fall into the trap of buying things that will go off before you use them, just because they’re on special. But for things like shampoo, soap etc., then definitely consider stocking up if you get an amazing deal.
47. Don’t worry about impressing others/keeping up with Joneses. I always think of this quote by Dave Ramsey, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
48. Build a gift closet. Whenever you see amazing deals (I’m talking SUPER-low-bargain-basement-red-light-special-clearance) on items that you think would make a great gift, if you can afford it, buy them and put them aside in your gift closet. That way you’ll avoid spending lots of money at Christmastime and you’ll have gifts on hand for unexpected events (like kid’s birthday parties.)
49. Walk or cycle as much as you can. Better for your wallet, better for you, and better for the environment.
50. Dye your own hair using a box dye (there are some really good ones available these days.)
51. Give yourself a mani/pedi at home. I love this at-home mani/pedi station.
52. Don’t buy magazines. They’re expensive and you can read the exact same type of information online for free.
53. Always pay your bills on time to avoid paying late fees. If you have a one-off late payment (but you usually pay on time) try calling the company to see if they’ll waive it given that it’s the first time it’s happened.
54. If you dine out, look for restaurants that offer “kids eat free” deals.
55. Learn how to DIY. Don’t pay for someone to paint your walls, mow the lawn, etc. There are tutorials on YouTube for virtually everything!
56. Always shop with a list to avoid buying items you don’t need.
57. Have a movie night at home instead of going to the cinema. Pop some popcorn, drag the mattress out into the living room and stream a movie on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
58. Hold a clothing swap, instead of buying new clothes. You can do this for yourself (it’s always fun to raid your friends closet :D) and get a group of parents together to swap kids clothes.
59. Check out your local thrift store for kids toys, instead of constantly buying new. Give the toys a good wipe down with a bleach solution and they’ll be good as new.
60. Get a programmable thermostat. This one is under $25. When you’re asleep or out for the day, turn the heat down 7-10 degrees. According to energy.gov you’ll save as much as 10% per year on heating/cooling costs.
61. Join your local library and read to your hearts content for free. Most public libraries also have story-time for young children, so take advantage of that too for some free entertainment.
62. Plan your meals ahead of time, to avoid eating out. $5 Meal Plan is a great service that’ll send you a full meal plan each week, for just $5 a month, saving you time and money.
63. Use Groupon for restaurant, hair salon, beauty salon, massage, hotel, etc., deals and more. I’ve gotten deals on Groupon where I’ve saved over 70% off the price.
64. Check gas prices using GasBuddy.. GasBuddy is free to use, you just enter your zip code and the type of gas you want, then hit enter and it’ll show you the cheapest gas prices near you.
65. Skip taxi’s and use Lyft. (You can also make extra money by becoming a Lyft driver.)
66. Replace all sugary beverages (like pop and juice) with water. It’s healthier and it’ll save you tons of money. If you don’t like the taste of water or think it’s too plain, get one of these infusion water bottles.
67. Buy a big jar of coconut oil. This can be used for a multitude of things, including shaving cream, moisturizer, shoe shine, furniture polish, makeup remover…
68. Don’t be afraid of buying off-brand. Things like q-tips, pasta, toothpaste, batteries – these can all be found at the dollar store for substantially less.
86. How to Save Tons of Money On Disposable Diapers
So there you go – over 100 simple ways to save money!
Hopefully this list has shown you that there are lots of ways you can save money if you want to live on one income (or just if you want to save money in general!)