A penny saved is a penny earned, which is why I’m always looking for creative ways to save money when I can. Learn 15 fun and creative ways to save money for that emergency fund, vacation fund, or to start investing.
And while some people take this to the extreme (have you ever watched an episode of Extreme Cheapskates?) you don’t have to be reusing your dental floss (gag) or only flush the toilet once per week (gag and vomit) to save money.
There are lots of creative ways to save money that anyone can do. Some of these will save you a lot, some will save you a little, but it all adds up over time. These free money hacks or one of these money saving challenges will help too!
I recently put the call out to some of my friends and family to find out some of the fun and interesting ways they save money. I got lots of responses, with some ideas I’d never thought of before, and some that I also do.
Here are some of the best ways to save money that you might not have thought of. You may also want to check out these money saving charts to amp up your savings!
15 Creative Ways to Save Money
In addition to having your employer automatically deposit money to your savings account (you definitely should be doing this as part of your financial budget makeover), there are some other fun, creative ways to save money that you may not have thought about.
You also may want to start with a no spend challenge to identify areas where expenses can be reduced.
1. Set a Bathroom Timer
This might seem like something that a person on Extreme Cheapskates would do. But I don’t meant that you should be setting the time for 20 seconds, jumping in an ice-cold shower and washing yourself at a frantic pace.
However, if you’re the type of person who has a tendency to take 20-minute showers or shower until the water runs cold, then setting a bathroom timer can be a good way to get your showering habits under control.
I used to have a problem with eczema on my hands, and my dermatologist recommended that I keep my showers to around 2-3 minutes duration and keep the water temperature lukewarm.
While I’ll admit that I do usually shower longer than 2-3 minutes, keeping your showers to less than 5-6 minutes is a good way to save money (and save your skin.)
2. Avoid Shopping in Person
It can be fun to go to the mall to browse, but if we’re being honest, “browsing” is usually just a code word for “shopping.”
And how many times have you gone to the mall to buy just one thing and end up coming home with multiple bags of other “bargains” you’ve found, or items you just couldn’t walk past?
One of the best ways to avoid this is to stop shopping in person, and stop going to the mall just to browse.
Shopping online is convenient, it makes comparison shopping a lot easier, it reduces the chance that you’ll spot something else that you “need” and you’ll also save money on gas.
You may also like cheap food to buy when you’re broke.
3. Use Cashback Sites
On the subject shopping, there are a number of cashback sites you can join for free that will help you save even more money.
For grocery shopping, the best cashback app is called Ibotta. Ibotta is a free app that gives you cashback on thousands of items, including groceries, toiletries and more.
All you have to do is add the offers to your Ibotta list, scan your barcode and snap a photo of your receipt. It takes 2 minutes and then the cash will be in your account within 24 hours.
For everything else, the best cashback site is Ebates. Ebates has a huge variety of coupon codes that you can use to save money online, but the best feature is that they give you a percentage of cashback for your online purchases.
All you have to do is go to Ebates and then click on the link to the store you want to shop at. Ebates will track your purchase and deposit cash back into your Ebates account, then send you a check every 3 months.
4. Unsubscribe From Promotional Emails
All of those promotional emails that end up in your “promotions” tab in Gmail are there for only one reason – to get you t spend money!
And while some of these emails can have great coupons and specials, it can be really tempting to buy things you don’t need just because you saw an email pop up in your inbox.
Subscribing from these promotional emails will take away the temptation. Instead, you can just check Ebates for specials (and get cashback) before you shop.
5. Use the Entertainment Book
My family in Australia introduced me to the Entertainment Book. I originally thought it was just an Australian thing, so I made sure to take advantage of as many of the deals and offers as I could during my recent time in Australia.
When I got back home, I googled Entertainment Book and discovered that it was also available here in the states!
The Entertainment Book is jam-packed with specials for restaurants, activities and attractions, movie tickets, travel, retail services and more. It can really save you a lot of money!
6. Stop Following Influencers/Celebrities on Instagram
This is something that a friend of mine suggested, and I completely agree with.
If you follow any influencers or celebrities on Instagram, you’ll notice that the majority of them regularly post pictures of their newest car, the latest pair of running shoes they bought, their new designer handbag, their fancy manicure, etc.
Whether you realize it or not, seeing pictures like that can play on your subconscious mind, and make you feel like you need to buy those things too. It’s kind of like a subconscious “keeping up with the Joneses.”
I recommend unfollowing anyone who makes you feel like you need to buy certain items/look a certain way.
7. Auto-Pay Your Bills
If you’ve ever forgot to pay a bill, you’ll know about the big, ugly late fee that normally accompanies your next notice.
If you’re prone to forgetting to pay your bills on time, one of the best ways to avoid those late fees is to set up a direct debit.
Auto-paying your bills ensures that they are always paid on time, no matter if life gets in the way.
8. Get an Amazon Prime Subscription
An Amazon Prime Subscription has more cost-saving benefits than you might be aware of.
For starters, you’ll get free 2-day shipping on all of your Amazon orders, so if you’re a regular Amazon shopper, a prime membership is worth it just for that benefit alone.
Here are some more Amazon Prime benefits you might not be aware of:
- Unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and TV shows
- Unlimited, ad-free access to more than a million songs on the Prime playlist
- Unlimited cloud photo storage
- Up to 20% off diapers, baby food and more baby items
- Discounts on physical game pre-orders and new releases
9. Check Your Energy Usage
If you’re the type of person who leaves lights on around the house, forgets to unplug appliances, etc., then you’re most likely overspending on your electric bill.
I used to be the same way, but have since learned how to save money on my utility bill – I was able to decrease my utility bill by half! This amounted to a fair bit of extra money in my pocket every few months!
10. Use a Virtual Personal Trainer
We all know the importance of maintaining a good level of physical fitness, and working with a personal trainer is an excellent way to achieve that.
I completely believe that a good personal trainer is worth every penny and more, however, for a lot of people, a personal trainer is just out of the budget.
A good alternative is a virtual personal trainer, like Aaptiv.
Aaptiv is a workout app that features hundreds of awesome workouts, with everything from running to yoga to weight training to cycling (and more) included.
But the best feature is that everything is set to music, and you have your own personal trainer that encourages you through your headphones during your workouts.
Aaptiv only costs just over $8/month, so a lot less than a personal trainer, and a great option if you want to stay in shape and cut costs at the same time.
You can get a free 30 day trial of Aaptiv here.
11. Downsize Your Home
This money saving tip might be considered to be extreme, but it’s actually something that can greatly benefit your financial situation.
If you’re living in a 5 bedroom house, but could actually make do with a 3 bedroom, you may want to think about downsizing. Before you buy anything new, make sure to read these tips for homebuyers.
I want to be able to tell you this is what I did, but we didn’t. We actually upsized our space (I needed space for a home office and the boyfriend needed space to park his work truck), but downsized our mortgage by moving to a less expensive part of the city.
We moved from a condo in the city (downtown), to a house in the country. So this is something you may want to consider too.
Basically, the point is to try and reduce your mortgage expense by moving to a house/condo that suits your needs instead of your wants (we wanted a swanky condo in the city, but didn’t NEED the $1M+ price tag so we moved to a cheaper house outside the city).
12. Enter Competitions
My sister is the queen of winning competitions online – she is what’s known as a “comper” and has won everything from vacations and cash to jewelry and a years supply of chocolate for her and a friend.
I’ve never really gotten into comping in a big way, but I do enter competitions every now and then. My most recent wins were a $150 gift voucher to a fancy Italian restaurant, a huge gift basket full of goodies, and a photography session for my son and I. Those three wins alone were worth over $850.
13. Quit Bad Habits
Habits like smoking and excessive drinking are not only bad for your health, they’re also bad for your wallet.
I quit smoking about 8 years ago, and quit drinking over 9 years ago (there’s a story to that, but it’s for another time). I save a ton of money just quitting these 2 vices.
The amount of money you’ll save by quitting smoking, for example, will obviously vary based on how many cigarettes you smoke per day, and how much you pay per packet, but you’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars over the course of 20 years.
There’s a handy calculator on Smokefree.gov which will calculate approximately how much money you’ll save by quitting smoking.
I don’t think there is any excuse not to quit smoking, but I understand if you’re not willing to completely forgo alcohol. However, instead of ordering those 2 $12 martinis when you’re out with friends, maybe just order one. Your wallet will thank you!
14. Shop at Thrift Stores
Buying gently used clothes from thrift stores can save you a lot of money, especially on kids clothes. It’s totally possible to stay fashionable on a budget!
All moms know how fast kids grow out of their clothes, and how they always manage to get stains and rips in their clothes, no matter what it is they’re doing!
There’s bound to be a least a few local thrift stores near you, but if you’d prefer to shop online for gently used clothing, a great place to shop is ThredUp. Read this complete Thredup review to learn more.
I’ve been buying gently used, name-brand clothes from ThredUp for years now, and I’ve always been impressed with the quality, selection and price.
I also buy a ton of my clothes at consignment shops and Goodwill. I can’t even remember the last time I bought brand new clothes. I mean, the second you wear the once, they’re used already, so why not save some money and just buy them used?
You may be interested in some of these other frugal living tips!
15. Use Free Cloud Storage
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you get unlimited free cloud storage.
I was excited to learn this because previously I had been paying for cloud storage, or putting things on an external hard drive.
I’m still using the external hard drive (because I like having an extra backup) but the cloud storage is definitely something to take advantage of if you have Amazon Prime.
There are a lot of different ways to save money and we talk about a ton of the in the following posts:
- 100+ Ways to Save Money (this is an awesome post!)
- Cheap Prescription Glasses Online
- Avoiding Financial Leaks
- Healthy Groceries on a Budget
- Save Over $8,000 This Year
- Reverse Savings Plan
However, this post covers some of the less ordinary ways you can save an extra buck or two, which can only help on your road to financial independence, along with implementing the steps in Dave Ramsey’s 7 baby steps plan!
What are some interesting ways you have been able to save money? Leave a comment below to let us know!