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19 Creative Ways to Save Money

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There are countless ways that you can save money (even on a tight budget). Here are 19 of them, with a bit of a creative spin on saving:


Be more of a vegetarian: I’m not saying you have to become a vegetarian. But if you’re willing to eat less meat, you can save money. When it comes to protein, substitute tofu and beans for chicken and beef and your food costs should go down.

Meal plan: Do you ever find yourself impulsively adding cookies or other goodies to your cart as you walk down the aisles of the grocery store? Meal planning can help you buy only what you need. This also applies to quantity, which leads me to…

Store food properly: Do you know the proper way to store different types of food? With proper storage, your food can last longer and you’ll have less food waste. Your grocery budget will stretch that much further.

Buy in bulk: Sometimes buying in bulk can lead to food savings. You don’t have to pay for packaging (and may even receive a discount for providing your own), and you only have to buy what you need (goes quite well with meal planning and following recipes!). Plus, many coops offer a discount when you buy bulk foods on a certain day of the week.



Go to the library: The library has more to offer than free books (though if you’re a bibliophile like me, you can realize a lot of savings by checking out instead of buying). You can find movies, magazines, bikes, museum passes, and more.

Piggyback someone else’s subscription: Everyone has heard the advice to cancel subscriptions that you don’t use. (There are even budgeting apps that help you identify subscriptions that you can cancel.) But sometimes you want to be able to watch the latest show on Netflix, Apple TV+, or HBO Max. Now, many streaming services offer the ability to have multiple profiles on one account. That means you can hop on another person’s subscription—and keep track of where you left off in your show and prevent your precious algorithm from being influenced by someone else’s taste. You can even team up with several friends to cover all the streaming services you desire. Alternatively, you can rotate subscriptions based on the show you want to watch, instead of paying for a bunch at the same time.



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Utilize your utilities less: This is fairly obvious, but there are some relatively creative ways to minimize your utility bills. Turn off lights and electronics when you’re not in the room—Alexa and other systems can make it easy to turn a light off with your voice or from anywhere in your house. During the winter, see if you can set the thermostat a degree or two lower than usual and wear a layer around the house. When the temperature gets cool enough at night in the summer, cool your house down with open windows and a nice cross breeze. Take advantage of the energy saving setting, too, so that the air conditioner is only on when it gets above a certain temperature.

You can also lower other utilities like your internet and phone bill. What speeds and services do you really need to get by? Can you skip having cable? How much data do you use on your cell phone each month, and how often could you use Wi-Fi instead?

Take out your own trash: Some cities and towns offer private services to take out your trash and compost. While convenient, it can also be pricey. Instead, take your own trash to the dump and compost to the waste center. Depending on how much trash you produce, you could save hundreds of dollars each year.

DIY it: It might not be a million dollar question, but it could save you quite a chunk of change: can you do it yourself? What skills do you have that can be applied to projects around your house? What skills can you learn? Is there a YouTube video that can show you how to do it? This could apply to a variety of things, including gifts, gardening, home makeovers, and more.

However, beware: if you do it wrong, you could cost yourself even more money than if you hired an expert to do it in the first place. You’ll have to use your judgment to decide what you can do on your own and what requires outside help.



Tweak your budget: Your budget doesn’t have to be the same month in and month out. It can be a living document that changes to fit your current financial needs. If you saved more than you expected last month, could you buy that gift you’ve been wanting for yourself? If you’re going on vacation and want some extra spending money, where can you cut back on your budget? Getting a pay raise is one good time to reevaluate your budget and reset some savings goals and spending limits.

Negotiate: Everything is negotiable, as the saying goes. Here are just a few examples of ways you can keep more money in your bank account.

  • Your salary (and benefits).
  • Your cable or internet bill (particularly when you reach the end of your initial promotional period—there’s always another promotion).
  • The sales price and free add-ons for your new vehicle (don’t settle for floor mats!).
  • Your credit card fees (did you know you can get late fees waived or your interest rate reduced? All you have to do is ask).
  • Your rent (especially when you’re re-signing the lease).
  • Your broker’s fee (you can even try to get the other party to pay it).

Besides, there’s always another option out there—another internet provider, another credit card, another home or apartment. Don’t be afraid to walk away and get the right deal for you.

Use a rewards card: Using a rewards card is essentially free money (assuming you don’t carry a balance and pay the exorbitant interest rates on most credit cards). If you’re going to buy something anyway, why not earn points, get cash back, or reap some other reward for your purchase? Those benefits can add up to a free flight or hotel stay, cash back to cover part of your next credit card bill, and other perks. Don’t rule out a card just because it has a fee—often times, benefits you get will make up for the annual fee.

Refinance: Have interest rates gone down since you took out your auto loan, mortgage, or other type of loan? Refinancing could save you money on your monthly payment. The only catch is that refinancing does come with closing costs, so you’ll need to factor that into the equation when deciding if refinancing is right for you.

Consolidate your debt: A balance transfer could get you a lower interest rate on your debt payments, saving you money every month. What’s more, it could make paying your bills way easier by consolidating them into one monthly payment.

Pause before you purchase: See something you want to buy? Don’t pull the trigger. Make a rule to wait 24 hours, or even just 20 minutes, before making a purchase. Pausing may help you realize that you don’t actually want to follow through on the impulse purchase. You can make the timeframe even longer for more significant expenses, such as waiting 30 days to see how you fare without it.



Embrace minimalism: Consumerism has trained a lot of us, myself included, to want to accumulate stuff. The minimalist movement is out to change that narrative. By cutting back on the number of things you own, you’ll spend and waste less.

Live abroad: Living abroad isn’t just an experience—it could save you money, too. With remote work more and more common these days, is it possible for you to move somewhere with a cheaper cost of living? You’ll need to factor in time zones and talk to your supervisor about making the change, but plenty of people do their work from all over the world. You could too!

Start a side hustle: What marketable skills do you have? How can you earn a little extra income on the side, outside of your regular day job? This blog shares some tips on how you can start your own side hustle and increase your cash flow.

Sell your stuff: This method combines minimalism with your side hustle. Have things that you don’t need or want? See what you can get in return for them. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and your possessions might be more valuable to someone else than they are to you.

Buy secondhand: On the flip side of selling your stuff, search consignment shops and other secondhand stores to help save money. It’s not only good for your wallet, but reusing something is good for the environment, too. As a bonus, most of my favorite shirts (and chicest, if I may be so bold) are from secondhand shops.

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Nick Bohlen

About Nick Bohlen

Nick Bohlen is a communications strategist at VSECU, sharing ideas and information with staff, members, and Vermonters. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading, traveling, and exploring Vermont’s great outdoors with his wife, daughter, and dog.
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