Everyone is a beginner at some point in their life. Embrace it and have the courage and open mindedness to start the journey of saving/budgeting and frugality. These 22 Easy Money Saving Tips for Beginners are not only designed to help beginners but they are the gentle reminders for all of us.
My philosophy on frugality has always been that slow and steady wins the race. I find this to be especially true during the beginning stages of the transition towards a more frugal lifestyle.
I sat down and collected all of my favorite beginner-friendly money saving tips that you can start doing today! You don’t need to do all of the ones on this list to save money, just choose the ones that are the most realistic for you and start there. Happy savings!
Trying to radically change your spending habits overnight just doesn’t work. Trying to “quick fix” your spending habits tends to backfire. You need to give yourself time so you don’t end up getting frustrated and quitting before you’ve even gotten the chance to experience any of the benefits gained from a frugal lifestyle.
So here’s my advice. Incorporate small, realistic (this is the key word!) lifestyle and spending habits and change them bit by bit. Give each technique some time to settle and find its place in your day to day life. Over time, with dedication and persistence, you will be a frugal-guru. Guaranteed.
Set Specific Financial Goals
I can’t stress enough the importance of setting financial goals. Setting them helps you stay focused and on track. It also eliminates the possibility of unnecessary impulse purchases that you can’t actually afford. Take a minute to sit down and get clear on your financial goals. Your goals might look something like:
- Get out of debt by year 20xx
- Save x amount by November for holiday season shopping
- Put x amount of money aside each month into savings
Financial goals look different for everyone, so it’s great to take the time to get clear on what’s important for you financially.
Even simpler, crush your financial goals with our free printable financial goals worksheets which break down the goal-setting process for you.
Stop eating out!
This one is pretty obvious. A restaurant meal is on average 325% more expensive per person than eating home-cooked food that you’ve prepared yourself!
Yes, you read that number right. I was shocked when I first saw it too, but in all honesty, it shouldn’t be that surprising.
An average home cooked meal costs around $3 per person, whereas an average restaurant meal costs around $12 per person. The bigger your family, the more you’ll save on eating at home!
Plus, eating at home is healthier because you can control the quality of the ingredients you use in recipes and you can sub unhealthy ingredients for healthier alternatives.
Make A Budget
I’m a big believer in budgeting. I’ll even go as far to say that if you were to choose only ONE money saving strategy to focus on, it would be to make a budget and stick to it. Planning out a monthly budget is simply the all-around best way to stay on track with your financial goals, to avoid overspending, to pay off debt, and so much more.
You can use our simplified printable monthly budget planner worksheet to stay on-track with your monthly budget to save money each month and to get clear on your finances.
Use Homemade Cleaners
Cleaning products are pricey but they are necessities. Ditch the expensive store-bought cleaning products and opt for cheaper, home-made alternatives. You’ll be amazed at the number of cleaning products that can be remade using simple ingredients that you probably already have lying around your home. Start with some of our simple, DIY Natural Cleaning Bottle Labels with Recipes from our sister site, Cut The Grime.
Swap Body Wash For Bar Soap
Those fragrant, flowery bottles of body wash are tempting. But man, are they expensive. A single bottle can cost around $5. And since they are liquid, they get used quickly and need to be replaced regularly. Bars of soap on the other hand can cost less than $1 for a pack of three or four (this deal is typically for store-brand. Name brand bars cost slightly more than that but are still cheaper than bottles of body wash.) This simple hack will save you between $10-$20 per month which really adds up! The best part is you can make your own body wash using bar soap, with the DIY Dove Body Wash.
Eliminate Disposable Paper Towels
I’m telling you, those little “insignificant” expenses are not actually insignificant at all! They really add up over time, so making these small changes results in a big difference at the end of the day (or at the end of the year)! Swapping disposable paper towels for reusable cloths is a super easy and simple way to save money. You won’t even notice the difference. Cutting up old t-shirts into squares to make cleaning “rags” also does the trick. After doing your cleaning, simply throw the rags in the wash so that they’re ready to be used the next time! You can catch up on How to Ditch Paper Towels here.
Track Your Daily Expenses
There’s something about the physical act of writing down my expenses that really helps me get super clear on my spending habits. It also keeps me in check so that I know whether I’m on track with my budget throughout the month. Make tracking expenses even easier with our free Printable ExpenseTracking Sheet. If you ready to get the biggest eye opener, check out the Daily Spending Log and start tracking your daily expenses and that is where you will QUICKLY start gaining traction on where to cut a lot of expenses out. If I had only ONE THING to suggest to people, this would be the one. It is the most eye opening action you can take.
Use Your Public Library
Who doesn’t love that feeling of walking into a bookstore and buying a fresh, new book? It gets me every time! At least it did until I realized the insane amount of money I was spending on buying new books every year! Plus, after I’m done reading them, they just sit on the bookshelf for… the rest of eternity. It doesn’t seem like a super savvy way to spend my money, especially when my awesome local library carries almost any book I’ve ever wanted! Plus, most libraries will order a book from another library in your county if the book you want isn’t available in their branch. This library hack also goes for magazines, DVD’s (if you still use those!), audio books and childrens books. I mean, all the free books you could ever want!
Try A “No Spend Challenge” Month
This challenge is meant to be fun, but it’s also designed to help you:
1.) Save money
2.) Gain awareness on just how much money you actually spend that isn’t completely necessary.
What makes it great for beginners is that it helps you understand your own financial behaviors when you go cold turkey.
The challenge goes like this: for one month, you ONLY spend money on things that are absolutely necessary: rent, groceries, utilities, bills, gas, etc. All other “unnecessary” expenses are put on pause until the 30-day challenge is over. That means no spontaneous shopping sprees, no eating out at restaurants, no Starbucks coffees, no impulsive Amazon purposes. Necessities ONLY. It’s just for one month! You can do this! Plus, it’s fun to get creative in other ways you can enjoy yourselves without needing money. Here’s an article with more information and a free printable to stay on track during your no-spend challenge.
Pack Your Lunch
Most of us are at home during breakfast and dinner time. But so many of us are gone during the middle of the day, so when lunch time rolls around we resort to buying a meal while we are out. This adds up big time!
An average lunch out (drink + food) costs around $15 per person. This is $75 per workweek just on lunches alone! That’s $300 per month!
You could spend a small fraction of that simply by taking a few extra minutes in the morning to pack a sandwich or a salad for lunch.
Better yet, put aside an hour or two each Sunday to meal prep your lunches for the week. This way they’re all ready and portioned in your fridge, all you have to do is grab the container each morning and go! Check out this article on meal prepped lunches for more ideas on lunches to prep each week. If you want to save BIG, check out the 24 Cent Frozen Pasta Meals for a great lunch for under a quarter!
Grocery Budget Challenge
As you may have realized, I love making budgeting and saving money a fun and engaging experience with the help of printables and challenges. I just think it gives the whole budgeting concept some much needed excitement. You can read about my $27/week grocery challenge where I fed my family on just $27 the week I did this challenge. I used very low-cost, simple recipes to make this work and shopped strategically.
Although $27 was a number I chose to budget with for this challenge, you could do a weekly grocery challenge based on a number that works for you! Even moving the number up to $45 or $50 dollars for the week gives you a little more breathing room while still making it a challenge. What this challenge showed me is that with a little strategic planning and out of the box thinking, I can still keep my family well-fed on next to nothing each week while saving big on food expenses! This one is super strict and not always the most healthy and that is to be recognized. It is an example of cutting back.
Practice The 30 Day Rule
Let’s face it. We all want to purchase things each month that we didn’t exactly plan on or budget for. I think a lot of my own personal money stress. Most of it stems from these types of unplanned purchases. But that’s where the 30-day rule comes in and saves the day!
The 30-day rule means that you don’t make unplanned or impulse purchases. Instead, you put that potential purchase on your mental backburner for the next 30 days and deposit the money into your savings account. If you still want to buy that item after 30 days have passed, you can buy it with the money you had set aside into your savings. If you decide it’s not important to you anymore, the money stays in your savings account! Win-win. I love it!
Mason Jar Method
I love this tip because it really proves that every little bit counts over time. The idea is simple and fun. Plus, you can start saving money this way even if you’re broke. All you’ll need is a quart-sized mason jar.
The first week you’ll put $1 in the jar. The second week you’ll place $2 in the jar. The third week, $3, and so on. So the longer time goes on, the more you are putting aside into the jar each week. The idea behind it is that even on a tight budget, you can find a way to save an extra dollar each week. It encourages you to continually look for additional savings.
Near the end of the year, on week 50, you’d put $50 into the jar, yet you’d already have nearly $1300 saved up! This is a great way to save for your vacation, for that new flatscreen television you’ve wanted, or a new laptop. It’s also a great way to practice delayed gratification, which I personally think our fast-paced, instant-gratification obsessed culture could use a little more of! If you like this idea, check out our Penny Challenge and our 52 Week Challenge that are perfect for beginners and veterans, alike.
Buy in Bulk
This one is just obvious: bulk purchasing is cheaper! It also saves time in the long run because when you buy in bulk, you’ll need to shop way less. Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and certain online wholesalers offer bulk foods for cheap. The only caveat is that you don’t want to buy in bulk if the food will go to waste or if you won’t use all the food that is in the bulk packaging. Have you seen the big BBQ bundles with ketchup, mustard and relish from Costco? Make sure you are relish people and going to eat it or that isn’t a bargain at all.
Compare Grocery Store Prices
When you’re on a budget and trying to save money on food costs, you’re going to want to figure out the most economical options available to you. Walmart, Food Lion, Aldi, Lidl, and local Asian markets tend to be the cheapest options here on the East Coast.
Stores like Safeway, Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, and Giant are just exponentially more expensive! I usually figure out what products are cheaper at different stores and end up going to a few different stores to fit my whole grocery list into my weekly budget. Worth it! Use our Grocery Store Comparison Chart to dig a little deeper and make sure the numbers are really adding up.
ALWAYS Use A List
Planning ahead is one of the key factors for saving money. Before you go to the grocery store, do a thorough inspection of your house and refrigerator to see what you’ll need for the week (key word: need!) Going to the grocery store without a list is a recipe for disaster, you’ll end up spending money on a bunch of things that you won’t need or use. All of those tools are right here in the free downloadable Kitchen Binder.
Make Your Own Gifts
Buying gifts is a fun and necessary part of friendships and relationships, but it doesn’t have to be pricey! Showing someone that you care can be even more meaningful with DIY gifts.
Think: jars of homemade granola, homemade body lotions, homemade flower bouquets, a plant you grew yourself from seed, the options are endless! Just do a quick Google search for some DIY gift inspo! We make a few here on our site like the Homemade Vanilla, Kisses Jar, Gingerbread Granola with Printable.
DIY It When Possible
Honestly, I’m all about DIY life. It not only saves megabucks. It’s also fun and practical! I love making my own beauty products from natural ingredients. Cleaning products are so much cheaper and healthier when they’re made DIY. Plus, when it comes to home decor and furnishings, there’s so much character that can be brought into your home from DIY projects!
I love Pinterest because it’s like a virtual DIY-lover’s paradise. Saving money while being crafty, what isn’t there to love?! Homemade Mouthwash, DIY Face Wipes, DIY Carpet Freshener, DIY Fabric Softener, DIY Wax Melts, Homemade Almond Butter – you get the idea.
For a beginning budgeter, cancelling any subscriptions or memberships that you don’t actually use is an absolute must. Paying for things that you don’t actually need or use is a huge money waster. You may not like it, but start making a habit of canvassing all of your accounts every month and making sure you REMEMBER that you are being charged for Hulu and CBS Access and HBO. Are you watching CBS? If not, cancel it. No matter how small the charge is, treasure every penny and you will turn the corner on budgeting.
Declutter Your Home
Less is more! It feels great to declutter and organize your belongings. It’s also a great opportunity to consolidate all of the stuff you own but don’t need, and sell it! Ebay, consignment shops, and Craigslist are all perfect outlets for selling the things you don’t need anymore and making a little extra cash to put into savings.
Buy It Used
I’ve always loved shopping for clothes at secondhand shops because it feels like a treasure hunt. You can find some serious gems for cheap! Plus, buying second hand is just all around better for the environment.
Before making any big purchases (new phone, new tv, new desk, new couch) always check Ebay, Craigslist, and Facebook marketplace to check if there are any pre-owned options available. You’ll save big money this way!
Shop AFTER The Holidays
Most people don’t think to do this because it doesn’t naturally occur to you to buy Christmas-themed stuff AFTER Christmas is over, but this type of planning ahead can save you big bucks once the next holiday season rolls around. Nearly all holiday-related goods are discounted to a fraction of the price after every holiday. Planning ahead wins every time!
Frugal isn’t taking the fun out of life, it is simply taking the act of spending money to have a good time. We have compiled many posts of ideas for you to spend a great time with family and friends with either no money or minimal money spent.
I say it all the time that almost all of my favorite memories for our family are either when we are on vacation or simply riding bikes and hiking – both are free. The photos tell it all for me. 30 Day Family Date Night Challenge, 25 Cheap Date Ideas, Best Cooperative Board Games and Best Traitor Games.
I would love to know how you saved Money! Did Anything here help?