Ask the Readers: What is Your Favorite Money-Saving Tip?

By Ashley Jacobs on 12 May 2015 73 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Cheryl, Laura, and Susan for winning this week's contest!

There are many, many things you can do to save money, but some tips work better than others, depending on your habits, lifestyle, and financial situation.

What is your favorite money-saving tip? What's so great about it? Is it easy to implement, or is it just super effective?

Tell us your favorite money-saving tip and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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We're doing three giveaways — here's how you can win!

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Guest's picture
Elena

My favorite tip is to use coupons when shopping

Guest's picture
Mary Happymommy

When shopping online, I like to combine store specials and coupons with EBates cash back.

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Kelli

My favourite money-saving tip is to just get started and save regularly. Putting away even a small amount on a consistent basis is how you build up your account.

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@PinkLacedPoppy

One thing I always do to save money is check for coupons before buying ANYTHING. For example I know hobby lobby always has a 40% off coupon so I always buy just one item and take the 40 off.

Guest's picture
Elle

My tip is to always make a list before going grocery shopping and make sure to look at weekly sale items and coupons to make your list. Don't just go in blind and pick regular priced items off the shelf.

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Christie

Don't pay fees! Pay off credit cards each month (or don't buy it), shop sales and save up first, and when eating out, have water with your meal. Little things, but they add up quickly!

Guest's picture
George

Even better, pay up your whole debt and then just cancel your credit cards. I did that a few years ago, and life has been... well... easier.

Guest's picture
Julie Wood

I was finding myself spending too much money at Coffee shops because I was always in a hurry! Now, I get up earlier, and make my own coffee! I am saving a lot of money this way!

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Bekki

Resist buying things that I don't need. Ask myself, is this a need or a want? helps me put things into perspective.

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Tina in NJ

My favorite tip is, plan ahead. If you go to the store without a list or a specific purchase in mind, you've got a target on your back. Make a weekly menu and a shopping list from that menu. Yes, some impulse purchases jump into my cart, but not as many, and if I get everything I need, I don't have to back and be tempted again.

Guest's picture
Kay

Shop in your closet! Instead of buying new clothes, create new combinations with clothing that you already have. Push your limits... You'll be surprised by what outfits surprisingly work.

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Amanda Sakovitz

My tip is to use online codes for purchases.

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Carol

I found that I was always stopping for fast food/convenience items on the way home from work because it was a long commute and it was supper time. I realized I could plan ahead to avoid that and started carrying snacks/meals that I know I enjoy and do not need to be cooked (i.e., sandwiches) or can be cooked in the workplace microwave on my way out the door (i.e., microwave popcorn). I also keep bottles of tap water in my car so that I don't stop to buy pop. This has really helped my food budget.

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Susan P.

I use online coupons and go through Ebates for a rebate. Research the prices first and determine if you really need the item or if it is just a want.

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Gina

Don't pay others for things you can do yourself. You can save a lot of money by doing your own cooking, cleaning, and small repairs.

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Razel

I save money at thrift stores, goodwill, second hand stores and sometimes they send coupons for more savings. Also, when some items are donated they'll give you a tax deduction with a coupon attached

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Mary W

Start saving early. Start investing young. Use automatic withdrwals to send money to interest bearing accounts. Compound interest still works!

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Randall

I use Intuit's Mint.com and the Mint App to keep track of all of my finances. They also provide suggestion on where and how you can save money, based on your spending habits.

Guest's picture
An G

figure out what are your needs and "wants". Brew coffee at home.

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April

There's no such thing as a "normal" month. Whether it's Xmas, someone's birthday, car registration, summer vacation, a wedding, each month will have its own oddity. Normalize all the expecteds (like annual memberships and presents) and put a little away each month for all the unexpecteds (car repairs, funerals) to prepare for the abnormals of everyday life.

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Cathleen

My favorite money saving tip is using coupon apps (Ibotta, savings star, act) on my iPhone combined with the paper or digital store coupons. I put the extra money into my savings.

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nicole dziedzic

My favorite money-saving tip is when shopping online, use coupon codes to save an additional amount off your total.

Guest's picture
Will

When deciding whether to spend money on something, my favorite tip is to ask yourself the reverse question. "Should I spend $X to get Y?" becomes "What would I do if someone offered me $X to give up Y?" Mathematically it's the same exact problem but the opposite perspective makes the decision so much clearer in many cases.

Real life example: I was trying to decide if I should spent $80 to upgrade an airline seat for a 4.5 hour flight. I asked myself, "what if I was in the nicer seat and someone in my original seat offered me $80 to switch seats with him?" My immediate answer was that I would take the $80 and switch with him, no hesitation whatsoever. Looking at it from the opposite direction made the answer crystal clear.

Guest's picture
Nancy

Interesting mind game. I'll try it out. My mind game is to pay myself instead when I decide not to spend. If I hang laundry on the line instead of running the dryer, I put $1 in my piggy bank. If I fill a travel mug with coffee before leaving home, instead of buying it on the road, I pay myself $2. I do this for some larger discretionary purchases as well--put the amount I didn't spend into savings. This is in addition to--not instead of--more regular automatic savings. I find it helps to turn what seems to be a sacrifice into a reward.

Guest's picture
Cheryl

I have a number of things I use weekly to help save $$:
1. Walmart - use Savings Catcher instead of price matching and add to my Bluebird card. Right now when you use your Bluebird card for the 1st time at retailers you can get $1 back up to $50 this month and start again in June.
2. CVS - I roll the Extra Care Bucks and use coupons to buy new product with ECB's
3. Walgreens - I buy products with points and do the daily health habits in the app to earn points.
4. Ibotta and Checkout 51
5. Target - love earning GC's while stacking coupons, using cartwheel and just applied for a redcard. Once I have it I will buy GC's and save 5%

Guest's picture
Natalie

My favorite tip is to pair sales with coupons and to make a list before you go to the store to avoid impulse buying.

Guest's picture
Emily

My favorite tip is the 30 day rule! If it's not a necessary purchase, hold off 30 days. Don't buy it if you forget about it or decide you wouldn't have used it in those thirty days!

Guest's picture
Guest

Cook! We had people over for pizza and salad this weekend (all homemade--dough, sauce, salad dressing) for less than a medium pizza from Domino's. When you make it yourself it almost always tastes better and costs less. Also, treat things like a game. I constant pay down my student loans by trying to keep them at an even multiple of 100. It doesn't feel like much but it adds up.

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MELISSA HANSSON

I make all my purchases in store with a combination of store coupons and manufacturer coupons. I make all my purchases online with a combination of coupon codes, free shipping and money back from sites like ebates or shopathome. I prefer to shop online for that extra money back, but only if I get free shipping.

Guest's picture

While I'm shopping for groceries (after planning my list with the store sales flyer), I note meals I can make with the ingredients I'm buying.

When I get home, I post the list of meal ideas on the fridge to keep me from defaulting to carry-out because I can't think of what to make.

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Laura J

My money saving tip is to stay home and only grocery shop once a week. I find that when I make little trips to pick things up during the week...I always spend and buy things that we really dont need. I try to shop once a week and get everything for the week! Its those little trips that get me and my pocket book!

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shelly peterson

Definitely use coupons in store or online and I like to buy in bulk.

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Liz

Amex cards have great cash back opportunities - for example right now I get $20 back when spending $20 at Sam's Club = free money!

Guest's picture
Donna

My most used and has never failed me yet tip is to anticipate expenses and save for them each week. If my insurance is due once a year I put away 1/52 of the insurance amount from each of my paycheques.
When it comes time to pay it, the money is in my account and I have no worries trying to find the money. I do this for everything including saving for vacation and retirement. I don't overspend and find that I'm short because the money has been allocated elsewhere and I'm under no illusion that I have excess money to spend.

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Linda

My tip is to not be afraid to shop around. Prices DO vary.

Guest's picture
Guest

Before I buy anything, I ask myself: "Do I LOVE this?" and "Do I NEED this?" If the answer to both those questions is no, I don't buy it, no matter how cheap the price or how big the discount. Distinguishing between needs and wants is huge, as is distinguishing between something being PERFECT versus just alright.

Also, just SAVE SAVE SAVE. Spend less than what you make. Avoid credit card debt.

Guest's picture
Liisa R

I'm a huge fan of well-chosen Groupons, which saves us money on local services and restaurants, gifts for family members in other cities, and travel throughout the U.S. We save a ton of money and are able to invest in experiences rather than more stuff, which is much more valuable to us in the long run!

Guest's picture
Susan Smith

My tip is to make a list before going grocery shopping and make sure to look at weekly sale ads and match the coupons to the sale products.

Guest's picture
Deb

Learn to cook and eat at home. We are eating better-for-us food. Cooking can be fun, too.

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Ronda

When the family is out for the day (day trip or other reasons), instead of stopping get lunch at a fast food place we pack our lunch with us. It has saved us a lot of money of the past few years with all the kids we have!!!

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Donna

I enjoy repurposing household items. Example: saving toilet paper roll centers and lint from dryer to create fire starters for woodstove. I took an old baking sheet, painted it and used it with a old fire grate as legs to create a bird bath. Egg cartons made with paper are great to create seed starters. Shredded paper can be composted--those old records still have a use as well as junk mail. It can also be used as kitty litter in a pinch or packing for packages. There are tons of items we can reuse, repurpose, and recycle which can save tons of $$$ and our planet.

Guest's picture
Guest

Combining errands into single car trips can save money. For example, if the kids need to get shuttled somewhere, can other things get done on the same trip?

Guest's picture
lostAnnfound

Staying away from the mall! I rarely shop at the mall. If I need an item, I shop around for the best deal online and only go into a store at the mall to buy the item I need. It saves me the most money not "window shopping" at the mall and not spending money on things I don't need.

Guest's picture
Kate Kyleen

I love bartering! If you have a skill, use it to its full advantage! Know how to do car repairs but need a photographer for your wedding? Can you cook but no idea on how to build a garden box? Offer your services in Facebook groups or Craigslist. Barter and you can save hundreds!

Guest's picture
Molly

Before you buy ANYTHING think about how may hours of work it equates to. Many purchases seem superfluous when I think about think about the time I had to work to earn them.

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Cindy Lilly

My favorite money-saving tip is to pack my lunch everyday. In addition to that, I only allow myself a cash $20 allowance for the week. That is for the occasional snack, drink, etc. If I decide to go to lunch or a coffee shop with a coworker it has to come out of my $20, and I am not allowed to use my debit/credit card. It really helps me to be very mindful of my spending habits.

Guest's picture
sue

Don't waste food. Be creative to use up items or freeze them for later use. Partner this with coupons and smart shopping and you can really cut your food costs.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

Make your own laundry detergent. 1 part grated soap, 2 parts borax, 2 parts washing soda. This has saved us a ton of money!

Guest's picture
Arlene

One way I save is to take all change...silver and pennies, and put them in a piggybank. Once it's full, I take it to bank for deposit into my "fun" money account that I can use over the holidays for my gift shopping. I never miss the change, and when it's collected together, it's a pretty significant windfall. I can usually fill the pig 3 - 4 times a year for deposit.

Guest's picture
GuestJohn Pierce

- Thermal pot coffee makers save electricity with every pot and no more burned coffee.
- Two bulb light fixtures work well with onlt one bulb, preferably an LED low watt bulb.
- use coupons, ask what discouts are offered ie... AAA, AARP, Veteran, Gvt EE, etc.

Guest's picture
Ernest S.

My favorite tip is to stop buying bottled water, and instead use a home filter. It not only saves money, but it also helps the environment by reducing the amount of plastic waste!

Guest's picture
slim

Cash & points hotel reservations at IHG or County Inn & Suites gives rooms for $40, $70 or $75 with 5,000 points

Guest's picture
Heather

I heard my favorite tip from Steve Stewart when he was on the So Money podcast. He said, "Live on less than you make and do something smart with the difference." So simple and so true!

Guest's picture
Dee Dee

Eat at home the vast majority of the time, save going out for special occasions. Plant a garden and cook with fresh produce from it, I am one happy cook when it is straight from the garden.

Guest's picture
Jeff

coupons and free shipping

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Patrick

My favorite tip is to pay yourself first. Have money automatically withdrawn from your paycheck and deposited in savings accounts, retirement plans or other accounts. Over time, if untouched, this will build up through the power of compounding and make a nice cushion for emergencies and/or a nest egg.

Guest's picture
SerenityNow

Make a budget and set up a separate online savings account to transfer money to each month. I thought I had a good sense of where my money was going each month, but when I actually drew up a budget, there were so many spending categories I totally forgot about. And the separate savings account helps me stick to saving because it's harder to access that money, and the interest rates are much better than at my regular bank.

Guest's picture
Mitchell Goldstein

Always shop around.
Do not assume that buying new or used is better. Clearance shopping has gotten us better prices for new products than purchasing used.
Do not assume that a sale is the best price. Use the Internet and all of the tools (Raise, Groupon, etc.) to get the best price.
Remember that your time is valuable, so do not spend too much time searching around.

Guest's picture
Christina

My favorite saving money tip is to look for a coupon when buying online - it isn't making me cut back on anything and only takes a moment.

Guest's picture
Renee

Pay yourself first. I have an automatic withdrawal every month right after I get my paycheck to my savings account and only live off of what is left.

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Bethany M

I like to look at everything that is a constant reoccurring cost and reduce or eliminate that output.

Guest's picture
Catseye

My current fave tip is the advice to always ask yourself if you really need whatever it is that you are thinking about buying, especially if it's a big ticket item. Can you get a better price elsewhere? Can this purchase wait until you can save up for it? If you do buy it, how happy/useful/satisfied with the purchase do you think you'll be? In other words, no impulse purchases unless you were already on the lookout for the item anyway.

Guest's picture
Karen

Once I became educated about marketing strategies, I was less likely to make unintentional purchases. I saved tons of money over the years by being aware of these marketing strategies and not letting them influence me.

Guest's picture
Jen2

My best money-saving tip is that spending is NOT saving. So many stories and advertisements tell you how much you could be saving by buying something. In reality, unless you intended to purchase the item at full retail prior to seeing the ad or story, you are spending. I have had to mentally replace the words in my head to remind myself that if I buy the item I am in fact doing the opposite of saving.

Guest's picture
BESSIE

One of my best ways to save is to combine the store coupon with a manufacturer coupons...double the savings!!

Guest's picture
Glenda

My tip is: Never go to the grocery store hungry or unprepared. Make sure you eat before going grocery shopping or you will buy things you won't have time to eat before they go bad. Be prepared. Have your list with you. If you are like me and forget to bring your list do what I did. Download an app to keep your lists in your phone, like Got Milk for groceries (it also tells you all the specials grocery stores in your area have) or Google Keep for EVERYTHING. You always have your phone with you, so you will never lose your list.

Guest's picture
Joyce

EAT AT HOME.

Guest's picture
Suz_Glo

My favorite money saving tip is to do your research! Search online for the best price, look for coupons or ebates.com type rebates and read reviews to make sure this product is worth your time and money. Plus -- always keep your receipts! I will absolutely return something that disappoints me in any way.

Guest's picture
J. Pario

Upcycle and recycle stuff for art and other adventures!

More prosaically, use a clothesline instead of the dryer.

Guest's picture
Happy Love

My father always told me, "Buy quality, but buy it on sale."

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Tabathia B

I use several money saving apps when shopping for groceries where I can earn cash like saving star or ibotta. When shopping I use coupons or shopular which will sometimes have coupons for additional savings

Guest's picture
Alma

Before going shopping, check your credit cards to see which ones are offering the best deals/money back/discounts at the moment. For example: I currently have a credit card that's currently offering 10% back on purchases + $3 cash back bonus for shopping at J.C. Penney. Combine that with a store coupon the savings add up.

Guest's picture
Matt

I use cash back sites like bates or mrrebates. It's so easy and it really adds up!

Guest's picture
Thomas Murphy

I use lots of coupons