The 10 Most Low Effort Ways to Save Money Ever

Anyone bringing home a steady, reasonably sufficient paycheck can save. Not only that, but saving is one of the simplest acts of money management that you can engage in, and there are a lot of ways to make it happen. (See also: 101 Easy Ways to Save Around the House)

To help you get started, try some — or all! — of the 10 of the most low-effort strategies for stocking your rainy-day fund.

1. Set Up an Automatic Transfer

Almost all online banking systems are equipped with a feature that allows you to set a date and time for automatic transfers of funds from one account to another. Set one up to transfer money from your checking to your savings account on a weekly basis. The trick is to set it for a small and manageable amount. Try starting with just $20 or $30. It's the small, consistent contributions that really add up over the course of a few years.

2. Cook Meals at Home

Restaurant meals are notoriously more expensive than cooking at home, which is understandable since you're paying for the food along with the kitchen labor and the service. But if you make it a point to eat more meals at home, you'll often save half or more of what you would spend in a restaurant. When you do, make a note of the money you saved (whatever the amount) and transfer that to your savings account.

3. Spend a Night In

Sitting on the couch and watching TV isn't often thought of as a money-saving activity. But if your habit is to go out for dinner and drinks on a Friday night, stay in and save the expense of food, alcohol, and the fuel you'd spend getting to those things. The amount you'll save varies, but $50 for a night out isn't unusual.

4. Adjust Your Thermostat

It takes all of 10 seconds to adjust your thermostat, and it can save you a significant amount on your monthly heating and cooling costs. You've got to be willing to put up with somewhat more uncomfortable temperatures, but keeping your thermostat higher in the summer (75 to 77) and lower in the winter (65 to 68) can cut around $10 a month for each change in degree.

5. Plan Meals

If you do decide to cook at home more, you can take it a step further by planning your meals every week. This is particularly helpful for families as it can save you money when you go grocery shopping and help you avoid impulse buys or ending up with food that you don't eat. Rather than wander the aisle tossing whatever looks good into your cart, you'll be armed with a list that can keep you on track. (See also: What to Eat Every Day: A Month of Frugal Meals)

6. Set a Short-Term Savings Goal

If motivation to save money is a problem for you, set small, attainable goals that can be met in a short period of time. Just telling yourself that you're going to save money isn't enough. Far-reaching goals are hard to keep on track, but smaller, achievable triumphs help pave the way little by little. Meeting those goals will encourage you to continue being intentional about putting money away.

7. Check the Air in Your Tires Regularly

Tires that aren't inflated to the proper PSI will decrease your car's gas mileage and cost you more fuel, especially during the warm summer months. Use a tire gauge and make sure that the PSI in each tire is close to whatever is recommended for your vehicle.

8. Contribute a Little More to Your 401(k)

Most employers will match your contribution up to a certain percentage. If you want an easy way to save for retirement without having to think about it, up the amount that gets taken out of your paycheck for your 401(k) so it's safely put away and invested before you even see it.

9. Drink More Water

Water is by far the cheapest and most readily available drink that we have (so long as you're not committing the ultimate money wasting crime of buying bottled water, of course), and also the healthiest. An easy way to save money is to opt for water at home and when you're going out to eat as opposed to the far more expensive soft drinks, juices, coffee, and alcoholic beverages. I drink water all day long, and compared to my husband who buys several drinks a day while he's working, I'd venture to guess I'm saving about $35 per week by avoiding anything but good ol' H2O.

10. Fill Out a Budget Sheet

There are a lot of great budget sheets online, like the Quick-Start budget forms offered by Dave Ramsey. They can be downloaded as PDFs, printed, and filled out, allowing you to conveniently plan how much money you have going out and where it will end up. If you stick to your budget, all of your bills are accounted for and paid, and you know exactly how much discretionary income you have to spend — and save.

Patience and Simplicity

If you're patient and methodical about saving money, the best ways to do so are often incredibly simple and low-stress. So don't over-complicate the process. Start with the easier methods and work your way up as you get into the habit of budgeting and putting money aside. You'll feel better about your finances knowing that it's easy to meet your savings goals, set up an emergency fund and increase cash flow.

Do you have more low-effort ways to save money? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture
aubrey l shults

I need a credit card to establish credit

Guest's picture

Good ideas. Here are some we use.

Use cash instead of whipping out a credit card. We tend to be more conscious of the actual cost of something when paying in "real money".

This may seem silly, but it works. Dump all your change in a jar at the end of the day.

Guest's picture

Another easy one:

The library.

It's a big favorite at our house. Right now we're getting a kick out of watching Bewitched re-runs, DVD checked out for free.

Guest's picture

The best and easiest way we started to save money was to stop using a credit card and debit card. Now we are a "cash only" family. It makes everything so much easier and it doesn't involve going through transactions and balancing check books etc.