Easy Ways to Save Money Every Day: Tips and Ideas

Get practical tips on easy ways to save money on everyday expenses.

Food, clothing, lights, A/C, car…people managing personal finances often find that with all these daily expenses, the money disappears—fast. How can people cut expenses and save—for retirement, a home improvement project or a family vacation?

These doable tips for saving money can help you save on everyday expenses, freeing up more money to put into your savings account.

The average American spends about $158 a day1—but there are ways to lower that number. Get some creative money-saving ideas that can help you figure out how to manage money better:

Examine your bathroom

Believe it or not, a toilet uses about 30% of the typical home’s water consumption. While older toilets can use up to 6 gallons per flush, energy efficient toilets (look for the EPA-approved WaterSense label) use less than 1.5 gallons, while still working as well or better.2

Making this switch is one of the simplest ways to save money (and stop flushing money down the toilet). Average savings is $100 per year or more than $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilet.3 Your local utility company may even offer a rebate to lower the cost of the purchase.

Look freshly pressed (for less)

Dry cleaning a shirt can cost anywhere from $2 to $34 to close to $125, which means 5 shirts a week can cost $15 per week, $60 per month and $720 per year.

Instead paying for dry cleaning, a simple way to save money is to switch to machine-washable wrinkle-free shirts, which look freshly pressed, even after repeated washings.

And speaking of washing machines, using cold water, running only full loads with the least amount of detergent necessary and drying clothes in the great outdoors can save approximately $300 per year.6

Save big on breakfast

Americans have a love affair with cold breakfast cereal. But some of the “high-end” cereals can cost $5 or even more per box.7 One of the easy ways to save money is to go generic. Store-brand cereals can be 25%-35% cheaper than name-brand. And those big bags of cereal may be up to 50% cheaper.

An even less expensive option is to make oatmeal. A 25-pound bag of oats can cost around $20, or 84 cents per pound (or even less, if you buy from a co-op). In comparison, a box of name-brand cereal costs about $3.20 per pound. Try “overnight oats,” an easy, filling and cost-effective breakfast option. (Just put oatmeal, yogurt and milk in a container in the fridge overnight.)

Ways to save on the workout

Do you have a gym membership that’s not getting quite as much use as you had thought? The average price for a gym membership is close to $608 per month —money that can go straight into your savings account if you use less expensive workout options. Check out the YouTube channel FitnessBlender (hundreds of free workouts) or the app Aaptiv (combines a personal trainer with your favorite tunes) for a high-energy, low-cost way to burn calories.

Get around for less

Commuting by car costs the average American about $4,000 per year.9 One money-saving technique is to switch to less expensive commuting options, like walking, public transportation, bikes or a car-sharing service.

If you need a car, there are still ways to reduce some of the expenses:

  • Find the cheapest gas. One of the easiest ways to save money on your car is to find cheap gas. Apps such as Gas Buddy and Gas Guru will point you in the right direction.10 And most experts agree that premium gas (often 20-40 cents higher) is unnecessary—regular unleaded is just fine.9 If you fill up once a week, that’s a savings of $5 per week or more than $250 per year.

  • Fill up on Monday. According to a recent study, Monday is the cheapest day to buy gas.11 (It has to do with how commodities are traded and reported on, including the Energy Information Administration’s weekly report.)

  • Break out the bucket. The cost of an exterior and interior car wash can be $15-$30.12 Try insourcing car cleaning with a bucket and a hand vac. If you swap your monthly car wash for a DIY wash, that’s $180-$360 savings per year.

  • Pump it up. Keep the tires inflated. Every 2 psi of air you add improves the car’s gas mileage by 1%. That means filling up less—and saving more.13

Brown bag it

Bringing lunch from home instead of going out can save $25 per week, or $1,300 per year—more than $50,000 over a 40-year career.9

It doesn’t have to be difficult. Take leftover dinner. Or make sandwich fixings on Sunday, like hard boiled eggs or tuna, for quick sandwich prep during the week. Try these slow-cooker recipes—you can easily cook large batches once a week and freeze portions for later. And if you eat out frequently, consider using a meal service—it may actually save you money.

Spend less at the supermarket

After work, you may need to pick up some groceries. One of the best ways to save money is to readjust how you think about food. People who plan menus and then shop according to a list tend to spend less.14

Other ways to save on nosh including skipping that convenience store: One study showed that supermarkets can be up to 45% cheaper than convenience stores.9 And be stingy about buying perishables, even if they are on sale. If you don’t drink all that milk, that’s throwing money down the drain.15 Also, buying store-brand instead of name-brand can help you save. Even if it’s only $1 less to buy the store-brand, these small ways to save money really add up. That $1 times 40 or 50 items is a decent chunk of change.16

Get more money saving ideas to help you reduce the grocery bill.

Reduce the restaurant bill

When it’s dinner time, cook if you can. A study comparing the “healthy food diet” to the “fast food diet” found that homemade food costs half the price of fast food.17

But you don’t have to give up restaurant experiences entirely:

  • Limit your trips. Switching your weekly restaurant outing for monthly can save big bucks.

  • Skip the drinks. One of the best money-saving tips for restaurants is to stick with water. Drinks, especially alcohol, are marked up much more than the average food.9

Turn it all off

One of the easiest ways to save money at home (in your PJs) is to unplug all appliances and electronics before bed.15 Even when these devices are turned off, they are still using a phantom charge, which you pay for.13

Get more ideas for saving money on your energy bill and other monthly expenses.

What can you insource?

Many of our everyday expenses go toward outsourcing chores, like car washing, gardening, cleaning and household repairs. Taking on a few of these chores every day leaves more money for savings.

Other ways to save every day:

  • Pay with cash. People spend less when they pay with cash18 —partly because we feel a stronger connection to the money. It’s easier to control spending with cash, because when the cash is gone, the spending ends.

  • Wait a day. Experts suggest using the “24-hour purchase rule” to get a grip on spending. Wait a day and then decide if it’s a “must-have” or a “can live without” item.

  • Click “unsubscribe.” If marketing emails are constantly luring you to shopping sites, then cut ties. Out sight, out of mind.

Perhaps the best way to cut expenses? Find tips for saving money that fit with your lifestyle so it’ll be easier to stick with over the long haul. Making small spending changes throughout the day can help you save well while allowing you to enjoy life. It’s true that you need to spend money every day—but you can save every day, too.


This site is for educational purposes. The material provided on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice or to indicate the availability or suitability of any Capital One product or service to your unique circumstances. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.

Citations

  1. Consumer Expenditures in 2016 : BLS Reports. (2018, April 01). Retrieved July 25, 2018 from https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/consumer-expenditures/2016/home.htm

  2. WaterSense labeled toilets. (2018, February 2). Retrieved July 26, 2018, from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-01/documents/ws-products-factsheet-toilets_0.pdf

  3. Casey, A. (2017, October 07). How much can you really save with energy efficient improvements? Retrieved November 05, 2017, from https://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/how-much-can-you-really-save-energy-efficient-improvements

  4. Wilson, C. (2016, November 04). How much does it cost to dry clean a man's shirt? Retrieved November 05, 2017, from https://www.angieslist.com/articles/how-much-does-it-cost-dry-clean-mans-shirt.htm

  5. Passy, C. (2016, January 31). Never pay for dry cleaning again. Retrieved November 05, 2017, from https://www.marketwatch.com/story/never-pay-for-dry-cleaning-again-2013-11-20

  6. Zahnzinger, M. (2017, February 17). These 5 easy laundry tips will help save you money. Retrieved November 06, 2017, from http://laundry.reviewed.com/features/these-5-easy-laundry-tips-will-help-save-you-money

  7. White, M. C. (2018, June 20). Why your breakfast cereal costs so much? Retrieved June 20, 2018, from https://www.cnbc.com/2015/09/28/puffs-flakes-and-dollars-why-your-breakfast-cereal-costs-so-much.html

  8. Steverman, B. (2017, January 30). Why You're Paying So Much to Exercise. Retrieved August 05, 2018 from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-30/why-you-re-paying-so-much-to-exercise

  9. Yeager, J. (n.d.). 10 ways to cut expenses. Retrieved November 05, 2017, from https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-10-2012/simple-ways-to-cut-expenses.html#slide1

  10. 9 best apps to find cheap gas near you (iPhone & Android). (2017, May 22). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from https://moneypantry.com/cheap-gas-apps/

  11. Timmermann, M. (2017, April 26). The best day of the week to buy cheap gas. Retrieved November 05, 2017, from http://clark.com/cars/best-day-week-buy-cheap-gas/

  12. How much does car wash cost? (n.d.). Retrieved November 05, 2017, from https://costaide.com/car-wash-cost/

  13. Hamm, T. (2017, September 27). 40 ways to save money on monthly expenses. Retrieved November 05, 2017, from https://www.thesimpledollar.com/trimming-the-fat-forty-ways-to-reduce-your-monthly-required-spending/

  14. 54 ways to save money. (n.d.). Retrieved November 05, 2017, from https://americasaves.org/for-savers/make-a-plan-how-to-save-money/54-ways-to-save-money

  15. Benz, C. (2016, April 22). 100 ways to cut your day-to-day expenses. Retrieved November 05, 2017, from http://news.morningstar.com/articlenet/article.aspx?id=750108

  16. Brand name vs. no-name brand: A price comparison. (2016, June 8). Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://www.threethriftyguys.com/2016/06/brand-name-vs-no-name-brand-a-price-comparison/

  17. McNight, C. (n.d.). The price difference between healthy food & fast food. Retrieved November 05, 2017, from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/price-difference-between-healthy-food-fast-food-11002.html

  18. Wong, K. (2016, September 12). Paying with cash really does make you spend less. Retrieved November 05, 2017, from https://twocents.lifehacker.com/paying-with-cash-really-does-make-you-spend-less-1786507339

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