101 Ways to Save $500 or More Every Month
Trim the fat not the fun from your budget
By Bryan Daly
This special report will provide you with 101 ways to save money on everyday items.
#1 Shop One Per Week – It is a known fact that grocery stores are set up specifically to entice you into spending more than you intended. Impulse purchases can increase your grocery bill by as much as 35%. Avoid this by shopping only once per week and slash an average $143 off of your food bill.
#2 Shop Online – Better yet, avoid the store all together by purchasing household necessities over the internet. Because of the reduced overhead costs, online retailers are generally able to offer the same products found in a brick and mortar store for considerably less. Add to the fact that you can often eliminate sales taxes and find free shipping deals, you can kiss high shopping bills goodbye. Get free shipping and coupons from http://www.freeshipping.org.
#3 Bottle Water At Home – Americans are obsessed with water, spending over $X billion dollars a year on bottled water. Save $42 or more per month by investing in a water filtering system and bottling your own water at home. Not only will you keep more of the money you earn but you’ll be doing the environment a favor by cutting down the amount of bottles that find their way into landfills.
#4 Buy In Season Produce – We all know that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables everyday is good for you. But buying produce that is out of season is bad for your wallet. You’ll save between 20-50% simply by going with the flow of nature and eating what’s in season. Visit http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/ to find a list of in season fruits and veggies.
#5 Buy Organic Selectively – While healthier for you than conventional fruits and veggies, organic produce can cost up to $2.00 more than those that come from farms which use conventional farming methods to grow crops. Cut down on the amount of pesticides you ingest while keeping a healthy budget by going to http://www.foodnews.org and learning which produce contains the most pesticides and which ones don’t and shopping accordingly.
#6 Buy Private Label – The private label products of most stores are just as good as, or better than, the brand name versions of the same products. You can save an estimated $15 or more by switching to store brand canned produce, batteries, pain relievers, and basic beauty items such as nail polish remover.
#7 Look for Deals Online – In addition to using paper coupons, go virtual and look for coupons, rebates and deals online. Sites like, CouponMom.com and FreeShipping.org are great places to go to find coupons, free shipping offers and even earn a few dollars.
#8 Get a Virtual Shopping Assistant – If you love to shop but don’t have the time or inclination to scour the internet or offline sale papers for good deals, sign up to ShopItToMe.com. This site lets you sign up to be notified whenever your favorite designers go on sale at popular retailers such as Nordstrom.
#9 Use Loyalty and Reward Points – Take advantage of loyalty and points reward programs. These programs let you accrue points that you can use to purchase travel or merchandise. Most programs also send coupons and notices of special deals for members.
#10 Shop Second Hand – Buying gently used merchandise from second hand boutique stores can net you some brand name goodies at 50-75% off the normal retail price. Going this avenue is great for DIYers with the time and know-how to make an old side table hot again.
#11 Shop With Eyes Only – While it is better to avoid temptation in the first place, if you go to the mall or retail store avoid handling merchandise you have no intention of buying. According to two marketing professors, professors Joann Peck (University of Wisconsin– Madison) and Suzanne Shu (UCLA) touching products increases our sense of ownership of them, making it more difficult to leave it in the store.
#12 Inconvenience Yourself – You are far more likely to overspend if it is easy for you to shop. If you only need a few items, use a hand basket rather than a cart. Only need one or two things, ditch the basket altogether.
#13 Pack a Lunch – The average cost of a fast food meal is $6.00. Not only does eating at burger and taco chains increase your waist size but they can drain your wallet. When cooking dinner make extra and then take the leftovers to work with you for lunch.
#14 Transportation Reimbursement – Ask your company about a transportation program that lets you put pretax money into a prepaid account for transportation costs such as parking fees and mass transit fees. You can set aside up to $230 per month which will net you a savings of about $80 per month.
#15 Carpool – Not only is carpooling a great way to catch up on office gossip, you can reduce your commute costs dramatically by sharing a ride with an office buddy. Simply ask around the office for people who live close to you who may be interested or visit Erideshare.com for help finding fellow commuters in your area.
#16 Ride a Bike – Cycling to work is not only a money saving alternative to driving, it is also greener and a great way to get your daily dose of exercise. Purchasing a good quality bike at around $500 and riding to work on the days when the weather is nice will net you up to $250 in savings per month.
#17 Start Your Own Home Based Business – Starting a home business is great for both the spirit and the wallet. Since you’ll be working from home, all the money that you have spent on gas, clothing and restaurants will go back into your bank account. It is important, though, to start the right kind of business. see also tax benefits- this site at
#18 Downshift – Do you really need multiple cars? Even though owning two cars may be very convenient, you are paying twice the cost of fuel, insurance and maintenance than a household with only one car. Get a cash boost by selling it. If you can live without a second car, downgrade to a more economical option such as an Escort or Camry.
#19 Drive the Speed Limit – Speed demons pay more in fuel costs. The faster you drive the less miles per gallon you’ll be able to squeeze out of your gas tank. Going the speed limit can save you up to 23% a month.
#20 Maintain Your Tires – Keeping your tires properly inflated reduces drag and improves gas mileage. Check your tires weekly with a pressure gauge to make sure they stay at the manufacturers recommended tire pressure to get a 3% boost in your mileage.
#21 Get the Junk Out of the Trunk – Driving around a hundred pounds of unnecessary items in the trunk of your car can reduce your mileage by as much as 2%. Dump the extra load to increase fuel efficiency.
#22 Be a Safe Driver – Aggressive driving is not only illegal in most states but can cost you big time. Constant accelerating and decelerating wreaks havoc on your gas mileage. In addition to that, aggressive drivers are involved in more accidents which results in higher insurance premiums. Give your wallet a break and drive safe.
#23 Share a Babysitter – Make going out on the town a little less expensive by sharing a babysitter with friends. Since there will be more kids you can pay the sitter a higher rate but one that is less than what you would have paid separately. For example, $20 per hour combined vs. $15 per hour separately.
#24 Swap Babysitting Duties – Better yet, skip the sitter and swap babysitting duties with other couples who have children. The kids will have more fun playing with their friends and you’ll have more money to spend for your night out.
#25 Swap Pet Sitting Duties – Along the same vein, instead of taking Fido to a kennel when you go out of town leave him with a fellow pet owner in exchange for the return of the same favor. Your pet will have a more comfortable place to stay and you’ll have enough money to bring him back a souvenir from your trip.
#26 Make Your Children Less Taxing – There are several tax breaks you may be eligible for as a parent. For example, the Child Tax Credit gives you an additional $1000 per child under seventeen in tax credits. A qualified accountant can help ensure you take advantage of all deductions you qualify for.
#27 Take Advantage of Flex Spending – Even though 85% of employers offer Flex Spending accounts, only 6% of eligible workers take advantage of the program. That’s leaving money on the table. A Flex Spending account allows you to put pretax dollars in an account that can be used to pay for child care costs (up to $5000) including day camps and health care costs ($3000-$5000 depending on the employer.
#28 Just Say No – It is estimated that over a five year period of time, parents will provide around $59,000 in financial assistance to adult children. Make children pay their own way by reducing or eliminating the money you give.
#29 Circumvent the College Bookstore – Retailers, such as Barnes & Noble, are getting in on the college books market and you can often find the same books for less. Additionally, students can save themselves the headache of trying to sell their textbooks at the end of the semester by renting them from Chegg.com or CampusBookRentals.com.
#30 Get a Realistic Meal Plan – Chances are pretty slim that your child will actually use the full meal plan. Really, who eats cafeteria food on a Friday night? Instead of forking over a fortune for a full meal plan downgrade to a 7 or 14 meal plan. Your student will still have access to food more nutritious than candy and diet soda and you’ll save a few dollars.
#31 Take Advantage of Student Discounts – Students are eligible for all sorts of discounts especially on travel. Invest in a Student Advantage card that will net them 10-15% discounts off air, train and bus fair. The card will pay for itself on the first trip.
#32 Deduct Medical Expense – You may be able to deduct medical expenses for spouses and dependants if they exceed 7.5% o f your gross income. This includes tuition and related expenses for special schools the student may need to attend for developmental or learning disorders. A qualified tax consultant can give you more information about the code.
#33 Repair Instead of Replace – Stretch out your shoe dollars by taking worn out kicks to a shoe repair shop. Replacing worn out soles and repairing the tips on heels is a lot cheaper than doling out hundreds of dollars on a brand new pair of shoes.
#34 Hand Wash – Most clothes that say dry clean only can be washed in the machine or hand washed. Cut the dry cleaning budget by hand washing silks and sweaters in cold water. Linens can be put in the machine. However, bold colors such as red and navy should still be sent to the cleaners.
#35 Stretch It Out – Make hair color last by using a touch up kit to color roots. You can add two weeks to the life to your dye job.
#36 Go to a Beauty School – For basic services, such as a manicure or basic cut, ditch the expensive salon and go to a beauty school. You’ll receive a deep discount off beauty services in exchange for letting students sharpen their skills. Don’t worry, students are monitored by experienced staff who make sure they do the job right.
#37 Take Pets to Grooming Schools – Likewise, pet grooming can also be relegated to a grooming school rather than going to an expensive pet parlor. Pets will receive the same four paw treatment for less.
#38 Work Out Cheaper – Exchange your expensive gym membership for one at the YMCA. You’ll get the same workout at up to half the cost. If you are particularly self motivated, search online for free workout routines you can do in your home.
#39 Switch Pharmacies – Save money on your medication by switching to lower priced generics at pharmacies such as Walmart or Target.
#40 Go Mail Order – If you need the brand name medication, then check out your medical plan’s mail order service. You can often get the same medication for less purchasing it through the mail rather than going into a pharmacy.
#41 Plug Money Leaks – Pay attention to where your money goes by logging all purchases for one to two months. You may be surprised to find you are leaking cash like a sieve by spending it on unnecessary items or things you can get for much less if you switch to the home version. For example, ditch the $5 lattes at your local coffee bistro by purchasing an espresso machine and making your own at home.
#42 Get Waived – You can save $40 or more simply by asking the cell phone company to waive the activation fee if you are a new customer. If they decline, let them know that the activation fee is the deal breaker and threaten to walk away. Nine times out of ten, the cell phone company will waive the fee to keep you.
#43 Unlimited Talk for Teens – To keep up with their busy social lives teens spend, pretty much, all of their time talking and texting on cell phones. Invest in an unlimited calling and text plan to avoid potentially outrageous cell phone bills.
#44 Combine Plans – If you are paying for a cell phone for an elderly parent, instead of purchasing a separate service, simply add them to your existing family plan. Most providers only charge $10 per month for additional lines vs. $30 per month for a basic cell phone package.
#45 Drop the Landline – With cell phones, wireless and cable internet available, there is no particular reason to have a landline telephone anymore. Even major cities have begun reducing the number of landline pay phones in their towns. Maybe you should consider cutting the line too.
#46 Wash in Cold, Air Dry – 90% of the energy washing machines use goes towards heating up the water for use in the warm and hot settings. Severely reduce this energy drain by washing clothes in cold water. Forgo the dryer and hang clothes out to dry.
#47 Install Solar Panels – Energy from the sun is free and abundant. Installing a twenty panel solar energy system produces enough power to service up to 30% of the energy needs of an average sized home. With the tax rebates offered by the government until 2016, now is the perfect time to go green.
#48 Install Solar Water Heater – If your water heater is due for a replacement, then consider installing a solar powered water heater. A 56 square foot system will save up to $230 per year in energy costs. In addition to saving you money, installing solar products on your home increases its value in today’s environmentally conscious market.
#49 Insulate Walls and Crawlspaces – It is estimated that a 1/3 of a home’s energy is wasted because of a poorly insulated home. If your house is not already designated as energy efficient, then you can benefit from having the walls and crawlspaces insulated. You’ll lower your energy bills and household noise will be reduced as well.
#50 Install a Power Saver – Conserve energy for use when it is needed most by installing a power saver that turns the heat off at night when everyone is asleep. You can set it to start warming up the home 30 minutes to an hour before it’s time to get up for the day.
#51 Get an Energy Audit – Download the checklist from EnergyStar.gov and check for energy leaks in the home. Or if your power company offers an audit service have them come out and tell you what you can do to make your home more energy efficient.
#52 Layer Up – If you are chilly, instead of turning up the thermostat, put on a sweater. You’ll save 1% on your heating bill for each degree you lower the temperature.
#53 Switch to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs – Although compact fluorescent bulbs cost more initially, in the long run they are the cheaper choice. They use 75% less energy than regular bulbs and last 10 times longer.
#54 Buy Out of Season – Buy large ticket appliances out of season. For example, you can up to 40% on the cost of a new air conditioner if you purchase one in the dead of winter rather than the middle of summer.
#55 Get Inked – Printer ink is ridiculously expensive. Cut your costs by getting cartridges refilled rather than buying new. If you can’t find anyone in your area, check online for mail order companies that perform this service.
#56 Cut Out the Lawn – Downgrade your full service lawn care and pick the extra work. For example, have your landscaper take care of the lawn while you take on the responsibility of edging and trimming the bushes. Better yet, do away with this luxury altogether and become your own landscaper.
#57 Refinance – Although the housing bust was tragic, there is one positive thing to come out of the whole mess. Interest rates are at an all time low. If your interest rate is at least 1% or more above the current rate consider refinancing. On a $300,000 home, you could lower your monthly mortgage payments by $250.
#58 Make a Smart Move – If your nest is empty or you otherwise don’t need as much room as you used to, consider moving to a smaller home. You’ll save on the rent and energy costs tend to be lower on smaller homes.
#59 Do It Yourself – Many household repairs can be done by anyone with enough time and patience. The internet is a wonderful resource for learning how to minor repairs like caulking a tub or fixing a leaky faucet.
#60 Rent Tools – While it is nice to have an assortment of tools on hand whenever you need them, it really is a waste of money to purchase specialty tools you’ll only use maybe once every few years. Save money by renting tools from places like the Home Depot.
#61 Borrow Tools – Better yet, there are places where you can borrow tools for free. No, not your neighbor’s garage. Tool lending libraries are available in most major cities. Search Wikipedia for “tool lending library” to get a complete list of cities that offer this service.
#62 Get the Promo – Look into the promotions your cable company is offering new customers. If it is a better deal than what you are currently getting, ask the cable company to switch you. If they decline, threatening to move to a competitor will usually have them seeing things your way.
#63 Cut the Cord – Better yet, cut the cable if you don’t watch enough television. Instead, go online to places like Hulu and watch your favorite shows.
#64 Rent Cheaper – Movie lovers should sign up to a service like Netflix who will send you movies through the mail or download them directly from the website. The service is much cheaper than going to a rental store and you won’t have to worry about late fees. Another option is to rent from Redbox which provides the latest releases at about $1.00 per day.
#65 Afternoon Special – For movies that are still showing in theaters, go to a matinee rather than an evening show. You’ll save money and since there will be less people, you’ll be able to enjoy the show in peace and quiet.
#66 Do Lunch – Exchange your dinner reservations for lunch. The same tasty food will be served but at lunchtime prices which can be 20% less than dinnertime dollars.
#67 Have a Light Dinner – Ignore the dinner menu and order entrees or from the bar menu. Some of the food found on that side of the menu are enough to fill you up.
#68 Treat Yourself – Have a relaxing dinner at home then have only dessert at the restaurant.
#69 Get the Entertainment Book – The Entertainment book is a publication that includes coupons as well as a card that gets you deep discounts at restaurant and hotels. The cost of the book is around $35 but pays for itself within a few uses.
#70 Banking Alerts – Overdraft charges are at an all time which the average fee coming in at a whopping $35 per transaction. Set up alerts to your phone or email accounts that will let you know how much you have in your account and when bills are due to be paid.
#71 Avoid ATM fees – It seems insane but you can pay up to $2.50 per transaction for accessing your money from a non-proprietary ATM. Avoid the fee by only using your bank’s ATMs or opening an account with an online bank who will refund those fees to you.
#72 Free Checking – In this era of free checking, there is no good reason to continue using an account that charges you every month to hold onto your money. Switch to a no-fee, or free, checking account and save $120 or more every year.
#73 Open an Account – On average, check cashing places siphon 3-4% of your check every time you use the service. Avoid these fees by opening and using a free checking or savings account.
#74 Check Cashing – If for some reason you are not able to open a bank account, cash checks at places like Walmart which only charge a basic fee of $3.00 per check cashed.
#75 Prepaid Debit Card – Another good option for those without bank accounts is to use a prepaid credit card. Most cards allow direct deposit and will waive the monthly fee if you deposit a minimum amount into the account every month.
#76 Negotiate Credit Card Rates – Banks are raising interest rates in an effort to recapture some of the money they lost in the housing crisis. If you have good credit and have been a good customer, then call the credit card company and renegotiate your rates. If they won’t budge, threaten to move to another company. If they still won’t cave then transfer your balance to a credit card company that offers a better rate.
#77 Get Cash Back – A better deal is to switch to a card that gives cash back on purchases. Both Amex and Discover have cards that pay you for using them. It’s like getting an extra percentage off purchases.
#78 Pay Off Debt – A better plan is to pay off credit card debt all together. You’ll save thousands of dollars in interest rates and will enjoy the peace of mind that comes with being debt free.
#79 Pay Cash – You are far more likely to spend money if you use your debit card. Cut down the temptation by paying only in cash. You’ll actually feel the pain of parting ways with your money which will force you to think about whether or not you really need what you are buying.
Leisure and Travel
#80 Negotiate Your Rates – Use Priceline.com to negotiate lower prices on hotel rooms, flights and auto rentals. This is a great way to cut your travel costs especially if you are flexible in your travels dates. Visit BidOnTravel.com for great tips on successfully getting the price you want.
#81 Travel Off Peak – The majority of vacation destinations have peak tourism times, usually during the summer for amusement parks and the winter for tropical destinations. Traveling during the off peak season can provide significant discounts.
#82 Avoid Tourist Traps – Instead of going to a popular tourist destination, go someplace unique and less well known. You’ll still have a fun one of a kind vacation but will pay less for it.
#83 Timeshare – Ask around your social network for anyone who owns timeshare that they may not be using. Rather than let it go to waste, many people will rent it to you for cheap or let you stay for free.
#84 Free Food – Stay at hotel that offers free breakfast. You’ll $20-$30 (for a family of 4) per day just eating at the hotel rather than going to a restaurant.
#85 Make Your Meals – It’s understandable that you go on vacation to get a break from maintaining the household. However, get a room with at least a microwave and fridge and purchase ready to eat meals and snacks. Eat lunch at the hotel and save your money for a fabulous dinner.
#86 Exchange Homes – Do a home exchange instead of staying in hotel when going on vacation. Find someone who lives in the town you want to visit and offer to exchange homes for a week. Need help finding people? Visit HomeExchange.com for offers.
#87 Fly Off Peak – Take inconvenient flights, like the redeye, for lower rates. Planes tend to be less crowded during that time so travel should be more comfortable.
#88 Nix Baggage Fees – Try to book flights on airlines that do not charge baggage fees for the first bag. AirTran, JetBlue, Southwest and Alaska Air give you the first bag for free. The others charge. Needless to say, the less bags you have, the less you will need to pay for your luggage.
#89 Pack a Lunch – If you are visiting amusement parks, instead of eating at the restaurants onsite, take food and snacks in cooler. Save your money for the rides and souvenirs.
#90 Home Security – Installing an alarm system can reduce your homeowner’s insurance premiums up to 20%.
#91 Say No to Pet Insurance – Unless your pet has chronic health problems or the breed is susceptible to expensive diseases, it is unlikely that the savings will ever be more than what you pay in premiums.
#92 Make Teens Pay – There is no doubt about it. Adding a teen driver to your car insurance policy can increase your premiums by as much as 96%. Although, you can reduce the rate by having your teen take a driving course (15% discount) and keep their grades up (25% good student discount), you can’t beat the 100% discount you’ll get by having your child pay for their own insurance. Offer to help pay for a car if the teen agrees to be responsible for their own insurance payments.
#93 Squeeze the Discounts – Often an affiliation, such as AAA or AARP will net you a discount off your insurance rates. Be sure to talk to your broker about any that you may qualify for.
#94 Raise your Deductible – Raising your insurance deductible can reduce your insurance premiums by as much as 14% (@ $1000 deductible). It’s better to up your deductible and set that money aside in an interest bearing account.
#95 Drop Collision – Unless it is a collector car, you can probably get away with dropping collision coverage on it. If the replacement value of the car is significantly less than the amount you’d pay for a years worth of collision coverage, then drop the additional insurance.
#96 Pay as You Drive – Insurance companies, such as Progressive, are starting to offer plans that base your premiums on how much you use your car rather than your driving record. If you are an occasional driver, then installing the wireless device that tracks your driving could save you up to 30% off your premiums.
#97 Price Comparison – It is a good idea that whenever your insurance policy comes up for renewal to take some time to compare rates with other insurance companies. However, don’t be so quick to switch. Sometimes calling your current company with your findings is enough to get them to lower your rates.
#98 Write it Down – It will be much easier to stick with your financial goals if you write down what they are and review them often. It’ll help take the edge off living a frugal life, especially if you are not used to it, if you have a clear idea of why you are doing it.
#99 Take it Easy – Living more frugal is really a lifestyle. And like all lifestyle changes, it takes time to really get into the groove of things. Cut yourself some slack especially if you are working on more than one goal. For example, if you quit smoking at the same time, focusing more on getting rid of the cigarette habit will eventually save you tons of money in both product costs and health care costs.
#100 Drop Expensive Habits – While we are on the topic of expensive habits, doing a lifestyle inventory could turn up some bad habits that are costing you an arm and a leg. Literally. Poor lifestyle choices, such as consuming large amounts of sugar and eschewing exercise, could result in the onset of a much more expensive disease down the road.
#101 Reward Yourself – You know what they say about all work and play. You are far more likely to stick to a savings plan if you reward yourself for meeting your goals. Set aside some Crazy Money that you can use to spend on whatever you want. That way you can splurge without breaking your budget.