How to Save Money FAST – 100 Ways to SAVE MONEY 💸

Let’s talk about how to save money FAST – with over 100 ways to save money. But I can tell you the #1 most important step to saving money: Having a plan. This way, you’re not just SAVING money, you’re MOVING money toward your financial goals. I created the Million Dollar Plan — a savings plan that works. The critical step is to start moving at least $500 a month toward your financial goal (pay off debt, build an emergency fund, and invest). I’ve also included 100 ways to save money to help you find that $500.
How to save money fast - ways to save money
If you already have a financial plan and are executing it like a BOSS, feel free to skip to these ways to save money.
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Your Million-Dollar Plan: Don’t just SAVE it, MOVE it to your FINANCIAL GOALS

Save with a PURPOSE: Have a long-term financial plan to help you see the big picture

Anything difficult is easier when you have A GOAL and a PLAN. The GOAL is financial independence. And I have a PLAN for you.

It shows you how to pay off debt, start investing, and get your money to start working for YOU.

Not sure the best place to be putting your money? Here is your Million-Dollar Plan:

how to save money fast - ways to save money MoneyFitMoms.com

 1. Build a “Baby” Emergency Fund ($1,000)

This baby emergency fund will help protect you against future debt. Well, that and committing to never buying anything with debt again. Thanks to today’s consumer culture, almost all of us have been caught up in debt. But not anymore — because we have a plan.

2. Pay off all debt (other than a fixed-rate mortgage)

    1. If you’re in debt, go on a spending fast until you pay off all debt. Eliminate all expenses other than housing, food, utilities, and transportation to work.

You may be wondering: “Does Netflix count as a utility?” It is if you’re using it to entertain your kids while you start a side-hustle (as a bookkeeper, for example) so you can pay off debt FASTER! Dave Ramsey is famous for saying “If you’re in debt, you should only see the inside of a restaurant or movie theater if you work there.”

I know it hurts to cut expenses. In my experience, the pain of a lifestyle adjustment only lasts 2 or 3 months until you start to see those debt balances go down. Then you “catch the vision” and cutting expenses feels like FREEDOM!

3. Build a FULL Emergency Fund (3-6 months worth of expenses)

This cash cushion will allow you to INVEST more confidently and REMAIN DEBT-FREE in an emergency.

4. INVEST – the KEY to building wealth

Once you’re debt-free, you can do the EXCITING part – INVESTING is where your MONEY starts to work for YOU.

Use tax-advantaged accounts in this order:

 1. Contribute to your employer retirement plan (e.g. 401k) UP TO YOUR EMPLOYER MATCH

First, contribute enough to your employer plan (e.g. 401k) to get your employer match. This is free money you’d be missing out on, so if your employer matches half of your contribution up to 6%, tell your employer you want to start contributing 6% of your salary to your 401k.

2. Open a Roth IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

You (and usually your spouse) can each contribute to a Roth IRA each year, up to the limit (check current limit here). If you are over a certain income, your contributions to Roth IRAs may also be limits (check currently Roth IRA Income limits here).

3. Contribute MORE to your 401k

If you’ve maxed out your Roth IRA contributions, go back to your 401k and contribute more, up to the maximum annual 401k deferral limit.

EXAMPLE

For example, Ryan and Amy want to start maxing out their tax-advantaged investment options.

In 2021, Ryan (age 35) earns $100,000 a year and Amy currently does not work.

Ryan’s company matches half of his 401k contribution limits, up to 5% of his salary.

Ryan start by deferring 5% of his salary ($5,000) to his 401k.

His employer matches $2,500.

Ryan contributes $6,000 to a Roth IRA and Amy contributes $6,000 to her Roth IRA.

So far, they’ve invested $19,500 ($5,000 + $2,500 + $6,000 + $6,000.) or 19.5% of his salary.

Cranking it up a notch

Let’s say Ryan and Amy are going for early Financial Freedom, so they want to contribute even more. They’re even thinking about doing a FatFIRE (high-expense early retirement).

How much more can they defer to their 401k? The 2021 Limit is $19,500, they’re already deferring $5,000, so he could defer up to $14,500 more, bringing their total investment contributions up to $34,000 ($19,500 + 14,500).

This would be a challenge to their current budget but would do amazing things to their long-term net worth.

How to Save Money Fast – 100 Ways to Save Money

Critical Financial Habits to Save Money

  • Set up autopay for your financial goals (debt payoff, savings, investing)
    • We tend to spend what we have, so rather than waiting to see what’s leftover in your savings account, consider setting up an autopay. Automatically transfer a set amount to whatever financial step you’re on (debt payoff, emergency fund, retirement contributions – see above).
  • Share your financial goals with family and friends to ease social pressure to spend.
    • A lot of spending is from social pressure. If you share your goals with those close to you, you’re more likely to achieve your goals. It’s a great way to gauge who is going to be a cheerleader. Sometimes when people feel insecure about their own financial habits, they discourage others from making healthy and needed changes.
  • Start tracking your spending
    • You manage what you measure. My favorite budgeting tool is YNAB (~$7/month), but there are a lot of free apps, including Mint.
  • Start tracking your net worth
    • Possibly even more effective than budgeting is tracking your net worth every month (how to calculate your net worth).
    • Tracking your net worth helps you see the big picture, so you:
      • Avoid debt
      • Payoff debt
      • Invest more
  • If you haven’t saved for it, don’t buy it
    • If you need a loan to buy a car, you can’t afford it yet. Buy used.
    • SNL made an amazing skit about buying things until you’ve saved up for it. They called it, “Don’t Buy Stuff.”
  • Ask yourself if it’s a need vs. want – and then WAIT
    • If you always waited 1 month before buying a “want,” I would save literally thousands of dollars every year.
    • For example, we needed to buy a new mattress. By waiting, we were able to reevaluate what size and type of mattress we needed and saved hundreds of dollars.
  • Get free debt counseling
    • Check out the non-profit network of debt counselors are available through Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS) – Get started here. Working with them is confidential and judgment-free. They can help you figure out your options and how to negotiate with creditors to repay your debts. Beware: not all debt counseling is equal. A lot of high-cost debt companies are looking to make money off people in debt.
  • Calculate the opportunity cost of spending vs. investing
    • When my affordable minivan became so unreliable, it was unsafe, I started shopping around for cars. The first car I found felt like a “need.” When I took a step back and waited, I was able to find another car that cost less than half as much. The car still met my needs and allowed me to invest what I would’ve spent on the luxury car. The difference in the short run was about $25,000. But considering a 7% investment doubles every 10 years, the opportunity cost of buying the luxury car would have been:
      • $50,000 after 10 years
      • $100,000 after 20 years
      • $200,000 after 30 years
      • $400,000 after 40 years
    • To calculate how much something is worth in opportunity cost 40 years from now, multiply by 16 and ask yourself if it’s still worth it.
  • Calculate the cost of your time
    • Calculate purchases in times of hourly cost rather than money. “is this worth working 3 hours for?”
  • Write reminders of your large financial goals in important places
    • On your credit/debit card, bathroom mirror, and/or laptop — wherever it’ll help you stay focused on your goals.
  • Pay other people to do what they’re good at so you can do what you’re good at.
    • Compute the hourly cost of your time. I love saving money, but if you have a job that pays you for every hour of work, your time has an opportunity cost. I outsource some household labor because I can make more from both my blog and my photography business.

How to Save Money Fast – More Ways to Save Money

For more lifestyle savings ideas, I reached out to the Money Fit Moms community (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok).
THE GOAL: Find $500 a month to put toward your Million Dollar Plan
1. Payoff Debt
2. Emergency Fund
3. Invest toward Retirement

ALL SHOPPING – WAYS TO SAVE MONEY

  • Negotiate your recurring bills (utility bills, cable, banking, insurance, and internet).
    • A phone call to each of these companies is one of the many ways to save money every month.
    • Compare prices annually and switch if needed.
  • Don’t buy at all – but really.
    • Find things you really don’t need, especially if you’re in the debt-payoff stage. My 90-year-old grandma grew up during the depression era. Her mantra was, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”
  • Join a local “buy nothing” group on Facebook.
    • Get it free from someone else
  • If buying something for an event, consider borrowing from a friend instead.
    • One Halloween our family dressed as the Avengers and managed to borrow, invent, or create all of our costumes for free for very little time.
  • If you have a NEED that you MUST buy new online, use a cash-back websites/apps.
  • Always check for coupon codes before checking out.
  • Don’t use credit cards.
    • I use credit cards for convenience and cash-back rewards. But if you occasionally carry credit card balances, you are incurring expenses debt. Once again, if you haven’t saved for it, don’t buy it.
  • Try the envelope system using cash.
    • You only bring as much into the store and you’re willing to spend (e.g. $200 on a grocery shopping trip)
  • Always go into major purchases (home, car) with a budget and STICK TO THE BUDGET
    • I did this when we were buying a car and ended up getting over $5,000 under the market price. How? Because I was ready to walk away and wait longer if needed.
  • Avoid window shopping. That goes for virtual window shopping (aka browsing), too.
    • One mom said her best money-saving advice is “Not going to Target!”
  • Always price compare.
    • Google Shopping compares prices between retailers.
    • For Amazon, I have Capital One shopping installed that automatically price-checks items I’m looking at.
  • Buy quality items and take care of them.
    • Cheaper isn’t always better if it’s built to be essentially disposable.
  • Working from home (when it’s an option)
    • This saves on commuting, work clothes (and its dry-cleaning), expensive lunches, and coffees.
  • Switch to generic or store brands.
  • Get familiar with the dollar store – some items are much cheaper
    • Know what you can buy there for much cheaper than Target (e.g. greeting cards). Shop there every once in a while and buy in bulk.

HOME

  • Avoid buying/rent too much house
  • DIY basic repairs for homes and appliances.
    • You’d be amazed at what you can learn on YouTube.
  • Consider energy-efficient upgrades to save on utilities (windows, solar power)
    • Remember to SAVE UP for these upgrades rather than financing with debt. If you can’t buy it with cash, you can’t afford it yet.
  • Get free furniture from “Buy nothing” Facebook groups or Facebook marketplace.
  • Create a monthly “DIY group” with friends and take turns doing painting and home projects.
    • Projects are easier and more fun with friends.
  • Save on heating and cooling by changing your thermostat a few degrees
    • Wear a sweater in the winter and go swimming during the hot afternoons the cool down during the summer.
  • Make your own furniture
    • Sounds crazy, but when we were in our most intense low-spending days, I picked up upholstering as a hobby and made things like our DIY Upholstered Headboard and reupholstered an old ottoman that we used for years.
  • Check your home and HVAC system for leaks
    • You may be paying to heat the neighborhood. About 8 years into owning our home, we realized there was a huge duct leak in our attic, so we’d been paying to heat/cool our attic.
  • Replace regular light bulbs with CFL or LEDs to save on electricity.

CARS

  • Drive older cars.
    • Driving older cars has a HUGE effect on your monthly budget, as transportation is often a household’s 2nd largest expense. 85% of new cars are financed with debt, driving up the cost of buying new cars.
  • If you have a car payment, consider selling and buying an inexpensive used car.
  • Learn basic car maintenance
    • This saves on mechanics fees by keeping your car in good condition.
  • Shop around on car insurance every year or so to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
  • If you’re a multi-car household, consider car-sharing to cut down on insurance, gas, and maintenance.
  • When shopping for your next home, consider walkability in your financial equation.
    • I love checking for addresses’ “WalkScore” on WalkScore.com

FOOD – GROCERY ON A BUDGET

  • Meal Plan to decrease the number of shopping trips and therefore the impulse buys.
  • Go into the grocery store with a shopping list and stick to it.
  • Have a couple of easy meals ready (bought on sale) for when you don’t feel like making dinner.
  • Shop the discount produce section (often the in-season items). Buy day-old bakery items.
  • Pack your lunch
    • My husband and I were the uncool kids at work who brought their lunch, but it helped us make our Roth IRA contributions
  • Learn how to cook your favorite meals.
    • Cooking seems obvious but it really can help you cut down on eating out and improve your health.
  • Avoid processed food for your health and your wallet.
    • If it comes in a box or package, you’re paying a premium. Try making some things from scratch (e.g. dressings, granola, etc.). You may prefer both the cost and the taste.
  • Shop sales – if you eat it and it goes on sale, buy enough to last until the next sale.
  • Cook in bulk and freeze to save money and time in the kitchen.
  • Find healthy, inexpensive staples, such as having plan oatmeal for breakfast.
    • My friend in Canada said eggs are $4/dozen so her kids eat oatmeal for breakfast most days. Oatmeal is inexpensive, healthy, and keeps the kids feeling full longer than cold cereal.
  • Switch to a lower-cost grocer.
    • You’re paying for that fancy lighting.
  • Water is your friend. It’s the healthiest option and cheap! Use a filter and reusable bottles
    • If your tap water doesn’t work for you, buy a filter and refill reusable bottles to save money and help the environment.
  • Make coffee and tea at home
  • Cook from what you have – try to empty out the fridge and pantry.
    • Try to make meals from what you already have on hand (some people said “only shop when your refrigerator is empty”).
  • Gardening can be a fun and therapeutic way to save on produce.
    • Easy items to start with: Tomatoes and herbs like basil (makes great pesto!)
  • Learn how to propagate plants from seeds/cuttings saves even more.
  • Use reusable snack bags instead of ziplock bags.

PHONES – WAYS TO SAVE

  • Skip the pricey insurance (self-insure instead) and get a highly rated case like an Otterbox to protect against drops.
  • Shop around and compare phone plans every year – switch if you find a much better deal.
  • Consider getting a cheaper data plan and using wifi when you can (it’s almost everywhere these days!)

KIDS

  • Have a chore system to save on cleaning costs
    • If you invest the time in teaching your kids how to clean properly, they can do a great job, saving you money on a cleaning professional. Plus . . .
  • Once again, Buy Nothing groups for the win!
    • One mom said she received all baby items for free from a buy-nothing group.
  • Doing an allowance system that works for you but requires the kids to buy their own wants.
    • The requests and mom-guilt of saying no are basically gone.
  • Create a family spending limit on gifts
    • Gifts, especially holiday shopping, can destroy your annual spending. Consider discussing with extended family, referring to your larger financial goals to encourage understanding.
  • Consider cloth diapers
    • Melanie from our Money Fit Moms Community said: “When we were poor college students and I had two boys in diapers, I switched to cloth diapers so we could pay for my daughter’s monthly violin rental and lesson tuition. I spent one month of buying a stock of cloth diapers that worked for us, and then started violin the following month.”
  • Superglue repairs a lot of our broken toys.
    • I like this multipack that comes in small tubes — it has lasted me for years.
  • Have a “no spend” day of the week (e.g. Sundays)
    • Cook at home, plan free activities, and generally stay offline for quality family time and big savings
  • Set up a babysitting swap with another couple
    • Now that we have more money and less time, we use a babysitter. But at the beginning of our financial journey, we did this for years and saved a lot on babysitting. Plus, I was more willing to leave my babies with another experienced mom than a young babysitter.
  • Consider a 529 Plan to pay for educational expenses
    • I generally don’t recommend a 529 plan unless you’re debt-free and on track for your retirement goals, but they can be a great way to fund a college education, even if you want your child to work their way through college.
    • More on 529 plans
  • Apply for scholarships – there is more money out there than you know!
    • Consider requiring your high school senior to apply for one scholarship a week. It will add up!
  • “Don’t overspend by buying digital goods” like video game add-ons.
    • This tip is from my 7-year-old when I asked him how to save money. He realizes video games today are built to cash-in on kids’ love of screen-time.

CLEANING

  • Find reusable items or make your own cleaner
  • Use cloths/rags instead of paper towels (better for the environment, too!)
  • Make your own foaming hand soap

HEALTH

  • Getting 30 minutes of exercise 3-4+ times a week does a lot for heart, brain, and mental health, cutting down on medical costs.
  • Eating plenty of plants and taking a good multivitamin can cut down on some costs of illness.
    • Preventative measures are the key to a healthy and more cost-efficient life.
  • Calling medical billing offices to negotiate bills can add up to huge savings.
    • Most are willing to work with patients.
  • Meditate regularly (using a free app like Insight Timer) to improve mental and emotional health.
  • Use an HSA to use pre-tax dollars to pay for health costs
    • Check your eligibility, but the biggest requirement is being on a high-deductible health plan.

CLOTHING

  • Hand-me-downs for the win! Join a buy-nothing group on Facebook.
    • If you don’t have friends with bigger kids, join a mother’s group or a local “buy nothing” group on Facebook.
  • Shop at thrift stores.
    • If you know how to thrift, you can buy quality name-brand clothing for less than you’d pay at Walmart. It also helps reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Shop the off-season clearance rack and size up for the next year.
  • Turn worn-out pants into shorts for summer
    • YouTube if you don’t know-how

PERSONAL

  • Learn to cut hair. If you’re brave enough, YouTube is your friend.
    • I learned how to cut my husband’s hair when we were in college. Between his haircut and my 3 kids, I think I’ve saved literally thousands of dollars.
  • Use a diva cup instead of tampons
  • Have at-home “spa days” with your friends for mani/pedis.
    • You’ll save on manicures and pedicures, plus you’ll get the mental health benefits of a monthly hang-out with friends.
  • YouTube how to give a proper massage and take turns with your partner
    • Great for your wallet and your relationship — all that feel-good oxytocin.

ENTERTAINMENT & TRAVEL

  • Spend time outside instead of paying admission
    • Biking
    • Walks
    • Parks
  • For reading, use the library or buy used books.
  • Cut the cable
  • Review your subscriptions regularly, limit to one or two streaming service, and cut when you don’t need.
  • Have a stay-at-home date night.
  • Rather than going out to eat with friends, do a low-budget “My Favorite Things” night.
  • Explore the area around you.
    1. Look up national, state, and county parks
  • Take up hiking or another low-cost outdoor activity

how to save money fast - ways to save money MoneyFitMoms.com

In conclusion, I hope these ways to save money realize how to save money fast. Paired along with the financial plan, you can start your intentional financial freedom journey.

Join the FREE Money Fit Challenge!

Lastly, while you’re here, did you know you’re more likely to accomplish financial goals if you have a supportive community and step-by-step instructions? Get both from Money Fit Moms!

(1) Join the supportive @MoneyFitMoms community (Instagram, Facebook and PinterestYouTube, and TikTok)

(2) Then, get FREE step-by-step instructions and tools to accomplish all the Top 10 Money Fit Moves. (e.g. budgeting, pay off debt, investing, retirement, create a will)

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