unique ways to save

22 Unique Ways to Save Money and Boost Your Budget

You’ve likely heard of the traditional ways of saving money, including buying items on sale, using coupons, and eating at home. But are there any unique ways to save money that can help you fast-track your savings?

We’ve found some unusual ways that you can cut costs and boost your budget so that you can achieve your financial goals more quickly!

1. Make Your Own Beer

I am a beer fan. It is a weakness. It tastes good, and it is fun to drink. However, beer can get expensive.

A cost-effective, fun way to drink beer is to make it yourself. I made a batch with a couple of friends once for $20 each. That $20 gave us each a portion of five gallons of beer. Half of the $20 went to buying beer bottles. 

One of my friends had the equipment we needed. If you don’t have a friend with the right equipment, this can be an investment that can save you money in the long run, especially if you are a frequent beer drinker.

As a bonus, this hobby can generate a small income if you turn it into a side hustle.

2. Get a Streaming Stick

For Chanukah one year, I asked for and received a Roku. Roku is like a cable box for the internet. My box brings in unlimited Netflix streaming videos and music from Pandora. It can be set up to do much more.

With a streaming stick, you can consider cutting the cord on cable to save money. This could save you $100+ per month.

unique ways to save

3. Plan In Advance

If you enjoy going out with friends, it can be costly. Bars can never be totally frugal, but you can work it out to cut costs by asking for the drink specials and planning in order to avoiding cabs or ridesharing services. 

For example, I went out one night with friends and was able to plan in advance, having a roommate drop me off at the bar and then splitting the cost of a ride home with other friends I was meeting. This saved each of us money on transportation costs.

4. Force Yourself to Live Paycheck to Paycheck

I live paycheck to paycheck, but not in the way you think. It is something I do intentionally and is one of the more unique ways to save.

There is only enough money in my checking account for two weeks of spending. Everything else goes into a savings account each payday. This follows the idea of paying yourself first.

Every paycheck, I automatically take out a designated amount for my 401(k) and my Roth IRA. Once the cash hits my bank account, I automatically put $250 per paycheck into debts I’m trying to pay off. I then manually take a step to pay myself by putting $200 into my savings account.

Then, I live off of whatever is left. Some weeks, money can be tight, forcing me to evaluate my spending and lifestyle. I have cut back on eating dinner out and spending on things like movies and hobbies, but this benefits my financial health in the long run.

5. Buy Discounted Gift Cards

If you regularly make purchases at any major chain store or online website, you can save 6% or more (up to 30%) using sites like GiftDeals.

GiftDeals has gift cards for companies like Southwest Airlines, Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Gap, Home Depot, iTunes, Target, and Morton’s Steakhouse. There are hundreds of options.

Other sites, such as GiftCardRescue and Gift Card Granny, offer a similar service to help you save. These sites also allow you to sell unwanted gift cards for cash, adding extra money to your budget.

6. Get Cheap Wine

I love good wines, but they can be expensive. To save money, I looked into services like Winc. Like most wine clubs, Winc sends you a monthly wine selection. 

If you go to the liquor store and buy three good bottles, you can easily spend $10 to $20 per bottle plus tax. You also spent the time driving, shopping, buying, and driving home. It is nice to have someone do it all for you.

Winc costs $60 per month for four bottles and has free shipping. They only charge tax in some states. Compared to the liquor store, you could save $5 or more per bottle and find something more unique and better from Winc.

7. Invest Your Coffee Money

If you go to Starbucks daily on the way to work, you are spending about $5 a day, or $25 per week, on coffee that you can probably get at your office for free or make at home for a lower cost. Over a year, that could amount to $1,250.

Now, assume you invest that $1,250 per year instead of spending it. Saving it without investing a cent at zero interest would net you $43,750 if you start at 30 years old and save $5 every weekday, 50 weeks per year, until you are 65. 

If you invest that at a modest 5% return, which is less than the average of the S&P 500, you would have $118,545 (assuming that you invest the $1,250 once per year). At a more aggressive 7%, you would have $184,892 when you retire.

8. Pack Your Lunch

Buying lunch every day costs $5 to $10, on average. Let’s say $7 to make it simple. Bringing your lunch costs money, but it’s less than the cost of eating out. If you spend $2 to make your lunch, you save the same $5 per day as you did by skipping your latte.

If you utilize both habits and invest, double the numbers above. $369,784 sounds pretty sweet!

unique ways to save

9. Save on Gas

I recently shared the best mobile apps to better your life, and one of them can help you save on gas. GasBuddy gives you a crowd-sourced list of local gas stations and their prices. You can choose stations near home, work, or along your route to find the best prices.

Assuming you don’t have to go far out of the way, you can easily save $2 to $5 per fill-up. If you fill up once a week like me, that is $100 per year on the conservative side. Over 35 years, that $100 a year can become almost $10,000.

10. Drink More Water

Do you order a Coke every time you go out to eat? Or maybe you order a Diet Coke to save on calories (but add on cancer)? Those drinks are also taking a big chunk of change from your money. At a minimum of $2 each, even with free refills, the cost can add up over time.

Water costs nothing and has no calories. It is also good for you. According to research by MSN, switching to water could save you $977 annually.

11. Save Money on Hair Care

For almost 15 years, I have cut my own hair (not me personally, but my wife does the dirty work). I bought two pairs of clippers in that time frame, so I no longer have that expense.

My wife has also started taking herself and our kids to a local hairstyling school to get their hair cut. What used to cost us at least $45 to get my wife’s hair cut every few months now covers all of their haircuts and usually leaves a little money left over. 

It may not be glamorous, but their hair looks the same. Plus, we get to save money that can be applied to other areas of our budget.

12. Avoid the Grocery Store

I recently wrote about how to save money at the grocery store, so this tip might seem contradictory, but hear me out. It’s easy to make a quick trip to the store if you run out of something. No harm, right? That is, after all, exactly what grocery stores want you to do.

Every once in a while is okay, but these little trips can add up if done regularly. Rectify this by having a list when you go and cut down your number of trips. This will force you to become a wiser shopper.

You’ll notice that it will become easier to save money when you’re doing your grocery shopping. If you have to run to the store, just take the cash you need for the item so that you’re not tempted to spend more.

13. Comparison Shop

Whenever we have to buy something for the house, whether small or large, I always look for how I can save money on that purchase. Thankfully, the internet makes that easy.

Whether you check out a coupon site like RetailMeNot or go to Amazon, you can almost always find either a coupon or someone else selling the same item for cheaper. This allows us to save money that can be used for other things in our budget.

unique ways to save

14. Use Employer Benefits

Many people miss out on the benefits they get from their employer. A paycheck and vacation time are nice, but your employer likely offers more than that.

Check out your employer’s 401(k) plan. It will help you save in the long run, but it also lowers your tax liability.

Also, look into other benefits your employer offers, like wellness plans, education reimbursement, parking/transportation reimbursement, and more. These can help you save money on gym memberships, tuition, and parking/transportation costs associated with your job.

15. Treat Yourself

This may sound counterintuitive, but treating yourself helps you stay motivated to reach your goals. Set up little savings milestones to achieve on the way to a major savings goal, and give yourself a small reward each time you reach one!

16. Use Your Phone to Shop Smarter

A while back, I went to a local computer specialty store to research some items I needed to buy. I was surprised by how helpful my phone was in researching prices and other factors that influenced my purchase decisions.

I asked one of the employees for his recommendation on what products I should buy. Before I trusted him, though, I wanted to do my own research. I pulled out my phone and scanned the boxes for the one that I was told was the best and the one that was cheapest.

Surprisingly, the “best option” was not rated highly in consumer reviews. The cheapest option was $60 cheaper than Amazon.com and had fewer ratings, but they were more positive than the “better” brand.

Ultimately, I was reminded how important it is to do your own research before you buy an item. Pull out your phone before you head to the register and do your due diligence to save money.

17. Avoid Impulse Spending

If you have to run your credit card for over $100, I suggest using the two-week rule. This rule says that if you see something you want, which means you don’t absolutely need it to live, and it costs over $100, you wait two weeks to decide if you really want it.

If you forget about it, you made the right choice to leave it on the shelf. When you still want it but can’t justify the cost, you know you made the right choice not to buy. If you still really want it and can afford it, go ahead and buy it.

18. Impulse Spend the Smart Way

Sometimes, impulse purchases can’t be avoided. As a result, it is essential to know how to do it the right way.

Splurging on small items (in moderation) can be okay if you are the type of person who gets a rush when you make a purchase. These little splurges can discourage you from buying more expensive items that hurt your budget.

It’s critical not to give in on the big-ticket items. You must implement the two-week rule for these larger purchases to ensure they are items you actually need and can afford, not just items you want.

unique ways to save

19. Save Companies Money

Sometimes, saving companies money can save you money. My favorite example of this is paperless billing.

Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every month sending out paper bills and processing paper checks. They are always looking to cut costs, and one of the most logical ways to do that is to help customers move to paperless billing.

How does this help you? First off, it saves you a stamp. That is 66 cents, or whatever they cost today, that you can keep every month. This equates to $7.92 per year at current rates. If you pay a separate power, phone, and cable bill, that is $23.76 per year.

Assuming you subscribe to these services from when you are 20 to when you are 70, that is $1,188 over your lifetime. This just accounts for the stamps. You also have to pay for the checks. Over 50 years, that is 1,800 checks. At $6 per box of 200 checks, that is another $54.

20. Create a Values-Based Budget

Every day, you choose what to spend money on. Some of the things you spend money on are needs, but some are wants. To save money without feeling like you are giving up everything, you need to create a values-based budget.

A values-based budget focuses on the things that provide value in your life and cuts out the things that don’t serve you.

Oftentimes, we may think we spend money on our values. But, if you want to know what you actually value, look at where you are spending your money. For example, if you love books but spend money on video games instead, your budget and values are misaligned.

To reconcile your values and spending, create a list of things you value. This includes things that make you happy, bring value to your life and relationships, and make your life easier.

Once you have created a list with your values, make room in your budget for them and ruthlessly cut out other unnecessary items. 

21. Automate Everything

Saving money can feel like work, but automating your finances is a great way to simplify things. I am a huge proponent of automating your savings. Before moving to New York for graduate school, I saved $14,000 using the power of automation.

Each paycheck, I would automatically contribute $600 to my savings account. Since it was automatic, I didn’t even have time to miss it. Saving money, like anything else you want to master in life, requires persistence and positive habits. 

For me, automating my savings ensures that I am sticking to my goals and putting myself first.

22. Make Saving Money Like a Game

Imagine you are playing a game where the goal is to save as much money as possible but still buy the things you want.

This is a real game I like to play any time I spend money. When I think about it this way and know what I’d do with the money saved (pay off debt + travel), I am motivated to look for deals.

If you are doing any shopping, look for coupon codes and other cost-cutting deals on sites like RetailMeNot first. When you want to go out for dinner, save some money and use Groupon. If you still want to enjoy nice luxuries like a massage or pedicure, go to a beauty school.

The Bottom Line

These unique ways to save money can boost your budget with minimal effort. Adding them to the more traditional strategies you use to cut costs can fast-track your savings.

When you save more money, you can reach your financial goals and improve your net worth faster. Consider trying a few of these creative money-saving strategies today!

22 Unique Ways to Save Money and Boost Your Budget
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