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10 Easy Ways to Save Money Without Much Effort

This article was written by in Saving. 21 comments.


The holiday season is approaching, so I know I’ll be spending more money. I have even begun planning a vacation, and I want to make sure I can afford it. Additionally, I am projecting that my side business will make less money in the future and not allow for the career transition from full-time cube dweller/half-time blogger to full-time blogger that I have been considering for the past year.

I’ve spent more this year than ever before, as evidenced by fancy new gadgets I now own, previously delayed for years until my finances supported such endeavors. I’m wary about the future, so it’s time to turn my eye back to savings. I’ll start with 10 easy ways to save more money without much effort. Some of these I do, some I don’t yet.

1. Automate your savings. Direct deposit is the first step. Your money goes right into the bank. Rather than having to make a decision about “how much to deposit,” you’re making a decision about “how much to withdraw.” Immediately, you’re likely to end up with less cash in hand and more in the bank. The second step is to automatically move money from your direct deposit account (usually checking) to savings that shouldn’t be touched. Try a few of these high-yield savings accounts out. They’ll be happy to set up automatic withdrawals.

Coin jar2. Collect your excess coins. I enjoy looking through circulating coins, if by chance I discover a rare specimen such as a silver quarter. No, it doesn’t happen often; most of the good stuff has been removed from circulation by other collectors or knowledgeable bank tellers. But while I’m saving my daily change in a glass jar, I’m also saving myself from spending that money. Every so often, I roll the coins with free sleeves from the bank and take them in for deposit.

3. Use goal jars. You’ve seen those jars in country shops. They are short, wide-mouthed clay pottery or stoneware jars with cork tops. On the outside of the jars, they are labeled using varying levels of wit. In these jars, you can set aside money you’d like to budget for “retirement,” “kids’ education,” “dreams,” or the “Harley fund.”

4. Form a budget and stick to it sometimes. A budget is probably the most depressing part of personal finance — and that’s why I avoid it. If my income dips so low that it approaches my ever-increasing expenses, I’m going to have to reconsider my approach. I see budgets as guidelines, and I believe they shouldn’t be inflexible. Sometimes, to enjoy life while we can, we have to make sacrifices in one category to pay for another. Budgeting discourages that; budgeting discourages living. Nevertheless, start budgeting, and you’ll start saving. The idea here is to budget without much effort, so don’t go crazy.

5. Eliminate or reduce a hobby or subscription. Hobbies can be expensive. Just ask anyone with a Faberge egg compulsion. Going to several Major League Baseball games a year can be expensive, as well. I see no need to eliminate these experiences completely, but cutting back will save some money and free your time for other, less expensive things. Also, canceling Netflix, magazines, extra cable channels, or your spring water delivery service can net you a few dollars each month without effort. Most people won’t miss these things once they are gone for a few months.

The first five tips focused on reducing spending, but there is another, equally important, method of saving more money. It may be more difficult for some, but by earning more money, you can save more money.

6. Sell stuff on eBay or Amazon Marketplace. If you were thinking of having a yard sale, think again. By selling your unwanted items online, you’ll reach a much wider audience, including more of those who appreciate what you have to offer. They will pay more for many things than would drivers by. Many people who troll garage sales now do so only to look for bargains in items that could be sold immediately online for money. You might as well be the one earning extra on the sale. Selling and shipping has never been easier; you can by and print postage from the comfort of your own home, and the post office will pick up your package for delivery from your location.

7. Start a new hobby. Wait, didn’t we just suggest eliminating hobbies? Well, there are hobbies that actually make money. These are the activities that generally turn into microbusinesses. Do you like playing with computer hardware? Become a low-cost alternative to the big box tech support. Create crafts that you can sell at art shows. If you like pets, become a pet-sitter or walker.

8. Ask for a raise. Sometimes it’s that simple. Of course, if you are successful with this request, any additional income you receive should be assigned directly from direct deposit to your savings account or investment like 401(k). Also, you should be prepared with work-related justification of why you deserve such a raise. Just wanting to save more money won’t cut it.

9. Get a second job in retail. Especially with the holidays approaching, retailers are looking to staff up with art-time help. You’d have to determine whether a $9 to $12 per hour job is a good use of your time, but if you wouldn’t be using that time to do anything else, it may be worthwhile.

10. Consult. Better than working in retail, market yourself as a consultant in whatever field you are an expert (steering clear of any non-compete agreements you might have signed with your current employer). If it makes sense to set your own consulting hours, you could earn ten to twenty times as much as the retail job — and maybe more.

It seems the methods for earning money tend to take more effort than saving money. This is why most people will tell you that it’s not what you earn but what you spend. In fact, it’s both. Earning more will be more of an obstacle for most people while saving more is easily controllable. I say do both.

Image credit: jay d

Updated February 17, 2011 and originally published November 16, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Harrison

Personally, I’m using the “Collect your excess coins” way to save more money. However, I usually use this money for charity. Then I also use “budget” to track my incomes and expenses so that my financial can support my goals in future.

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avatar The Saving Freak

I have to disagree on your comments about budgeting. Budgeting is what has freed me from unnecessary spending. Why would I want to eat out every day when I could use that money to have fun or pay off my house early. We have a strict budget with money for fun built into it. Instead of not knowing where the money went we always know how much we spent on entertainment and splurge items. This is a much better way to live.

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avatar Ryan

Flexo mentions that budgeting it depressing, which I suppose it can be to some people. I think it is important to realize the challenge to make it fun.

When you realize how simple cost cutting can amount to thousands of dollars accumulated over time, you’ll start to think, “where else can I stop wasting money in order to increase my investment contributions.”

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avatar Laura

Automate your savings is the best thing you could. I automated my deposits for my emergency fund, when it was filled I stopped, figuring I could save on my own. Now I went back because I found excuses on how to spend that amount every week. DO yourslef a favor and automate. Sometimes you’re your own worst enemy.

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avatar lulu

I collect coins too. I pick every coin I see lying on the ground and people look at me funny.

I will pick up coins from the grass or from the street, it does not matter. They all go into my little jar at home, and then later on they go to the bank.

I have all my finances on automatic set up so I do not have to worry about depositing my paycheck etc.

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avatar Sam Oeung

I spend money everyday, I always think I will stop spending money but I could could not because I need to eat, house paid, fun education. My income and my expenditure always same size. I worry I will not remain some money in the future.

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avatar Russ Ain

In addition to putting money in a savings account, a Roth IRA should receive some of that, so you’ve got retirement cash that can grow tax free.

Also, you can try tutoring (anything) in lieu of consulting.

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avatar Shadox

#5 Eliminate or cut back on hobbies is problematic advice in my opinion. A hobby is something you are passionate about – why would you want to cut back on your passion (unless it is leading yo to financial ruin)? I don’t think it’s worth it for a few bucks a month.

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avatar erik

Good Stuff Flexo. I’m a big advocate of creating multiple streams of income like becoming a consultant, creating a blog about your hobby, and selling stuff on eBay and Craigslist.

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avatar AlphaWolf

Yeah, get rid of your hobbies. Come home from your 8-5 job and start a new job selling DVDs on Ebay. In fact, just work 24/7, this way there is no time to spend money anyway.

There are too many people out there using this system already, and they seem miserable to me, but I guess they are slightly richer.

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avatar paidtwice

I agree with a lot of this advice, but have to strongly disagree with the idea that budgeting is depressing and it stops you from living. Honestly, budgeting is a tool to understand your own reality. Some people are in a position where they don’t need to use that tool, and that’s fine. Budgeting gets such a bad rep because a lot of when it is talked about is when people are in desperate situations and trying budgeting to rescue them from demise.

It doesn’t have to be that way. A budget is a tool to help us understand our own reality. It shouldn’t be used in a way to ruin our enjoyment of life – it should enhance our enjoyment of life by making sure that all our dollars are working as hard for us as we work to get them.

I have too much to say about this, I think I’ll have to write my own post too, heh.

Budgeting is good. Believe in the power of the budget :).

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avatar essey

E… I haven’t read bolgs,this is my first time.I enjoyed the comments.Saving money is important to regular consumers like me.But it is not safe in a container for ANY length of time.Cash is non-traceable if stolen.

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avatar Armchair Fiduciary

If you are going to follow money saving way #2 be sure to check out http://www.theunderstory.com for a list of free change converting machines and avoid paying coinstar.

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avatar 10KPortfolio

I do have a lot of coins….I think I need to stop going to so many Laker games.

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avatar George M

Here is my two cent worth…….Don’t do any unnecesary driving, cook meals at home more often instead of eating in restaurants all the time. Buy store brand products and cut back on the soda pop and junk foods. Avoid compulsive spending on items you can really do without (ie: you do not always have to keep up with the Joneses.
I quit smoking two and a half years ago and quit drinking alcoholic beverages over 28 yeas ago.These two alone are a big saving of money, not to mention being in a better state of health, with less medical problems.
Turn down your thermastat to 65-68 degrees and to 60 at night before you go to bed. It took me years to dicipline myself to do these things but like a wise man once said…….”You can only eat a whole elephant, one little bite at a time!”

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avatar George M

I like to manage money wisely, so here is my two cents worth…….

Don’t do any unnecesary driving and save on gasoline, cook meals at home more often instead of eating in restaurants all the time. Buy store brand products and cut back on the soda pop and junk foods. Avoid compulsive spending on items you can really do without (ie: you do not always have to keep up with the Joneses.

I quit smoking two and a half years ago and quit drinking alcoholic beverages over 28 yeas ago.These two alone are a big saving of money, not to mention being in a better state of health, with less medical problems.

Turn down your thermostat to 65-68 degrees and to 60 at night before you go to bed.
This probably all sounds like trying to eat a whole elephant? It took me a long time to dicipline myself to do these things but like a wise man once said…….”You are able to eat a whole elephant…… if you just learn to eat one little bite at a time!”

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avatar Melli

I save left over change and store it in a change box. When I get $50 worth, I buy a $100 US savings bond with it. I don’t miss the spare change and a few years down the line when the bond matures, it will feel like free money.

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avatar Jeff

I think a big one that is often neglected is bringing food to work for lunch. This adds up big time. Even if you eat out twice a week, you’re literally saving thousands of dollars each year.

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avatar John | WaysToSaveMoney.tv

I agree with point 4. A budget definitely helps, even if it is brutal to follow.

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avatar Candii Cane

Collecting coins is a good one! I save bundles by saving my loose change – it really adds up. A personal tip I wanna share with y’all is try switching your cell phone bill from a contract to prepaid. I’m not kidding, it cut my bill down each month such a significant amount. With two kids going to college soon, its really important that I have more than enough saved up for them and making this switch is a big help. I use Straight Talk and came across it at Walmart – just $45 for unlimited! Doesn’t take much effort and results in HUGE savings :)

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avatar Nikita

I agree with Laura: I think automatic savings is the key (#1 recommendation). The way to increase the savings: set aside small amounts as often as possible. Ideally – do it daily or on the top of every purchase or payment. Saving up the small percentage of the daily budget doesn’t affect the spending habits while the savings account will steadily grow.

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