10 Ways to Save Money Without Sacrificing Your Sanity
10 Ways to Save Money Without Sacrificing Your Sanity
Have you ever bought into the myth that saving money has to be boring, restrictive, or lead to a dull life?
There’s this train of thought that says that taking steps to save money leads to DIYing everything, never going out, never having fun, and never getting new things.
Those things can be part of a season of life in which you’re pinching pennies (what a fun image, so much better than just saying you’re budgeting), but they don’t have to be the only parts!
There are so many resources available to us, along with other options for saving money that won’t cost us our sanity. Are you ready to explore them and implement them so you can save for what you want and still have a life?
1) USE THE LIBRARY
I love using my local library!
Did you know that you can check out ebooks, audiobooks, and movies from your library online? You don’t even need a Kindle or Nook to read ebooks; you can read them on your phone, tablet, or computer with the OverDrive app! That knowledge has saved me from so much time spent without entertainment. I like to read when I have downtime— on my commutes, in line at the grocery store, while I’m cleaning the house. It’s a great way to get free entertainment, and you can learn so much!
Of course, you can always visit your local library in person, too, though I’ll admit I haven’t done so for a long time now because of the convenience of the online options. They have computers you can use, children’s programs, reference materials up the wazoo, people who can help make recommendations, and more.
2) PLAN YOUR SPLURGES
If you’re thinking of making a bigger purchase, don’t feel guilty about it. Just be intentional. Plan it out. Know what you’re looking for, and don’t settle for something that’s not quite what you wanted because you’ll probably be dissatisfied with it later.
I’ve done this with winter coats, running shoes, accent chairs, and essential oils, just to name a few things. The things you consider “splurges” will be personal to you, but no matter what you’re considering buying (or just tempted to buy) outside of regular expenses like food, gasoline, or bills, it’s worth it to plan your spending out.
It doesn’t mean you can’t buy those things, but rather that you’re intentional with them. You know what you’re looking for, you’ve shopped around, you’ve really considered whether the item is something you need, and then you’ve moved forward with the purchase.
To plan your expenses, check out the free printable budgeting tool I created just for you!
3) GO IN WITH A LIST
Knowing what you’re looking for at the store is one of the biggest ways you can save money!
I grew up going to the grocery store with only the vaguest idea of what we were there to buy. We had snack items we wanted, but we made our dinner decisions on the fly in the grocery store aisles. It gave me a bad taste for grocery shopping, making me dread each trip because it took so long and felt so boring.
Now I go into the store with a list based on the meal plan I’ve made for the week, and it’s so much easier and more efficient!
I save time because I don’t have to look at all the aisles or all the food in every aisle; I know exactly what I’m looking for. I save money because I’m not buying extra stuff that I either don’t need or already have (because if I don’t have a list, I’ll likely buy duplicates unknowingly). I save myself the frustration of forgetting things I did need to get.
I don’t just have a list for groceries, either. I have a list for any household items I’m looking for so I can have them top-of-mind when I go to the store (once again helping me reign in my impulse buying and stay focused).
This is especially helpful when you’re going to multiple places, trying to keep multiple lists straight, or looking for lots of things. On Black Friday, for instance, I had a list of things I was looking for, separated by the person I was buying for, but I also indicated where I was most likely to find each item for quick reference. It made my shopping so much easier to know what I was looking for at each store and to be able to know when I had gotten everyone’s presents.
4) REMEMBER YOUR “WHY”
Why are you saving money?
Are you trying to get out of debt?
Are you saving for a vacation or a new car or a down payment on a house?
Are you trying to build an emergency fund so you don’t have to worry about unexpected expenses?
All of these are great goals, and it helps to know what you’re working toward so that you can stay focused.
Sometimes saving money and being intentional can be challenging. Impulse buys are enticing. Friends ask you to go out all the time. Eating out is more convenient.
I committed to not spending any unnecessary money a few years ago while I was paying off my student loans and car loan. It took me about eight months of concentrated focus on paying off those debts before they were gone, and I would be lying if I said there weren’t several particularly challenging moments during that time when I really wanted to buy something I didn’t need. What got me through was remembering my goal and knowing that it would feel far better to be debt-free than it would to buy that one item I wanted.
5) BORROW FROM OTHERS
Sometimes we don’t need to buy things ourselves if other people we know have them and are willing to loan them out.
I did this for a few years with my mom’s charger plates and roasting pan. I was hosting Thanksgiving, but I didn’t have all the supplies I thought I “needed” in order to see it through. I contemplated buying my own charger plates (they’re really not that expensive), but I knew I would really only use them once a year, and I’d have to find a place to store them the rest of the time. Because of that, it wasn’t really worth it to me to buy my own. I opted to borrow them instead.
I also borrowed tables and chairs from my parents when we had our entire family over for a housewarming party. I had no need to buy those things myself because I knew I wouldn’t get enough regular use out of them, and my parents were happy to loan them out to us!
I’m borrowing chalk board signs, votive candle holders, shoes, a lighted backdrop, and more from various friends for my wedding this year. Buying everything for a wedding can get expensive quickly, so I crowd-sourced much of my supplies to save money and avoid buying a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t ever use again. It’s a win-win!
6) USE THE 30 DAY METHOD
When I’m considering making a purchase that isn’t strictly necessary (like food or gasoline), I’ll often make myself wait to make sure I really want it and will use it. I’ll consider the item, but if I’m not 100% in love with it or convinced I need it right that minute, I’ll wait.
I’ll tell myself I’ll come back and get it in thirty days if I still want it.
Do you know what happens more often than not?
I forget about it completely.
Or I remember at some point but decide it’s not worth it to go back and get it. The thought of having to make an extra trip to go get something isn’t often all that appealing.
Most of the time I decide I don’t need or want it badly enough, if at all, after those thirty days pass (sometimes even less).
Sure, sometimes I’ll go back or pick it up on my next routine trip to the store, but then I can do so without guilt because I know I considered the purchase before I made it and I’ll actually get use out if whatever thing it is I’m buying.
Of course, loving all things crafty, I couldn’t leave this option out!
Sometimes you can really save a ton of money by doing things yourself!
I made my own jewelry board when I couldn’t find one I liked.
I’ve made my own versions of canvas prints I’ve seen around to save up to 75% off the sticker price for the versions at the store.
I had my sister’s friend make me a headboard that I stained when I saw the amazing job he did on her headboard and when I realized the ones in the stores weren’t quite what I was looking for (and significantly more money). And I love the end product!
I’ve made my own laundry detergent, facial cleanser, clothes whitener, granola, bread, salsa, soup, moisturizer, and more so that I could not only know what ingredients are in everything but so I could also save money.
Making things yourself isn’t always the most financially prudent option if the supplies cost more than the product or if the time and energy it takes to make the DIY version isn’t worth it to you. It’s a call that you can make for yourself, but it’s fun to try your hand at making things yourself!
8) STAY IN
There are so many things you can do that don’t cost a lot of money, like staying in for an evening of dinner, movies, reading, or games.
Chances are you probably have DVDs or a streaming subscription you can use to watch a movie. And you probably have games or books lying around. So make use of what you have!
One of my favorite ways to hang out with my girlfriends is to have a girls’ night: chick flicks, popcorn and snacks (which many of them contribute), manicures, and games. We have a blast, and the only real expense was the snacks!
I also love doing dinner and movie or game nights with my college roommates. We’ve even extended it to entire weekends either at someone’s house or once at an Airbnb, which obviously cost money, but significantly less than a hotel or resort would have. We bought and made our own food, brought our own games and books, worked out together for some free entertainment, and just spent the weekend catching up.
You don’t have to do fancy things or spend tons of money on expensive meals or outings to have a good time!
9) BUY SECONDHAND
Some people have a hard time buying things secondhand. I am not one of those people.
There are options for buying used things, too.
You can buy things off Craigslist.
You can buy things off Facebook Marketplace or in local buy/sell groups.
You can buy things from thrift stores.
You can buy clothes from places like Poshmark or ThredUp.
You can buy things off apps like Mercari.
You can even “buy” things off apps like freecycle for free.
You can always wash things you buy if you’re worried about germs. Or you could buy things that don’t need to be washed, like household goods or books.
I personally have gotten a large portion of my wardrobe and jewelry from thrift stores, along with some secondhand furniture from family and friends, and my winter coat from Facebook Marketplace. It’s great to save money and know that you’re relieving somebody of something they were no longer using, giving it new life!
10) go simple
Eat at home instead of dining out. Make less elaborate meals, sticking to cheaper staples (chicken instead of steak, in-season fruits and veggies instead of imported ones, dry beans to stretch your meat and meals further). Plan simpler get-togethers and parties. Crowd-source meals like old-school potlucks.
If you’re getting a group of people together, let others help carry some of the load or contribute some of the supplies or food. And if you’re planning something big, consider inviting fewer guests, planning a simpler (cheaper) menu, or cutting back on the decorations or favors to save some money. I promise you people won’t care if you serve simpler meals or omit their goody bag!
It also helps to stick to store brands and know what stores in your area offer you the best value. I’m a HUGE fan of Aldi because of their great quality food, increasing commitment to offering healthier choices, and their low prices. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with shopping store brands, especially when you can get great products for less money!
What’s YOUR favorite tip for saving money without sacrificing your sanity? I want to know! Leave it in the comments below.