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How to Save Money – 28 Ways to Save Money (2015)

how to save money fastI’ve written about my saving strategies and frugal living before, but I’ve decided to write an updated post in a numbered list format on how to save money and the various ways to save money on a day to day basis.  This post was inspired by similar posts on FrugalForLife and CashMoneyLife.

Included below are 25 28 ways that I save money:

  1. I use a points or a cash back based credit card that gives me the best return for my spending.  Here’s a post and picture of what’s in my wallet.
  2. When making a big purchase, like a mortgage or a vehicle, I negotiate and shop around for the best rate.  This will save you thousands in the long run.
  3. I drive with gas efficiency in mind.
  4. I arrange my banking so that I don’t pay any fees and use a discount brokerage that minimizes my trading expenses.  The current favorite of Million Dollar Journey readers for a low cost, no frills discount brokerage is Questrade (I have a TFSA and RRSP with them).
  5. In addition to reducing trading fees, I keep our ETF/mutual fund management expense ratios (MER) as low as possible by using indexed ETFs/mutual funds.
  6. I try to save energy around the house with CFL’s, programmable thermostats and proper insulation.
  7. We do laundry once / week (we do more now because of kids, but try to be as efficient as possible).
  8. I brown bag my lunch to work.
  9. I prepare my lunches in bulk and store them in individual plastic/glass containers.
  10. I cook at home whenever possible.
  11. I perk my own coffee (or drink the coffee at work).
  12. When buying consumer items, I try to separate my “needs” and my “wants”.
  13. When I find something that I “need”, then I do comparison shopping or wait until it goes on sale.
  14. I don’t smoke, do drugs, or drink (too much). :)
  15. I use basic cable instead of the fancy cable packages.
  16. I combine my cable/internet/telephone with the same provider to take advantage of the discounts available.
  17. I watch movies at home (or use Netflix) instead of going to the movie theatre.
  18. I use term insurance instead of universal life or whole life insurance.
  19. As with anything else, I shop around for my insurance products.
  20. I pay a higher deductible on insurance products to reduce the premiums.
  21. I buy with quality in mind in the expectation that it will last a long time.
  22. To please my reading habit, I go to the library (or get publishers to send me free books for review) :)
  23. I make my deposits into my high interest rate savings account and RRSP automatically on a bi-weekly basis.  Basically when I get my paycheck.
  24. When purchasing a home, I save for a large down payment to reduce mortgage insurance fees (CMHC).
  25. I buy clothes when they wear out, not when they go out of style.
  26. I track my spending/budget with Excel or Mint.com (recommend not connecting your bank account, only credit cards).
  27. When my income increases, I aim to keep lifestyle inflation at bay.  Basically, I bank my raises.
  28. To save money on car rentals, I watch the flucuating prices on Expedia and when  a low price shows up, I bid slightly lower on Priceline.

What are some ways that you save money? Do you follow the frugal living lifestyle?

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FrugalTrader About the author: FrugalTrader is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.

{ 128 comments… add one }

  • Gates VP July 13, 2011, 10:15 pm

    @JoeB: the post is dated Dec 2009, so it’s over 18 months old. FT is a Canadian blogger and mint.com was unavailable for Canadians at the time. It took another year to arrive in Canada.

  • BGV July 27, 2011, 11:25 am

    How do you avoid being called cheap?

    And does your friends and other significant people in your life know your financial situation?

    • FrugalTrader FrugalTrader July 27, 2011, 6:54 pm

      @BGV, lol, who says I’m not called cheap? Surprisingly, I’m not called cheap very often, at least not to my face. :) Maybe it’s because I’m “cheap” with my self, but not with others. And no, not many people know about my financial situation.

  • Jayboard August 10, 2011, 9:45 am

    Every day when I get in from work or where ever I empty the change in my pockets into a cookie tin. It usually takes about 6mos to fill and usually on average amounts to $250 – $300. I have been amassing all my rolled change at home because if it goes in the bank it will just disappear. I have saved about $2000 so far and is going to be used for any emergency that pops up. The bank teller won’t be too happy though when I go to cash it in.

    I drink alot of coffee and was spending about $3 a day but now I grind and make my own. A bag of beans is about $8 and will yeild about 3 avg tins of cofee which sells for around $6-$8 each. I’m saving about a$100 a month just in coffee.

  • Grace Poole August 18, 2011, 2:32 pm

    There are several things I do to save money. My friends say that if you look up the word “frugal” in the dictionary it would have my picture over it. First spend less and send more if you are in debt. My kids and I have had lots of fun this summer doing free or inexpensive activities, I ALWAYS pack a picnic to avoid spending $50+ on eating out on outings. This adds up so quickly. We also use coupons or find outings in near by little towns at a fraction of the price. I also grow a garden, hang out my laundry, and in the winter use drying wracks (which I got for 50% off on sale). For kids items and cloths I check out yard sales and Thrift stores and even better when the Thrift store has 50% off sales. I run the dish washer and washing machine on “off peak” hours, usually after 10pm, I always make extra dinner and put it in the fridge so my husband and I can take lunch to work the next day. While not at home I turn up the temp for the A/C or turn the temp down to 17 or 18*c so I’m not paying for heat while I am not home.
    These are some of the ways I save. Having a meal plan is essential and I base it on sales in the fliers, I also take all my fliers and shop where I can price match and I use coupons in addition to price matching to get the lowest price.

  • Dylan September 6, 2011, 4:43 am

    @12… Not true about Germany. They don’t make you turn off your car at stop lights. Where on earth did you hear that? But… To get a driver license, it costs between $1,500 and $3,000 and takes roughly a month. Consequently, people save a ton by riding bikes.

  • Shiraz October 26, 2011, 1:27 am

    I do my laundry and run my dishwasher at off-peak times to save on my energy bills. It makes a big difference over the course of the year!

  • Crystal October 27, 2011, 12:00 pm

    Disconnect the cable and watch TV via online or though NetFlix, Cable $38 a month = $456 a year, Netflix $7.99 a month = 95.88 a year … total savings $448.01… plus you save on all the box rental fees!

  • Brie February 22, 2012, 11:46 pm

    I love finding new ways to save money every day. I am constantly looking and trying different things in hopes that I cut my spending costs every month. I am working towards being a millionaire someday and hopefully my frugality and wise investing will help me achieve my goals one day.

  • Scott March 22, 2012, 12:20 pm

    A few things we do:

    1) Look through the grocery store flyers, compare prices, and make a list for each individual store based on what is on sale that week.

    2) Pay all bills/expenses on a points credit card (Cineplex Scene VISA card). I have not paid for a movie in years.

    3) By cooking a little extra food at night, you have enough leftovers for lunch at work the next day, tasty and cheap.

    4) There are always gas stations that are 3-5 cents/liter cheaper, we always stop there while in the area.

  • ObsessedFrugal10 March 29, 2012, 3:17 am

    I use a credit card that provides rewards (points accumulation) that I can apply toward reducing my mortgage. In 4 years, I have reduced the principal on my mortgage by about $3000 just by using the credit card. And by the way, I don’t pay annual fee on my credit card and I don’t carry any balance.

  • jet May 28, 2012, 12:09 pm

    When traveling if distance between cheap gas is to far, to travel on a tank of gas bring some extra in a jery can so the expensive gas wont need to be purchased.

    sleep in your car instead of a hotel room.

    Always coast to a stop unless stopping on a hill to save breaks & gas.

    Never drive the speed limit if it is above 90kmh (extra wear on tires, more gas used, more stress on engine, any stones on road when flying up from tires will do more damage to paint & cause rust, more stress to front end from hitting seams in pavement

    When traveling down hill instead of using breaks or traveling @ a higher speed put vechile in a gear that reves engine higher then engine idle speed so the energy from gravity will cause the vechile to burn less gas then @ idol.

    Use electronic rust control so car will take 4 times longer to rust out instead of more expensive ways.

    Buying a used vechile is not always the best deal i.e., I bought a new 2005 plan jane sunfire with a 6000 dollar rebate & 1500 off from GM card. Which was cheaper then sunfires that were 2-3 years old @ the time.

    Dont try to buy a skill that cant be bought i.e., I use old skis that have been left over from ski swaps that no one bothered to pick up & I love the way they ski & many are amazed @ my skiing ability.

    Be an independent thinker, Never buy something that everyone else is buying just to be part of the herd. ( from buying labels on clothing to investments)

    If credit card has a fee as well as other banking fees & your a valuable customer to the bank or financial institution they will often pay it. ( prefure credit unions over banks)

    If money is sitting idol in brokerage acccount waiting for next set up. Do what the banks do lend it out for those buying stocks on margine. (one chicago) backed by the exchanged that has a AA credit rating

    Use consumer reports from library to compare quality of products & pricing

    View money as a median of exchange that represents life energy when using it.

  • jet May 28, 2012, 6:25 pm

    Men should change their hair style to brush cuts. Then a family member can easily cut thier hair with a trimmer set from Wallmart or Costco

    To cut down on dentist bills buy a phillips sonic tooth brush & a water flosser.

    Women should do thier own nails & never buy makeup. (average of 160,000 is spent for makeup by a woman in a life time)

    Day traders should never pay commisions to a third party even discount brokers but trade directly on the exchange when practical i.e., NADEX

    Follow owners manual for vechile maintance. (know what parts need greasing on your car & if someone does your oil changes make sure that they also lubricate these parts.

    Never buy cereal oats are cheaper

    Comparison shop on internet

    Have the passenger in your vechile get out & check time left on parking meters if there is more then one empty one to chose from.

    When entering grocery stores quickly scan for carts with money in them.

    Dont buy a gym membership if you can do a similar workout cheaper.

    Try to buy only assets ( that which puts money into your pocket & try to avoid buying liabilities ( that which takes money out of your pocket i.e an expensive car that is hard on gas & expensive to insure.)

    If purchasing a condo consider buying it cheaper by buying it before it is built ( warning is up to you to make sure how safe the company is)

    print out a copy of any GIC that are coming do & take it to differnt financial instututions for them to compete. Also check out rates from Globe & Mail but remember a credit union will often pay dividend on top of interest earned. Check history of there dividends for some what of a guide. For TFSA & RRSP see if they will pay transfer fees & if it is possible to remove transfer fees when the GICs mature. (in writing)

  • Driller2012 July 16, 2012, 10:04 pm

    Wow, people put a lot of effort into saving pennies. We try a few things like –
    -xmas lights on timers/minimal lights to start
    hunting – a moose fills the freezer with meat for a year
    -unplug appliances like microwaves when not in use
    extra money on the mortgage
    but work covers most things mentioned here:
    – cell phone
    – gym membership (includes squash)
    – medical, dental etc
    – company fishing trip – lots of halibut in the freezer
    – lunch once a month
    – xmas gift, so far we have received – 2 ipods, gps, shirts

    just remember if you get hit by a bus you don’t want to be the richest person in the graveyard. you only live once! Enjoy it!!

  • Lou August 17, 2012, 1:41 pm

    We turn down the water heater, and when we need hot water, we have to run the water to get it hot, so I fill up the water jug with the cool water and water the house plants with it.
    We also try not too flush the toilet all day long and only when necessary. When cooking we always cook extra, enough to have another meal of leftovers.
    We use the oven on cool days and BBQ on hot days.
    I have been cutting my husbands hair for 35 years and treat myself to a $17.00 haicut about every two months.
    I never buy cookies & cakes, or buy prepared meals – almost everything is homemade.
    We try to save money by buying bulk pasta & canned goods, & drinks.

  • minimize without any loss August 21, 2012, 2:21 pm

    Definitely negotiate! specialty stores, appliances, furniture – if you buy it today, you pay less ;) the same goes for services and rent. telephone, cable, Internet.. though better to just get high-speed internet and VOIP / Netflix it to eliminate television and telephone bills altogether.

    for cellphone, the smartest thing to do is buy an unlocked (android) phone, then to go get a tablet sim which is internet only and costs 5-35$ per month (usually scaling). then with that phone you use Google Voice and one of many free sms apps

    I have a tablet sim in my phone and no internet/cable/telephone. When I am on the computer I use the internet from my phone (tethering)

    drive less
    eat less
    read a book – most of them are free online (even without pirating)
    also, order stuff online when the price and shipping is reasonable.

  • Extreme Couponing Canada August 26, 2012, 5:05 pm

    Great money saving tips.

    I also do a bunch of these like bagging lunch to work, making my own coffee and tea in the morning and putting it in a travel mug for the day.

    I also try to drive as little as possible and walk to work and the grocery store if I can. That also saves on gym memberships :)

    You can also save on your electricity bill by opening all blinds and curtains during the day for natural light!

  • Marguerite July 25, 2013, 10:25 am

    I subscribe to cable during Nov., dec. Jan and Feb. only, the 4 months I spend more time inside in Eastern Cold Canada. I also have a prepaid cell phone, which I use for emergencies only, this costs me $100. a year – I stock up on non perishable food when they are on sale, I check the weekly specials for meat, fish, etc. I buy good quality clothes on sale, ideally 50% or more off.

  • SST July 28, 2013, 1:20 pm

    A couple books for a hands-on approach to frugal home-life:

    Flight From the City (1933) — Ralph Borsodi
    (frugally free@)
    i) http://www.metropioneer.com/docs/Flight_from_the_City.pdf
    ii) http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0302hsted/030204borsodi/030204borsoditoc.html

    The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto (2010) — Kevin Carson
    (frugally free@)
    i) http://www.metropioneer.com/docs/The_Homebrew_Industrial_Revolution.pdf

    If you can find Borsodi’s ‘Prosperity and Security : a Study in Realistic Economics’, let me know.

  • KathHudson November 24, 2013, 8:48 pm

    It is even possible to save money while traveling! The main trick is to use roaming simcards instead of your regular ones. I used TravelSim last time I was on trip and it was just great

  • Campbell May 24, 2014, 8:20 am

    Great lovely things have been said above.Very informative ineed.
    I would love to add that buying a new cell phone every month or changing many of them in a year can definitely put a hold on your savings

  • Ardeshir Mehta September 17, 2014, 9:56 pm


    You issued a couple of ideas.

    29. I don’t buy groceries and cleaning supplies UNLESS they’re on sale. (Except when I run out and HAVE to buy something, but that’s not often, because I buy more than enough and store it in the basement.)

    30. I buy my clothes at second-hand stores. (Overcoat: $15; Jacket: $10; dress pants: $7, dress shirts: $5. Can’t do much better than that. And not all of them are actually USED; my dress shirts, for example, look like they are brand new and somebody just didn’t like them!)

    31. I use Kijiji and eBay a lot.

    32. AND I shop at different dollar stores a LOT. Save B-I-G!!!

  • Ardeshir Mehta September 17, 2014, 9:57 pm

    ERRATUM: In my previous post, the word “issued” should be “missed”.

  • Mike Brock September 22, 2014, 8:18 am

    I stopped smoking and found I wasnt going into the stores that much so cut back on all the rubbish they managed to sell me at the tills, like chocolates, magazines and soft drinks….

  • SLN February 10, 2015, 2:23 pm

    I offset any expense with TFSA returns. A $50 phone expense is paid with after-tax income. Make use of the TFSA and use any tax-free returns or profits to off-set some of your expenses.

  • James May 28, 2015, 1:18 pm

    One great thing we did to save money was use a company that helped us cut our costs for cell phones, internet, cable TV and landlines. They kept our services exactly as is with and with the same provider. They just got us better pricing. It was the ultimate win-win. If you are looking to save some money check them out at http://www.savecell.ca.

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