I think that when it comes to saving money every month, certain fundamental habits will get you 90% of the way to your goals.
Practices like learning how to budget, investing your money to grow your wealth, and taking ownership of your financial well-being are some of the most important things we can do to improve our finances…without these fundamental pillars in place, it’s hard to see any sort of progress at all.
However, if you’re already covering the basics and are still looking for ways to dramatically reduce expenses and take things to the next level, I think there are plenty of ways to increase your saving rate without impacting your overall quality of life.
As with my article on how to actually save money in college, I decided to write a post that contains some actionable ways to reduce expenses for anyone already cutting back on spending.
These ideas will have a bit of a tech-spin since this is This Online World after all, but that’s where all the fun ideas come from anyway!
If you’re ever wondered how to save more money each month, this is the post for you!
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1. Use Free Alternatives For Cable & Netflix
My family used to have a cable subscription, but we cut it out years ago and I never hopped back on to a subscription when I moved out.
These days, there are dozens of free Netflix or cable alternatives that provide easy access to thousands of popular movies and shows.
Personally, I use Reddit Streams to watch the majority of sporting events I’m interested in, which cuts out my entire need to have a cable subscription in the first place. Any sporting fans need to check this option out!
If you absolutely must have a service like Netflix, I’d also suggest limiting yourself to one provider or shuffling between providers every few months if you’re hellbent on seeing new shows.
Amazon Prime Video is my recommendation since Prime can come with a variety of student benefits. Plus, you can also save money by shopping on Amazon for certain products compared to in-store retailers, but this choice is largely up to personal preference.
2. Try A Bill Negotiation Service
Sometimes, one of the simplest ways to cut down on monthly expenses is to just ask.
If you insist on having a cable subscription or haven’t gotten a better rate for your home phone or internet in a while, you can actually use a variety of bill negotiation apps to try and secure a better monthly rate for your services.
Bill negotiation services have grown in popularity recently, and the premise is fairly simple. These services reach out to cable, internet, insurance, or other categories of monthly bills and attempt to secure their users better rates.
Most bill negotiation services are ‘free,’ are simply split any savings they can secure with their users. This makes them a relatively low-risk option to try out if you don’t want to spend hours on the phone doing your own negotiating.
However, fair warning: I’ve seen a fair mix of positive and negative reviews for various bill negotiation services. If you have a complex internet/cable plan or absolutely need to preserve an aspect of your plan regardless of price, you should do the negotiating yourself.
Some popular bill negotiation services include:
- BillSmart – Take 25% of annualized savings.
- Trim – Take 33% of annualized savings.
- BillShark – Take 40% of annualized savings, up to two years.
- TruBill – Take 40% of annualized savings.
Just note: the savings are considered on an annual basis. If a bill negotiation service saves you $100 a year, you will pay their percentage take upfront and enjoy your reduced rate for the remainder of your contract…so upfront money to save in the long run!
3. Automate Saving & Investing
Learning how to save more money can be difficult if you find it tricky to stay on top of your finances.
However, if you’re a fan of using technology and automation to simplify your life, you can actually automate most of your saving and investing processes.
You also don’t need fancy investment apps or paid services to successfully save money each month. Some easy ways to start automating your savings include:
- Setting up automatic deposits to a high interest savings account.
- Setting up automatic contributions to an investment account/fund.
- Automating all of your bill payments (to avoid paying late fees).
- Using a cash back credit card for the majority of your purchases.
That’s really all you need to automate your savings process and to drastically cut expenses each month without even having a choice in the matter!
Extra Reading – How To Save $10,000 In One Year.
4. Use Budget Assistant Apps
If you don’t want to fully automate your savings and retain some control, you can also turn to budget assistant apps to reduce expenses and become more aware of your spending habits.
There has been a rise of smart budget assistant apps in the past few years, and the idea is to combine budgeting apps with AI to make a smart budgeting tool that can help keep users on track with their spending.
Budget assistants essentially monitor your transactions and monthly bills/subscriptions in order to spot irresponsible spending patterns, opportunities to save, or to warn users of late payments/if they are straying from their budget.
Some apps, like Cleo, use a freemium model that offer paid subscriptions for additional features, while other platforms like Charlie are 100% free (Charlie isn’t even an app…you just text Charlie and boom, you have a smart budget assistant).
If you’re looking for ways to save money on a tight budget, having a personal assistant in your pocket might be a step in the right direction!
Extra Reading – Cleo App Review 2020.
5. Save On Energy With Smart Technology
Out of all my monthly bills, I probably hate utility bills the most.
I don’t mind paying for rent or groceries because that’s just life, and buying things like clothing or home goods at least provides you with something tangible when all is said and done.
But seeing my stupid $100 hydro and gas bill every month just sucks…like where did all the water and gas I use even go anyway? I want my money back!
If you’re looking to drastically cut expenses, analyzing your existing energy expenditure and coming up with a plan to cut down on usage might be a great place to start.
However, outside of reducing daily usage and being aware of any energy wasting habits, you can also consider turning to various energy saving options or efficient energy providers to save more money.
Studies have estimated that programmable smart home thermostats can save up to $180/year (if programmed right), so investing in something like a Google Nest or Ecobee might be worthwhile for homeowners.
In terms of switching to smart energy providers, there are a few options as well.
Companies like Ohm Connect are actually willing to pay users to use less energy during peak hours, making them an effective solution to save money on energy costs each month.
Similarly, companies like Arcadia Power work to connect users to cleaner and cheaper energy providers, reducing their monthly bills ultimately helping them save money.
6. Take Advantage Of Price Matching & Comparison Shopping
These days, it’s easier than ever to secure the best deal when shopping online or in-store if you’re equipped with the right tools and knowledge.
If you’re shopping in-store, price match apps are truly your best friend.
I use Flipp, a Canadian price matching app to find the best deals on groceries when I shop, and U.S. consumers can try price match apps like Shopular to always have access to the latest coupons and deals.
If you’re shopping online, you can also use a variety of money saving browser extensions or shopping portals to earn cash back, apply coupons automatically, and locate the best deal.
I’ve been using websites or extensions like Honey and Rakuten for my online shopping during the holidays. With these two platforms, I’ve been been able to save a little over $100 during the past year and a half.
Between using these sorts of shopping portals and various price comparison websites (to find the cheapest travel options or accommodation arrangements), you can easily save money every year on any shopping you do.
If you want to save even more money, you can get crafty and turn to apps like GetUpside to save money on gas and groceries in your area.
None of these apps or websites will really break the bank, but hey, an extra hundred dollars or more in your pocket of the course of a year is never a bad thing!
Extra Reading – Honey Browser Extension Review.
7. Leverage Cash Back Whenever Possible
I’m fully convinced that if you are willing to sell your user data through popular cash back apps, you can probably save $100-$200 a year on purchases you would plan on making anyways.
Between a cash back credit card and any free reward apps you use, there’s lots of money out there that’s usually left on the table. However, even if you just earn 0.5-2% on purchases you make each month, it all adds up.
Getting a cash back credit card and learning to responsibly use a credit card would be my first suggestion since this can usually earn you 1-2% cash back on everything. Plus, you can even unlock some pretty nifty travel perks along the way through credit card hacking.
Outside of credit cards, there are plenty of free reward apps that you can use to save more money each month.
Currently, I use Drop and Caddle (I get stressed out/somewhat lost if I try to use a bunch more apps), and this is a nice way to earn free Amazon gift cards or cash back every year. There are plenty of other free passive income apps or reward platforms out there however, so bounce around and find ones that work!
8. Start A Garden
An often overlooked but easy way to cut down on expenses is to start your own garden.
Now, you don’t have to go insane here or to even have a large backyard that you completely fill with fruit and vegetable plots: even a modest in-house garden or small backyard plot will do the trick.
Starting a small herb garden or vegetable garden is an easy way to cut down on your grocery bill and to eat a little healthier. Plus, this is a fun and simple hobby to start out, so you might as well give it a try.
Some of my friends grew vegetables throughout school to save money in college, and it’s cheaper to get started than you’d think. Seeds are cheap, and some bags of soil and cheap plant pots will quickly recoup their cost in grocery savings.
Ultimately, I think that the process of building wealth requires us to play offense and defense: we can always work to simultaneously to increase our income and savings rate.
Of course, saving more money every month is particularly powerful thanks to the power of compound interest and time (making a dollar invested today more powerful than an extra dollar earned 5 years down the line).
Avoiding frivolous spending, working to pay off debt, and adopting frugal frugal practices are just a few examples of some pillars that can allow us to effectively save money.
However, if you’re already covering the basics and want to figure out how to drastically cut expenses, I think you sometimes need to dig a bit deeper!
Thanks to technology, there are an incredible number of creative (and often free) ways to reduce expenses and save more money every month. Even if you can squeeze out an extra bit of savings through automation or some free money that’s left on the table, it all makes a difference in the end.
Just remember: cover the basics first before getting into these extra tips. Set up a budget, track your spending, and cut down on major expense categories before dabbling in these strategies.
Thanks so much for reading! I’ll catch you guys in the next one.
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
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