Today I’m sharing simple tips for how to save money in 2021.
Because saving more money provides freedom, flexibility, and security.
Saving money also allows you to leave a financial legacy for your loved ones.
So if you want to learn 11 insanely easy ways to save more money this year (and beyond!), you’re going to love this article.
First, grab these free resources to help you save more money:
- The Best Account Types for Saving More Money [PDF]
- A Simple Savings and Expense Worksheet [Fillable PDF]
- A Detailed Expense Tracking Worksheet [Excel]
- How to Review Your Pay Stub Review [PDF]
Saving Money: A Challenge Across All Income Levels
Saving money is more important than ever in 2021.
In fact, while personal savings rates continue to increase, the average savings rate has been declining since 2010 (Deloitte).
The concept of saving money seems simple:
Spend less than you earn. Save and invest the difference.
So why do most retirement savers struggle to save?
Put simply, there are three main factors that make it hard to save money:
- Bad Habits. Our money habits and behaviors begin forming around age 7. Since financial education is severely lacking in America, most people find themselves with bad habits as adults.
- Lack of Prioritization. Learning how to change bad money habits isn’t typically at the top of the list. As one research study concluded, “financial planning is like a mix between a dental visit, math class, and marriage therapy.”
- You Only Live Once (YOLO). This modern acronym suggests that one should enjoy the present without worrying about the future. Some have argued that this increasingly popular philosophy has convinced a new generation to spend more and save less.
Today’s article will not magically change your money habits or make finance more fun.
However, it will show you what’s possible and (hopefully) inspire you to dedicate the rest of the year to improving your money-saving journey.
11 Simple Tips for How to Save Money in 2021
While not all of these strategies will apply to you, implementing just a few could save you thousands of dollars per year.
1. Ask For a Discount
I can hear my grandmother now:
“If you don’t ask, you’ll never know!”
She was right. And this tip has saved me thousands of dollars and counting.
You can approach it two ways:
Call a vendor you make regular payments to such as cable TV, cell phone carriers, or trash service. Thank them for their wonderful service and then … ask for a discount.
It’ll take five minutes. One five-minute phone call can result in years of $$$ savings.
Let me preface by saying this is NOT an attempt to escape paying for a service you used.
That is wrong. And illegal. Don’t do that.
With that out of the way, we have all received a bill that caught us off guard.
Yesterday, my wife received a $500 bill in the mail for a test she agreed to have done. Contrary to what she was told, insurance did not cover the expense. 😡
My wife wanted to pay the bill and move on. I suggested that she call, explain the misunderstanding, and politely ask for a discount.
They took $300 off!
How many times have you neglected to make a quick phone call because you were too busy? You might be missing out on hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars.
In fact, Noah Kagan pocketed $2,000 by taking this approach asking one simple question!
What’s the worst possible outcome of this exercise?
Zero downside risk with unlimited upside makes this one of my favorite money-saving activities.
For more inspiration to ask for discounts,
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2. Ditch Your Auto Lease
When it comes to saving money, some people just can’t give up their expensive car. And that might be okay as long as you’re not putting your financial plan in jeopardy.
If the goal is to save money, it makes more sense to buy instead of lease.
Ideally, you’ll want to purchase a dependable used car you can keep for the long run.
Because, when you pay off your auto loan (if applicable), you won’t have a car payment!
With leasing, however, you will never own your vehicle. You will forever be making monthly payments towards an asset that loses value by the minute.
If you’re stuck in a lease and want to get out, consider a lease exchange service such as:
The bottom line: To save more money, consider ditching your lease and buying a used car with low mileage.
3. Throw Away Your Budget…Track Your Expenses Instead!
Budgeting gets all the attention.
But tracking your spending is the real secret to saving more money that nobody talks about.
In fact, the most financially successful people in my life know where every penny goes each month.
When you know where your money is going, you can make informed choices.
Knowledge is power.
For example, I spend ~$600/month playing golf.
Is that good or bad?
Golf is REALLY important to me. So much so that I’m willing to make sacrifices in other areas to maintain this expense.
On the other hand, my wife and I recently decided that spending $3,000 per year on cable television wasn’t meaningful to us.
With that knowledge, we found a way to cut our bill by over 60%.
If you aren’t regularly tracking your expenses, you don’t know where your money is going. Which makes it impossible to how and where to save money.
(Note: Most people underestimate how much they spend by at least 20%!)
Here’s a simple 3-step process for tracking your expenses to save money:
- Find a tracking method that works for you. It could be something like Mint, YNAB, or even our free fillable spreadsheet.
- Track your expenses for 3-6 months. Don’t make any judgments about your spending and don’t rush to make any changes. Just track!
- Review and take action. With this knowledge in your hands, start with the highest expense first and determine if that expenditure aligns with your goals. If not, take action!
Because this exercise can easily fall through the cracks, my wife and I hired a bookkeeper to track our expenses for us. Every quarter, we meet with her to review our financials and discuss changes we want to make or goals we want to set.
The key is to create a reliable, repeatable system that works for you. Stick with it and watch the magic happen.
4. Scan for Free Entertainment
Does it cost money to have fun? Sometimes it does!
You have to pay to get into a concert, and nobody is letting you dine for free.
Then again, there are plenty of ways to have fun without spending money.
If you’re trying to save more money this year, consider experimenting with a $0 entertainment budget for one month. Challenge yourself to see how much fun you can have without spending any money.
Here are some of the best free entertainment ideas to get you started:
- Take a YouTube yoga class
- Find a Meetup group that matches your interests
- Sign up for free trials to test the different streaming services
- Play a board game or the daily NY Times Crossword Puzzle (mini!)
- Start a small garden with seeds from a local seed share program
There are plenty of ways to save money and still have fun, so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
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5. Use Technology to Save More Money
Figuring out how to save more money can be a time-consuming task. That’s why I love using technology to help.
Perhaps you have forgotten subscription services. There’s an app for that! Check out TrueBill, an app that finds and cancels unused subscriptions. They’ve saved users more than $14 million to date!
Do you have credit card debt that’s preventing you from saving money? Tally is a solution to consider. On average, they’ve saved borrowers an average of $3,972 in interest.
By using technology, you can quickly and easily save more money this year.
6. Grab a Money-Saving Browser Plugin
It’s rare that saving money is ever this easy.
If you shop online and you’re not using a free browser plugin to automatically apply coupons and promo codes to your purchases, you’re missing out on free money.
Here are my three favorites to consider:
There are dozens of other money-saving browser plugins. By taking 15-minutes to find a few that work best for you, you’ll have more money in your pocket to make intentional decisions with.
7. Cut Down on Dining Out
It’s astonishing how much eating out can eat up your budget!
If you’re not sure how to get out of the dining-out trap, there are some fantastic recipe apps out there.
While it can be difficult to learn how to cook if you don’t have the skills or time, there are plenty of recipes that are easy and low-cost.
If you need to make things as easy as possible, a crockpot or Instant Pot can also help. There are plenty of recipes for both that let you throw in your ingredients and push “start.” It doesn’t get any more convenient or cheap than that.
8. Get Creative With TV & Cable
If you’re a millennial, you’ve likely never paid a cable bill unless you’re a huge sports fan. But, even sports fans now have options for “cutting the cord.”
You can also get an over-the-air antenna to get free TV.
Heck, you can even catch NFL football games for free!
9. DIY Your Grunt Work
Why pay someone when you can do-it-yourself (DIY) for free?
If you’re forking over a ton of cash for a cleaning service, it can pay off to save that money and clean your own house for a while.
Got minors in the house? You could also put those kids to work!
By assigning cleaning chores to your kids, you can teach them about hard work. The experience of tidying up the house will also prepare them for when they’re out of the nest.
The same advice rings true for the work around the home, including gardening or home improvement projects.
Spend time in your own yard and you’ll receive several benefits. Not only will you get fresh air, but you’ll connect with the Earth and save money!
10. Analyze Your Travel Budget
You can easily spend a ton of money on travel. Most of the time, it depends on your flexibility and your desire to save money.
If your goal is spending less, there are all kinds of strategies to consider. Tips that can help reduce your travel budget include:
- Check out the Points Guy to learn how to score free travel. But, only do this if you are debt-free and are able to handle using a credit card (that means paying it off each month!)
- Check out Secret Flying for airfare deals around the globe.
- Read up on travel hacks from an expert.
- Plan your vacation around the best value.
- Take an epic road trip!
- Check out local, state, and national parks – don’t forget national wildlife refuges!
11. Pay Off Debt
Far too many people pay only the minimums on their debts each month without ever taking the time to figure out what their debts cost over time.
Unfortunately, this can lead to paying hundreds – or even thousands – of dollars in interest each month.
Since interest payments don’t go toward the principal of your debts, this is money down the drain.
If you really want to save money, pay off your debt.
Imagine you have $10,000 in credit card debt at 18% APR. You’ve been paying $200 each month. At that rate, you’ll pay an additional $8,622 in interest and it’ll take 94 months to pay it off.
That’s almost 8 years!
If you were able to pay off your $10,000 in credit card debt quickly by cutting your spending, on the other hand, you could avoid almost $9,000 in interest AND free up $200 in extra cash every month.
When you pay off high-interest debt, you just can’t lose.
Try Out New Ways for Saving Money in 2021
If you’re looking for more ways to save money in 2021, don’t forget to think outside the box. Everyone’s spending habits are different, so it’s likely you’ll have some special circumstances in your life that could help you brainstorm more ways to save.
You may also want to start the process by tracking your spending for a while. Once you know where your money goes each month, it’s a lot easier to find the source of your money woes.
Even small changes can make a giant difference!