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21 Effective Money-Saving Habits You Can Stick To

Last updated on April 25, 2023
Money Saving Habits Essential Tips for a Good Money Saver

Did you know that nearly 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, failing to save any money? Maybe you’re in the same situation. But what would you say if I told you that you only need a few money-saving habits to get rid of your financial worries and, ultimately, become a good money saver?

  • Nearly 1 in 10 workers making over $100,000 live paycheck to paycheck;
  • More than 1 in 4 workers do not set aside any savings each month;
  • About 3 in 4 workers say they are in debt today – more than half think they will always be.

The culprit behind these jaw-dropping stats is the fact that most people look to earn more rather than making their monthly revenue more efficient. The ugly truth is that many of us don’t realize how much money we waste, failing to treasure the “ka-ching” coming our way.

Empty wallet proving poor money-saving habits

You heard about all those people who won the lottery and went bankrupt? That’s because they lacked the habits of a proficient money saver you’ll learn in this article. 

Stick to the following habits and you’ll become wealthier without a single doubt. And the best thing? You can install these money-saving habits from this very day.

1. Don’t be afraid to take financial decisions

First, you need to know: good money savers are masters of their finances. It comes without saying that they relinquish any meandering habit, any reminiscence of fear every time they make money-related decisions.

They know that money never sleeps. After all, if you postpone the right decision, you lose cold hard cash.

Woman counting dollars like a good money saver.

Becoming a good money saver may look tough, but it actually isn’t. You can become a virtuoso of your finances and you don’t need to make radical changes in your life. Simple tweaks do wonders.

So, whether you think about investing in stocks, changing your utility providers, or canceling your Netflix subscription (crazy, no?), don’t roam over it. Analyze the pros and cons with your head on and then settle on a plan of action. 

Will the decision benefit you or not? It’s as simple as that.

2. Keep yourself debt-free

Debt-free woman enjoying sunset after applying money-saving tips.

It may sound intuitive, but you can’t save money when you owe money. To be able to put something aside you need to have zero debts. This is one of the fundamental money-saving habits.

Remember, owed money and the interest rates they come with are the no. 1 enemy of your wallet. 

Hence, pay your debts as soon as possible and avoid borrowing money, be it from banks or friends. Yes, even if that means you need to tighten your belt for a while. By doing this, you will manage to actually save money, become less worried, and be 10 times prouder of yourself.

3. Live like a low-profile millionaire

As we said at the beginning, wasting money is one of the worst habits you can have and it may cost you fortunes.

Dollar banknote wasted because of lacking good money-saving habits

Instead, you should follow the example of so many Hollywood stars and big-time millionaires. After all, they are oftentimes the best money savers. The proof is their wealth. 

So what money-saving habits can we copy from extremely rich people?

Take a look at Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft. He is known for his humble appearances, his trademark plain sweaters, and his smashing success.

Actually, if you didn’t know his face, you’d never guess he is the second richest man in the world and that he juggles with billions of dollars.

Bill Gates one of the good money savers of the world

It’s not like he couldn’t afford to show off his fortune at every public appearance, but he decides not to do so. And that’s because of the frugal mindset that got him so far in life.

Moreover, think of all the celebrities that get out of their houses in baggy clothes, buy essential groceries from the local store, and live life without throwing money all over the place. They could go overboard, but they don’t.

Takeaway: learn to wire in a modest mentality and don’t throw money around only because your income got higher. Good money savers don’t do that.

“Whatever your income, always live below your means”

Thomas J. Stanley, author of The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy

And this leads us to the next point on our list of highly efficient money-saving habits.

4. Separate your wants from your needs

Ladies and gentlemen, you don’t need most of what you want. This is personal finance 101, but with all the marketing techniques used by professionals, it’s hard to say no to all the eye-catching offers popping up everywhere.

However, learning to set apart the wants from the needs is one of the most important habits you need to incorporate into your lifestyle if you want to become a good money saver.

The bad news is that it takes will and sacrifice. The good news is that you don’t need to cut down on all your wants. But the questions remain:

  • Are you able to refuse a night out and opt for dinner at home?
  • Do you really need to buy your 10th pair of shoes? What about that latest Apple smartphone?
  • Can you give up your sports car and settle for a low-cost alternative? 
  • Are you able to turn down Paris for a countryside trip? 
  • Do you mind dumping the comfort of your mansion for the minimalism of an apartment?

TIP: Before taking any decision on anything on your wishlist, take at least 24 hours to analyze if the investment is worthwhile (take 30 days for high-cost decisions).

You don’t deserve expensive unless your piggy bank says so 

Your own piggy bank always shows how good you are at installing money-saving habits.

Let your ego aside and put your finances first. Do you want to look like a billion-dollar celebrity and bury yourself in debts, or the other way around?

Even if you work two shifts every single day, you do not deserve a Mercedes, Armani suits, and a shiny Rolex on your wrist. Be responsible with your earnings, don’t throw money around, and let your savings do the talk.

5. Invest money in a retirement account

Good-old-money-saver-happy-about-opening-a-retirement-account in his young ages

The easiest way to make sure you always put something aside each month is to create a retirement account.

Place a small sum of money in it every 30 days and by the time you decide to retire, you’ll already have a hefty amount of cash. That’s beside any other savings you’ll build up until then.

And I want to underline something here: do not invest too much in your retirement account. That’s because there are many other investments you can make to become wealthier, faster. Consider this retirement account as a place where you put money for rainy days.

6. Create a budget

Calculator and sheets illustrating the action of creating a budget, one of the top money-saving tips.

One of the most common money-saving habits among successful men and women around the world is the action of creating a budget. They all do it and, guess what, you’ve got to do it too. Monthly!

If you ever felt overwhelmed and stressed out by all the unexpected expenses occurring in your life, with a carefully made budget, you’ll get rid of them all.

Having a sheet that tells you how much you can spend without getting in debt and also be able to save money is a relief.

Let’s be honest, a budget makes life a lot easier. Here are a couple of budget-making guidelines to help you out:

  • Make sure to write your regular expenses on the spreadsheet where you create your budget;
  • Target to save at least 10-15% of your income every month

7. Good money-savers optimize their bills

Adjusting tap water flow is a good money-saving habit

So many people nowadays don’t take the time to analyze their utility bills and see where they consume more than they should.

Good money-savers are specialists in finding ways to conserve energy, water, and every other resource they use.

Hence, whether you let the air conditioner on way more than you should or leave the TV going even if you don’t look at it, do something about it. 

  • Use the heat of the sun to warm up a room in the winter;
  • Put up blinds on windows in the summer or use some sun-protective wraps to keep a cool temperature inside;
  • Turn off the water while shaving or brushing your teeth.

8. Plan your shopping

Shopping-list-any-good-money-saver-writes down before heading to the mall

One of the core money-saving habits is to always make a plan for your next purchases and, very importantly, stick to it. We’ve all embarked on countless shopping trips where we found ourselves without a to-buy list. 

Every time that happens, we are sailing on dangerous waters letting all the strategically-placed products wink to us.

Takeaway: always write down what you want to buy. Whether you usually do your shopping online or in real life, don’t defer from your plan. This way, you will spend much less during your next shopping adventures.

9. Avoid autopay features

As efficient as the autopay option can be, it has its disadvantages as well. 

First of all, you can easily forget about it. Let’s say you bought a one-month subscription to Netflix and set it to renew. What happens next? Nothing unusual, you go along with it for a few months and enjoy some good movies. 

Woman-watching-Netflix in bed and eating popcorn

But then, you encounter some tough months during which you can’t make time to watch any movies. Guess what, you forgot about your Netflix subscription and missed their renewal notifications. Hence, some of your money went straight to the bin.

Moreover, setting the autopay function will give you fewer chances to ponder whether you should continue to invest in a certain service or product. So, try to pay manually as many of your monthly expenses as possible.

Get in the habit of using cash or checks

Humans bind with objects they can touch and feel. Naturally, you will let go of banknotes and checks harder than you would of the digital figures on your credit card.

Especially when they go shopping at the grocery store or the mall, good money-savers use cold hard cash.

10. Set a financial goal and track your progress

Graph representing tracking progress of a financial goal - one of the core money-saving tips

When money-saving you can get demotivated when you don’t see your financial situation improving. That is a high hurdle to overcome. Yet, there’s a simple solution: setting a goal and tracking every step of the way toward that goal.

Establish short-term goals and long-term goals and move toward them every day. This way, your motivation will increase and you’ll manage to keep yourself on the right track to becoming a good money saver.

Some long-term financial goals could be:

  • Raising $5000 by the end of the year to pay all your debts;
  • Saving enough money for an emergency fund;
  • Gathering enough to afford to go on a holiday without damaging your savings too much.

The short-term goals are only the baby steps you set to achieve the long-term ones.

11. Saving comes first

Money-Savings-Habits-planting-savings in the ground

Payday is one of the most awaited moments of the month and for a good reason. That’s when your work gets rewarded. However, the downside is that on that very day we feel entitled to spend, almost like our instinct tells us so.

What you need to do is to resist that urge and focus on saving before any other expenses. A good idea is to transfer 10% of your income to your savings account at the start of each month automatically. This way you’ll ensure you put something aside no matter what.

TIP: If you earned more during a month, received hefty commissions, or just got a bonus from your boss for a job well done, then don’t rush spending those. Treat yourself a little bit and add the rest to your savings.

12. Keep an eye on little things

Good-money-savers-dont-spend-money-on-coffee, especially Starbucks one.

That Starbucks coffee, those bags of chips, and those lunches out may seem insignificant to your budget. In fact, they are one of the top drainers of your wallet. 

Some pennies here, some pennies there, and soon you’ll find yourself unable to save anything this month.

I know those are habits that you may be enjoying a lot, but to be a good money saver you need to cut down on them.

The Latte Factor, introduced by David Bach and John David Mann in their book, says that to be able to pay for what you care for, you just need to save daily amounts as small as the cost of your latte.

"The solution to your money problem isn’t more money; it’s new habits"

David Bach and John David Mann in The Latte Factor

To see how much you actually spend on little things, write them down and sum up their prices. As a starting point, here are some complementary money-saving habits that will save you fortunes:

  • Pack your snacks, coffees, and lunches from home to avoid buying them from expensive places;
  • If you are going to eat out, steer clear of expensive beverages. Maybe just water is enough?

13. Money-savers are deal hunters

Money-saving-tips-hunting-for-discounts-and-special-prices in the city

Coupons, discounts, 2-for-1 offers are all in the sight of a good money saver. But that doesn’t mean you need to grab any cheap product. Instead, aim for finding value in what you buy. Don’t buy cheap clothes for cheap’s sake.

So before deciding on buying something (including booking a holiday trip) do the following:

  • Read reviews and testimonials;
  • Ponder the prices by comparing them with alternatives;
  • Look how much you afford to spend.

TIP: Check “garage sales” groups on social media and sites like eBay, Amazon, and Bonanza for potential better offers.

Don’t turn down free money

Money-savers exploit all the opportunities that bring free money. Take full advantage of your free miles, insurance money, and any other bonuses you may be getting from your workplace. Even if those are not tangible banknotes, they help you save big-time.

14. Set a place for spare change

As we’ve learned from the latte factor mentioned earlier, low amounts of money put aside consistently can turn to treasures over time. So, take care of your pennies.

Form the money-saving habit of depositing spare change somewhere around your house. You can use a jar, a piggy bank, or anything you can think of. Then put a label on your object of choice and you’re done.

I use this Coca-Cola branded tin jar:


15. Adapt your finances in harsh times

Many people suffer deep financial losses when they hit high hurdles in life. A hurdle can be anything from a divorce or illness to your boss firing you. 

It’s always tough to go through those situations, but don’t let yourself hit the ground. Adapt your spendings, look where does your income flow from, and manage everything like a pro. You may not feel like doing so, but it’s a must for any good money saver.

You will thank yourself when the sun starts to shine again.

16. Search for free activities

Street-dance-a-free-activity-and-a-money-saving-habit that makes you wealthier.

We got used to paying enormous amounts of money to attend parties, festivals, and all sorts of expensive places. And that just to fit in the society.

There are lots of things wrong with that, but it’s a no-brainer that it makes you waste a lot of money for just a few hours of fun, at the most.

So, how can you save money and have a great time simultaneously? 

Look for free activities. There are lots of them and they bring a ton of benefits.

Not only will you surprise your partner and friends, but you will also have the opportunity to try new and interesting things.

Look around your city for such free-of-charge opportunities and scroll through Facebook events or other meet-up platforms.

In the end, you’ll have more fun and find yourself with a lot more money in your pocket.

You may be thinking “money-saving habits are boring”, so I want you to know that I’m not being absurd here.

A night out with your dear ones is fun and festivals are too but please always consider the alternatives:

  • Throw a party at your home instead of a downtown club;
  • Volunteer at festivals instead of buying an expensive ticket;
  • Train outdoors in a gym park or do calisthenics instead of paying for a gym membership;
  • Set boundaries like a “no spend day” every week.

Tip: if you want to save on music festival tickets, you can get usually get a free one-day ticket by donating blood and joining the Untold Festival's Blood Network.

17. Set spending limits for gifts

Christmas gifts

Giving presents is a wonderful act, but it doesn’t have to be expensive as well. Every time Christmas comes or is someone’s birthday we stress about what kind of gift would suit different kinds of people. 

Will a 25$ gift suffice or should I step up with a 250$ one? Tough question, especially as you know you worked hard to save those 250$.

Luckily, there’s an easy fix that will get rid of this gift-picking problem and that’s setting limits for gifts among your family and friends. Gather your group and decide on a cap that isn’t too high or too low. This way, you won’t stress out every time a holiday or a birthday arrives on the calendar.

TIP: Buy gifts in advance and, preferably, when they are on discount. Remember, good money-savers are always hunting for deals.

18. Hone your time management skills

Good money saver writes down his schedule

Have you ever heard the saying “time is money?”  Write that on a sheet of paper and frame it on a wall. After all, you need to earn money to save money and you do that by working, but that takes time. 

Consequently, good money-savers leverage their income by managing their time efficiently. And they do that with tools and good habits like:

19. Maintain an emergency fund

With the first chunks of saved money, you should set up an emergency fund that will cover your basic expenses – like mortgage, insurances, utilities, food, etc. – for at least a quarter of a year. 

This way you will be less worried and, thus, more efficient in all your other endeavors, including saving money.

Don’t forget that about 78% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Imagine the stress most of them go through, especially when their employers proceed to layoffs. Don’t let the anxiety get to you and create an emergency fund as soon as possible.

20. Good money-savers take care of their health


Good health is the most precious asset a human being can have.

So stay connected to our health and fitness section, don’t postpone your dentist appointments, undergo medical tests from time to time, and make sure you take care of yourself – both physically and mentally.

If you haven’t worked out in a while and find it difficult to pick up the habit, our simple methods to get yourself back to training will put you on the right track.

Warning! If you neglect yourself things can get bad pretty fast and the treatments will only get more expensive. Make healthcare a priority in your life. Do this and you won’t have to spend so much on medical services anymore. 

TIPS: Consult with your doctors whether you can use generic medication for any of your existing conditions. Usually, these are cheaper and have the same ingredients. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?

21. Read about personal finance

Man-reading-about-money-saving-tips and finance

By reading this article, you’ve already advanced your financial skills. But if you also apply these newly-learned money-saving habits, you’re golden. 

However, there are many more ways to improve your finances and you can easily expand your knowledge by grabbing some books on the subject. We’ve tipped a couple along this article.

Finally, don’t feel like you have to incorporate all the money-saving habits in one shot. Install the most important ones like eliminating your debts and separating your wants from your needs, then build up your way to becoming a good money saver. Once you do that, you will be surprised at how fast your bank account will grow.

Are any other money-saving habits working well for you? Let us know in the comments.

Written by
Claudiu Pop from Unfold Today, face portrait.
Besides being the founder of Unfold Today, a nutritionist, and a mental health expert, Claudiu Pop is a productivity geek and a skilled journalist. He is always on the lookout for ways to make life easier in all areas of life, including the financial dimension.
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