We all like to spend money. However, when it comes to saving money and living a frugal life, many people have no idea where to start or think that there is no way to save more than they do already. But there is ALWAYS room for improvement. And I’m not only talking about peanuts here.
The following article gives you plenty of easy and clever money-saving hacks that teach you how you can save 10,000 USD or more in one year.
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Why would you want to have all the extra cash?
Well, I guess I don’t have to explain that. But to stay on topic, you could use the money and become a digital nomad. As I calculated in the earlier article “How Much Money Do You Need To Start A Digital Nomad Life?”, you should have savings of about 8.000 USD to survive around 6 months as a newbie digital nomad without any income.
In case this is your dream lifestyle, you can start it in not even 12 months from now because the following tips teach you how to save enough money.
And don’t be surprised, none of these money-saving hacks are rocket science. 90% is probably stuff that you already know. But sometimes we need a little reminder to get us moving and realize how much money we are actually throwing out of the window.
Money-Saving Hacks You Can Easily Implement
Make yourself comfortable, this is going to be quite a long list.
Accommodation is probably the biggest monthly expense you have and therefore it has a lot of saving potential. But, of course, it all depends on your personal situation.
I know that’s something you wouldn’t want to do, but is there a chance you can downsize and move to a smaller apartment to save money? Or to a cheaper area? Maybe even move into a shared apartment, which would be the cheapest option.
If you don’t want to move to another place, you can also consider getting a flatmate to share the costs, if you have a spare room.
Utility bills also make a huge portion of our monthly expenses, especially electricity. To reduce your bill, you could do the following:
- Unplug all devices when you don’t use them, e.g. radio or TV
- Use energy-saving lights
- Don’t cook too many meals that need to be 2 hours in the oven
- Lower your thermostat a few degrees and open your windows regularly to get fresh air in which warms up faster
The water bill is another big part of your monthly expenses. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to save money here:
- Don’t use the washing machine and dishwasher when they are half empty
- Use water-saving shower-heads and faucet aerators
- Take quick showers instead of having many baths.
- Want more? Check out this awesome article by Water Use It Wisely that shows you more than 100 tips on how you can save water.
4. Phone / Internet
In case you still have a landline phone, do you really need it? Most mobile plans are so cheap today, that it’s not really worth paying extra for a landline.
How about your mobile phone? Most plans have hundreds of call minutes included. But do you use all of them? If not, check if you can downgrade to a cheaper plan.
The same goes for the internet. Do you use the internet that comes with your phone, your landline or independent of them? Either way, check if you really need what you pay for and see if you can downgrade and save money.
Extra Tip: Call your provider and tell them that your plan is too expensive and that you will have to cancel it, if they can’t make you a better offer. You will be surprised how much discount they can offer you.
Even if you only save 5-10 USD a month, that’s still 60 – 120 USD a year. That can be a couple of flight tickets within Southeast Asia…just saying.
Double-check your insurance policies. Maybe some of them cover the same things or stuff that you don’t really need. Also, compare prices and see if you can get your health care or home insurance cheaper with another company.
Maybe this will only save 50 USD a year but that’s still better than nothing.
You should probably get a piece of paper and a pen for this one. You need to do a bit of calculating.
- Do you own a car? If so, do you really need it? Maybe you will be cheaper with public transport instead. Don’t only think about gas but also insurance, taxes, parking tickets, and maintenance every once in a while.
- If you definitely need your car, is there a way to downsize it? You could get a smaller and cheaper one, that doesn’t need as much gas or falls in a cheaper insurance category.
- If you don’t own a car but use public transport, is there any way to cut down costs? Will you be cheaper with a monthly card instead of single tickets? Or are there months when single tickets are the cheaper option because you have a few days off?
- Another idea: If your city operates in zones, could you get off a stop or two earlier to stay in the cheaper zone and walk the rest?
- Or go by bike, walk or run to work (in case there is a shower). Or see if there are good opportunities to carpool. Platforms like Blablacar or CarpoolWorld make it very easy to find cheap rides.
- If there are occasions when you have to use a taxi, check out Uber instead. Often this is the cheaper way to go.
7. Lottery Tickets
The ultimate dream: Win the lottery and become rich overnight! I’m sorry to burst your bubble but your chances are close to non-existent. Save your money and invest it in something that is more promising.
Only 2 USD a week for a lottery ticket is still 96 USD a year.
8. Bank Account Fees
Do you have to pay a monthly fee for your bank account? Go to another bank! Seriously, there are so many great bank accounts out there that don’t charge you anything for an account, for example, N26. There is no need to waste your money like that.
Extra Tip: Check out my review on N26 to learn how exactly you can profit from their free bank account!
Remember? 5 USD a month is 60 USD a year.
Also, make sure you only withdraw from ATMs that are free for you to use. I know it’s only a couple of dollars each time but it surely adds up.
9. Gym Membership
Be true to yourself, do you really make use of your gym membership or do you only go every once in a while anyway? If so, why don’t you switch to other ways to work out? Go for a run in the park, use Freelatics at home or go for a swim.
If you still prefer the gym, you could also check if you find a cheaper one. Or just a cheaper plan. Maybe pay-as-you-go classes are cheaper for you. Or if you are only going for a yoga class, you could check if there is a yoga studio near you that’s cheaper than your gym.
When your gym membership is only 20 USD a month, you could save 240 USD a year by using alternative methods of working out. Not too bad.
10. Netflix / Cable TV / Spotify
I know it’s fun entertainment. But I’m pretty sure you will survive a couple of months without watching random shows and movies.
And Spotify or any other music streaming service: Simply use the free version and live with the few ads every once in a while. No big deal.
After all, that’s about 10 USD a month you can save – or 120 USD a year!
Extra Tip: Check out your local library. They are often surprisingly well equipped and have many entertaining books, ebooks, movies and music.
11. Other Subscriptions
Have a look at your recent bank and credit card statements and see what other types of subscriptions you have. LinkedIn, Amazon Prime, online magazines? Cancel what you don’t need anymore and what you can easily live without.
12. Free Entertainment
Yes, going to the movies is fun. But it is also expensive. The same goes for bars and clubs. Why don’t you switch your paid entertainment to free entertainment for a while? Or at least exchange them every now and then. To give you some ideas, you could:
- Go hiking
- Go on a bike tour
- Picnic with your family
- Read the books you have always wanted to read
- Go for a swim
- Watch a TV show or movie
- Have a board game night with your friends.
These are all things that are free, fun and some of them are even healthy. So instead of spending, for example, 50 USD a month on entertainment, you will save 600 USD a year when you choose the free activities instead.
Need more inspiration? Head over to The Simple Dollar to find more than 100 fun ideas for free entertainment.
13. Use Promo Codes
When you buy something online, some stores will ask you just before you pay for a promo code. You don’t have one? Don’t give up too easily. Google the shop name and “promo code” and see what comes up.
Often, there will active codes flying around the web that you can use. That can save you an average of 15% of your purchases. Yes, please.
14. Avoid Brand Names
Peer pressure and advertising are trying to tell you that you NEED this expensive brand because it is the best. Nahhh, don’t fall for it.
For instance, generic drugs contain the exact same ingredients as their branded competitors but are much cheaper.
Store or home brand products in supermarkets often taste very similar (if not the same) as the expensive and popular brand version.
And if you only need a laptop for basic programs or web research, you don’t need to buy an expensive, top-class one. There are many not so famous companies which offer laptops that have all you need for half of the price.
Give it a try and check out brand alternatives. Often you will find that they are just as good as the popular brand but come so much cheaper. Depending on how much you buy, that can easily save you a couple of hundred dollars per year.
15. Consider Second-Hand
People always assume that second-hand stuff is only for the really poor. Not true! Reusing things also means living more sustainable and that is something that concerns us all.
Let’s take books for example. Why should you buy a brand new one for 15 USD, when you can have the same one for 5 USD with only a few scratches? You only read it once anyway. The used one will absolutely do.
Or furniture or tools. If it is still functioning and does what it is supposed to do, why not buy a used product? This can save you so much money and reduces waste at the same time!
16. Avoid Impulse Shopping
Ah, those temptations. You walk through the city, see a pretty dress on sale and need to have it. But the question is: Do you really need it? The moment you see it you probably think: Yes, of course, I need it!
Do yourself a favor and wait 2 days. What do you think now? Still can’t live without it? Fine, then go ahead and buy it. But chances are you have forgotten about it already.
So try to not buy anything the moment you see it and stick to the 2-day waiting period.
17. Avoid Going out for Dinner
Going out for dinner is fun, easy and you get to try many different delicious meals. But it is also expensive. Even if you only go out twice a week and pay only 15 USD each time, that comes to 120 USD a month!
That has a lot of saving potential. How about you reduce going out for dinner to once every two weeks? That would save you 1,080 USD a year! I am pretty sure you can cook a delicious dinner for way less money than that.
If you have no idea how google recipes that you would like or look them up on YouTube. There is so much good stuff you can make at home. For instance, All You has more than 100 cheap, easy and tasty recipes for you.
18. Avoid Buying Lunch at Work
Although the cafeteria at your workplace might be easier, it probably isn’t the cheapest option. Instead of paying 10 USD five days a week for lunch, prepare your own food and bring it with you. That’s cheaper and often healthier.
If you manage to prepare your food for 5 USD a day, that will save you 1,125 USD a year if we only consider 45 working weeks.
Hint: That’s one reason why working remotely can save you more than USD 5,000 per year!
If you need some inspiration on what you could prepare, check out this great article by Thirty Handmade Days which gives you 100 great meal prep ideas.
19. Grocery Shopping
Oh my, there are so many ways to save at grocery shopping, you’d be crazy if you don’t apply them.
- Never go shopping when you are hungry. You will buy way more than you need.
- Only go once or twice a week to the supermarket. That will reduce the risk of impulse shopping.
- Make a meal plan for the week and write a shopping list. Stick to that list!
- Buy seasonally. Strawberries in winter and spring have to be imported which is more expensive.
- Check out local markets for fresh produce. It may be cheaper.
- If food is on sale, buy more and freeze it for later.
- For non-fresh groceries, wait until it is on sale and stock up, e.g. laundry detergent or lentils.
- Instead of buying rice or things like that in portion-sized bags, go for rice in 1,2 or 5 kg bags. It’s cheaper, doesn’t go bad too quickly and since it is basic food you will need it anyway sooner or later.
- Grow your own food and herbs. If you don’t have a garden to do so, a balcony or even a window bench can work, too. Check out websites like Balcony Garden Web that teach you more about it.
Yes, coffee gets an extra part of this list. Why? Because I know many, many people who got into the habit of buying a coffee-to-go every morning before work. At Starbucks.
So that’s like what? 3 USD a day? That makes 15 USD a week and if we only consider 45 weeks a year, that comes to a whopping 675 USD. For coffee!!!
Pure madness. Simply buy a thermos bottle and make your own coffee. That’s not only better for your bank account but also for our planet (think of all the cup waste).
21. Stop Smoking
I’m not telling you to stop smoking. But seriously, stop smoking.
You are already aware of the risk of lung cancer and know how cigarettes alter your skin and all that stuff.
And if we are looking at the money: holy cow! If you only smoke one package for 5 USD a week (which is less than most smokers need), you will pay about 260 USD a year! I’m sure you find better things to do with your money than to burn it.
22. Drink Tap Water
Bottled water might be handy but it is also expensive (in comparison with tap water) and plastic bottles are a nightmare for our nature.
The best thing you can do is to drink tap water. If your region doesn’t have the best water quality, you can use water filters like the Aquagear Pitcher or go for a tab water purification system, which can be installed right at your water tab.
If that won’t work for you, you could at least buy big water containers with 5, 10 or more liters of water and fill it up in reusable water bottles. I never leave my apartment without my Hydro Flask water bottle. Never. Ever.
Extra Tip: Also cut down on your soda consumption and drink more water instead. That will save you money and you reduce your sugar intake.
23. Save Money Challenge
Now this challenge is something for everyone who is REALLY serious about saving money.
Start slowly and say that you won’t spend ANY money, except for groceries and transport (gas or public transport tickets), for 4 days. Let’s say Monday to Thursday. Make sure you have your grocery shopping list prepared and stick to it.
If that goes well, you could take it one step further and don’t buy anything for an entire week.
And if you are really crazy, do the save money challenge for one month. It won’t be easy, but you will save A LOT.
If you want to learn more about how not to spend anything, check out The No-Spend Challenge Guide by Jen Smith.
24. Sell What You Don’t Need
To take your money-saving mission one step further, you could also sell stuff that you don’t need to give your bank account an extra boost.
If you want to become a digital nomad, you have to get rid of most of your belongings anyway because you can’t bring them with you.
So go ahead and start sorting out your household. Think twice if you really need all of the following things or if you can live without parts of it:
- Accessories, e.g. bags, jewelry, scarfs
- Books / CDs / DVDs
- Kitchenware, e.g. slow cooker
- Sports equipment, e.g. tennis racket, snowboard
- Decorating material, e.g. pillows, pictures
You don’t need to get rid of it all at once. But every other week, take an hour or two and go through one room at a time. Find things that you don’t need anymore, take photos of it and put it on sale on pages like eBay or Gumtree.
25. Passive Income
Yes, we all know entirely passive income doesn’t exist. But there are a few ways how you can make a couple of hundred dollars each month with only a minimum effort. Just to mention a few:
- Carpool and get paid to take people with you.
- Use Swagbucks to get paid watching movies or using their search engine.
- Use Ibotta to take photos of your shopping receipts and get cashback.
- Pay with certain credit cards and get cash back.
If you want to find out more about these and many more other passive income ideas, check out the linked article, which is one of my most popular ones.
26. Extra Bank Account
And my final smart money-saving hack for you: Take your saved money and pay it into an extra bank account. Maybe even one with a decent interest rate.
If you keep the money on your normal bank account, chances are you are going to spend parts of it again. Simple psychology: You see all the money on your bank account, think “Oh my god, I’m rich!” and are more likely to spend it on stuff that you don’t really need.
So transfer it to an extra account and don’t touch it!
Easy Ways to Save Money
As you can see, there are PLENTY of great money-saving hacks out there. If you are serious about becoming a digital nomad, saving 10.000 USD in a year or even less is absolutely possible. That is definitely enough money to get a single person started on the location-independent lifestyle.
Even if you don’t want to sacrifice too much. Don’t think that it’s all or nothing. If you don’t want to prepare your lunch every day for work, then don’t. Go for 2 or 3 out of five days and you still save a lot of money.
If you can’t give up smoking, ok. But maybe you can reduce it and thus save at least 2 packages a month.
Driving to work by bike is too cold in winter? Then don’t. Only use it in summer and public transport in winter. Still saves you half of the money.
Sit down with this list and work through it step by step. Give it a try and see what works best for you and your lifestyle. Even if you only save 50 USD here and there. It adds up. And at the end of the year, you wished you had saved the money.