Budgeting, Frugal, Making Money, Personal Finance, Saving Money

29 Ways to Quickly Save Money

Sometimes you have to quickly create some breathing space in your budget. Maybe you lose a job, take a pay cut, or have an emergency that eats up your available cash. Things like getting another/better job, starting a vegetable garden, or moving can help, but they take time. When you need to find extra money fast, what can you do (besides hit the payday loan places, which is a really bad idea)? Here are twenty-nine ideas that can be implemented quickly.

Sell stuff

Have a yard sale or put your goods on Craigslist. Consignment sales or selling to websites or stores that buy used merchandise are also good avenues. Sell your old gold or other jewelry.

Return things

If you have any purchases that you haven’t opened or used yet, take them back immediately. The cash or credit on your credit card will help.

Drop/downgrade subscriptions/memberships

Drop or don’t renew anything like Netflix, cable TV, gym memberships you don’t need or use, and any magazine/newspaper subscriptions you have. In the case of magazines, many of them will refund you for any un-mailed issues, so even if you have time remaining on the subscription, contact the publisher or the third-party where you obtained the subscription and ask about a refund.

Sell a car

If you can get by with one car (or none), sell one and pocket the cash. If you don’t want to sell, park the car and remove the plates. You won’t have to pay for insurance that way. Or, you can sell your expensive car and get a small beater to get around town in.

Ask for lower interest rates

Call your credit card company and ask if you can get a lower rate. They might oblige.


If you can afford the closing costs and substantially lower your monthly payment, refinancing may save you more in the coming months.

Get aggressive with your utilities

Turn off everything that’s not in use and turn off everything at night. Take shorter showers. Do less laundry and dishes or at least make sure the machines are full. Line dry clothes. Keep the house warmer or cooler than usual and either put on a sweater or turn on a fan. Utility use is one of those things that is within your control, so take advantage of that and cut as much as you can.

Stop eating out

Not only meals, but stop getting coffees, pastries, and other snacks away from home.

Buy Generic

When times are tough, brand loyalty needs to go. Buy the cheapest brand you can get.

Modify your insurance

Call your insurance agent and ask if there are any discounts. If not, shop around. Ask about raising your deductibles. Make sure you’re not paying for double coverage and make sure you’re not paying for something you don’t need. Don’t drop your insurance altogether. That’s asking for trouble. Many insurers will send you a check, prorated for any overpayment you’ve already made if you modify your policy and it reduces your premium.

Cancel your cell phone or your landline

If you can get out of your contract or it is ending, switch to a prepaid cell phone and limit your usage. If you can cancel your landline phone, do it.

Cancel services

If you have a maid, landscaper, handyman or any other service provider, drop them.

Stop smoking or drinking

Expensive and bad habits need to go.

Stop shopping recreationally

Make lists and stick to them. Don’t go to the stores if you don’t have to. Beware the $10 Target trip that morphs into $100.

Get rid of pets

It’s harsh and I would only use it as a last resort, but pets are expensive. You can save a bundle if you can find them new homes.

Learn to coupon

You don’t have to resort to extremes, but you can cut your food, cleaning, and hygiene budgets by a decent sum.

Make your own cleaning products

I’m amazed at how much cleaning products cost. You can make your own with vinegar and baking soda for pennies.

Stop charitable giving

I’m all for giving to charities and churches when you can afford it, but if you can’t afford it stop it for a time.

Cancel any planned vacations

If you’ve paid deposits, cancel and get those back. You can rebook later.

Pull kids out of activities

Things like sports, clubs, and other activities are expensive. Stop paying for memberships and lessons until things are better. The kids probably won’t like it, but you have to do what you need to do to get by.

Pull kids out of private school

Tuition is high and your kids will survive in public school until you can get them back into that private school. At the very least, ask the school if there is any aid available.

Stop paying for your adult children

Too many people are paying for weddings or tuitions to the detriment of their own finances. These kids are adults. Let them find their own way to pay for some stuff. If they’re living with you, make them pay rent.

Renegotiate your bills: Call your phone, Internet, TV, cell phone, or trash providers and ask for a discount. Many will give you something to retain you as a customer. Some may have money saving alternatives that you didn’t know about. Ask nicely.

Find new places to shop: Stop shopping at the expensive supermarket and try the lower priced markets or farmer’s markets. Don’t shop high end department stores, shop the big box stores. Try dollar stores. There are plenty of places to get what you need for less.

Eat what you already have: Make meals from what you already have on hand rather than heading to the store. You may have to make some strange combinations, but it’s cheaper than shopping.

Ask for help: If things are really bad, ask for help from your church, family, friends, food banks, or government assistance programs. Don’t abuse the generosity, but such programs are there for a reason. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to get you through.

Collect any money you’re owed: Send in any rebates you have lying around, cash in any points at rewards and survey sites, and call in any debts owed by family, friends, or people you’ve done work for. Check your state’s unclaimed property office to see if you have any outstanding money owed to you.

Cut entertainment: No more movies or store bought books and DVD’s. Borrow from the library or friends, instead. If you have to go out, look for free options.

Put the kids on the bus: In our area, the school system provides bus service, paid for with taxpayer’s money. But many parents drive their kids to and from school because it’s “convenient.” It’s also expensive because it wastes gas. You’re already paying for the bus. You might as well use it.

Some of these things will work for you and others won’t. You may find some of these ideas insensitive. That’s okay. Everyone has different priorities and things that they are willing to do. Take what you can use from this piece and ignore the rest. However, if you need to quickly open up some space in your budget you should at least consider anything and everything, even if it seems drastic. When things get better, you can always add in the things you miss.

13 thoughts on “29 Ways to Quickly Save Money

  1. I’ve been thinking about downgrading my Netflix subscription, and have been looking more into couponing. I’m hoping it gives me a few extra dollars in the budget.

  2. I was raised by depression-era parents and already practice most of the tips you have listed. I have not lost a job, nor am I in need of more money, I have plenty. The ideas proposed here are just common sense and should be practiced by everyone. I never buy a Starbucks, but purchase Starbucks coffee at Costco and grind it myself. I never throw out coffee, but rewarm it and therefore can always have the best coffee. Lights go out when I leave a room. I never pay for services that I can do myself. You have made some very good suggestions on how to save money. However, all of us should be doing these things on a daily basis.

  3. A site I followed had a guest article about “Surviving a Layoff.” It was the family’s first experience with a layoff. Many family and friends read the article and the outpouring of offered assistance was helpful and overwhelming to them. Friend/family offered items from their stockpiles of food, personal care and cleaning products. Another family was moving soon and overed items from their freezer. Others offered comfort and kind advice from when they faced the same thing.

  4. “get rid of pets”? That’s like asking a parent to get rid of their kids.

    Now *there’s* an idea – good for the environment, too…

    (Seriously – both suggestions are just wrong.)

  5. Some great tips here. When people are in dire straights, a lot of times there are a lot of things they could do without to help out. I’m always looking for new ways to trim a little off of my expenses. I get coupons from thecouponclippers.com for cheap, I shop what is on sale, I check my cellphone plans regularly to see if they change them around to something cheaper (and have in the past). I’ve even gotten lower interest rates just by calling up my credit cards, but I imagine that’s a lot harder to do these days.

  6. I bought 2 solar yard lights for $3 each at the local discount store. I have a grandchild who is afraid of the dark. My husband popped one of the lights off the stick and put it on the bedside table for him when he spent the night. It was still glowing bright the following morning and we put it outside for recharging. Can’t get any cheaper than that.

  7. Some of this is ok, but some of it is extreme. Why not suggest to people to sit down and make a list of what income comes in and whats going out. Getting rid of pets, removing kids from schools/activities are not things that I would consider. Those things are scarring. Cut back on adult things. Seriously, I think with the economy this way people are already cutting back.

  8. Bummer, I was hoping for some “other” ways to cut corners! haha

    As it turns out, your article was ‘spot-on’ in my opinion! I have already done every single one of these (that apply). I guess that means that we are on the right track! Still having trouble making ends meet, but doing the best we can.
    I’ve even started “selling coupons” that I don’t personally need… so that’s helping me bring in a small income even though I am a stay-at-home mom.

  9. And for those who really don’t want their children in public school… try homeschooling! You can do that on a dime and your kids could very possibly excel! (That’s what we do!)

  10. Hey, Monster Saver, you know what’s really “scarring” for kids? Losing their homes because their parents can’t pay the mortgage. I think it goes without saying that “adult things” would go first. Lots of kids would be happy (though still upset) to be able to do something to contribute if the circumstances were really dire.

  11. Great suggestions! I agree with others that we should be doing most of these things to be good stewards. Thanks for pointing out that the couponing does not have to be extreme. A few hours a week can realistically enable someone to save 40-50% on household products and food.

  12. Melanie, sorry you are still having trouble making ends meet! It sounds like you are trying really hard. Please do not “sell” coupons, though. It is illegal and could get you into trouble. They have really started cracking down on things since TLC began airing that show. Always coupon ethically! You will make it:)

  13. Thank you for your brutal honesty! When you need money for food and a roof, everything else becomes fluff. Children will not be permanently damaged. If you keep a positive attitude, your kids will too. We just got rid of our tv’s, home Internet, Netflix, and cell phones and we haven’t realty missed them. And keep in mind that one of the best things you can give your kids is your financial independence in your senior years. Trust me on this, because I’m dealing with parents who haven’t saved or made secure plans for their retirement. That’s a burden.

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