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Unsolicited Economic Advice From A Zillennial: My 15 Favorite Easy Ways To Save Money

Money tricks and tips that actually work. Nobody asked, but I'm still happy to share!

By Sara ThomasPublished 2 years ago Updated about a year ago 7 min read
Unsolicited Economic Advice From A Zillennial: My 15 Favorite Easy Ways To Save Money
Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Here it is! The economic advice that you didn't even ask for! But I'm a sharer by nature, and you could say that saving money is one of my favorite hobbies.

I love shopping and retail therapy, probably even more than the next person, but when living in a capitalistic consumer nation, it really helps to know how to save.

Now, I can't cancel all student debt (unfortunately), and I can't raise the federal minimum wage, but I CAN share my 15 favorite ways to budget and save money.

Hope you enjoy, and here you go!

1. Make spreadsheets to analyze your spending.

It doesn't have to be fancy, and oftentimes I'll just use a lined piece of paper, but it always helps to spreadsheet it out!

Decide on the category you want to analyze, and every time you make a purchase in that category, record the date of purchase, amount of money spent, what was bought, and where you made the purchase. This way, you can compare the results and see what works best for you based on your spending patterns.

2. Make more meals at home, and bring your own drinks and snacks with you.

Cooking at home is one of the absolute best ways to save money. You are able to control portion size, taste, ingredients, AND if you make a large batch, you have ready-to-go yummy meals for the week!

Feel free to still indulge in the occasional take-out or dine-in, but also add to your recipe repertoire to build out your cooking skills. Food blogs, Instagram, and Pinterest are great for discovering your new favorite home-cooked meal. Meal services such as HelloFresh are also fantastic for beginners!

3. Keep a jar to hold all of your spare change. You'd be surprised at how much money could actually be in there!

All of that change really does add up, so don't be surprised if you walk into the bank or supermarket with a chunk of change and come out with $40-$60.

Most supermarkets have a coin counter inside (it can take a bit of looking for). I personally love cashing in the change, and then using that cash for my grocery shopping. But you can use it for anything!

4. Check to see if your grocery store has an app. Most grocery store apps will include coupons you can save to your account for future savings!

I save about $25 per month just by using my grocery store's app. You can add over 100 coupons to your account, and they will all then be automatically applied at checkout.

My only complaint is that the apps can sometimes take a while to load, but they are definitely worth it!

5. Challenge yourself to no-spend days, weeks, or even months!

Think of the sense of accomplishment you will feel when you reach your no spend goal! It's also a great way to build self-restraint for beginning budgeters.

See something you like? Add it to your cart and wait till the no-spend period is over. Consider it your reward at the finish line.

6. Opt for reusable options over single use. It will cost less in the long run!

Also, let's be honest, the less amount of trash you produce, the less amount of trash you have to carry outside all the time. Nothing makes me panic like taking the trash down our apartment building's four flight of stairs, the entire time muttering to the bag, "please don't break, please don't break!".

Reusable is the way to go!

7. Don't underestimate the dollar store!


Yes, I love it that much that I obnoxiously used all caps. You can get snacks, food, drinks, toiletries, crafts supplies, party supplies, holiday decor, gifting materials, toys, home decor, kitchenware, containers, curtains, candles, and honestly the list goes on and on.

8. Shop around for the best prices.

I can't recommend enough using the Honey browser extension for price comparison. Honey instantly checks the entire web to make sure you are getting the best deal possible, automatically applies promo codes at checkout, and can even show you pricing trends.

Check out Honey here.

9. Join free rewards programs for extra bonuses. I personally am a BIG Dunkin' girl.

It's always a good idea to check and see if your regular shopping and purchasing destinations have a rewards program or app.

From retail stores to coffee shops to gas stations, so many different businesses have rewards programs.

10. Know how to prep your apartment for each season to maximize savings on your heat and AC bills.

Adjusting your living spaces according to the season really is a fantastic way to save on your heat and AC bills.

For instance, most ceiling fans have a seasonal switch on the side that controls the blades' direction. The direction alone can help you control the temperature in your living space. The blades should rotate to the right in the winter, and left in the summer.

Also consider adding rugs in the colder months to insulate your place, and removing them in the warmer months!

11. Instead of checking out immediately when shopping online, add to your cart, and let it sit for a while. Most of the time when you go back to check out, you only end up wanting 1/3 or 1/2 of what was originally in your cart.

My favorite method is to add to cart all month, and then on the first day of every month, I buy what I actually want and can afford.

Buying all at once helps me really feel the impact of the money I am spending.

12. Don't be afraid to buy off-brand! Most grocery stores will reward you for choosing their brand over the more expensive popular brands.

Off-brand groceries tend to have the exact same ingredients and nutritional facts as their name-brand counterparts. Additionally, buying off-brand, especially at the grocery store, can help build up your reward points, which are then turned into cash for groceries.

At a certain point, sometimes you are just paying for a label. Embrace buying off-brand when you can.

BONUS: Check to see if your grocery store has an app! We saved $125 last year from virtual coupons and reward points.

13. If you don't love something, don't buy it.

If you buy something, and you just 'like' it, then you will inevitably get rid of that exact same item for something else, or because you end up never using it. The item will end up being a waste of a purchase.

To avoid this, try asking yourself, "Do I love it?" when doing a final review of your cart. This is an excellent way to naturally edit your purchases, and ensure your money is spent on items you really love.

14. When trying to decide if a purchase is worth it, use my Justification Equation. Give yourself a dollar for every time you expect to use it, a dollar for every time you're thankful for it, and a dollar for every compliment you receive on it. If the item can pay for itself in the span of year, it's a good purchase!

Feel free to also add a dollar for every time you give yourself a compliment regarding the item! This is my go-to method when considering buying bigger ticket items.

15. Figure out which 3 spending categories are most important to you (not including rent, utilities, transportation, and groceries), and limit your extra spending to those 3 categories only.

You can budget solely for the bare necessities, but life is meant to be enjoyed, so it's good to treat yourself too!

To set a realistic expectation for yourself, decide what your three favorite bonus categories of purchases are. This helps limit your extra-curricular shopping, while also allowing you to buy yourself some of your favorite things!

Happy savings, and here's to more money in your bank account!


About the Creator

Sara Thomas

Mixed, optimistic, and depressed MA-based zillennial just out here trying to make you feel things.

We're all a little messed up, and that's okay. Let's be human together<3

UCLA '18 . Art History . Mythology

Book in Progress: Mess of a Human

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