9 Tried-and-True Ways to Save More Money

a pair of hands cupping a potted plant with hundred dollar bills as leaves

Inflation may have cooled from its alarming peak last summer, but that doesn't mean that we aren't all still feeling the pinch a little bit. Food and energy prices are still very high — and the prices on everything else are still well above pre-inflation levels.

So if it seems like your money still isn't going as far as it used to, you're not imagining.

Times like these are when it's best to fall back on the tried-and-tested tricks and tips that give your money the most buying power. And we've shared nine of the best ones below. As you read through them, instead of thinking, "Heard that one before," try to challenge yourself to try them all, and then see what savings add up.

1. Delay Every Purchase to Save

There are two great reasons to delay every purchase you make above and beyond your weekly groceries and gas. Reason #1: Training yourself to wait before you buy something is a key component of smart financial modulation. In other words, waiting before you buy something trains you out of the habit of impulse buying — an expensive and potentially wasteful habit that costs the average American $314 a month.

Before you make any non-essential purchase, you should ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Do I really need it?

  2. Can I delay buying it? Do I need it right now?

  3. Is there a chance I will regret this purchase?

Pay careful attention to how you answer questions 2 and 3. If you can delay buying the item, maybe you don't actually need it. And if there is even a small chance you might look back at this unused, unappreciated buy — just walk away.

Reason #2 to delay purchases is because timing has huge impact on prices. Can you wait until the item goes on sale? Can you buy at end-of-season clearance? Can you buy entirely off season for the greatest savings? You can easily save 20-40% off most consumer purchases by waiting until the end of the sales cycle.

And one more tip: delay any purchase just long enough to Google "best time to buy _____." Tons of consumer shopping experts have done the research to tell you when the lowest prices are historically for household items like televisions, barbecue grills, mattresses, clothing and fashion items and more.

2. Don't Browse the Internet When You're Bored

We all carry around our phones everywhere we go, and most of us have the habit of pulling it out whenever we have a little time on our hands, whether in a grocery store line or lying in bed at night. But the truth is this can be a very expensive habit. Why? Because in just one half hour of browsing, you are exposed to dozens of ads that have been programmed directly to your interests.

This is the power of algorithms, which gather all the data about what social media posts you've liked, what websites you've visited and even what search terms you've used, in order to push advertising to you that contains items you're likely interested in.

And that, of course, can lead to impulse buying. Especially when almost everything for sale is now promoted as "50% off only today" or "sale ends tonight!" All of these tactics are engineered to get you to put items in your cart.

Be mindful of the scrolling. And think about how you can replace some of that internet time with reading a book, doing a hobby, or, heck, even flossing your teeth. There are plenty of ways to be bored that won't cost you additional money.

3. Take Advantage of How Higher Interest Rates Can Put Money in Your Pocket

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One upside to the increased interest rates in our economy is that bank checking and savings accounts — which have been earning a pretty abysmal 0.06% average — have climbed. Now the Annual Percentage Yield for some accounts is as high as 4.5%

Your first move is to call your bank and find out what your current APY rate is. In general, savings accounts earn a higher rate than checking accounts. Armed with this information, you can now shop around. Look for "high-yield" banking accounts, which offer the highest rates, but they have some conditions around how much you need to deposit or how often you can make free withdrawals. In general, you want to "park" some money in a high-yield account in order to reap the most benefits and interest. If you have an emergency fund, it makes sense to move it into a high-yield account — and then try to continue adding to it each month, even if it's only an additional $20. Over time, those additions, and the interest they generate, really add up.

4. Invest in Maintenance — Avoid Expensive Repairs

Sometimes an ounce of prevention can save you a whole lot of money. Case in point? Car maintenance. It's easy to forget to rotate your tires, or get your oil changed, but these two moves alone can keep you from needing to invest in engine work or early tire replacement.

Other places where this rule applies? Your home heating and cooling equipment, and your water system, if you are on a well. Annual appointments to get those looked over by a professional will cost a little more than a hundred dollars, but they can head off a total equipment loss. And anything that keeps you from having to buy a new boiler or a new HVAC unit in the middle of the highest-demand season is a great investment.

Also, those annual visits can give you a lot of information for long-term planning. If you know that your heating unit is showing signs of wear and tear, you can ask what cost of repairs and/or replacement is — and make a plan to save up that money before you need to spend it.

5. Look Around Your Basement

On a weeknight you find yourself a little bored, instead of scrolling and being hit with dozens of ads for things you don't need, head down into your basement and get curious. Pretend you've entered a great second hand store and poke around. The goal? Find things you already own that you could be using. And also: find items that are taking up space that you will probably never use or need again, and set them aside for a yard sale. Empty out your basement and make a little money! Win-win.

The third category of items is anything that needs repair to be useful. Are you going to spend the time and money to get them fixed? Great! Schedule that so you're not just storing junk. And if you realize you really don't want to bother? Put that in the sale pile, too. Maybe one of your neighbors has just the right skillset to fix what you don't want anymore.

6. Shop Your Closet

This is the upstairs version of the above item. Instead of digging around your basement, open your closet and try every.single.thing on in it. You are pretty much guaranteed to find clothes you no longer want or need — which can be donated for a nice tax deduction — and are equally likely to stumble across a few items you forgot about that you are ready to fall in love with again.

Going through your closet also reconnects you to what you actually have — which, more than likely, will keep you from buying a few things you thought you needed that you already own.

7. Open a Can of Beans

Here in the U.S., we are pretty tied to the idea that dinner is meat – potato – vegetable. And meat is the most expensive item on our plates, by far. But you can have equally healthy, filling, and fulfilling meals made with beans instead of meat — at serious savings.

Saute a big bunch of kale and white beans with onions and garlic. Try a black bean salad made with red and orange peppers, fresh corn kernels, scallions and a cumin-lime juice dressing. (Or eat it hot!) And of course, there's always a delicious bowl of chili, made even heartier with the addition of a sweet potato. Spend some time checking out budget recipe sites or vegetarian recipe sites for ideas you will love.

And a bonus? Beans fill you up with less calories as well as less money.

8. Search Your Bank Statements for Recurring Payments

Subscriptions — to the gym, to your favorite news outlet, to your lawn-care service — can make life easier by ensuring you always have a service you depend on. But! Subscriptions are also very sneaky. They can go on, unnoticed, with you paying month after month for a service you no longer use. Or worse, with rate hikes you didn't notice because you missed the email.

So spend an afternoon going through at least three months of bank and credit card statements — since some subscriptions bill quarterly, you'll want to look at more than a single month. Highlight anything you don't recognize instantly and look it up. Do you use it? Do you need it? Can you cancel it?

While you're doing this, look at ALL your subscriptions. Can you cut one of your streaming services? Do you really need that dinner-in-a-box delivery service? Then look at your phone's app store and review the subscription tab: how many of those do you even use? Cancel as many as you can. You can always re-start a subscription if you really miss it. But we're betting you won't even notice the absence of a few of them.

9. Commit to Living Below Your Means

Living according to your budget is a vitally necessary part of being financially savvy. But living below your means — intentionally not spending everything you make each month — is what will put you on a path to being financially secure.

The idea of "budgeting" often feels like self-denial. But there is no greater freedom than wanting to buy something, and having the money on hand to spend. And the only way to do that is to live below your means, carefully setting aside whatever money you can each month, and creating a small nest egg that will grow over time — broadening your horizons and making managing your finances much less stressful.