10 Clever Ways to Save Money Without Being Called a Cheapskate

Money, spending, budget, rich, wealthy
The Wolf of Wall Street spends some money. | Paramount Pictures

You might have heard the phrase, “You have to spend money to make money.” This is a philosophy usually attributed to businesses — the idea that you’ll have to make an initial investment to make a profit. But if you’re wondering if or how to save money in your personal life, you can apply the same concept. It isn’t easy to save money, especially when you don’t have much to begin with. But if you make some calculated investments of your own, you can end up coming out ahead.
So, yes, you can spend money to save money, as odd as it sounds. The question, of course, is how?
The key is to make very careful, thoughtful decisions regarding your spending. Look for areas where you’re spending a lot of money, and brainstorm ways you can take a bite out of those expenses with an investment. It’s like a college degree. You’re putting up with a big up-front cost for more money in your pocket later.
What are some of the ways you can use that same philosophy in your everyday life? Start with your morning ritual.

1. Buy a nice coffee maker

The average American spends a lot of money on coffee — around $1,100 annually. And if you like coffee, then you should splurge, especially if it brings you pleasure and value. But you can cut down on those costs by making it yourself. Buy a coffee maker — a nice one. Even if you spend a few hundred dollars, the average American will come out ahead on coffee expenditures.

2. Adopt ride-sharing

A Lyft driver talking with a customer
A Lyft driver talks with a customer. | Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Lyft

This isn’t going to work for everyone, depending on where you live and what you need to do throughout the course of the day. But if you have a simple commute and live in a city, consider dumping your car and getting around using public transportation or a ride-sharing service, such as Uber or Lyft. You’ll save on a car payment, insurance, and gas. You will, however, spend money on a per-ride basis. Again, it won’t work for everyone, but it’s something to consider.

3. Buy new, efficient appliances

An Electrolux washer and dryer are offered for sale at an appliance store
An Electrolux washer and dryer are offered for sale at an appliance store. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

If you really have money burning a hole in your pocket and are playing the long game, new appliances can save you substantial amounts of money over time. All of those big appliances — refrigerators, washers, dryers, etc. — eat up a lot of energy. But newer models are as efficient as ever and can help curb your energy bills. Over time, you’ll come out ahead. But the initial expense on a new fridge is fairly large.

4. Buy a bike

A cyclist finds a way to save money by commuting via bicycle near downtown Minneapolis
A cyclist finds a way to save money by commuting via bicycle near downtown Minneapolis. | iStock.com

We’ll dip back to transportation again. Buying a bicycle can be a great way to cut down on your transport costs, assuming you live in an area where the weather permits a bike commute, and you don’t need to have a car for some reason. A new bike can be expensive, but again, it’s an investment. Plus, by ditching your car for a bike, you’ll get more exercise and help the environment.

5. Cord-cutting

Girl watching TV
A girl watches TV. | iStock.com/AndreyPopov

A great deal of Americans are cutting the cord — the term used to describe the act of dumping cable TV and signing up for online streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. If you’re still attached to cable, you might want to give those streaming services a serious look. The average American’s cable TV bill is more than $100 per month. Streaming services, on the other hand, are around $10 to $15. Yes, you’ll still have to pay for internet access, but signing up for new services and dumping an old one can be a way to save money.

6. Take some classes, and learn a skill

Ron Swanson in his woodworking shop
Ron Swanson works in his woodworking shop. | NBC

This can help you save money down the road in a couple of ways. You can take advantage of a newfound skill to make Christmas and birthday gifts, for example, instead of shelling out for gift cards. Whatever skill or talent you’ve adopted could also have ramifications in your professional life. Check out a local community college, and see what courses they offer. You might find a new passion or even a new career path.

7. Learn to sew and buy supplies

Stitching a button
Stitching a button | iStock.com

On the topic of learning new skills, you might want to invest some time (and money) in learning how to sew and hem. You’ll have to buy some supplies and a class, perhaps, but you’ll learn an incredibly useful skill that will come in handy down the road. If you can make small repairs and alterations to your clothes, you might be less willing to go to the mall and buy new stuff.

8. Try buying engrossing books and video games

Trevor from GTA V leans against a car in the desert.
Grand Theft Auto | Rockstar Games

This is all about getting the most bang for your buck. Everyone needs to be entertained, and there are a number of ways you can do it. But the costs can add up. The average movie ticket in the U.S. has increased 60% since 2000, for example. So why not try video games and books? Games or books provide hours of entertainment versus one movie. You might spend more money up front but possibly get hundreds of hours of entertainment in return.

9. Take a cooking class

Man and woman cooking together
A man and woman cook together. | iStock.com

Once again, we’re going to recommend that you invest in yourself. This time, it has to do with your ability to cook. A lot of people never learn to cook or simply don’t like doing it. But if you can figure it out and uncover a new passion, it can be a huge source of savings. Americans waste a ton of money on food, but learning to cook for yourself can help curb those costs.

10. Buy in bulk

Wondering how to save money? Shop at Costco
Wondering how to save money? Shop at Costco. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

You might do this already, but if you don’t it can be a way to stretch every dollar. Try buying in bulk. Purchase a Costco or Sam’s Club membership, and save by scaling. Identify the products you can buy in bulk, such as toilet paper, paper towels, certain foods, drinks, etc. Buy bigger, and recoup the savings over the long run. Wondering how to save money with incredible ease? This is probably it.