20 Ways to Save Money and Manage Your Personal Finances

Hand placing coin into a piggy bank
There are serious reasons why Americans cannot actually save money. | iStock.com/AndreyPopov

Saving money can be stressful and, of course, it’s something that’s unavoidable. There are serious reasons why Americans cannot actually save money these days. One being that people keep upgrading their lifestyle despite growing income inequality. Impulse buying and love of luxury can also become real burdens if your goal is saving money.
On the other hand, there are so many fun ways you can take control of your personal finances and change the way you live. For example, you can start rethinking the way you shop for groceries and clothes. In most of the cases, it’s all about creating a money-saving mindset. As soon as you do that, you will be on our way to achieving financial stability. These 20 tips will help you save money and manage your personal finances more effectively.

1. Create a financial calendar

Man working on calendar on laptop
Use a financial calendar to keep track of payment dates and avoid late payment fees. | iStock.com/scyther5

If you have problems remembering when to pay your bills then a financial calendar is for you. You can schedule your visits to a doctor, a dentist, or your car mechanic. There are a number of personal finance dates to make note of on your financial calendar. This way you will stay on top of deadlines and will never miss a payment, thus avoiding any late payment fees.

2. Set financial goals

husband and wife working on finances with calculator and laptop
Finances take work. | iStock.com/Tomwang112

It is a good idea to be as specific as possible when it comes to deciding what your financial goals are. If there are certain things that you want to accomplish, make a list and go for it. Be exact with how much you are going to spend on what, how much you’re going to save, and add deadlines for all of your goals.

3. Pay off your debt

Girl carrying large box labeled 'debt' up a ladder
You don’t have to have a zero balance on all of your accounts. | iStock.com

If you’ve got a bunch of debt, then it’s time to make a plan to pay it off. Having a lot of revolving debt for long periods of time can be seriously damaging to your credit score. You don’t have to have a zero balance on all of your accounts, but be as aggressive as possible with payments to widen the gap between your balance and your limit to decrease your utilization percentage.

4. Find a money buddy

Two senior gentlemen holding several stacks of money
Pick someone who won’t judge your past financial mistakes. | iStock.com/Ljupco

Finding a like-minded person to save money with can be fun and help you stay accountable. Pick someone responsible who has the time to help and encourage you and won’t be judgmental about past financial mistakes you might have made (or if you just can’t give up that $5 daily latte).

5. Start saving money ASAP

girl holding piggy bank
Your goal should be saving money as soon as possible. | iStock

The decision to save money can be an easy one to make, however, following through on that can be difficult. Your goal should be saving money as soon as possible — not tomorrow, not next week, and not when you get a higher salary. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Start by setting aside a small amount from every paycheck and work towards growing that amount further down the line.

6. Negotiate everything

two men shaking hands over a table
Negotiating could mean a difference of thousands of dollars. | iStock.com/g-stockstudio

From your car purchase to your salary, don’t shy away from negotiating. Learning a few basic negotiating strategies and using them in your daily life could mean the difference of saving thousands of dollars on large purchases or making more money at your job.

7. Keep your savings and checking accounts separate

Laptop with mobile banking application
This keeps your spending in check. | iStock.com/relif

To avoid accidentally spending your savings, open a separate savings account. Keep your spending money completely separate from your savings (both physically and mentally) and watch your savings grow.

8. Ask for a raise

Businessmen talking to each other at a job fair
Find out how much you’re worth. | John Moore/Getty Images

Do you think you have been a great asset to your company? Then maybe it’s time to ask for a raise. Do your research. See how much people doing the same job as you are getting using websites like Glassdoor to gauge how much to ask for.

9. Get a side gig

maid cleaning floor
Having a second income could help you save more or pay off debts faster. | Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Getting a second job could also be a good option for you. Having a second income could help you save more or pay off debts faster. If you have a steady 9-5 job during the week, look into options that would give you a more flexible schedule like mystery shopping or freelance work. But be wary of work from home scams and research any opportunity thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.

10. Maintain an emergency fund

Coins in glass money jar with emergency label
You never know when you’ll need it. | iStock.com/GreenApple78

It happens to everyone. Your car breaks down or you lose your job and you suddenly need some extra cash. A good emergency fund can usually cover three to six months worth of basic living expenses like food. If you have already got an emergency fund, cool. Consider making it more powerful by continuously adding more money.

11. Give up expensive habits

Woman online shopping onher phone
Skip the fast food a couple more times this week. | iStock.com/oatawa

Giving up, or at least cutting back on, expensive habits is another important way of saving money. You’ll be shocked at how much extra money you’ll manage to set aside by only getting three take-out coffees instead of six every week. On average, people spend $164.71 per year on coffee. Cut back your expenses by brewing your morning coffee at home and drinking it on your way to work.

12. Take advantage of discounts

Markdowns are advertised at a discount clothing store
Does your employer participate in corporate discount programs? | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Check if your employer participates in any corporate discount programs that could hook you up with things like free (or discounted) gym memberships. Employees at Google enjoy free food on the Google campus in addition to oil changes, massages, and daycare.

13. Free is key

Young man reading a book in between library shelves
Don’t pay for what’s free. | iStock.com/anyaberkut

It’s time to dust off that library card. You’ll be able to borrow the latest books, magazines, newspapers, and even movies. There’s usually free Wi-Fi, too. Speaking of free, be sure to keep an eye out for opportunities for free samples or significant discounts on products you usually use to help save money, too.

14. Automate your savings

Woman using a smart phone
Set up automatic deposits into your savings account. | iStock.com/AntonioGuillem

Put your savings on autopilot by setting up automatic transfers or deposits into your savings account. Keep track of everything with a budget-tracking app to help you. Mint or Learnvest are cool budget-tracking apps that can help you visualize your money saving goals.

15. Use ATMs reasonably

woman withdrawing money from an ATM
Plan your visits. | iStock.com/guruXOOX

Is there anything worse than having to buy your own money? With ATM fees, it’s not effective to rush to an ATM every time you need to buy something. Try withdrawing a set amount of money each week and plan how you are going to spend your money in advance to avoid surprise purchases.

16. Use comparison sites

A man is working on touchscreen laptop
Make sure you’re getting the best price possible. | iStock.com/BernardaSv

Using comparison websites is a smart way to get the best prices for the best products you are planning to purchase. These websites usually let you not only compare prices, but also features of the given products. Try using more than one comparison website if you really want to get the best advice.

17. Implement ‘no spend’ days

Person spreading peanut butter on a slice of bread
Rein in frivolous spending with no spend days. | iStock

One spending (or savings) hack is to implement no spend days throughout the month. The purpose is to plan ahead so you can go a full day without any unnecessary or unplanned spending. For example, you can make your own coffee and lunch at home and take it to the office with you. Try taking your bike or walking to the office if you live near your workplace and it would be practical for you. Or you can saying no to paid TV for a month and see whether or not you can live without it long-term.

18. Evaluate your bank

Old bank sign engraved in stone
Is your current bank the best choice for you? | iStock.com/BrianAJackson

Is there another bank that’s offering way more benefits? Are your current bank’s ATMs located in such inconvenient places that it is always a headache for you to find them. If either of these two statements sound true then maybe it’s time to change your bank. Do your research and see which bank will be more beneficial for you.

19. Get financially literate

Glasses laying on a dictionary
Spend a little time each day reading up on financial basics. | iStock.com/PamWalker68

Educating yourself to become financially savvy is pretty easy these days with all of the information on the internet. Knowing how to use money-saving apps, how to effectively utilize online banking, and how to adopt different money-saving attitudes can help you build wealth over time. Allocate some time every day to read about the stock market, investment strategies, and retirement plans so you at least have a basic knowledge base. You can even get online tutorials to help you educate yourself.

20. Protect yourself online

Woman shopping online
Stay safe online. | iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

It’s almost inevitable that you’re making some of your financial transactions online. Your password and other account details are vulnerable so it’s important to know how to protect yourself online.