Save Money Live Better | 25 EASY Money Saving Changes

Heather Arbour

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Save money live better… We really do believe in that. It’s empowering to save money by cutting little things here and there. And as we’ve created this list, we’ve realized many of the ways we save money do equate to us living better, producing less waste!

I promise this is not another post about ways to cut costs and save money that really isn’t relevant to most people. And it’s not some bogus thing about upping your credit score or shopping for car insurance. These are super simple ways to start saving hundreds of dollars a month, some of which, you can start doing right now.

I had an epiphany earlier tonight when I was grabbing a new bag for our carrots. I reached into the cupboard and pulled out a bag most people would just throw away. It was the large bread bag that holds two smaller bread loaves sold at Costco. Honestly, we keep those bags and use them as trash bags to limit the amount of plastic waste we produce… however, this is where the epiphany occurred.

We haven’t bought trash bags in over five years. That means, that this simple plastic reducing step we take not only is saving the world, but it’s saving our pockets too!

And bam… there it was.

25 easy ways to save money starting today, arboursabroad

I had to sit down and write all the little things like that we do to help reduce our impact on the world, that double as ways we save money. And shoot, before we even finished making dinner we had over 20 things written down! Here they are…

25 Ways to Save Money + Live Better Today

1. Ditch the Baggies

It doesn’t have to be Pyrex or true Tupperware, but instead of baggies, use reusable containers. We have one set of Pyrex dishes, and then a shelf of random plastic containers that other food came in that we reuse when our Pyrex dishes aren’t big enough.

Since the whole idea of this post is to save you money… instead of going out and buying new containers, see what you can reuse from the food you purchase anyway! Yogurt containers and the plastic tubs lunch meat comes in sometimes both work great!

In the past 7 years, we’ve bought baggies one time… once! And we still have baggies from that one time! It’s insane how little you actually need them when you try not to use them!

2. Use Towels Instead of Paper Towels

What do you use paper towels for?! Honest question here… My younger siblings grab them for everything… and honestly, that’s the only reason we have them in our current home. If you use paper towels, what do you use them for?

I often want to grab a paper towel when water spills, but instead, I reach for a towel from the dirty clothes hamper. Or shoot, sometimes use the hand towel in the bathroom and then get a new one for there. There’s no doubt that paper towels are super easy to just grab and use, but I think they’re totally unnecessary and just extra waste. This equates to extra dollars!  When you think every roll of paper towels is less money to spend on travel, gas, or shoot, even beer, you’ll quickly check yourself each time you reach for one!

3. Cut Out Netflix, Apple TV, and Disney+

Easily one of the easiest things to just stop using, as you literally just have to cancel the subscription. However, cutting the habit of watching shows is the hard part. Instead, grab a book, go through that stack of paperwork that needs your attention, have a conversation with the people around, play a game, sit in silence, listen to music.

If you don’t have the option of just flipping on a show, it’s easy to not lean to that as your escape!

4. Cut the Cable Bill + Shoot TV in General

I don’t know about you, but when there’s a TV in the room, we immediately start watching it — even when we don’t want to! We don’t have a TV and haven’t owned one since getting married in 2013. With that said, when we housesit we find ourselves drawn to the TV.. having to find something, anything to watch just to watch it. It’s actually disgusting thinking about how addicting a TV actually is!

I know it’s not the norm to not have a TV in a house. In fact, when people come over, that’s always the first thing they comment on. “where’s your TV”.. and when we respond by saying we don’t have one, the shock is priceless!

With all that said, not having a cable bill saves us loads every month. And even more, not having a TV saves us on electricity, time, and in Scotland even actual pounds, as there was a TV fee for each household with a TV!

Now, we aren’t totally against watching TV…We still watch shows, but we watch them on our computers. When we really want a movie night, we whip out the projector and it’s so much more fun and special! Movies on the big screen are great. And what’s even better is not having a TV as the center of attention in the house! 

5. Don’t Buy Brand Name Clothes to Fit Trends

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Trends come and go and honestly, having all the latest clothes to match whatever trend is in, encourages consumerism and is bad for your pocket! Back in elementary school, we would get stuff from Champion because it was discounted by my uncle working there. That store went out of business in recent years, yet this year Champion is trending! It used to be what people wore when they couldn’t afford the name brand clothes, and now it’s all the hype!

More often than not, the trendy clothes are made in the same poor way that the knockoff clothes that stores like Walmart carry are. It’s only when you find a good company, as we talk about next, that it’s actually worth buying the brand name versions!

6. Do Buy Name Brand Clothes for Quality and Longevity

Okay, okay.. this may seem like a huge contradiction to the above statement.. but hear us out on this one. Sometimes, name brand clothes are actually worth purchasing. Take these socks for example. They are spendy up front.. however, they have a lifetime warranty, and are made to be worn multiple times between washes, which means you save on water and electricity washing them less!

We have tested the warranty claim with Darn Tough.. and it’s true. You send in the socks, and they give you a code to purchase for free a new pair from their website! They really are great.. and they’re super comfortable and cute too!

Often times if the cost of the clothing is not due to it being trendy, but instead due to paying employees good wages, or ethically sourcing materials, you can feel better about spending more, and likely those clothes will last longer too!

7. Make Coffee at Home

It’s not a bad thing to grab a coffee out, but doing it every day, or sometimes multiple times a day is an easy way to spend hundreds of dollars a month without really realizing it. Making coffee at home with a Pour Over or an Aeropress is great for people who like black coffee or coffee with just some creamer in it. The Moka Pot is a fantastic way to make an espresso-like coffee to mix and make drinks like caramel mochas or eggnog lattes!

If you’re really craving a coffee while you’re out and about, try McDonald’s Coffee. It’s actually pretty good, and oftentimes way cheaper than other drive-through coffee shops.

man makes pour over coffee.

8. Pack Lunches to Go

I’d argue that buying lunch out on average is about $7 a day. Times that by a 5 day a week work week, and you’re looking at $35 a week or $140 a month. That’s a quick way to dwindle your savings account! Limit the amount you’re buying lunch by packing your own! Turning leftovers into lunch is a great way to waste less food and save money! Leftover taco night is my favorite to turn into taco salad for lunch the next day!

woman handing you a snack.

9. Only Go Out to Eat for Date Nights and Special Occasions

Jay and I don’t go out to eat very often, and when we do.. we turn it into a proper date. No phones, no work talk, just enjoying each other’s company. This not only saves money, but also allows us to truly enjoy the gift of going out to eat. Making going out to eat less of a normal thing, changes it into something special — and allows us to enjoy the meal and time out of the house so much more!

Honestly, I think there is something so special about going out to eat. It’s a luxury that not everyone gets, and so to really not abuse it by limiting the times you go out makes it a super special thing!

10. Stop Browsing… Online and in Person

Did you know there’s a science behind where stores place things? You know how stores change their layouts often?? It’s a marketing tactic to get people to stay in the store longer.. which means more money is spent. Stick it to the big guys and stop browsing. When you go into a store (online or in-person) go in with a list. Only go to the section of the store you know you need stuff from, and then get out the door (or off the site).

Looking for deals you just can’t pass up is asking for you to throw money at something you just don’t really need! Likewise, just getting on Amazon to see the deals of the day, or going to Target to kill time, are both ways to just throw your money away.

11. Turn off Your Lights

Yep. It’s that simple. When you leave a room.. turn the lights off. No more explanation is necessary here! Your bank account will thank you later!

12. Unplug Electronics When Not in Use

Just like turning off lights when you don’t need them, you should also unplug your electronics. Outlets draw power, and truly do increase your electric bill. When we leave the house, we unplug everything except the fridge, and both months we were on the road, our electric bill was only $25! What a relief!! Unplug your electronics and see how much your electric bill decreases!

Even when you’re not leaving for long periods of time, unplugging things like a toaster or lights you don’t use often will decrease your electric bill, and lessen the chances of house fires too!

13. Use Reusable Bags

Not sure about where you live, but here in Oregon, you have to pay for grocery bags. Bring your own bags with you, and save 5 cents per bag you use! As a bonus.. some stores actually give you money per reusable bag you bring! Not only saving money, but earning money too…that’s a straight win-win!

The kind of bag you use does not matter. I have a “bride to be” bag that I use all the time, along with a hospital bag, Scholastic book bag, and a few other randoms! Don’t go buy new bags.. feel the relief and proudness of using bags you have just lying around your home! Again, saving the planet and your wallet at the same time!

14. Reuse Plastic Packaging

This is the one that started this entire post!! When buying things in bulk, specifically from Costco, they often have extra packaging around already packaged things. i.e. their loaves of bread. Each bread loaf is packaged, then two packaged loaves are in a second plastic bag. This one is totally clean on the inside from any food residue. That’s the one you want to reuse!  Likewise, toilet paper comes double bagged from Costco as well… also a great one to reuse!

Pay attention to the packaging things you buy come in. Often times you can reuse it for trash bags, or shoot even food bags too! In the van, we like to even reuse our coffee bags for trash bags. This keeps the trash smelling fresh and is a great way to again reduce our waste on this planet!

15. Hang Dry Your Laundry

Don’t even come at me with this not being practical in the winter. In Scotland, you’d literally see laundry hung outside all the time, rain or shine.. and it does actually dry.. the wind is like magic! In other parts of the world, the heat works great to dry clothes, as does the wind! Instead of having a clothing line outside, you can get one of these indoor clothing racks (found cheaper at Ikea) and hang your clothes inside. This works especially well if you have a wood-burning stove to set it up next to!

Hang drying your laundry does take extra time, but we’ve noticed when we run our dryer — for things like towels — we see at least a dollar if not two dollars increase in our electricity usage for that day! Actually insane to think about for people that do loads and loads of laundry a day!

laundry, hang dry, arboursabroad
Our laundry drying while Heather slept off her sickness!

16. Wear Your Clothes More than Once Between Washes

On the same note as hang drying your laundry… don’t wash it as often! Rewear your workout clothes. Rewear your pants. Shoot, if you’re at home all day, rewear your shirts too! There’s literally no reason to wash your clothes every time you wear them! Only wash them when they’re actually dirty, or smell bad. This paired with hang drying your clothes keeps your clothes lasting longer, and can in itself save loads of money and time a month!

17. Buy Seasonal Produce

Off-season produce is expensive! Never do I know this statement to be more true than when shopping for grapes! Grapes range from $2/lb to $7/lb.. $7/lb people.. that’s insane! Before you go to the store to buy your produce, check the prices and make sure it hasn’t skyrocketed due to the demand and or it being the off-season for that particular item!

Oftentimes, farmer’s markets will also have better tasting and better priced products as well. Check local farmer’s markets or even just farms before heading to the grocery store!

25 easy ways to save money starting today, arboursabroad

18. Check the Discounted Section Before Buying Meat

We’ll never beat the £1 meal we created from the discount section in Scotland.. but hey, you’ll still save money shopping the discounted goods. Some stores have sections they move all their discounted meats, produce, and prepackaged goods to on or immediately after the expiration date. This is a great place to find meat and packaged produce that is still actually good for immediate consumption or can be good for later if you freeze it straight away!

Often times if you move some of the meat around at grocery stores, you’ll also see packages marked down for the same reason… or shoot, even money off coupons stuck on the package! Check around before just grabbing the first thing you see!

19. Buy Food in Bulk

As a total disclaimer here.. not all bulk food is actually cheaper than the non-bulk. But oftentimes, it’s better to buy a big package rather than the small ones! Things like rice, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and even canned goods are often better bought in bulk than individually. Pay attention to the price per ounce on product tags, and see where you can save buying in bulk!

Costco sign an expensive grocery store in Puerto Vallarta

20. Actually Eat or Reinvent Your Leftovers

We love eating leftovers!! Cold pasta. Taco night turned to breakfast burritos or taco salads. Rice and leftover veg turned into fried rice with a new protein as the side. Shoot.. even some leftovers just the way they are are delicious! We have friends and family that just don’t do leftovers. They’ll save the food just to let it go bad in the fridge a week later.

Honestly, if you don’t like leftovers, turn your leftovers into a new meal!!

Just last night we took our leftover quinoa that was on the verge of needing to be thrown out, and I literally Pinterested “leftover quinoa recipes” and it came up with some bomb quinoa patties that we’ll likely be making more often! If in doubt, look up leftover recipes on Pinterest.. you may be surprised what you find!

21. Freeze Produce When Turning Bad to Use in Smoothies or Soups

This is a fantastic way to waste less food. Things like blueberries, raspberries, and spinach can go straight into the freezer. But you’ll want to cut the green off of things like strawberries, and core and cut up apples. And for bananas.. once they start to go brown, peel the banana before freezing it! You can even freeze onions for throwing into soups… honestly, anything can be frozen for later! Just make sure to actually use it! 🙂

22. Use the Gas Buddy App Before Filling Up

Download this free app and start saving money on gas on your next fill-up. Gas Buddy is easily one of our most used apps on our phones. It’s great for road trips when trying to find the nearest gas station, but it also comes in handy on everyday fill-ups too. It shows you not only where the nearest gas station is, but also the price of gas there. With Gas Buddy, you can make sure you’re getting the cheapest gas in the area.. sometimes saving you 50 cents a gallon!

23. Use Dr. Bronner’s Soap + Refillable Foam Soap Dispensers

Gone are the day of buying Bath and Body Works soap, or shoot even soap on a regular basis.. and in are the days of Dr. Bronner’s! Dr. Bronner’s is a pure-castile soap that’s sold super concentrated. It’s biodegradable with 18 different uses, which is what got us hooked on it originally with travel.

However, now being in a home, we use it every day as our hand soap. By reusing foaming hand soap pumps and one part soap to five(ish) parts water.. we have hand soap for over a year at all three sinks in our home, just from one 32 ounce bottle! Dr. Bronner’s reduces the amount of plastic waste we produce (a common theme in money saving tips) while also helping save our budget by not needing to buy soap often.

Amazon sells Dr. Bronner’s and while it’s pretty decently priced for how good this soap is.. we found the ones we currently have at Grocery Outlet.. a bargain grocery store for less than half the price on Amazon. That was pure luck, and we stocked up.. otherwise, check out local “health” stores, or even some supermarkets are now carrying it too!

Read about more uses for Dr. Bronner’s soap here.. we really do love it and this simple switch can save you loads of money.. not just on hand soap, but in other areas of the home too!

24. Always Keep Snacks and Water in the Car

Munchies and thirst.. two easy ways to spend your money away without even noticing! Keep snacks, treats, and water in your car so you’re not tempted to buy them when the craving hits! Also super useful when you end up being out for longer than expected. Eating a snack instead of taking an unplanned trip to a restaurant is a great way to save money!

25. Grab Food at Grocery Stores instead of Restaurants

For those times that you just need something other than what you have in the car. Or when you’re out and about longer than you planned. Don’t head straight to a restaurant or gas station for food. Instead, pop into a grocery store and grab food or snacks there. One of our favorites is to get cheese and meat from the deli section then grab bread from the bakery or crackers and fresh fruit. This is a much more satisfying and cheaper meal than going out to eat!

produce, Deiva Marina, Italy, arboursabroad
Check out this produce!!

Extra Ways to Save Money + Live Better

Check Your Subscriptions and Cancel Ones You Don’t Use

I should actually say, not just ones you don’t use, but ones you don’t use often enough. Do you actually need your Amazon Prime account.. or can you wait on shipping that takes a bit longer. Do you watch enough movies and shows to keep all different steaming accounts, or can you cut out some if not all? Would it be cheaper to just rent a movie instead of pay for a monthly subscription for things you don’t watch often enough?!

While we recommend cutting out most, if not all subscription accounts, pick and choose what you really need and want. No need to have multiple music and video streaming accounts! Just pick the best and deal with having a few fewer options!

We are only “subscribed” to Amazon Prime. This gives us free monthly books on our kindles, free shipping when we actually order stuff online, and also gives us music to listen to and videos to watch. It’s kinda and all in one package! But even so, when our money was tight… we considered cutting this cost too. Truly think what subscriptions you actually need, and which ones you have just to have.

Cut Your Hair at Home

We can’t tell you the last time Jay got a haircut. He uses a trimmer like this, and cuts his hair on his own, or sometimes with my help. Neither of us are hairdressers or had any experience cutting hair before we cut his the first time. But we were just tired of paying for his hair cuts, so we nixed that from our budget and started saving! I (Heather) have yet to try cutting my hair. I go in once every couple of years and just chop all mine off!

If you’re serious about saving money… start cutting your own hair.

Use Reusable Waterbottles

Stop buying water when you’re away from home!! If it’s too much of an inconvenience to grab a water bottle from the cupboard and fill it with water on your way out, prefill reusable water bottles and keep them in your fridge! Honestly, how good does water taste from plastic bottles anyway? And really, when was the last time you opened a single-use water bottle and drank the entire thing? Reuse water bottles you have at the house if you can.. otherwise, grab one of these! It’s my favorite water bottle for staying hydrated away from the house!

Check Warranties Before Buying New Products

Socks, cameras, coffee makers, shoot even shoes… warranties are on more than just big purchases! Be sure to check if what you’re replacing has a warranty.. and then even further, if that warranty is expired, see if your credit card or home/renters insurance covers it.

Use A Credit Card

Yes, telling you to use your credit card to save money seems a bit counterintuitive. But hang with us for a second here. If you pay off your credit card every month and don’t let it roll over to where you pay interest, you save money. With most credit cards, you can get extended warranties on items sold with a manufactures warranty, and you can get insurance on not just rental cars but most things travel-related and even against theft in some cases. Not to mention, by using a credit card for your everyday purchases, you rack up points! Those points can then transfer to cash, gift cards, and more!

Read more about the credit card we use and love for travel here!

More Ways to Save Money + Live Better

Finding a Credit Card That’s Right for You

4 Ways to Camp for Free | an easy way to save money on your next adventure

How to Find the Cheapest Flight For Your Next Vacation

10 Ways to Travel for FREE

Sticking to a Budget with Long Term Travel

Ways to Save Money While Road Tripping

Save More Live Better | share with others

25 ways to start saving money with simple changes today, arboursabroad

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