Money: 100 Ways to Keep More Money in Your Pocket

Last night some friends and I held a brainstorming session on Facebook about ways to save or make money. Here’s what we have so far:

  1. Hold clothing swaps with your friends – everyone brings their never-wear-but-too-good-to-get-rid-of clothes, shoes and accessories.
  2. Shop at thrift stores.
  3. Split entrees at restaurants, or take leftovers home.
  4. Look on Craigslist or EBay first for electronics and furniture.
  5. Ask your stylist to hook you up with haircolor so you can do your own roots in between visits. Drugstores also have root treatments that can help until your next appointment. And, if you find the right non-damaging product and you’re good enough to do it yourself, try home color.
  6. Trade babysitting with friends.
  7. Walk instead of taking cabs in NYC. It’s usually quicker.
  8. Make your own dog treats. Cheaper and you know what’s in them.
  9. Shop at farmers markets for in-season produce, which tastes better and is usually cheaper than the supermarket.
  10. Don’t order takeout or delivery unless there’s a legit reason.
  11. Buy food that won’t go bad quickly (such as oatmeal or beans) in bulk instead of cans.smaller portion … if the math works out. Sometimes you can also find crazygood sales on the smaller items.
  12. Make your own coffee in the morning and bring it with you in a travel mug to work.
  13. Negotiate with your phone company, cable company and Internet provider. They don’t want to lose your business. I’ve only been paying a tiny amount for Internet service for years because I threaten to leave every six months.
  14. Stop buying bottled water – for what other product would you happily pay a 1,000 percent markup?
  15. Get a soda stream and a water filter so you can make your own bubbly water to replace your ridiculous Pellegrino habit.
  16. Stop smoking.
  17. Use both sides of the paper.
  18. Stop emotional/impulse spending: If you’re dying to get that dress/makeup/pair of boots, wait a day, see if you’re still jonesing for it, then make the purchase.
  19. Organize your stuff and have a place for everything: You’d be amazed how much extra stuff you buy when you’re disorganized and can’t find something you already have.
  20. If you do NEED really need a new dress shop at Ross or TJ Max or some suchanother discount store first… If you do buy a dress full-price, make sure you love it, it’s good quality, and that you can wear it for a few years.
  21. See if you can make Halloween costumes for your kids from stuff you already have (cowgirl, tourist, gypsy, zombie, nerd ), or swap costumes with friends or other parents.
  22. You don’t need that much meat. Try using half, or go meatless a couple days a week.
  23. Re-evaluate how much you’re paying in bank fees, insurance, credit cards, etc. Do a full financial inventory. Try calling to get the fees waived or lowered.
  24. Shop in your closet. Look for fresh ways to wear forgotten items.
  25. Read parking signs carefully and keep cash in the car so you never get a parking ticket.
  26. Kids grow so quickly that some of the best clothes hardly have a chance to be worn – consider a hand-me-down arrangement with a friend or family member, consignment, or thrift-store search.
  27. Cook at home. Take a yogurt and granola bar for breakfast, and pack a nice lunch of leftovers or soup or cold cuts.
  28. Give up alcohol for a month and you’ll save money and even lose weight.
  29. Fabric painting and decorative patches: they save stains and holes in clothes, brighten them up and give them a new look.
  30. Get worn boots and shoes that still look good resoled, don’t throw instead of throwing them out.
  31. Ribbons make great shoelaces.
  32. Use it up, wear it out, make it do … or do without.
  33. Use your apps to keep an up-to-date inventory/shopping list.
  34. Use a lipstick brush to get every last drop of your favorite color!
  35. Thrift-shop online at Poshmark, Twice and Threadflip.
  36. Trade skills at your local time bank: Some neighborhoods have organizations in which members can barter their time and skills for other goods and services.
  37. Try getting it at Trader Joe’s or the ethnic market before the regular supermarket.
  38. Grow your own herbs.
  39. A chicken or turkey gets double mileage when you use the carcass for stew or soup.
  40. Use Freecycle and Craiglist to score free stuff. Sometimes it’s yours for the asking.
  41. There’s this thing called the library where you can get free books, music and movies. Seriously. For reals..
  42. Order cleaning supplies, health and beauty aids, diapers and other non-perishable stuff you replace regularly through Subscribe ‘n’ Save, which saves you a big percentage off the price, as well as time shopping and parking. If you’re a frequent online shopper, the Amazon Prime service is totally worth it: You get free shipping and access to hundreds of on-demand videos.
  43. What can you do as a side gig? Copyedit? Build websites? Babysit? Walk dogs? Housesit? Teach guitar? Draw pet portraits? Paint decorative mailboxes? If you think about it long enough you’ll figure out your side gig. One person I know saved up enough from cocktail waitressing on her off-hours to put a down payment on a house.
  44. Aside from the library, there’s soooo much music you can listen to for free: try Spotify, Pandora and of course, you can go to the library and get music risk-free and download podcasts or live-streaming from your favorite radio station. (I’m a huge fan of Santa Monica’s KCRW.)
  45. Upcycle your clothes: Can that dated dress become a cool tunic top? With the flash of the scissors and a little sewing skill (or learn for free on YouTube) that unwearable cashmere sweater with the moth holes can turn into cute leg warmers or  the best scarf ever. If you’re good at it, you can sell your creations on Etsy.
  46. Use your fresh and perishable food first so it doesn’t go bad. If necessary, develop a system in your refrigerator so that the food that needs to be eaten first is most accessible.
  47. Join a Yahoo! online community specific to your profession, neighborhood , hobby, interest or kids’ age. You’ll be amazed how generous people can be with advice, discounts, insider information and gear.
  48. Use Gasbuddy or another app to help you find the least-expensive gas in your neighborhood.
  49. A neighborhood mechanic can change the oil just as well as your auto dealer can but usually for less. Shop around and develop a great relationship with someone who can work on your car.
  50. Get your utility to come out and do a free energy audit of your home. You’ll learn low- and no-cost options for saving money on energy.
  51. Combine trips and errands in the car to save gas and time. Don’t go to the store for just one ingredient – use what you have, improvise, or borrow from a neighbor.
  52. Use Netflix streaming ($9/month) and shut off cable ($30+/month)
  53. Dinners out with friends can get really expensive. Let your friends know you’re trying to save money and join them for a glass of wine, cup of coffee or dessert.
  54. Shop for recycled building materials before you plan your home building or renovation, you might save thousands.
  55. Slay your energy vampires: Unplug chargers and other devices when they’re not in use. Anything with a clock or light on it is still “on” when it says it’s “off.” You can also invest in a smart power strip that knows which devices don’t need to be energized 24/7.
  56. “Set and forget” your temperature with a programmable thermostat that keeps your air conditioning and heating from working too hard when you’re not in the house, but so you can come home to a comfortable room.
  57. A microwave uses far less power than an electric stove, and in the summer it won’t heat your home so you save on air-conditioning costs.
  58. CFL and LED lightbulbs use a fraction of the energy that incandescent bulbs do. They also create less heat, so your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard in the summer.
  59. Do your holiday shopping year-round, and keep a “generic gift” box going so that you don’t need to blow your cash around the holidays.
  60. Negotiate your property tax if that’s possible where you live.
  61. Use the ATM for your bank so you don’t have to pay out-of-network fees. Most credit unions let you use any other credit union’s ATM for free.
  62. Consider giving up either your landline or cell phone – keep the one you use the most.
  63. Set up automatic deductions to a savings account that is not linked to your paycheck. You are less likely to spend what you can’t see.
  64. Keep track of every penny you spend through a spread sheet or a program such as Mint, then take a good look at where your money is going and see where you can easily cut back.
  65. Share a Netflix movie membership with a friend.
  66. Cancel your cable and watch shows on DVD or directly from the channel’s website.
  67. Develop a hobby and use what you make for gifts, or to sell on Etsy, eBay or your own website.
  68. Borrow a special occasion dress you’ll only wear once from a friend.
  69. Stop drinking soda, drink water instead. It’s better for you and will help your skin tremendously.
  70. See if your yoga studio or gym offers a work-study program in exchange for classes.
  71. That lint in the dryer? It’s your clothes slowly decomposing. Line drying saves energy and helps your clothes last longer.
  72. Instead of going to a pet store or a breeder, adopt a pet from a shelter and take advantage of the low-cost vaccinations and spay/neuter service usually provided.
  73. Evaluate your subscriptions: Are you really reading that newspaper and those magazines? Is there anything you could read for free online instead?
  74. Save gift wrapping, pretty shopping bags and tissue paper for wrapping other gifts.
  75. Save and recycle last year’s Christmas cards by cutting them up and creating funky, unique collage cards with a new note on the back.
  76. Cut the picture side of a card off and use it as a postcard.
  77. You’d be amazed how well vinegar and baking soda clean the house, toxin-free.
  78. Honestly? You don’t need to wash your hair every day. Unless you work somewhere it gets really dirty.
  79. A full refrigerator or freezer is more efficient and costs less to run than an empty one. Even water jugs work just fine.
  80. A small crack around a door or your windows is the equivalent of a hole in your wall. Invest a couple dollars and a few minutes in weather-stripping your home so you don’t spend as much to heat and cool it.
  81. Learn an incredible trick and bet people $5 that you can do what seems impossible.
  82. Turn out lights when you leave a room. You know, like your dad said.
  83. Moths can take out an entire winter wardrobe in a few days. Save soap slivers or cedar shavings in a zipper bag with holes poked in it, and store it with your clothes. You can also store clothes in a vacuum-sealed bag or sealed plastic container.
  84. Most theaters in major cities have discount outlets where you can buy half-price tickets. You can also get on the theater’s mailing list for special deals.
  85. If you had a particularly good or bad customer experience, take a moment to write to the company – you may get a discount.
  86. Book your air travel as early in advance as possible and use a service such a to predict the best time to buy a ticket.
  87. Adopt a low-maintenance hairstyle that suits your life – you’ll save time as well as money on products and frequent cuts.
  88. If you’re shopping for a specific make or model of a major purchase, such as a computer, camera or appliance and can’t find it used, go online to a shopping comparison site such as Shopzilla or Pricegrabber to find free shipping and the best deals.
  89. How much are you spending on storage? Do some hard math: Say you have $1,000 worth of items and you pay $150 a month to store them. That’s $1,800 per year you’re spending to keep things you rarely use. If you’re storing sentimental items that have absolutely no value, offer a friend with a bigger home half that to keep your stuff in her garage, basement or attic.
  90. If you have a separate living space or if you’ll be away for a while, consider signing up with a vacation rental service such as Vacation Rentals By Owner, which can match you up with someone happy to rent on a nightly, weekly or monthly basis.
  91. Save hundreds of dollars by scouring thrift stores for eyeglass frames and getting your own lenses put it.
  92. Sign up for a daily email from for free advice on ways to save, earn more and invest.
  93. Stop impulse buying in the drug store. Before you go, see what you can use up or combine (if you’re like me, you may have two or three bottles of shampoo and several half-full body creams in rotation at any one time) before buying new.
  94. Before springing for a hotel, post on Facebook or another network that you’re coming to town and need an inexpensive place to stay. Hopefully you’ll get an invitation from a friend or a friend-of-a-friend; otherwise you’ll at least have great insider scoops on cheap-but-good places to stay.
  95. Before signing up for a costly gym membership, see if they’ll bargain with you. And also consider what natural resources you have for exercise – can you run in a nearby park, woods or beach? Is there a playground near you with exercise equipment?
  96. If you’re considering going back to school and don’t necessarily need the credit, check out the multitude of free online educational lectures available from Ivy League professors and TED conference speakers. is a good place to start.
  97. If you rent, be an amazing tenant. Any sane landlord may cut you a deal when your lease is up, or not raise the rent, in order to keep you there.
  98. Make double and freeze half your dinner (and label the container!); you’ll have a full stock of ready-to-heat food so you won’t be tempted to order takeout when there’s nothing in the fridge.
  99. It’s one of the hardest conversations you’ll ever have, but talk to your parents about their wishes for what to do when they can’t take care of themselves and more, and what their expectations are. Planning for disability is much less expensive then paying retail for it or having to suddenly move house to accommodate an aging parent.
  100. Remember, everything is negotiable … the job offer, the housecleaner, the hotel room, the furniture store, the stuff you’re buying from Craigslist, the discount at the department store, the landlord, the caterer. Pretty much anything you can walk away from you can negotiate.


Vanessa McGradyMoney: 100 Ways to Keep More Money in Your Pocket

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