Tom and I ended our 2017 by joining Financial Peace University. It was by far one of the best decisions I ever made. For the first time in my life I finally felt like I had a good grasp on money and was prepared to do anything I could to get more of it. Not so I could buy super expensive things, but so we can live with total financial freedom, travel more and all around live the lives we want to live. Now that I have changed my money mindset, I seem to keep finding ways to get more money in our pockets. So here are 33 ways to have more money and most of them don’t require much from you at all!
*This post contains affiliate links through which I may make a commission. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Start getting intentional about where you put your money. So many people see living on a budget as a restricting thing that makes life harder on them. The truth is, starting a budget can be a tough adjustment but it winds up giving you so much freedom!
If you have zero idea how to start a budget, I have got you covered! I created a super simple Fun Sized Budget Bundle to lay out some of my best budgeting practices.
So many people don’t realize how much money they are spending each month on debt. Debt being anything that you are making monthly payments on, especially with interest! The best thing you can do for yourself and your finances this year is to make a debt payoff plan! Our family was able to pay off $6,000 in only 6 months by sticking to the Debt Snowball.
My top recommendations for smart debt payoff are:
The best side hustles for debt payoff:
There is a new app called Digit that evaluates your spending habits and saves money for you automatically! It is put into a “Rainy Day” fund that you can withdraw from any time you want. Another great feature is that you are able to set a low balance limit on your account. If you drop below your limi, Digit will automatically deposit money from your “Rainy Day” account! Such an awesome feature to help ensure you don’t get negative balances in your account. Sign up for Digit now.
Investing has probably been the most terrifying things for me to think about since we started getting better with our finances. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be that scary.
Similar to Digit, there is an investment app called Acorns that automatically rounds up your purchases and invests your spare change for you. If you spend $4.75 on a cup of coffee, Acorns will invest the .25 cents for you. It may not seem like a lot, but every penny counts. See my plan to turn $50 into $150,000 with Acorns.
If you have a savings account and you aren’t making money on it, then you are making a huge mistake! With just $100 you could be gaining a compounded interest rate of 2.25% with CIT Bank’s Savings Builder account. If you can commit to depositing only $100 per month then you can take full advantage of this awesome interest rate! Start your Savings Builder account today.
If you don’t have $100 per month, or that commitment seems too big, try out a high yield savings through CIT Bank that still gives you a 1.55% interest rate.
Sure there are all these new, awesome ways to save your money automatically but don’t ever underestimate a good old fashioned change jar. You can save or invest the money you spend through your debit card but don’t forget about those pennies and nickels. Hey, even if you save up for a few months, maybe you could treat yourself to a few cups of coffee without having to budget for it!
There are so many rebate apps these days and I say: take advantage of them all! They each work in different ways to save you money in different places! Here are the apps I swear by:
Dosh – Dosh is an app that links up to your credit cards (or qualifying debit cards) and gives you money back on purchases you make. It works like other cash back apps by refunding you money on qualifying purchases only you don’t have to keep track of anything! Get $5 for signing up!
Drop – Drop is an app that links to your cards and gives you cash back on some of the places you spend the most. My personal choices are: Target, Trader Joe’s, Chipotle, Whole Foods and Starbucks. Link a card and get $3!
Ebates – Ebates is another app that has tons of awesome discounts at restaurants, stores, online shopping and even on vacations! Get $10 for signing up!
Honey – Honey is a great app that you can use right on your internet browser to help find the best discounts on the internet! Just download Honey and when you’re online shopping, you will get notified of any potential savings!
Ibotta – With Ibotta you get paid for the things you already plan on buying in stores and online! Just select your purchases and snap a picture of your receipt when you’re done. Ibotta will instantly refund you your money! Get $10 right now.
Once you have started saving more on your purchases, it’s time to get savvy about the best ways to make the most out of the food that you bought. This can be easily done with meat products. In fact, I have gotten really good about taking one turkey, and stretching it into 5 meals!
If meal planning isn’t your thing but you still want healthy meals for your family, try out the $5 Meal Plan. These meal plans and grocery lists were created by a busy mother of 4 to help other families provide healthy meals while still sticking to a budget.
I know the post is focused around not having to work extra, but truthfully, these side hustles don’t require much. You set your own hours, and choose when you “work.”
I am a big believer in spending money on experiences versus things. One of the best ways to do this, and still be frugal is by using Groupon. Not only do Ibotta and BeFrugal.com offer cash back on Groupon, you can already get great discounted rates for some seriously awesome nights on the town.
You’ve saved money on groceries, found ways to stretch the groceries, now it’s time to cook in bulk! This helps you get back time throughout the week, takes the guess work out of cooking and then you are less likely to keep opening new foods that you may not need! If meal planning isn’t your cup-of-tea, consider looking into companies like $5 Meal Plan that do all the planning and prep work for you!. I have some awesome recipes ideas that are easy to prep ahead and make in bulk!
Easy to Prep and Store Foods
There are more and more great options these days when it comes to energy efficiency in the home. Things like solar panels, LED light bulbs, even energy saving water heathers and stove tops. For a really detailed post on some of the best ways to create a sustainable home, take a look at one of my featured guest posts: How to Make Your Home Sustainable.
When we finally decided to downsize, it totally transformed our family in so many ways, but more than anything it allowed us to get more money in our hands and more time back having to care for less house! Downsizing is a big step, but it can be a set that can make huge improvements in your life and might be something worth considering.
Best posts on downsizing
A great way to make some extra cash is to go through some of your old stuff and start clearing house. Personally, I often take old books, games and movies to Half Priced Books. There are tons of clothing consignment shops these days and there are even options to sell online. I highly recommend checking out Decluttr because they offer free shipping on everything and they offer next day payments!
Trim is a brand new program that will analyze your accounts, look for recurring payments (cell phone, cable, internet) and will reduce your rate or find you a cheaper option. They will even negotiate your bills for you!
You can also find and cancel old subscriptions and will even find you better car insurance.
This is becoming something that is more and more popular and I am not at all surprised. You’d think my now the cable companies would get wise to the amount of customers they are losing to services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. The fact of the matter is, if you can break free from cable, you can easily save $100 a month or more. If you still like having TV, consider getting a Mohu antennae. It can save you thousands of dollars and is easy to connect through your entire house!
Similar to LED bulbs, longer lasting household cleaners may cost you a little more when first purchased but will last you a significantly longer amount of time. I say “may” cost you more because really, I think it ends up being less when all is said and done. Let me walk you through my 4 favorite household cleaners and how we use them around the house.
Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap
Baking soda and vinegar
Taking the time to walk or bike instead of drive to places that you are able to is a huge money saver, plus it’s great for you in so many ways. Not only is this a chance to get out and get some exercise but the sunlight and fresh air will do you a world of good.
These little changes not only cut back on your gas expenses they are also beneficial to your health and to the environment.
Sure you can start walking and biking. Those are great habits to get into. But there are also a lot of ways you can get time back in your day and skip the extra gas mileage by taking advantage of delivery services!
When I heard that a family I knew was able to fly to Hawaii for only $45 a plane ticket, I about had a heart attack. I asked them how in the world they managed this vacation and they told me all about their airline miles that they’d racked up. Then I started to find more and more families that were benefiting from the perks of having a credit card.
This isn’t just a metaphor for life (although it totally works!)
There is such an abundance of products these days and they are so easy to get our hands on. Because of this, people usually just toss out the old and seek out the new. But let me tell you, there is beauty in fixing what is broken. I recently did this with our bedspread and pillow covers. At one point they were white and NOT filled with holes. A month or so ago Tom and I found ourselves disgusted with how dingy and dirty they had come to look. I was ready to bite the bullet and make some wiggle room in our budget for a new set, but then I decided I would try to salvage what we had first.
I used my terribly broken sewing skills to stitch up the holes that had accumulated and I concocted my own whitening mix for the washing machine (using my favorite household cleaners). To my surprise, they worked! We now have ourselves a much cleaner looking bed and a reminder that just because something needs a little TLC doesn’t mean you should toss it out.
I have a small group of friends that get together once a month when we can. Lately we have been discussing the idea of swapping our stuff. Clothing swap, book swap or DVD swap. We all go through our stuff and get ready to haul to Goodwill but usually we run by each other first. Swapping goods like this with others can circulate your wardrobe so you get new clothes, new books or other new materials without having to purchase anything yourself.
If you are a big reader like I am, it’s seriously time to get yourself a library card if you don’t already have one! This always sounded like such a geeky idea to me…and I truthfully loved the feeling of buying a new book. However, I have saved a ton of money by not purchasing new books all the time. Besides, sometimes I often bought a book and it didn’t turn out to be as great as I thought it would. With a library card, I don’t lose anything by not finishing a book. With the world being as digital as it is these days it’s also incredibly easy to order books online and get an e-mail informing you when they are in.
When I think back on my childhood, my favorite memories were the ones that didn’t cost anything. When my dad would drive us through a wooded path at night playing a spooky Halloween mix or when my mom would bake cookies with me. I try to keep this in mind with my own family. Depending on where you live, you should be able to Gooogle “Free things to do in…” Personally I know our Minnesota favorite are the Walk Art Museum Sculpture Garden, parks, beaches, Bentleyville Tour of Lights and Como Zoo. Large places that are free often ask for a donation and I say if you like going there, then help support them and then if you do happen to go when you are strapped for cash, you don’t have to feel as guilty!
You know how you sign up for a great deal (cough INTERNET cough) and then 6 months down the road you are paying twice as much!? Well, often times just giving your provider a call and stating your frustration will encourage them to find new promotions for you to take advantage of.
Another way of doing this is actually shopping around for other discounts with other providers in your area. Often times your current company will be willing to match what their competitors are offering in order to keep you a satisfied customer.
I’ve just started doing this with our internet and garbage companies and have been able to get our bills back down to a more manageable price.
Depending on the type of insurance you have, you may qualify for some seriously awesome discounts when it comes to your gym membership! Our family recently realized that if we were to switch to a health care covered membership we could save ourselves over $70 per month! That’s $840 a year; just think about all the possibilities!
If you are a consistent gym goer, it’s a good idea to really shop around and find the best membership for you.
If you are not a big gym goer, you can save a ton by avoiding a membership altogether.
Home workout ideas
This one is so silly to me because our family has always used our dishes. Even at birthday parties or big gatherings I cringe at the idea of using paper plates or plastic utensils. My biggest pet peeve with this is the fact that it’s terrible for the environment. But, truth be told, it’s not all that great for your bank account either. If you are one of the people who tends to gravitate toward disposable materials, it might be a good time to reevaluate that spending, even if it only saves you a few dollars a month.
Meat can be a very expensive thing to put your money toward, especially if you are eating a standard American diet. That might be something like eggs and bacon for breakfast, chicken sandwich for lunch and pot roast for dinner. Try to find places where you can cut back on your meat consumption. Whether that means smaller servings, cutting back on your meat-filled meals per day or considering something like Meatless Mondays. This is another great time to check my post: 5 Frugal Family Meals to Make with One Turkey.
Meatless Monday options
I don’t mean for your fruits and veggies…shop those in season. But when it comes to your clothes, try to nab your winter gear when the winter clearance is in full swing. If you know you are due for a new bikini, wait until they go on sale! This definitely requires patience but it saves you big time in the long run.
Often times I will even buy my kid’s Halloween costumes at the end of the season when they are marked down by 70%. Same goes for our Christmas decorations, shoes, and even movies. If there are movies that Tom and I know we want to buy we wait until Black Friday. After waiting out the crowds, we’ll make our way into the stores to casually shop all the discounted movies. This year I saved even more money by NOT Black Friday shopping and instead shopped some of these great small businesses.
Just today my daughter asked me why I was shoving food scraps into Ziplock bags and popping them into the freezer. The reason: to get as much use out of our food as I possible can! Some of the easiest and best ways to reuse my scraps are:
Pump the breaks here; don’t buy everything in bulk! But for the things you and your family use the most, it is a wise idea to consider buying those items in bulk. Things like laundry detergent, toilet paper, or quick grab snacks. These can wind up saving you not only cash in the long haul but also help you avoid extra trips to the store where you will waste gas and inevitably end up buying more than you came for!
This one can go closely hand in hand with shopping out of season, but is still a bit different. I have made a conscious choice not o buy anything unless it is marked down in price. It gets bonus points for additional discounts with Ibotta or BeFrugal.
Starting a compost is a great idea and a lot less complicated than people think. How to Start a Compost. Composting saves you huge when it comes to the amount of garbage you wind up throwing out each month especially if you eat fruits, veggies, eggs or drink coffee as much as we do! All these things are compostable and if you can avoid tossing them into a garbage bag each month, you will go through less garbage bags and might be able to talk to your garbage provider about downsizing the size of your trash bin.
Also, if you have your own garden composting can save you huge when it comes to the amount you might spend on fertilizer, because composting is a great way to naturally richen the soil!
When I read Chip and Joanna Gaines’s, The Magnolia Story I was amazed at all the ways that Chip Gaines was able to make money. He spoke of how it just came so naturally to him. One of his first examples was how he was able to look into the future. When he was in college, each student required a specific sheet to take their tests with. These sheets cost 10 cents at the school store and for those who had forgotten to pick one up, the teacher carried extras but charged $2 in order to teach them a lesson. Chip picked up on this and stocked up on these sheets. He charged only $1 and was able to make a profit before every test. Tom is currently reading Chip’s book, Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff and I can’t wait to dive into it next!
This also happened in 2017 when the solar eclipse took place. Not only did hotels spike up their prices, but people who had planned ahead stocked up on the special glasses required to view the eclipse. The bought them in bulk a year or more in advance and then were able to make a huge profit selling to all the last-minute buyers who desperately wanted to get a front row seat to the eclipse.
Each person has a different and very special set of skills. The tough part can be figuring out just what they are. There are so many ways to make money using the abilities that you have it’s insane. If people can sell poop on the internet, you can definitely make money off your good ideas! Don’t be afraid of yourself or what you’re capable of. Personally, I am still in shock that I have been able to make any amount of money from this blog I started less than a year ago. Whether it’s something small like scooping dog poop for the neighborhood or running your own company, do it with your whole heart and a good set of smarts and nothing can hold you down!
Renee is the blogger behind The Fun Sized Life. After downsizing with her family, she also took the time to get serious about he finances. Now she is sharing the wealth with all of her readers.