Are you looking for ways to save money? The following money-saving tips are practical and useful, as well as creative (and slightly ingenious). All of these tips and ideas are things I use in my own life to live within my means and save more money.

Best tips to save money & get freedom

MONEY SAVING TIP #1: Save money on entertainment by creatively partying at home.

Going out with friends can get expensive, especially if you go out frequently. Consider less expensive alternatives that are just as fun and allow you to save money, like having a get together at your place. Try inviting your friends over for a barbeque or a bonfire. Who doesn’t love a bonfire? If you prefer to remain indoors, you can invite friends over for a night of cards or board games. It’s always more affordable to host a party than to go out on the town.

You can get really creative with this one too. In my area, we have the popular music festival Bonnaroo every year. A lot of  people can’t afford to go to Bonnaroo as it’s gotten more and more expensive each year. Creative music lovers have figured out cheaper ways to enjoy Bonnaroo without the added expense. “Backyard-a-roo” parties are becoming more and more popular. These creative and resourceful music lovers pop up a big screen in their backyard with a wifi Bonnaroo stream and invite their friends over for a night of music and fun. What could be better?

With a little creativity you can find ways to save money without sacrificing fun. And these small changes can have a big impact on your entertainment budget.

MONEY SAVING TIP #2: Do it yourself (when it makes good sense).

You shouldn’t pay someone else for something you can do yourself — unless that person has expertise or time that you don’t have. It doesn’t make good financial sense to pay someone to do something unless they have special skills and expertise you lack, or your time is completely maxed out. And for most us, that is not the case.

There’s always a trade-off between saving time and saving money though. And you have to figure out where that trade-off makes sense for you, based on your own financial goals.

As an example, your grandparents didn’t pay a grocer to chop vegetables, wash lettuce or slice fruit. You shouldn’t either. That’s the general rule, right? Makes sense. If I have the basic skills to do it, then I should. Unless, of course, your time is worth so much that it doesn’t make financial sense to do so. For most of us, that is not the case. But it might be. You should use your own judgment.

I recently used the popular website Fiverr to have someone with design expertise create a logo for my blog. Not only did this seem like a huge time-saver to me since I was literally spending all of my spare time writing and trying to make the site look good, but it seemed like it made good financial sense too. For $10, how could I go wrong? So I sent him the basic information, a link to my site and my vision for the site. Without communicating with me in any way, not a single email or phone call, he sent me two completed logos. When I saw the completed designs, my jaw dropped to the floor.

They were not even close to something I would use on my site. I am convinced he didn’t even take the time to visit my site because if he had, he would not have sent me those designs. So I spent the entire weekend piecing together something I thought might be good enough (for now). Fiverr hammered me with follow up emails asking for a recommendation but I have a weird personal moral value that prevents me from giving negative feedback in most cases. As such, I am still using a logo I created myself with some free online tools (again, for now).

What’s my point?

Don’t let someone convince you that you should pay someone to do something that you not only have the ability to do but that you also have the time to do. Figure out the money-maximizing point that’s relevant for you and your financial goals and make it work for you.

MONEY SAVING TIP #3: Prepare meals at home or find killer restaurant deals.

It sounds so simple: just don’t eat out and cook meals at home. But for a lot of people, it can be tough. We all know that eating out at restaurants is expensive and can really blow your budget. But some of the most difficult things can save you a lot of money. Money Ning has some good tips on how to avoid the temptation to eat out.

If you are going to eat out, find a killer restaurant deal. We recently discovered TGI Friday’s $10 endless appetizers. It has since become our “go to” restaurant when money’s tight but we still want to eat out. With sharing permitted, four people can enjoy a great restaurant experience and a fantastic meal for $20 plus tax and tip. Sometimes we even splurge on dessert. It’s a killer restaurant deal. If you don’t have one in your area, check out your local restaurants for their best deals and chances are, you’ll find something amazing that won’t break the bank.

MONEY SAVING TIP #4: Reward your kids with praise and admiration, not with material items.

Today parents reward their children with material gifts for the smallest of positive behaviors. This trend of rewarding kids with material goods has become apparent to me as I watch my daughter reward her kids weekly with a store bought item. But only “if you’re good”.

Of all the gifts my parents gave me, I remember maybe one or two of them today. The material gifts of yesterday hold no real significance in my life today. Sure, the amazing toboggan I got for Christmas was great for a while. But the joy it brings is fleeting. Yet, to this day, I remember my parents for the genuine love and praise they gave me when I did something great at school or at home. Those gifts are truly priceless and last forever, while the material ones fade quickly and hold no real value in the long term.

MONEY SAVING TIP #5: Save Money on Taxes.

“Americans spend more on taxes than food, clothing and shelter combined”, according to Time Magazine. Yet, most Americans don’t do any active tax planning.

Contrary to popular belief, tax planning is not just for the rich. By finding strategies to lower your taxes and avoiding tax penalties, you may be able to rack up big savings.

Yes, the tax code is complicated, but tax planning can help you find areas where you can reduce your tax liability, often substantially. While you may be paying a tax preparer to file your income tax return, in most cases your tax preparer is not providing tax planning advice to you.

I’ll stop there but just to drive home the point. This one tip — engaging in some thoughtful tax planning – is a big money saver if you’re willing to do your homework or consult a professional tax planner.

MONEY SAVING TIP #6: Reduce your clothing allowance and capsulize your wardrobe.

Our obsession with fashion has a price tag. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually. Yet, President Obama always wears the same thing. As he told Vanity Fair: “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

If a capsule wardrobe is good enough for the President, it’s good enough for me. I used to spend a substantial amount on clothing each month, trying to keep up with the latest fashion trends. But I’ve realized it’s not only exhausting, it’s really expensive! Now when I buy clothes, I try to focus on buying timeless, quality garments that mix and match well. Not only do I require fewer items, but this cuts down on my clothing budget too. My clothes last longer and I look professional, and that’s really what’s important. It takes me a minute or two at most to pick out what I want to wear each day. I no longer feel the pressure to look trendy and fashionable. I simply want to look professional and feel good about myself.

For more, Project 333 has the lowdown on how to build a capsule wardrobe.

MONEY SAVING TIP #7: Cultivate your own food.

Given that food costs are a substantial portion of our budgets, you’d think we would take advantage of harvesting free food. But surprisingly, most of us don’t.

When I was growing up we had a large garden in our backyard which supplied virtually all of the vegetable needs for our large family. Gardening doesn’t take much space and it’s inexpensive to start and maintain. It can also be a very relaxing and gratifying experience, as any gardener will tell you. The rewards of growing your own food are tremendous and go well beyond the healthy free food.

What’s more, a few herb planters on a back porch can supply all of the herb needs for a family of four. I know because we’ve done it. Grocery store prices for herbs are outrageous and sometimes the herbs are not even fresh.

Combined with canning, cultivating your own food can be a year-round source of fresh vegetables and herbs for your family. And a huge money saver!

MONEY SAVING TIP #8: Practice the lost art of meal planning.

Meal planning is a boring and old-fashioned concept — that can save you a ton of money.

This is something we’re working on in my own family. Instead of stopping at the grocery store after work when I’m stressed out and hungry, we’re trying to shop weekly instead. We’ve also begun looking at those store circulars that used to pile up in the kitchen. They are a great way to find sales and if used in conjunction with meal planning, they can save you even more money.

Watch for sales and try to plan your family meals around the sale items whenever possible. By planning your meals, you’ll be less tempted to eat out and as a result, you’ll save money at the grocery store.

Lifehacker has some good app recommendations for meal planning. But whether you use an app or not, meal planning can go a long way in helping you to stick to your grocery budget and save money on food.

MONEY SAVING TIP #9: Get rid of cable TV.

I know, this is a tough one. I felt the same way. I was an avid TV watcher and very fond of my local news stations, as well as CNN Headline News, HGTV, and others. Two years ago, I made the decision to get rid of my cable bill altogether, and I never looked back.

Today I stream all of my favorite programs online. This is a monthly money saving tip if you have unlimited internet so the financial rewards are recurring. As an added benefit, some people find they watch less TV after cutting the cable and have more quality time to spend with family.

MONEY SAVING TIP #10: Stop being stingy. Start being generous.

Write checks on a regular basis to people and causes you care about. Give generously to make the world a better place. If you’re short on money, volunteer. Give your time and talents to causes you care about and people you want to support because their message has inspired you in some meaningful way.

While I recognize this is a rather unconventional means of saving money, I have included it because I believe in the power of generosity in creating abundance. I’ve learned over the years that generous people are not only happier but they are also more successful than cheapskates.

More and more research supports this conclusion. You get by giving.

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