Eleven extremely low effort ways to save money

If there’s one major blocker to living frugal, it’s probably a lack of time and energy. Conversely, many of our most wasteful habits come from a desire to simply save a little time and effort. Fortunately, there are quite a few ways to save money that don’t require you to do very much at all.

Make meals in bulk

Make one large meal, and then portion it out into several reusable containers. You save money on ingredients and you save time by making meals in advance that only require a bit of reheating. And just like that, you’ve been rewarded for your desire to do less!

Don’t overfill your fridge

A refrigerator that’s been stuffed to the bulb is very wasteful. First, the air doesn’t circulate properly in a packed refrigerator, which means items may spoil before they otherwise would. Second, it’s easy to lose track of your groceries in an overfull refrigerator, leading to more waste. Keep your refrigerator properly populated to maximize your food and your money.

Make it a point to clear out the cupboards and fridge regularly

One way to keep your refrigerator from becoming too full is to focus on clearing out items periodically. Once a week, plan a meal around the food that’s already in your refrigerator and cupboards before buying something new. Leave no canned good behind.

Take a minute to consider your free entertainment options

If you’re like me, you’re probably guilty of occasionally going to the movies not because there was something there you really wanted to see, but because you were just looking for something to pass the time. And if that’s the case, you may benefit from simply pausing before making those kinds of decisions and asking yourself, “How can I entertain myself for free instead?” You’d be surprised by the amount of free entertainment available in your home town and inside your own home.

Adjust your thermostat

Reducing the air conditioning or the heat when no one’s home (or no one’s awake enough to notice) can save you big money over the course of a year. Investing in a programmable thermostat makes the process even easier.

Check the coupons

The coupons are out there, just waiting for you. All it takes is a quick minute to check what’s on sale or see if that item you want has a coupon you can use. Small effort, big reward.

Wash your clothes less often

Besides saving money on the cost of doing your laundry, washing your clothes less actually helps your clothes last longer, which saves you from having to spend money on new clothes. That’s the very definition of saving money by doing nothing.

Find a DIY hobby

Do It Yourself projects aren’t necessarily easy or time-saving, especially when you’re first starting out. However, if you treat DIY as a hobby you get the fun of having a hobby, with the money-saving benefit of being able to build or fix something yourself.

Unplug electronics when not in use

Electronic devices continue using electricity, even when turned off. A simple way to save a little money on your electric bill each year is to plug your major electronics into a powerstrip and then turn the powerstrip off when you leave the house or go to bed.

Find an app for that

If you have a smartphone, there are a ton of great apps available to help you manage money, save time, and spend less on the things you love. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your smartphone.

Review your budget

To stick with the theme of doing very little, take a moment to review the ideal percentage each budget category should consume. Now, consider your own spending. You may notice there are categories where you are spending well above the norm and if that’s the case, there may be a simple solution. And even if the solution isn’t simple, well, if there’s money to be saved, it may be worthwhile to put in the effort – just this one time.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI. All typos are a stylistic choice, honest.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
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