8 Unconventional Ways to Save Money

It’s a great feeling when you find a washed $20 in clean jeans or more than enough change to feed the meter. But what if you can get to the end of every month with more money to spend on groceries, use for fun, or put toward savings? To find yourself with more money at the end of each month, try implementing one of our unconventional suggestions for saving money.

1. Change your commute.
It’s not easy to drastically change your commute, but there may be small steps you can take to reduce the amount of money you spend on getting to work. Research St. Louis’ MetroLink station locations to see if there is one near you that operates near your workplace; discover a carpool or vanpool you can participate in a few days a week; or, if you’re particularly adventurous, consider biking to work a few times a week.

2. Try a “shopping ban.”
Set up a trial shopping ban to challenge yourself to spend less, save more and enjoy what you already have. Try a month-long ban on buying new clothes, books or whatever you tend to splurge on and see how being aware of your spending habits impacts your bank account at the end of each month.

3. Use the library for your movie-watching needs.
From visiting the Central Library to watch new and old films to renting one of thousands of available movies, our local libraries are a great option for your entertainment needs.

4. Eat through your pantry or freezer.
Sometimes the easiest way to get started pocketing extra cash is by becoming aware of what you already have. If you tend to buy new ingredients each week without regard for what you plan to eat, “shopping” from your pantry and refrigerator can help you clear out valuable storage space while saving money week to week. Intentional meal planning is another way to avoid wasting or forgetting about food.

5. Start or join a garden.
Starting a garden is a great way to learn a new skill while providing produce for your household. Gardening opens doors to new skills (like canning or preserving) and if you have too many vegetables to eat you easily can trade the extras with friends. The Missouri Botanical Garden has great resources for budding gardeners, and if you don’t have the green space for a garden, you can join one of St. Louis’ many community gardens across the region.

6. Automate your bill payments.
Automating your bill payments will help ease your monthly worries about due dates. Automation is especially valuable if you travel a lot for work or may miss payments while on vacation. If you have a stable cash flow, automation is the way to go to avoid penalties. Just be sure to consistently check your accounts to verify all deposits or withdrawals are in order.

7. Live like a student.
When you were in college, there was always the “I’m a student” rationale for living low-cost. Once you enter the real world, it’s easy to let go of this mentality and see your paycheck as a means to buy whatever you want. We’re not advocating eating ramen every night, but reinstating some of the frugal habits you practiced as a college student will help you reach your savings goals (or pay off any remaining student loans) at a much faster rate.

8. Change your mindset.
Ultimately, increasing your savings without increasing your take-home pay will only happen if you change the way you view money. Take a common-sense approach to spending and only buy what you need and can afford. Once you’ve mastered this, consider how your money can work for you instead of ways you can spend it.

Interested in learning more about money management? Moneysmartstlouis.org has great resources on finance management.

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Emily Knippa

Emily Knippa is a St. Louis-based marketer and writer who focuses on content marketing, career development, and personal finance. She enjoys meeting people pursuing inspiring career paths. She’d love to meet you at the next United Way event. Say hello to Emily on Twitter at @emilyknippa.