by Kailey Hagen | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on April 20, 2020
Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Saving more money doesn't always mean working harder.
There are few people in this world who don't want or need a little more money in their lives. Even an extra $100 a month would make a big difference; you could use that money to pay down your debt, bulk up your savings, or do more things you enjoy.
Working overtime or starting a side hustle is one way to bring in more money, but it's not always possible or desirable to work more. Fortunately, it's not the only way to free up extra cash. Here are seven tips to help you save an extra $100 per month without spending more time at work.
Tips and tricks from the experts delivered straight to your inbox that could help you save thousands of dollars. Sign up now for free access to our Personal Finance Boot Camp.
By submitting your email address, you consent to us sending you money tips along with products and services that we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe at any time. Please read our Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions.
If you have a tendency to spend a lot without thinking, saving more might be as simple as automating your savings. Your bank may have an option to set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account, so you don't have to remember to do this manually. If not, you can set reminders for yourself to transfer the funds between your bank accounts shortly after you get paid. Once you've made your savings transfer for the month, you can spend the rest of your money how you choose.
There are also apps that will help you save more money by rounding up every purchase you make to the next dollar and putting those small amounts of change right into savings.
Dining out gets expensive quickly. The average person spends about $288 on food away from home per month, according to The Ascent's study on the average American budget. Cooking at home costs money, too, but you'll spend a lot less per meal, so that's the way to go if you're trying to save. Making coffee at home or skipping the coffee altogether will help, too.
Keep a few staples on hand so you can make quick, simple meals on the nights you don't feel like you have time to cook. You can also try preparing all of your food for the week on a single day so that you just have to pop your meal in the microwave or the oven on those busy weeknights.
Impulse buying can cost you a lot of money -- and it offers few real benefits. You can reduce the likelihood of making these unnecessary purchases by using cash instead of credit cards whenever possible. Another tip is to force yourself to wait at least 24 hours before buying any nonessential items.
Use that time to do your research. See if you can find the same item available somewhere else for a lower price, and see if there are any coupon codes that could help you save on the items you were going to buy anyway. This is a great way to save on everyday essentials, like groceries and toiletries.
You should know what interest rates you are paying on installment loans, like mortgages or car payments. It's worth periodically checking the rates on new loan offers to see if they've dropped. If they have, it might be worth refinancing. This can help you save more money over the lifetime of the loan. If you extend your loan term, it could also get you a lower monthly payment. Be aware that while this may give you more money to spend every month, you may also end up paying more overall.
Consider trying a balance transfer card to deal with any credit card debt. This won't erase your debt or change how much you owe, but you will be able to avoid interest during the 0% introductory APR period. Assuming you don't charge more to your new card, this will temporarily stop your balance growing. Each payment you make during the 0% introductory APR period will go toward paying down your principal balance, which can get you out of debt more quickly -- potentially freeing up a lot more than $100 per month.
You're probably paying for at least a few monthly subscriptions, whether it's a streaming service, a magazine, or a gym membership. It's fine to pay for these if you're actually using them, but it doesn't make sense to pay for subscriptions you're not using. Comb back through your bank and credit card statements from the last year and cancel any unnecessary subscriptions.
Even if you are using some of these subscriptions, if you're really in need of money, you could still cancel them and look for alternatives. For example, you could try working out at home or going for a run outdoors instead of paying for a gym membership.
Those with their own vehicles can trim costs by limiting how often they drive, combining errands, and carpooling whenever possible. If the place you're traveling to is nearby, you could try biking or walking instead of driving to save on gas. And when you do need to fill up, check which gas stations in your area offer the best prices.
City dwellers might be able to cut back on their use of ridesharing services by switching to more affordable public transportation, like a bus or subway, instead. This is better for the environment and your wallet. Walking is also an option for getting to nearby locations, too.
Entertainment doesn't have to cost money, though a lot of popular activities, like streaming TV and movies or attending concerts, usually do. If you're trying to save money, challenge yourself to try out some free activities, like hiking, playing a sport with friends, or learning a new skill. You may even discover a new hobby.
If you want to save an extra $100 a month, you might need to combine a couple of these strategies. But this isn't an exhaustive list of suggestions, it just gives you a starting point to work from. Try a few of the ideas listed above and brainstorm a few others -- you'll quickly find ways to gain some extra money.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. The Ascent's picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 8x the national average savings account rate.
We're firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.