Frugal Living 

Top 5 Ways To Save Money Without Noticing

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What’s better than saving some money? Saving money without really noticing that you’re saving money. How do you do this? Take a look at some of the less important things in your life and see if you can cut back. Or, take a look at some of the things you take for granted and cut back. Or, just trim something you don’t even use much anymore but still pay for… all these things can be removed to save you a little bit of money without you noticing one bit.

1. Cancel that Netflix Account.

How many movies do you really watch? Cancel that Netflix account and instead go with something like Redbox where you pay $1 a night (often times free with a promotional code) and save yourself that $20-$30 a month you’re paying now. I know I’ve been at my friends’ places and seen the same Netflix envelopes month after month.

2. Drink more water.

Get a water bottle, fill it up and drink from it during the day. Get used to drinking water and you won’t drink more expensive stuff like soda and coffee. Get used to drinking water and you’ll likely eat less, cutting out those expensive snacks. Get used to drinking water and improve your health, which means less in health care costs down the road that will be difficult to quantify. As a corollary, when you go out to eat, ask for water instead of your beverage of choice. This is a directly quantifiable savings because do you really want a $2 soda?

3. Visit the library.

Books are expensive and I’ve done a scientific experiment that has definitively proven that the only reason why you would ever buy a book is so that you can put it on your bookshelf to prove how educated you are. Seriously, I have done such an experiment because I know that after I read through a book once, there is a 99.99999% chance that I will never open it again and thus the only logical reason to ever buy a book is to show off. 🙂 Okay, I’m being facetious but let the library be your bookcase and not only will you save money, you’ll save space, and even some trees. DVDs are available at the library too… so you can scratch off #1 too if you just do #3.

4. Switch to CFL.

Switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs will save you huge on your electricity bills since the bulbs use about a quarter of the electricity of their regular light bulb equivalents. Now, the bulbs will be more expensive but the lowered electricity bill plus the longer lifespan overcomes the initial price hit without minimal cost to you.

5. Reduce phone, TV, internet or just threaten to cancel.

Do you really need 23094820394238 minutes on your cell package? How about 290384029 channels? Heck no, I have like 500 channels and all I watch are ESPN, The History Channel, and maybe Oxygen (okay, not really Oxygen); but if you don’t want to give up all those options, consider just calling up your cable company and demanding a better rate. Verizon is coming into the neighborhood soon so I think I’ll be calling up Comcast and asking them to reduce my rate or I’m jumping ship. Either way, paying less for the same service is certainly an invisible way to save money!

{ 31 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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31 Responses to “Top 5 Ways To Save Money Without Noticing”

  1. kk says:

    Hey, I think your scientic experiment is right. It all started out as my college books and once I graduated, moved and brought my first book shelf is when i realized I need more books…
    So i brought them and realized that I needed to fill the whole shelft up…200 books later and sadly I can admit 85% of it is to show off…I don’t think we planned it that way…We love to read but I haven’t opened up any of my college books and hate reading anything twice…Books can add up!

  2. Jon says:

    I agree on #1, and should mention that substituting #1 for #3 often works quite well! I can search my library’s online network for DVDs, request one, and have it waiting for pickup in just a few days – for free!

    And point #2 about soda is a mantra of mine. It is such a complete rip-off at restaurants that adding $10 to a bill for soda for the family seems like such a waste. I have probably saved literally thousands of dollars but skipping the soda when I eat out.

    I have to disagree about buying books though. Fiction? Maybe, I don’t find myself rereading most of my Stephen King books. But I’ve found that non-fiction can be essential to keep around for reference. When I started really researching personal finance and investment a few months ago, I found that I had a lot of trouble recalling facts I read even a few weeks ago. I went ahead and bought some of the books that I had made repeated trips to Barnes and Noble to reread, and found it very useful to have those around.

    Alas, with all these books I probably don’t need the platinum quadruple star double feature Comcast cable pack!

  3. #1 vs #5: During football season we get cable. The rest of the year we get NetFlix and cancel the cable. We get tv shows through NetFlix, and I think we get our money’s worth. No Red Box near by, either.

    #2 and #4: Big believer and I implement those. Although I will sometimes get a beer when I’m out (not usually though).

    #3: I use the library quite a bit, but I read a lot. I also reread books more than once (or even twice somtimes). I like having a collection of books, even if a lot of them I will never get back to. When I was growing up, my father had a lot of books and I loved going over to the shelf and getting something new. I want my kids to have that same opportunity. Hopefully they like the same sorts of books that I did (and that my father did). Recently, though, the books that I have been collecting have been either course types books, books I wanted to be able to take notes in, or books written by friends.

  4. Richard Lundberg says:

    I save my plastic milk jugs and fill them with spring water.
    There are many springs were you can get free water and it’s better for you

  5. Jessica says:

    I HATE compact fluorescent light bulbs !!!! I find the light VERY irritating. I think it’s something about the flicker frequency that my brain is suseptable to… I completely agree with all the other suggestions. I’ve noted that my husband almost always gets better results when negotiating with our cable company – even when we say the exact same things…

  6. ShadowsEdge says:

    Not a bad list – but I definitely have to say that #3 doesn’t work for me! I learned to speed-read when I was very young and that means I go through books fast. Out of 6 full size bookshelves, I’d guess that there’s maybe two shelves total make up the books that I HAVEN’T read more than once.

  7. Rehuel says:

    If we check our spending habits, you can be amazed at how many of those things we spend money on we could live without, or maybe find cheaper ways to do them.

    Most of the time it comes down to laziness. We’d rather spend a couple of bucks more just not to walk to the store.

  8. Minimum Wagec says:

    I work in a convenience store. I may earn minimum wage but I get all the fountain soda I want (within reason presumably, I’ve never tested it!). So no more soda expense.

  9. Tom O'Leary says:


    Very nice top 5
    Practical and usable


  10. Dan Chase says:

    Great Top 5… I need to implement #2, drinking more water–for all the reasons you mention! I’m a book-hog too and also read mostly non-fiction techy books that are good reference–at least for a little while! They do get old though. I’m planning a move soon and have been reviewing what to keep and what to sell… most of my books will be gone, except some classics and collectibles, along with the current tech books.

    Stop by and check out my Top 5…

  11. Amanda G. says:

    Nice list. The library is a great resource indeed but for a book junkie like myself, sometimes I just have to have that book. Another great money saving option is to find a good used-book store. I find many non-fiction gems in our local ones at between $2-5.

  12. I like to get the $2 soda when I go out to eat. For me, going out is a treat that I don’t do often. So if I’m going to spend money on a $20 steak, I might as well go the extra step and get the complete treatment.

  13. Tommy says:

    Another tip:

    Instead of paying for a gym membership, take a fitness class at the local community college.

    1) It’s usually a 1/2 unit class and ends up costing you something like $30 for 3-4 months (this varies widely…at De Anza College in the Bay Area, it’s something like this).

    2) You can use the college library which usually give you access to research databases (good for actually reading research studies…google usually just finds the abstracts), books online, and movies. De Anza allows two DVDs out at a time.

    3) You go in 3 or 4 month bursts so you can learn tennis for 3 months, then learn badminton, then learn golf, etc etc. You learn useful stuff, while getting personal coaching, and exercise. Win win win.

    4) Your small fee paid to the community college helps them with their perpetual budgetary shortfalls. Gyms don’t really need the help.

  14. pf101 says:

    I love the water suggestion. Most people don’t drink anywhere near enough water, preferring instead to drink pop and sugary juice. My friends tease me when we go out that I only order water. Well it isn’t just that I’m too cheap to pay $2.50 for $.10 of product (though that is part of it) but I honestly just prefer it. I drink a gallon or two a day and it helps keep everything running well.

    As far as the library goes, I have to admit this is my weakness. I love books and I hold on to them. My goal some day is to have an old fashioned library thousands of books. To this end, I now only buy hard backs. But, I do it on the cheap. I never buy them new, always used via or at the library or at garage sales. I can also honestly say that I read them over and over. I just purchased a used copy of a book I used to own in paperback but got rid of in a move. I’ve probably read that book 5-6 times over the last 15 years and each time I love it. So this book cost me $4 and gave me great enjoyment and will continue to do so – so it’s worth it to me. Besides, I’m crap at remembering to return things and those late fees add up! 🙂

  15. Bill says:

    I like the water idea and often drink a full glass of water several times a day. It’s gotta be better than a soft drink. I call my online provider at least twice a year to find out what new offers they are making and have had no problem getting a reduced rate they make available to new customers. Another thing I do to save money is go to the grocery store and sample all the freebies they have scattered throughout the store. Then I top it off by going to the confectionary section and have a free dessert!

  16. Diana says:

    My job requires my husband and I to be on the road a LOT! The extra $2.00 a person for soda or tea really does add up when you eat out everyday. But instead of drinking plain water, we ask for lemons, (another freebie) and use a package of sugar or sweet n low (whatever’s on the table) and make lemonade!

  17. Alex says:

    On the book side of things, I’ve been using (they have hardcovers as well). It’s a book trading club. All books are worth 1 credit, all audio books are worth 2 credits. When someone requests a book, you mail it via USPS Media Mail or any other way of your choosing. On average, this costs about $2 to send. For each book you send, you get 1 credit. Cookbooks disappear off there amazingly fast, and I’m sure everyone has a few cookbooks they no longer use. In the first weekend I had posted most of the books I was willing to part with, about 10 books were requested. Since then, I’ve sent out about 40 books, received about 10, have ~30 in credits on there. Great little system.

    I also want to endorse the water idea. I was recently in NYC on business and quickly became hooked on it up there, mainly because you walk EVERYWHERE and it’s amazing how much water you can go through with that much exercise. Doesn’t hurt that NYC’s tap water is infinitely better than what comes out of the tap in Florida. Thanks for mentioning this one — it just jogged my memory to start doing this again!

    Another grocery suggestion — buy the smallest package of fresh products (produce/meats) you can. Assuming it’s the same brand & type of product, are you really going to notice the $0.30 difference between the two packages because one weighs less? Probably not. But your wallet will. This adds up to a few bucks a week for me and my stomach has yet to complain.

  18. Giggling says:

    Nothing wrong with this list. But anyone would needs to save money so badly that they have to resort to such ptrivial things is never going to be financially prosperous.

    • O Parks says:

      It may seem goofy, but if the average Joe would do these trivial things over a 7 year time period, he could potentially save enough money to buy a decent used car.

      netflix ($15/month)x 12 =$180
      water instead of soda and coffee ($25/month) x 12=$300
      CFL bulbs=?
      Cancel cable ($30/month)=$360
      Drop caller ID/call wait on home phone (-$10/month)=$120
      Get a better internet deal (-$5/month)=$60
      Use cheap calling cards or use cell to drop long distance on landline ($10/month)=$120

      You would save $1215 a year x 7 years =$8505
      Right now, I could buy a 4-door sedan with less than 50k miles for that much.

  19. Bil Sanders says:

    One more saving tip for people who like to read. When you go to the local library look for the “Friends of the library” room! People donate tons of books they no longer use, even brand new looking books, and the library sells them for $1.00 or $2.00 each. The stores are manned by volunteers so all of the money goes to help the library. Eventually YOU will be donating those same books back to the library and the cycle keeps going! They will also be happy to give you a receipt for you donation that helps with your taxes, a win-win for everybody.

  20. Bill says:

    I did what you said and called my cable company up and transferred to the cancel department. In a very nice way, I told them that I had received a better offer from one of their competitors. But, that I wanted to stay with them. Then, I asked for a discount and I was rewarded with 30% off of my monthly payment. Thanks!

  21. CFA Level 1 says:

    Interesting set of insights. Thanks for these tips.

  22. JoeTaxpayer says:

    My library is part of a system within my area that shares books/DVDs across the system of about 50 cities. I can reserve a book or DVD and get an email when it’s been delivered to my local branch. Forget the money for a second, I save an hour round trip to the bookstore by using the library system. The money is just gravy.


  23. Mary says:

    Love these tips. When you find your bookshelves filled with books (before switching to the library), sell them on–great way to make some money; shipping costs are reimbursed to the seller. Can’t beat it! Textbooks too.

  24. Sara says:

    I disagree. I’d rather buy books than have cable. In fact, I do buy books, and don’t have cable. I grew up in a house full of books, and we could read any that we wanted. It was like living in a comfortable library. Since we didn’t have tv, it was great. And books are also for sale at most libraries-pulled from the shelves and sold for 10-25 cents each. In addition to educating yourself, you’ll be saving money down the road-think about it-a new book costs $5-$50 ONCE. You pay HOW MUCH for cable every month??

  25. Sara says:

    Also, forgot to add this, by reading books instead of watching tv, you’ll be less likely to spend money on all the fantastic items you see for sale in the stores. I know this from experience. And your kids won’t be bugging you to buy them the latest toys. I also know this from experience. So, yes, using the library is great, but I still say get rid of the 500 channels you have and use a third of that money to buy books, then invest the rest.

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