5 Ways to Cut Household Expenses and Save Money

Stop leaving money on the table and save on items you're already buying. Here are five clever ways to spend less without making big sacrifices.

Laura Adams, MBA
5-minute read
Episode #608
cut household expenses

Do you think it’s impossible to cut everyday expenses, or that it’s not worth the hassle? Time to change your thinking! There are many ways to save money by spending less without having to make significant sacrifices.

In this post, I’ll cover five ways to cut the cost of items you’re already buying. Then you can use the savings for your financial goals, such as building an emergency fund and investing for retirement. 

If you listen to the companion podcast (using the embedded audio player above or on Apple PodcastsStitcher, and Spotify) you’ll also hear a clip from my guest appearance on the first episode of The Save Space podcast. I had a blast chatting with host Kelly Sutton about a variety of tips, including managing household expenses, saving more, dealing with financial hardships, and creating emergency documents to protect you and your loved ones.

5 Tips to Cut Expenses and Save Money

  1. Research and shop online.
  2. Buy pre-owned clothing.
  3. Enroll in subscription services.
  4. Use grocery delivery services.
  5. Shop farmers' markets.

Here’s more detail about these clever ways to put more money in the bank.

1. Research and shop online

If you love shopping at local stores, consider how shopping online can help you pay less. One is that it’s much easier to research and compare prices and discounts at different merchants. You also don’t have as many distractions as when you wander around a brick and mortar store.

Online shopping also saves a ton of time and hassle. You don’t have to deal with traffic, parking, or long checkout lines. Many retailers offer free shipping, so you don’t even pay for the convenience of having items dropped at your front door.  

It’s much easier to research and compare prices and discounts at different merchants.

But before you hit the “buy” button, always look for ways to save even more. Check out Rakuten (formerly called Ebates), which is an incredibly easy and free way to save even more.

Once you visit Rakuten, search for the store you want to shop and click through. If you make a purchase, they get a commission from thousands of top online stores and share it with you. Rakuten cashback rates can be as high as 8%, depending on the store, and you get paid once a quarter.

2. Buy (and sell) pre-owned clothing

In the past couple of years, I’ve become a huge fan of buying gently worn, pre-owned clothing. There’s a massive market online for second-hand clothes for women, men, and kids. You can find quality items for a fraction of their retail price.

Additionally, wearing used fashion is a form of recycling, which is good for the environment. Extending the life of a garment, instead of dumping it into a landfill reduces waste.

And when you have unused clothes, shoes, and accessories, you can earn money by selling them online. Each fashion site is different, so be sure you understand the selling guidelines. Here are some great places to buy and sell fashion:

  • TheRealReal is for buying and selling luxury items, such as Versace and Gucci. If you have many items or expensive pieces to sell, they can even send a merchandise manager to your home for pick up. They verify authenticity, take photographs, set prices, and create your listing description. Your commission can be up to 85% depending on the type of item and resale price.  
  • Poshmark is a social marketplace where you can buy, sell, or participate in themed shopping parties for a variety of pre-owned items. You upload photos and create a listing for each item, and then shoppers make bids. Once you agree on a price, the seller receives a pre-paid shipping label and receives 80% of the sale price.  
  • ThredUP is a marketplace for buying and selling pre-owned clothing. You can order a pre-paid bag or shipping label to send your unused items. Items they choose to sell get photographed and listed with prices they set. Items they don’t want can be returned to you for a fee or donated to charity for free. You receive 40% of the resale price.

A few more popular clothing resale sites you might like are Vesitaire Collective, The Luxury Closet, and Tradesy.

3. Enroll in subscription services

One of my favorite ways to save on non-perishable goods is shopping through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program. You receive up to 15% off a vast selection of grocery, personal care, and household items, plus free shipping.

It’s a great way to manage bulk orders in one place.

You set up the delivery schedule you need, such as monthly or every three months, and you can change the frequency or cancel your subscription at any time. It’s a great way to manage bulk orders in one place.

I use Subscribe and Save for garbage bags, paper products, cleaning products, soaps, vitamins, and office supplies. It’s also great for grocery items with long shelf lives, such as coffee, popcorn, cereal, rice, beans, pasta, and canned food.

If you’re interested in subscription sites for organic food and natural household and personal products, check out Grove Collaborative and Thrive Market.

4. Use grocery delivery services

While it might sound like a luxury to have your groceries delivered, it’s a considerable time-saver for me. My Instacart Express membership of $99 a year for unlimited deliveries over $35 adds less than $2 to weekly deliveries. That’s probably a wash compared to the cost of driving to the grocery store. Plus, deliveries prevent me from grocery shopping when I’m hungry, so I don’t make bad choices.

You can set up orders for store pickup if you prefer to go to the store but have someone else do the shopping.

In addition to groceries stores, depending on where you live, Instacart may deliver from other places, such as pharmacies, pet stores, and liquor stores. You can also set up orders for store pickup if you prefer to go to the store but have someone else do the shopping.

Shipt is another popular delivery service with pricing and store selection similar to Instacart. Shipt is owned by Target, so that’s a good option if you’re a Target lover. Walmart is also trying out delivery services in select cities with competitive pricing for members.

If you’re not sure you want to commit to an annual membership, give one of these delivery services a one-time try to see how you like it. If you’re like me, you may never go back to the grocery store!

5. Shop farmers' markets

While I love shopping online and having groceries delivered, I also enjoy shopping at a good farmers' market when possible. I support local vendors and mom-and-pop shops when they offer unique or high-quality products.

Support local vendors and mom-and-pop shops when they offer unique or high-quality products.

Find out where the best farmers' markets are in your area and check them out. In addition to fruits and vegetables, some markets also have a variety of fish, meat, bread, coffee, condiments, and prepared salads.

Depending on where you live, you probably have a weekly market with seasonally fresh food at surprisingly low prices. That can be a nice supplement to what you buy online and have delivered.


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About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a trusted and frequent source for the national media. Her book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show. 

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