Though I often report on unusual ways to make it, spending less money is an interest of mine as well. Saving a little on each purchase or expense can effectively be a way to make money. Suppose you want to make two thousand four hundred dollars for a vacation. You might work extra shifts or find other ways to generate the three thousand dollars necessary to meet your goal after taxes are taken out. But you can also find ways to spend forty-six dollars less each week, and set those savings aside for a year to raise that $2,400.
Spending less money as a substitute for making more is not unusual, but it is less common than it was in the past. Today many people look to spend less only when forced to do so by circumstance, rather than as a way to set aside savings for those things that are important. Actually saving those savings is the key, of course. You'll need to actually put the money aside when you spend less - preferably in a separate bank account set up for your important goals. If not, you're just changing how you spend your money - spending less here and more over there without noticing any real change in lifestyle.
To save big, and to therefore have the money for your goals, start with the big expenses first. For example, to build up that vacation fund fast, or put together a down payment for a house, or save for a business, you need to look at things like housing costs, utilities, car payments and anything that take a big chunk of your monthly pay. You might cut your house payment by a hundred fifty dollars monthly, for example, by refinancing at a lower interest rate. Save the difference and you'll have $18,000 in ten years. Or if you rent a smaller apartment for a hundred dollars less per month, and save another fifty on utilities because it's small, this can also add up to thousands of dollars over the years.
Besides the large items in the budget, there are many small things you can spend less on. You might look for other uses for things that you already have or would normally discard. A few suggestions follow, for saving on the small stuff in this way.
Repurposing to Spend Less Money
Computer mouse pads are common enough now that they are often thrown out. But you can use them as kneeling pads when gardening or doing projects that require you to kneel on the floor or ground. This can save you a few dollars versus buying the pads made for that purpose. Mouse pads also work as jar openers (the thin rubbery ones anyhow).
You might receive free address labels as part of direct mail campaigns for charities. My wife and I get them almost every week. We have more than we'll ever use for our letters. Fortunately they can used to label possessions, or to stick notes to things with no need to tear off a piece of tape, and as staple substitutes. For the latter just fold a label over the top corner of two pieces of paper to hold them together. No big savings, but it adds up.
Gallon jugs that milk and orange juice come in have many which might allow you to spend less money on other things. You can tie one to a cement block and use this to mark a good fishing spot, for example. You can make a good funnel (for some purposes) by cutting the jug in half and using the top part. The bottom half can be used as a water dish for pets, or as a small, lightweight dish washing basin for backpacking and camping.
Cut the top of a jug off diagonally and you have a scoop with a handle (leave the screw-top on), which can be used for scooping out dog food, as a sand scoop for the kids to play with, and as a seed or fertilizer spreader for lawns. You can store things like bird seed, rice, salt for the sidewalk, or anything that gets too messy in a bag in these plastic jugs..
Ideally you want to look not just for other uses for things, but for uses that substitute for something you would have otherwise bough, so you spend less money. And though these are not ways to save big money, if you find enough of these small ways, it adds up over time. Just be sure to set aside the savings, and this can be effectively the same as making more money, but perhaps with less effort than taking a second job or working more hours.