59 Money Hacks for Affordable Living in 2024

Who says you can’t enjoy the finer things in life without breaking the bank? We’re talking savvy tips and fun tricks to keep your costs down without skimping on quality — whether that’s managing your home expenses, hitting the road on a budget, or even staying fit without those hefty gym membership fees.

In this guide, we’ve got the insider info to help you live large on a small budget!

  1. Housing
  2. Groceries
  3. Travel & Commuting
  4. Entertainment
  5. Fitness
  6. Transportation
  7. Clothing
  8. At Home
  9. Utilities

 

Best Ways to Save Money on Your Home Purchase

Exploring innovative housing options can lead to significant financial benefits, from creating income streams to slashing living expenses. Here’s a look at some creative ways to make the most of housing opportunities to enhance your financial health.

Invest in a Duplex
Purchasing a duplex and living in one unit while renting out the other can be a smart financial move. This strategy allows you to enjoy the benefits of homeownership while generating rental income that can cover or significantly reduce your mortgage payments.

Buy a Home with Friends or Family
Instead of renting, consider the long-term financial benefits of buying a home with friends. This approach can lower your individual investment and monthly expenses, while also building equity in a property.

Explore Down Payment Assistance Programs
For many, the initial cost of a down payment is a significant barrier to homeownership. Down payment assistance programs can help by providing the necessary funds to make buying a home more accessible and affordable.

Rent Spare Rooms to Tenants or Friends
If you own a home, renting out spare rooms to the community is not just a way to provide them a place to live but also a means to cover your mortgage payments. This arrangement can turn your home into a self-sustaining asset.

Rent Out Unused Space as Storage
With platforms like the Neighbor app, you can easily rent out unused parts of your home or garage as storage space, creating a passive income stream with little effort.

Get Crafty with Your Next Home’s Location
Sometimes, purchasing a home in a less expensive area can serve as a strategic investment. You can benefit from lower initial prices and potentially higher future sale prices, using the equity built to move to a more desired location later.

 

Money Hacks at the Grocery Store

Smart grocery shopping can significantly reduce your monthly expenses. Here are some savvy strategies to help you save money on your grocery bills while still enjoying quality food and essentials.

Maximize Savings at Aldi
Aldi and Trader Joes is known for its affordability and quality, especially on restock days. Plan your shopping on Wednesdays when fresh meats and other products are often restocked and put on sale. This strategy ensures you get the best products at the lowest prices. Some locations have different restock days. Check with your local Aldi to see what day is best for you!

Leverage Loyalty Programs — Cub Foods
Signing up for Cub Foods and Coborn’s rewards card can offer you direct access to exclusive savings, personalized coupons, and reward points on every purchase. Reward cards will also offer you discounts at gas stations. Such programs are designed to reward regular customers and can lead to substantial savings over time.

Buy in Bulk — Costco, Sam’s Club, or Local Warehouse Stores
Purchasing bulk home essentials such as toilet paper, dishwasher pods, and laundry soap from wholesale retailers like Sam’s Club or Costco can lead to lower costs per unit. This is an ideal strategy for families looking to manage their home budgets more effectively.

Support Local Butchers
Buying bulk meat from local butchers, such as Von Hanson’s Meats or Hackenmueller Meats, which can offer fresher products and better prices, especially if you’re prepared to buy larger quantities. This not only supports local businesses but often results in higher quality and lower prices than major supermarkets.

Utilize Clearance Sections
Regularly visit the clearance racks in grocery stores. Most grocery stores have hidden clearance racks! Items like bread and meats that are approaching their sell-by date are often heavily discounted. Purchase these items and freeze them immediately to extend their shelf life and enjoy substantial savings.

Grow Your Own
Starting a garden to grow vegetables such as zucchini, green beans, and tomatoes can cut down on the cost of buying these staples from the store. Gardening also offers the added benefit of enjoying fresh, organic produce or herbs right from your backyard.

 

How to Travel on a Budget

Traveling doesn’t have to drain your savings. With a few smart strategies, you can explore new destinations while keeping your budget intact. Here’s how to make the most of your travel adventures without breaking the bank.

Group Travel with VRBO or Airbnb
Traveling with friends and splitting the cost of accommodations through platforms like VRBO or Airbnb can significantly reduce the cost per person. This approach not only makes trips more affordable but also more fun with shared experiences.

Crash with Extended Family or Friends
Whenever possible, ask to stay with extended family or friends at your destination, or along your route. This can eliminate accommodation costs entirely and allow for a more authentic and personal experience on your trip.

Book Flights on Tuesdays
Some statistics suggest that airline tickets tend to be cheapest on Tuesdays. Keep an eye on flight prices and book your trips when fares are at their lowest to get the best deals.

Maximize Credit Card Points
If you frequently use credit cards, consider opting for one that offers rewarding travel points. For example, with certain cards, you can book hotel stays at places like Hyatt for as low as 5,000 points per night, which might translate to about $50, offering significant savings.

Barter to Use Unused Vacation Homes
Connect with friends who own vacation properties they don’t use regularly. Offering to clean or maintain the property in exchange for a stay can provide a free lodging option and a unique getaway.

Travel Off-Season — Regardless of Weather
Choosing to travel to popular destinations in the off-season can lead to lower costs and fewer crowds. Visiting warm destinations in the summer, rather than during spring break, can save money and offer a similarly enjoyable experience. Additionally, visiting places like Yellowstone National Park during the winter means no long lines to enter the park, and a rare look at the wintery Rocky Mountain landscape.

Choose Driving Over Flying
Consider taking a road trip with your family instead of flying to make your journey part of the trip! Road trips can reduce travel costs, offer flexible itineraries, and allow you to explore multiple destinations at your own pace.

Camping Adventures
Instead of staying in hotels, try camping. Many scenic locations offer campgrounds with facilities for a fraction of the cost of hotels, adding an element of adventure to your travel.
 

Budget-Friendly Entertainment: Enjoy More For Less

Finding affordable or free entertainment options can significantly enhance your lifestyle without straining your budget. Whether you’re into arts, sports, or simply enjoying nature, there are numerous ways to have fun without spending much. Here are some great ideas to keep entertained on a budget.

Explore Free Local Activities
Minnesota is known for having so many different free admission events such as festivals, concerts, and fairs. Check out the Elk River Fest in July, or attend one of the Riverfront Concerts throughout the summer!

Discount Movie Nights
Take advantage of $5 movie nights on Tuesdays for every single movie at AMC. It’s a budget-friendly way to catch the latest blockbusters without paying full price.

Utilize Your Local Library
Your local library is a treasure trove of free resources. Beyond books, many libraries offer free passes to local attractions, events, and museums. They also lend out eBooks, movies, music, and even Wi-Fi hotspots. Check out your local library for more information!

Explore the Great Outdoors
As the land of 10,000 lakes, there’s no shortage of natural beauty in Minnesota. Enjoy the great outdoors at local parks such as Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Gooseberry Falls, and Taylors Falls. These are perfect for a relaxing day out without spending much money.

Happy Hour Specials
Keep an eye out for happy hours at local bars and restaurants. Not only can you enjoy drinks and appetizers at reduced prices, but it’s also a great way to explore the local food scene economically.

Save with a Keycard Book
Invest in a Keycard book, which offers numerous coupons and discounts at local restaurants and entertainment spots, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars throughout the year. Many schools or non-profits offer them as part of fundraisers, so watch for those opportunities.

Discover Events on Facebook
Use Facebook’s Events tab to find local events based on specific dates or locations. Many of these are free or low-cost, making it easy to plan a fun outing.

No-Cost Museum and Zoo Days
Take advantage of free admission days at museums and Zoos like the Como Zoo that is free admission, Weisman Art Museum and the Glensheen Mansion which has discounted prices for children 6-17 ($8.00) and it is free for children 5 & under.

Join Meetup Groups
Look for local Meetup groups that share your interests. Many of these groups host events that are free or cost very little, providing a great way to meet new people and try new things.

 

Stay Fit on a Budget: Affordable Fitness Options

Maintaining your fitness doesn’t have to come with high gym membership fees or expensive equipment purchases. There are several cost-effective ways to stay active and healthy. Here are some tips for keeping fit without breaking the bank.

Participate in Free Outdoor Classes
Many communities offer free fitness classes outdoors, especially during warmer months. Check social media platforms like Facebook for announcements on free yoga, Pilates, or bootcamp sessions held in local parks or community centers. These classes are a great way to stay fit and connect with neighbors who share your fitness goals. Here’s one in St. Paul called Fitness in The Park.

Utilize Secondhand Fitness Equipment
Equip your home gym without spending a fortune by buying secondhand equipment. Platforms like Facebook Marketplace are excellent for finding gently used fitness gear at a fraction of the cost of new items. Whether you’re looking for weights, treadmills, or yoga mats, you can often find good deals from local sellers.

Explore Local Parks
Local parks offer a plethora of fitness opportunities. Whether it’s jogging trails, cycling paths, or fitness zones equipped with exercise machines, parks are an excellent resource for a variety of physical activities. Additionally, simply walking or hiking through nature can be a great way to improve your fitness while enjoying the scenery. Try Fort Snelling State Park or Minnehaha Falls Regional Park.

Pickleball
Join the growing trend of pickleball, especially in Minnesota where there are over 157 courts. It’s a fun, low-cost sport that combines physical exercise with social interaction. Just bring your own paddle and ball!

DIY Exercise Routines
Utilize free online resources to create your own workout routines that can be performed at home or outdoors. Websites like YouTube offer countless instructional videos that cater to all fitness levels and types of exercises, from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to gentle stretching routines.

Play Disc Golf
Explore the local disc golf courses as a fun and free way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise! Did you know there are 407 different courses around Minnesota!?

 

Reduce Your Commuting Costs

Transportation can be one of the biggest household expenses, but there are several strategies to reduce costs while still getting where you need to go. Here’s how you can cut down on transportation expenses and contribute to a greener planet.

Carpooling
Carpooling is an excellent way to save money on gas, reduce vehicle wear and tear, and decrease your carbon emissions. By sharing rides with coworkers, friends, or neighbors, you can cut your commuting costs significantly. It also helps reduce traffic congestion and the stress of driving every day. Services like carpooling apps and community bulletin boards can help you find regular carpool partners.

Embrace Personal Electric Vehicles
Investing in personal electric vehicles such as e-bikes and electric scooters can be a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to get around, especially for shorter trips. These vehicles often require less maintenance than cars and eliminate fuel costs altogether. They’re ideal for urban environments where distances are short, and traffic can be heavy.

Use GasBuddy for the Best Fuel Prices
Using apps like GasBuddy can help locate the cheapest fuel prices in your area. This app allows users to search for gas prices by city, state, or zip code and provides real-time data from other users. It’s a simple way to ensure you’re not overpaying at the pump.

Buy Cars Out of Town
When buying a car, consider purchasing from rural areas or the southern US, where vehicles might be cheaper and less likely to have rust damage due to milder weather conditions.

 

Affordable Clothing Strategies

Fashion and style don’t have to come with a high price tag. There are several ways to refresh your wardrobe without overspending. Here’s how to stay stylish while sticking to your budget.

End of Season Sales
One of the best times to buy clothing is at the end of the season, when retailers are looking to clear out their inventory to make room for new stock. This is the perfect time to snag deals on items like sweaters, winter boots, and coats at significantly reduced prices. Buying your winter wardrobe in the spring or your summer clothes in the fall can lead to substantial savings.

Take Advantage of Department Store Cash Programs
Old Navy offers a program called Supercash, where customers can earn store credit on their purchases during specific periods. This credit can then be used to reduce the cost of future purchases during designated Supercash redemption periods. It’s a great way to save money, especially if you shop there regularly. Many clothing stores have similar programs, including Kohls and REI.

Shop at Upscale Second-Hand Stores
Upscale second-hand stores offer gently used clothing from reputable brands at a fraction of the cost of new items. These stores carefully select their inventory, so you can find stylish, high-quality clothing without the steep prices found in traditional retail stores.

Frequent Thrift Stores
Thrift shopping is another excellent way to discover unique pieces at low prices. While it might take a bit more digging to find those hidden gems, thrift stores can be a treasure trove of vintage and designer items that add a unique touch to your wardrobe without straining your wallet.

Organize Clothing Swaps
Consider organizing or participating in a clothing swap with friends or community members. This can be a fun and free way to refresh your wardrobe, as everyone brings items they no longer wear and exchanges them for others’ unwanted garments.

 

Save Money on Home Goods, Furnishings, and Projects

Managing household expenses efficiently can make a significant difference in your budget. From furnishing your home to managing utilities, there are several strategies to cut costs without compromising on quality. Here are some practical tips to help you save money on household items and services.

Leverage Facebook Marketplace
Set up notifications on Facebook Marketplace for specific items or vehicles you need, like kitchen tables under $100 within a 30-mile radius. This tool can help you find great deals close to home, often on gently used or like-new items, saving you a substantial amount compared to buying new.

Explore Garage and Estate Sales
Before heading to retail stores, check out local garage sales, estate sales, and thrift stores. These venues can be goldmines for affordable household goods, from furniture to kitchenware, often in excellent condition and at a fraction of the retail price.

Track Prices with Honey
Install browser extensions like Honey to automatically track prices and apply discount codes when shopping online, particularly on sites like Amazon. Honey can notify you when prices drop on items you’ve been eyeing, ensuring you get the best deal possible.

Negotiate Subscriptions
Regularly review and consider canceling recurring subscriptions, including cable TV. Companies often offer promotions or discounts to retain customers, so you might end up getting a better deal or even a free month by indicating your intention to cancel.

Opt for Repairs Over Replacement
When a major appliance breaks down, assess whether it can be repaired instead of replaced. Often, a simple fix can extend an appliance’s life at a much lower cost than purchasing a new one. Consider learning some DIY repair skills to save on service charges.

Purchase Discounted Energy Products
Take advantage of programs offered by utility companies like CenterPoint Energy or Consumers Energy, where you can buy energy-efficient products such as lightbulbs and thermostats at discounted prices. These products can also help reduce your long-term energy costs.

Barter and Trade
Consider bartering goods or services with neighbors or community members. For example, exchange your skills or items you no longer need for something you want from someone else, which can be a practical and cost-effective way to acquire new household items.

 

Effective Strategies for Energy and Water Savings

Turn Off and Unplug Lights & Appliances
Make it a habit to turn off lights, appliances, and electronics when they’re not in use to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.

Switch to LED Light Bulbs
Replace conventional bulbs with LED light bulbs, which are more energy-efficient and have a longer lifespan.

Insulate with Curtains and Blinds
Keep curtains and blinds closed to insulate rooms against heat loss during winter and to keep out heat during summer.

Install Low-Flow Shower Heads
Equip bathrooms with low-flow showerheads, which reduce water usage while maintaining adequate water pressure.

Run (Really) Full Loads
Only run the dishwasher and washing machine when they are full to maximize efficiency and reduce water and energy use per load.

Install a Smart Thermostat & Smart Plugs
Use smart thermostats to automatically adjust home temperatures based on your schedule and preferences, enhancing energy efficiency. Incorporate smart plugs to control and automate the operation of household appliances and electronics, further optimizing energy usage.

Lower Water Heater Temperature
Set your water heater to 120°F (49°C) to prevent excessive heating and reduce energy consumption.

Explore Energy Rebates
Look for opportunities to get rebates and incentives for making energy-efficient home upgrades through utility companies or government programs.