8 Painless Ways to Save Money

Get started by investing on the cheap, shopping online, and improving your health.

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We all know how to spend less by sacrificing. From eating out less to buying fewer clothes to cutting back on vacations, saving through sacrificing can be effective, but painful. So if you are looking for ways of saving money, why not start with money saving tips that are relatively pain free?

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With a little imagination, you’ll find plenty of ways to reduce spending without making big changes to your lifestyle. And to get you started, here are eight painless ways to save money.

1. Get healthy: As someone who has struggled to stay fit, I realize that eating healthy and staying in shape is easier said than done. But for those who are in good shape, you can save a lot of money on life insurance and individual health insurance plans. And as an added bonus, you’ll feel better and have more energy.

2. Rethink auto insurance: Every year, reexamine your auto insurance policy for savings opportunities. For example, consider raising your deductible, which lowers premiums. For older vehicles, evaluate whether you really need collision coverage, which covers damage to your car when your car hits or is hit by another vehicle or object. And make it a habit to compare auto insurance quotes annually, which can be done online in minutes.

3. Improve your credit score: Of all the painless ways to save money, improving your credit score is arguably the most important. From home loans and car loans, to credit cards and auto insurance, a good credit score can save you a small fortune. Over a lifetime, the savings can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars.

4. Invest on the cheap: Whether you are a passive investor who sticks with mutual funds or an active stock and options trader, there are easy ways to save money. For mutual fund investors, stick with funds that have low expense ratios. My rule of thumb is to keep the weighted average expense ratio for all mutual funds under 50 basis points (0.50 percent). As compared to funds that charge well over 1 percent in fees annually, the savings over a lifetime of investing can be substantial. And for active traders, stick with discount brokers that charge $10 per trade or less.

5. Think triple play: One of the biggest monthly expenses for some is the cost of Internet service, cable, and phone. The major of providers today offer discounts when you bundle all three of these services together. Called a triple play, you not only save money, but you also get the convenience of a single bill each month.

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6. Go prepaid with your cell phone: While this option won’t be right for everybody, many can save a small fortune with prepaid cell phones. You can find prepaid cell phone plans that charge just $0.10 a minute. And because they are prepaid, you don’t have to commit to long-term contracts. Two of the more popular prepaid cell phone carriers are Net10 and Cricket.

7. Shop online: There are several benefits to shopping online, convenience being chief among them. But shopping online can also save big money. Many retailers offer special discounts to online shoppers. And virtually every company that sells products or services online offers promo codes, discounts or coupons. Particularly if you have a big purchase planned, make sure to search the internet for deals before buying.

8. Get cash back: If you have good credit, there are a number of cash back credit cards that pay up to 5 percent on purchases. The key is to use the card for monthly bills and everyday expenses, not to charge things you don’t need. Put monthly bills that accept credit cards on automatic payment, and use the card for everyday purchases such as groceries and gas. And as an extra precaution against overspending, pay the credit card bill in full several times throughout the month. It’s easy to do online, and it prevents any surprises at the end of the month.

DR is the founder of the popular personal finance blog, the Dough Roller, and author of 99 Painless Ways to Save Money.