Creative Ways to Save Money

We all know the basic money-saving tips, right? Stop buying expensive coffees; brew your own instead, for example. However, there are actually many more creative ways to save money. When we approach saving money creatively, it actually makes life more interesting and fun!

Why To Seek Out Creative Ways to Save Money

If we already know the basics, why should we seek out creative ways to save money?

First of all, we’ll save more this way. After all, the more money-saving tips we implement into our lives, the more money we’re going to save.

More importantly, however, is that it keeps us excited about saving money. Let’s face it; saving money can get a little dull and boring. We want to do things differently, rather than the same way every day. Creativity is a human urge, a human desire, a human need. When we allow ourselves to approach things creatively, we satisfy that urge, and it makes us happy at a very deep level.

We can apply creativity to every area of our lives. So, we can seek out creative ways to save money as just one more way to incorporate problem-solving, inspiration, unique ideas, and fun approaches to daily activities. It’s about more than just saving money. It’s about living your daily life in a way that deeply fulfills you, even while doing the little things. Perhaps, especially while doing the little things.

20 Creative Ways to Save Money and Still Enjoy Your Life

When it comes down to it, you should really work on coming up with your own creative ways to save money. The creativity, your own creativity, is truly what it’s all about. However, that said, we wanted to give you twenty ideas to get you started with this fresh way of thinking.

1. Make Your Own Art

Let’s start off with the most literal definition of getting creative. Make art. There are so many amazing DIY art project ideas out there in the world. You don’t have to have any particular skill set for many of them.

More importantly, you don’t need to spend a bunch of money on fancy art supplies. Use what you have. Ask friends and family for things they’re willing to donate. Pick up a few extras for cheap at thrift stores and garage sales. Examples of affordable and easy DIY art including framing fabric and wallpaper, using finger-paints to make handprints of everyone in the family, and coloring.

You can hang your art in your home as decor. You can simply enjoy the process of making it, as a creative form of entertainment that’s cheap or free. Heck, you might even decide that you want to sell it, or at least gift it, someday. Everyone is an artist; don’t let your mind tell you otherwise.

2. Create a Treasure Hunt

Don’t spend money on entertainment for the kids. And don’t spend money on fancy date nights with your partner. Do creative things at home instead that cost little or nothing. Start with a treasure hunt. There are so many creative ways to create treasure hunts at home. Do some browsing online to get ideas for how to make one, themes to use, and how to keep it all cheap. This might be something you do once, on special occasions, or even weekly. See how creative you can get!

3. Fill Your Calendar with Free Events

Literally, fill a whole calendar. You might want to start with just one week or one month. Search online for all of the free events that are happening in your area during and put them on the calendar. Add them whether you think you want to do them or not. Add them even if they don’t interest you at all. But, of course, make sure to add and highlight the ones that really excite you.

Some good places to look for free events in your area include:

  • Your local library’s website
  • Check websites for museums to find out about “free days”
  • Ditto above for gardens, entertainment centers, and other local attractions
  • Local newspaper listings
  • Online lists of “fun free things to do” in your area
  • Your city’s travel website for visitors may list free events
  • Check local rec centers, community centers, churches, and other gathering spots
  • Ask friends and family and online social networks

Obviously, you won’t actually go to every single thing that’s on the calendar. However, by engaging in this practice, you might find that you’re really inspired. Honestly, just the act of filling out that calendar might be a fun, free activity. And 

It’s amazing to see how many free activities happen in your area on any given day. And if you go outside of your comfort zone and attend something that’s not your norm, you may surprise yourself. Moreover, any time that you’re about to go out shopping or dining or elsewhere, you can pause, turn to the calendar, and find a free event instead.

4. Grow Your Own Food

Living with plants has mental and physical health benefits. So, gardening of any kind, indoor or outdoors, could be a great thing to add to your life. When you choose to grow fruit, vegetables, and herbs, you also save money on groceries. So, you get daily entertainment, potentially reduced health care costs, and yummy food.

You don’t have to launch straight into a huge garden that takes up the backyard. Instead, just start with an herb garden on the counter. Or try to grow one type of vegetable. There are many ways to save money gardening so you can keep costs low and creativity high.

5. Take on a Wardrobe Challenge

These were super popular a few years back. For example, take a look at Project 333. The idea is that you choose 33 items from your wardrobe to wear for the next three months. This includes shoes, outerwear, and even accessories. (It doesn’t include underwear, and there are some other exceptions, as well.)

What’s the point? First of all, if you realize that you can comfortably wear just a few core items in your wardrobe, then you might want to declutter the rest. You might actually make some cash selling your clothes. You’ll save money by NOT buying new clothes. Furthermore, you’ll save time and mental energy because you’re not over-thinking what to wear in the morning.

Moreover, you might find that this leads to tons of other benefits. The project’s founder, Courtney Carver, has written a book called Soulful Simplicity. It’s all about how minimalism in many areas of life can lead to more time, energy, love, space, and joy. Taking on the creative challenge of a minimalist wardrobe can lead to more than you might ever have dreamed about.

6. Eat Only What’s Already In Your Home

Challenge yourself to make meals with the items you already have in your home right now. Depending on how much of a stockpile you have, this could be a one week challenge or a one month challenge. For some people, it might even go on longer.

You do have to get creative here. There are perishable staples that we all buy on a regular basis. To make it a true challenge, don’t even buy those. Just keep coming up with creative ways to use what you already have in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry until there’s truly nothing left.

Now, the theme of this post is not just about creative ways to save money but also how to “still enjoy your life” in the process. With challenges like this one, it’s really all about your attitude. Approach it with the excitement of taking on this challenge. You might want to share your creative meals on social media, keep a scrapbook of everything you make, or otherwise document this journey as part of the creative process.

7. Cancel All Streaming Media Subscriptions

How many streaming media subscriptions do you have? Personally, right at this moment, I have memberships to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Peacock, Philo, Spotify … and probably some others that I’m forgetting. Some months I have fewer, some months I have more. It’s something I review regularly.

But you know what I’ve never done? I’ve never canceled all of them. Do you dare take on this challenge? Cancel every single one of them right now for at least one full month. However, you don’t have to stop watching and listening to media. Instead, get creative, and find all of the free options that are out there. There are LOTS of them. And looking for them might expose you to new content that you never knew you’d love.

8. Write Letters to Send for Holidays

Make it a habit to write letters regularly. Get out pen and paper, sit down in a quiet space, and truly pour your heart out to those that you care about. Share the memories that you have with that person. Offer them advice or ask for theirs. Write about a wish or dream or hope that you have for them.

You can send these at any time, of course. However, this is a particularly great option for gift-giving during holidays. Anytime a birthday or other special occasion comes up, pull out these letters, add a stamp, and mail them off. This is one of the most creative ways to save money on gifts. And it’s one of the most heartfelt as well.

9. Make Your Own Household Cleaners

There’s something so satisfying about making your own DIY products, even if they’re just household cleaners. This is a great creative way to save money while also making your home healthier!

10. Take Free Classes.

Save money on education by learning as much as you can for free. There are, of course, many different types of free online classes. When you use sites like Coursera, you can study just about anything at the college level at no cost. However, don’t limit yourself to online options. You might also find free classes in your local area. For example, your local SBA might have free business classes. Learning is always a good way to pass the time. Learning for free is even better.

11. Barter Up For Things You Really Want

Have you ever heard the Red Paper Clip story? Back in 2005, a guy went on Craigslist and posted that he wanted to “trade up” this red paperclip for something better. The whole thing really took off and in the end the man got a house. That’s right, he traded a paper clip for a house (with lots of other bartering in between.) Now that’s one of the most creative ways to save money that I’ve ever heard of.

While you might not be able to go quite this extreme, you could certainly get creative with your own version of this idea. Make lists of things that you have but no longer want. Make lists of things you want but don’t yet have. Then see about bartering through all of the channels available to you. If you want to get really creative, take on that challenging of trading up for just about anything, even if you don’t know that you want it, yet.

12. Volunteer At Events You Want to Attend

Years ago, my sister came to visit me here in San Francisco. She wanted to see the big Outside Lands weekend concerting that happens annually in Golden Gate Park. However, she didn’t want to pay for an expensive ticket. So, instead, she volunteered at the event. By putting in her time at the event, she was able to enjoy the entire weekend and see many of the musicians she wanted to see. All different types of events offer opportunities like this. 

13. Gamify Your Savings

There are so many apps and tools that you can use these days for saving money. If you want to make saving money more fun then check out some of these apps. Many of them use gamification to make saving money fun. In other words, you get bonuses, rewards, interaction with others, etc. while using the app.

14. Challenge Yourself to Use a Single Dollar in Unique Ways

Check out our post of 25 Fun and Interesting Things That You Can Do With a Dollar Bill. Some of these are quick, some are more long-term challenges. Some of them are silly, others are scientific. The point is that with just a single dollar, you can come up with an amazing array of different things to do.

Put your own spin on this challenge to use any inexpensive item in as many ways as possible. Another example would be to come up with unique ways to use a coat hanger. Get creative! In fact, you might want to do a challenge like this monthly, each time with a different item.

15. Teach or Mentor Someone

You have skills, experience, talent, knowledge, and passion. Share those with someone else. You’ll get the joy of passing along that information and watching someone else grow in an area that you care about. And they’ll benefit from your free expertise.

How does this save you money? Mostly, it offers you a spending-free way to use your time in a fulfilling manner.

However, you might also get savvy and leverage this to make money. Record your sessions and share them on social media to promote a course you create, for example. Or take notes on your experience and use those to write an ebook. Or simply remember that you might be able to use this person as a reference down the line for a job you want.

16. Get a Piggy Bank

Silly? Sure. But helpful, too. There are some really cool adult piggy banks out there that make saving money just a little bit more fun. The little things count, too.

17. Learn Bullet Journaling

You can use bullet journaling for all kinds of different things, including budgeting. You can approach this simply, if you want. However, people also get really creative with elaborate designs for their bullet journals. Do some social media searches for #bujo and #bulletjournals to see fun examples. 

18. Play Board Games and Do Jigsaw Puzzles

Board games can bring everyone together. They’re great creative family entertainment. You can also have board game nights with friends for a cheap way to spend time together. Many board games, as well as jigsaw puzzles, are good for your brain, too! You can pick these up pretty cheap at thrift stores, garage sales, clearance sales, etc.

19. Practice The Art of Negotiation

You can negotiate the price of almost anything down to a better price to save money.

20. Don’t Throw Anything Away

Come up with creative ways to re-use everything. Just a few examples:

Every time you find yourself walking towards the trash can, pause. Sit down with the item instead. Ask yourself the creative ways you can give it more new life.

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