Health

8 Money-Saving Strategies Successful Women Swear By

Your bank account will thank you.

By Kelly Krause
Friends doing wine cheers.

Summer is on the horizon, but I’m finally just getting into spring cleaning my life. Honestly, it’s equal parts overwhelming and refreshing. Coming off a busy holiday season straight into lots of events and work travel, I finally had a solid break in my schedule to assess what’s working and what’s not. In addition to my never-ending closet clean-out project and general organization, one thing I really needed to overhaul was my finances. 

Does anyone else get to that point where you check your bank account or credit card statement and you’re like, wait one second, how did this happen? If not, you’re lucky. Between the holidays and travel, I admittedly neglected many personal routines. And finances were one of them. Now, no major cause for concern—I’m not insinuating that I’m in financial peril here. But taking some time to self-reflect gave me the boost I needed to get back on track with a budget and really examine my spending.

Woman typing at computer.

How I’m Approaching My Season of Savings

After reverting back to a plan my financial advisor gave me years ago, I came up with a strategy to ensure I have a good buffer for bills, entertainment, savings, and fun, all while saving extra money where I can. I’m calling this era my season of savings. My mission? To make it fun—not dreadful.

I have three accounts dedicated to monthly goals. So far, with some discipline, it’s been easy. Those accounts are:

  • bills/must-pays
  • my future/savings
  • fun/entertainment/travel

Keep reading for eight tips on how I’m approaching this season of savings. Plus, get insights into how you can apply this strategy to your own life—without feeling restricted.

Woman writing in notebook

Update Subscriptions

After reviewing my credit card statement and Apple Pay account, I realized I had a lot of duplicate and dormant subscriptions. I’m talking $5/month for an Instagram filter app I’ve never used once, or a Spotify subscription AND SiriusXM subscription, when I only really use one. This was a pretty easy fix and one that significantly saves me each month. 

Make it happen: Set aside an hour to review your subscriptions. You can go to your Apple ID in your iPhone, and tap “Subscriptions” to view all your active subscriptions, how much you’re paying, and when they renew. Alternatively, I’ve had lots of friends recommend Rocket Money, which allows you to view all your subscriptions—across all platforms—in one place.

Give My Nails a Break

This one is tough for me because I love getting my nails done. But after years of gel manicures, my nails are feeling the impact. They’ve gotten tissue-thin and brittle and while there’s a bit of debate on whether you should let your nails breathe, this seems like a good time to pause a $100/month habit. 

Make it happen: Consider the naked nails trend. Camille recently posted this glowy nail treatment polish for $16 that strengthens my nails and keeps them looking clean. In between, I’m using this repair keratin serum for $25. Both products cost less than one manicure, so I’m still giving my nails love without the splurge.

Friends at dinner party.

Reframe Happy Hour

I’ve taken a break from drinking. (I’m diving deep into that topic in a future story—stay tuned.) This one was an easier move for me than I thought. Anytime a friend asks if I want to grab a drink or go to happy hour, I try one of a few things: first, offer up a coffee meeting instead. This usually works better for my work schedule anyway, as I work for a west coast company and my days tend to run longer. Plus, a $4 cold brew (where I usually have just one) beats a $15 cocktail (where I usually have at 2+).

Second, rather than go for a drink, I see if we can catch up for a walk or a workout. I try to go for a walk almost every single day whether it’s 3-5 miles or simply a 30-minute, low-key coffee walk, so this is always my favorite way to connect with friends. And if all else fails, my go-to order of sparkling water and lime is always a cheaper option than a drink! 

Make it happen: Happy hour is often our default way to get together with friends. Instead, reflect on other catch-up options that not only allow you to connect, but that let you pour into other high-value activities. Try pairing it with exercise like me, or suggest something else you’ve been dying to do. (Craft night, anyone?)

Meal prep ingredients

Get Creative With Groceries

I didn’t realize how much I was over-buying groceries and sadly wasting a lot of what I purchased. Aside from giving myself a weekly budget, I’ve started to get creative with both what I have on hand already and what I’m buying. In the past, I haven’t been motivated to whip up something creative and instead would splurge on a $20 salad at a local neighborhood spot. Doing that 3-5 times a month adds up quickly, so I’ve made it a fun adventure to use up everything I have to cut costs.

Here’s what that looks like: I’ve taken remaining veggies and sautéed them and topped with an egg and hot sauce for a nourishing bowl. I’ve used leftover ground bison, added a little marinara and a sprinkle of cheese for an Italian-style bake. And all of those packets of tuna that I’ve saved for a rainy, don’t-feel-like-cooking kind of day are the easiest thing to add to a quick seaweed wrap. 

The point is: rather than grabbing a quick salad or sandwich, I use what I’ve got on hand first. Chat GPT has saved me a few times when I’ve typed in ingredients I have on hand to come up with something good to make. 

Make it happen: This is where meal prep is your friend. Camille shares her go-to meal prep strategy here. Stock up on staples and prep them on Sunday to give yourself mix-and-match options that’ll last you the week. (And that you won’t get bored of by Tuesday.)

Use Gift Cards Up! 

Over the years, I’ve gotten a plethora of gift cards from friends and family to restaurants, spas, and stores. And… I almost always forget about using them in the moment and they go unused or worse, expire. Pro tip: Always use restaurant gift cards when you get them. I’ve had two restaurants close over the years and gift cards ultimately went unused. 

Make it happen: My strategy might be a little *extra* but it ensures I use up all my gift cards. I create a spreadsheet with every single gift card, the location, and the dollar amount, plus a note next to who gave it to me. That way, anytime I reach to buy something online and book an appointment, I make sure I’m using a gift card and can send a follow up note to that person reminding them how thankful I was to use it.

While you might not have gift cards laying around, I bet you have emails from brands offering discounts for your birthday/birthday month or “first time guest” discounts you can use. Every little bit adds up.

Woman trying on clothes.

Clothing In/Clothing Out

At this point, I could be admitted into Black Dress Jail for the amount of black dresses that live in my closet. Sure, each one looks a little different than the next, but not that different. So before anything enters my closet, I’m doing a major overhaul and getting rid of a LOT. Like, half of my closet. And before anything can come in, I have to get rid of at least three things. In just one week I loaded up three full ThredUp bags to the post office and went on an eBay posting spree on cycling gear I no longer wear. 

Make it happen: There are countless ways to donate or sell your clothing. Visit your local thrift store and see what they’ll take. Or, Madewell has a great program with ThredUp to either sell or recycle your used clothing. The fun/social part of this is opening up my closet to friends to borrow dresses and outfits from one another so we can also curb our spending a bit. It’s such an easy way to feel like you’re wearing something new (to you). This strategy is way cheaper than buying new or utilizing Rent the Runway or a similar service. 

Outdoor dinner party.

Host Friends > Going Out

Maybe it’s my age and less about saving money, but at 42, my friends and I are leaning heavily into simple, quality evenings together. Rather than get dressed up and go out to dinner for a recent birthday, my friend opened her home and everyone was tasked with bringing a side dish for a dinner in. We wore cozies, didn’t buy gifts, and just enjoyed everyone’s company. (Not to mention probably saved $100+ each.)

Don’t get me wrong, I love trying new restaurants and throwing on a fun dress to go out, but when it comes to literally everything in my life right now, I’m trying to simplify and refine. An easy night in, grabbing something healthy from Trader Joe’s, wearing a comfy outfit, with a good playlist in the background is my idea of a good time these days. (Pro tip: Mimic the vibe of your favorite hotel with a curated playlist. I love this one from Hotel Saint Cecilia in Austin.)

Make it happen: We compiled all the best hosting ideas and inspiration, right here.

Woman reading on couch.

Rethink Entertainment

Every year I say some variation on the same: This will be the year I read more. Inevitably, I end up reading no more than two books. It’s partly because I cram every waking moment with work, creative projects, and friend hangs, so when I actually have time to relax, I want to do nothing but lay down and get caught in a TV show. But I miss getting lost in a good book and the conversations reading inspires.

I was at a cocktail event the other week and two girlfriends talked about a book they both wanted to read, which I happened to have a copy of on my bookshelf. (My very FULL bookshelf of unread books begging for my attention.) It was the perfect opportunity to start the book and set a date to chat about it with my friends. I’ve never been a part of a book club, so I have no clue if I’ll even like it, but this hang costs virtually nothing. What’s more, I also get an evening away from home, time to pour into my friendships, and the chance to have my mind expanded through good conversation. 

Make it happen: These are our favorite new reads of the season. Browse what’s available at the library or, spend a little at your local bookstore to support the author. Plan an evening with friends to get together and chat about the book. Trust me: while you’ll love talking about literature, the conversation will drift to every other area of your lives. It’s the perfect way to get caught up.

Woman on phone.

The Takeaway

Hop on social media, and it can seem like everyone is always either taking a lavish vacation or out to a dinner with friends. It’s easy to assume that others are having more fun or able to spend more without caring how it may impact their finances. With everyone’s lives always available to us with a quick swipe, the temptation to compare can be difficult to avoid.

But I hope these budget-saving strategies serve as a reminder that it’s fun to get creative not only with how we spend our money, but how we prioritize our time. I’m loving trying new things in the kitchen and opting for new ways to catch up with friends. Let these tips inspire you to switch things up—and maybe even make a little more progress on your reading list, too!