Kali Hawlk

Helping Creatives Make More

Save More Money in 2014

Are you ready to get a fresh start with your finances in the new year? Ready to take charge and let this year be the year of awesome financial decisions and progress? Of course you are! And I’m here to help.

If you are willing to do what it takes in order to save more money in 2014, you’re on the right track to making this year a great one. That’s because there are two main ways to increase your wealth:

  1. Spend less and save more
  2. Earn more and save more

Did you notice they both involve saving? This may be a super-simplified way of explaining how wealth is grown and cultivated – after all, what you do with that savings does matter (hint: invest!) – but if you can get these two basic steps down, you’re well on your way to accomplishing all your big financial goals this year.

So let’s look at some ways that you can save more money in 2014. With today’s post, we’re going to cover the easier of the two to get you started. Spending less is something you can start doing immediately, with immediate results. Earning more will take a little more time and hustle, but keep in mind that it is just as possible and realistic as spending less.

Save More Money by Trimming Expenses

For the sake of this post, I’m going to assume you already have a budget set up, or at least are able to track your spending somehow. If you don’t have a way to keep track of your expenses and your money in/money out on a monthly basis, I suggest you fire up some spreadsheets ASAP.

Let’s start with your current expenses. It’s time to get mean with your spending. We’re talkin’ a slash and burn policy over here, baby. Most of us can reduce or cut at least one expense from our current budgets. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:

  • Have cable? Cut it and go with an online streaming service like Netflix instead.
  • Drop the gym membership; workout at home anytime and for free.
  • Use coupons, buy generics, shop sales, and stop buying stuff like soda and snacks to reduce your grocery bill.
  • Call insurance providers. Can they give you discounts? A better rate? A higher deductible in exchange for a lower monthly bill?
  • Move to a cheaper location, find a roommate, or rent out your basement. Do whatever it takes to make your living situation less expensive.

Can’t think of how you could possibly cut your spending? Shoot me an email and I’ll try and help you find a place where you can reduce your expenses.

Save More Money by Switching Up Your Habits

You can save even more if you’re willing to change up some of your habits. Swap out your bad spending behaviors for positive, frugal ones that encourage savings:

  • Take up a healthy hobby, like walking, running, biking, or hiking.
  • Get creative with date nights. Head to the park (or take your loyal four-legged friend to a dog park) or head to a new part of town and explore. Plan a picnic and enjoy a walk together.
  • Instead of having day-long shopping sprees to entertain yourself or your family, schedule in free events like art walks, craft fairs, and outdoor summer concerts or drive-in movies.
  • Learn to use what you’ve got. Play your own version of Chopped and cook a few meals off the weird leftover things you find in your pantry to stretch out the time between grocery visits or swap a movie night for a family game night.

Feeling Bored? Make Saving More Money Fun

Okay, I admit – cutting the fat from your budget and restricting how many times you go out to eat or see movie doesn’t sound like a ton of fun. But don’t let that stop you from attempting to save more money in 2014. If you like a challenge where you can track your progress, or you just want to avoid associate managing your money with being lame, try out one of these savings ideas:

  • The 52 Week Savings Challenge (or one of these variations)
  • Have a No Spend Week at least once a month – and immediately put your surplus into savings!
  • Do you have a really bad weakness when it comes to spending? (My vice: I always want to buy clothes. But I don’t! ..usually.) Try a spending freeze for a month on one item you usually splurge on. Anytime you find something you really want to buy, check out the price, walk out of the store, and deposit that amount into your savings instead.
  • Get competitive and make savings a game: challenge your significant other or another family member to see who can spend the least amount of money in a month.
  • Grab a Swear Jar, and play by the rules! Set up a “price list” and pay up when you slip up. Soon you’ll either have a nice little stash of cash, or you’ll quickly learn to yell “oh crumpets!” or “butterscotch cookies!” when you stub your toe.

As you can see, you can really get creative and have fun with as something as “boring” as savings. Whatever kind of challenge, game, or system works for you – set it up and put it into use!

Making the Most of Your Surplus

If you put some of these ideas into action in 2014, you should have a bit of extra money in your bank account. Don’t be tempted to spend!The next step is to wisely use that money – all the surplus you’ve accumulated – and make the most of it. Here are some common sense approved uses of your savings (and you best believe they are indeed ranked by importance, so no skipping!):

  1. Pay down even more credit card debt/consumer credit card debt if you have any.
  2. If you don’t have debt, yay you! Invest your savings (perhaps now’s the time to try an index fund).
  3. Start or add to an emergency fund – aim for 3 to 6 months’ worth of expenses, depending on your situation.
  4. Save for a big purchase, like a down payment on a home, a new car, or a home improvement project.
  5. Replace material goods that are past their prime (if it’s not any worse than my couch, it’s not past its prime).
  6. Take a percentage of your savings and have some fun – just make sure you’re spending on an experience or an investment item! You worked hard to scrimp these savings together, so please don’t go nuts and blow it all.

Now you’re armed with all sorts of ideas, and I hope the above uses of the savings you could accumulate serves as a bit of motivation, too. With determination and dedication, there’s nothing that can stop you from saving more money this year!

Do you plan on using any of these tips to help save more money in 2014? Have any ideas that you think should have been added to this post? Share ’em with us in the comments!


  1. The big thing with scrimping and paring down your budget is to actually filter that money into a savings account. If you save $20/month extra from decreasing internet costs (etc) if can’t just sit in your Chequing account to be engulfed back into other spendy accounts.

    Also, I think I just found my new favorite expletives… Definitely stealing the “butterscotch cookies” one.

  2. As far as trimming expenses go, we cut the cable and definitely don’t regret it. Our focus this year is really on earning more income. Not an easy thing to do at all but we are hoping it accelerates our debt repayment:)

    • Same here, Liz – we cut cable and I think it’s been great for us as far as more money in our pocket AND more time to do better things than watch TV! I’m also focused on increasing income. You’re right, it’s not easy, but very much worth it to accelerate savings and debt repayment goals!

  3. Uh oh…guilty of cable and a gym membership! I get really good use out of both but whether cable is worth it or not is always up for debate. I am definitely in the “earn more” camp but I agree with you that both ways of increasing wealth involve saving more. My wife and I coupon (added over 200 coupons to our database yesterday!) as well as take advantage of deals. My hobbies usually do not involve spending money as I hardly have time to read as much as I would like. Great post to start the new year!

    • I know for some folks gym memberships can be worth the money. If you’re using it and getting value out of it, then it’s something that you can prioritize and make room for in your budget. Cable is definitely harder for me to see the “keep” argument for, though! I feel like I’ve got a foot in both camps – I believe in cutting expenses and pairing down costs, but I also know you gotta make more to save/invest more.

  4. We’re to the point where we basically have nothing left to cut- no car payments, no debt, no cable TV. The only way we can save more is to make more =)

  5. I think the one-time savings like negotiating your cable or insurance bills are the big ones because you can do it once and then forget about it, at least for a while. Then automating that savings into some kind of savings account so, again, you don’t even have to think about it. Really, if you can set it up so you can just lie on the couch, eat ice cream and watch movies while your money grows, that’s pretty ideal, haha.

  6. I just heard a story on NPR this morning that there are a few credit unions that have created “save to win” games. It is like the lottery, but the more you save, the more chances you get to win some cash. They were giving away $10,000 to a lucky person who won the raffle. I thought it was a cool idea and I might think of a way to implement it into my life.

  7. I agree that whenever you make it a game or a challenge (against other people-usually it doesn’t work as well with yourself), it makes it more fun and interesting. You have to constantly change up your perspective, otherwise saving saving saving all the time can be drudgery. Great info!

  8. I think these are all great ideas. I particularly like the idea of playing your own version of Chopped as a way to clean out the pantries. We did something similar on a family trip last summer. We called it Top Chef Family Edition with two teams, leftovers and 60 minutes to create a dinner and dessert. Then those who didn’t participate judged. It was so fun and cleaned out the fridge.

  9. I’m spending the entire month of January clearing out my clutter and selling what I can. There’s a hobby that’s practical and pays.

    • Nice! Good luck selling as much as possible. I want to go through our stuff, too, but we don’t have too much clutter – so I won’t have anything to sell, unfortunately. It’s mostly just small stuff that needs to be organized.

  10. Like Holly, we also don’t have a lot left to cut (the only thing left is cable which my poor husband will argue is a necessity of life) so we too need to make more. Because we’re paid bi-weekly and accumulate vacation time, we need to focus on using our ”extra” money in the best/smartest way possible.

    • I feel ya! We’re at the same point – we’ve cut everything we really can without depriving ourselves, so now we have to figure out how to make more. Saving/cutting expenses is much easier, but it’s definitely worth it to hustle and earn more!

  11. I am trying to get my boyfriend on board with some of these. He’s already admitted that he needs to cancel his gym membership, and he really needs to shop around for a better car insurance rate. I am all for 2014 being less expensive, and by practicing conscious spending more often, I think we can get there.

  12. LOL I love your “Chopped” idea – usually at the end of the week, we have one serving of the week’s leftovers, so I just heat everything up and call it a buffet. πŸ˜‰ Great tips as always, Kali – I like getting creative with date night ideas or picking up healthier (and free!) hobbies.

  13. For a lot of lower income people Kali they can claim the saver’s credit which rebates 50% up to $2000 a year when you invest money in an IRA.

  14. One of my favorite aspects of personal finance is how simple the main concepts are. Either spend less and save more, or earn more and save more. It really can be boiled down to that. The rest is just details.

  15. I actually want to start a gym membership since I am getting too lazy staying indoors. On the flip side, I have planned to do most of the things you listed as I try to get out of debt and build my emergency fund.

    • There are situations where maintaining a gym membership makes sense – it’s all about prioritizing what is most valuable to you! If getting a membership will keep you accountable, then go for it – I would just advise staying away from expensive, fancy fitness centers that charge $100+ per month, and choosing a no-frills, low-cost gym instead.

  16. I used to be really good about making and following a monthly budget. Once I become debt-free, I let my spending slip a little and I haven’t been paying as close attention to the spending as I should be. This year I’m gong to make a budget again (particularly for groceries and other essentials and I’m going to follow it!). I’m also going to increase my efforts to work on doing some more freelancing and side hustles.

    • Those are excellent steps to take, KK – best of luck in sticking to and maintaining a budget for tracking spending. Since you used to, I’m sure it will be fairly easy to fall into the habit of keeping a budget again. Good luck with increasing your side hustles too!

  17. Swear jar! I should totally do that at home (and at work). Making anything competitive helps me focus. I’m glad to see you added in giving yourself some fun money for experiences. I really value traveling, so that is one budget line I always save up for or put surplus money towards.

  18. Great post – I’m hoping to reduce expenditure as much as possible this year so that we can put a deposit on our house next year. I always seem to get so far, then end up frittering my savings away, hopefully 2014 will be different!

  19. We’ve been looking at cutting back our expenses so we can save even more. We want to increase our savings for retirement.

  20. I do a lot of these already. No gym, no cable, no pets, no car. I just like eating and drinking out from time to time :) Most weeks I bring my lunch, have coffee at work, and eat and drink at home for dinner too. I try not to spend on going out if I know I have something I could make. I want to make a “bad thoughts” jar, whenever I’m thinking something negative. Maybe it could re-train my brain and also help me save! I am all about making more money and automating savings. It’s the only way I can do it!

  21. Excellent post, Kali! We are constantly scrutinizing our expenses for ways to save more, and are going to work on the 52-week challenge as well. I’m excited to see how our yearly spending turns out with the new ideas we’ve put into place. :-)

    • Thanks, Laurie! And I did start keeping my budget like you guys do – down to the last cent. I’m eager to see what kind of numbers I come up with on both the spending and saving side at the end of the year. Thanks for inspiring me!

  22. Great tips, Kali! I love how you suggest to both earn more AND spend less PLUS save more either way!

  23. Not bad! This is pretty strong list of ideas for people to try.

    Personally I like where you challenge yourself to use your spare time to actually make money rather than waste it. That’s sorta how my blog got started. :)

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