Economists Are Predicting A Recession — Here Are 33 Actually Useful Money-Saving Tips From People Who Have Been Through One Before

·15 min read

Recently, we asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us their best money-saving tips. Here's some of what they had to say, along with a lot of other great suggestions from subreddits such as r/PersonalFinance, r/PovertyFinance, and r/Frugal.

1.While you need a membership to shop at Costco, there are certain things you don't need it for. This includes buying alcohol, getting eye and hearing exams or vaccinations, and using the pharmacy. AND you can place and pick up online orders without being a member, though there is a 5% surcharge. You can also go in and shop if you have a gift card.

Suggested by: u/daisy952

The exterior of a Costco with the caption "Get your eye exams here!"
Gabe Ginsberg / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

2.Specifically, you can buy generic Plan B for $5 at Costco.

Suggested by: u/verypracticalside

3.Also, re: Plan B, you can buy generic versions for much cheaper than the brand version in most places. Right now, for example, you can find options for less than $15 on Amazon here, here, and here.

Suggested by: u/xolenaki

A box of My Way levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive available at Amazon
Amazon / Via

4."If you have a car lease ending soon, please look into buying it and then reselling it. With the used car shortages, the residual value is much lower than the actual value. Look into that for your own good."

"Or you can just buy and keep it. Just don’t turn in a lease without checking your lease paperwork for buyout info and current market value for your car. We bought out our Lexus, and after paying taxes, we paid $13,000 less than market value. We should be able to drive it for two or three years and get what we paid for it."


5.If you're big on streaming services but don't watch that much on any particular platform, consider just keeping each one for a few months at a time, watching everything you want to see, then switching over. While you might not get to see things right as they come out, this saves money and also allows you to take advantage of free trials.

"The number of streaming services out there means that many people are paying $100+ per month for multiple services, which is kind of wild. My wife and I had Netflix, Prime, Hulu, HBO, Apple, and Peacock. However, we realized that we’d typically just watch one or two series, maybe a movie here and there, each month, and certainly weren’t using all six at once.So instead we canceled all of them (except Prime, since we use the delivery, like most people) and instead decided to keep each service for two to three months at a time.

"We’d watch everything we wanted to see, then cancel it and start on catching up on what was on the other services. Kind of a 'have your cake and eat it too' situation, since it’s saved us $80 a month but we haven’t felt like we’ve missed out on anything."


6."The best gift advice I've ever received is to buy an expensive version of something that's normally cheap. A $20 shirt is just a shirt, but a $20 pen is a pretty solid pen."

"Take your budget, divide it by four, and find something in that price range. Then browse r/BuyItForLife and find a really nice version. Pick something the recipient wouldn't normally splurge on but would use every day. This works for any budget. Here are a few examples:

$2 glass bottle of Coke or craft root beer

$10 chocolate bar

$15 flashlight

$15 water bottle

$20 notebook

$20 Prismacolor colored pencils

$20 outlet-powered battery brick

$20 pen or mechanical pencil

$50 leather belt."


A pen set in a case with the caption "Way better than a cheap version of something expensive"
Sakonlawat / Getty Images/iStockphoto

7."Get a credit card that allows you to redeem points for purchases, then make all of your purchases with that card (and pay off the balance every month). I used my credit card this way while living very modestly as a grad student, but after about two to three years, I was still able to redeem the points for a free trip to Hawaii and numerous Amazon purchases. Basically, you’re losing out on sort of free money if your credit card doesn’t have a rewards program."


8.And also, if your credit card specifically earns you more points at the grocery store, or if you have a grocery store card that earns rewards, buy gift cards at grocery stores for things like restaurants and Amazon as a way to earn extra points that you might not otherwise get for those things.

Suggested by: monikap6

A rack of gift cards with the caption "Shop here to get grocery points back on nongrocery items"
Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

9."Use credit cards wisely! I use mine for expenses I would already make to get the cash back or miles and pay them off each month. A couple of times a week, I’ll look for and add rotating offers on my cards — you do have to check and opt into them, but it takes two minutes. I’ve gotten 5% cash back on fuel from my usual station, 10% back on a planned home-related purchase (on top of a coupon), and more. You shouldn’t go out of your way to make those purchases because that’s where the trouble starts, but the extra little bit helps when it’s on those necessary things."


10."If you always use a friend's or family member's phone number for grocery store rewards, stop! When you have your own account, you can rack up additional discounts or qualify for money-back savings, additional digital coupons, weekly drawings, etc. (depending on the store)."

"For apps, I highly recommend Upside and Shopkick."


"You can also use that number in the old song 'Jenny' (867-5309) — it works when you're from out of town/state."


Arrow pointing to a piece of paper with "867-5309 Jenny" and the caption "Perfect when you're at a nonlocal grocery store!"
Immortal Records

11."The vast majority of the time, you can find a discount code or coupon or special deal for what you are buying, especially for retail. I hardly ever pay full price at Old Navy or Bath & Body Works, for instance. Even a quick Google search can find you a save. I recommend doing so before you make any buy because it takes 30 seconds and can save large percentages over time."


12.You can also get Chrome extensions (like PriceBlink) and apps to find coupons for you, but be sure to read the fine print, and make sure your data isn't being stolen.

Suggested by: u/qfe0

13.An even better bet is checking the actual store's app — many, especially stores like Target and Michael's, have coupons you can scan from the app.

Suggested by: u/Anonymurker and u/ausstix

Caption: "Petsmart app has a game that gives you coupons based on your score" with image showing coupon winnings
u/Anonymurker / Petsmart / Via

14."Common knowledge, but don’t go to the grocery store hungry. It can lead to impulse buying."


15.Also: "The next time you go to the store, take a shopping bag instead of using a shopping cart. Shopping carts make it easy to overspend because they are deeper than they used to be. It's easier to restrain yourself if you fill up your shopper tote, and it keeps you focused if you're just getting a few things. I tell friends and family this repeatedly, to no avail!"


16."If there is something you need to buy, add it to your cart and then leave it. It's surprising how many stores will email you with a 'Hey, did you forget your cart? Here is 10% to come check out!' My Facebook just saved me 20% with a targeted ad for a gift idea I'd checked out several times but hadn't purchased yet. Sadly, this doesn't work with something like Target or Walmart, but it's worth a shot at other places."


17.You can make Amazon returns at Kohl's and often can get Kohl's cash on these receipts. Which, if all you've done is a return, is really just free money.

Suggested by: Anonymous

A Kohl's store with the caption "Yep, you can do Amazon returns here!"
Gabe Ginsberg / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

18."If you're someone like me who loves having merch from your favorite band or artist, you can thrift a shirt/hoodie/whatever it is you want and get custom-made iron-on labels with lyrics or quotes from Etsy. The total will be about $15–$20 (thrifted item + label) instead of the $80 you might spend buying official merch (I'm looking at you, Taylor Swift)."


Editor's note: Even just buying a fan-made shirt on Etsy is usually much cheaper than getting official merch, especially if you're someone who tends to impulse-buy concert tees at a show! Show up in the concert tee you got from Etsy instead, and you'll be less tempted! Also, the designs tend to be better, imo.

19.Also, this is a little shady, but if you're really into certain brands but can't afford them, you can get sew- or iron-on patches for things like the Nike check mark or — and this was a lot more helpful in middle school than it is now — the Hollister bird. They're usually pretty cheap to buy in bulk. You can get a shirt from Goodwill and literally just iron on the patch.

Suggested, lol.

20.Along those lines: "If you can/are able to, learn to sew. It doesn't need to be amazing techniques, it just needs to be enough to fix that hole in the ripped seam of your sleeve at the armpit instead of getting rid of it to buy a whole new shirt. YouTube and Google are your friends when it comes to looking up how-to videos, and buying a $1–$2 spool of thread and needles is much cheaper than buying a whole entire shirt."

"If you can't salvage the shirt, unseam and cut it into squares or rectangles to use as rags for dirty work like dusting, cobwebbing, and wiping dirt off surfaces, especially outdoors — things that can be cleaned dry without needing much absorption — instead of buying new dry rags. You can wash the shirt rags just the same. My dad's old stained shirts go in a pile in the garage, and he uses them either as dirt rags or as fabric to wipe off motor oil or grease when he works on the cars. Then he can dispose of them without wasting money on single-use towels."

Dane Broflovski

Woman sitting at a sewing machine with the caption "Tip: You might even be able to get a cheap used sewing machine online or at a thrift store!"
The CW

21."Don’t drink alcohol on a night out. Yes, it can be difficult to fully enjoy it, but asking for a soda water or soft drink is either free or a LOT cheaper. You’ll also not splurge on food on the way home, buy unnecessary rounds of drinks, or be tempted by the hangover takeaway the day after. I could easily spend £100 on a night out…which has changed to approximately £10–£15 instead."


22."Research grocery chains in your area; find one that does ad/price matching. Sort your grocery list by items that are listed cheaper at the other locations, and have the ads prepped when you hit the checkout!"


23."Always buy bread at the discount 'bread stores.' There's a great selection, from bagels to specialty breads, often sweets, chips. Just $10 will fill a tote bag of goodies that have not expired."


24.Also, check out apps that work with restaurants to sell their leftover food at the end of the day at a discounted rate. It's a great way to get cheap food that would otherwise go to waste.

"I've been making use of the Too Good to Go app. If you live in a city, it's great. I get a bag of food (usually a bakery) at the end of the day for usually $4. I get home and freeze all the pastries or cut up the loaves into single servings, then I have pastries for a week or two at home. It's great."


Man holding a Too Good to Go bag with the caption "Costs wayyyy less than actually getting takeout from the restaurant"
Artur Widak / NurPhoto via Getty Images

25.This one's specific, but..."Don’t waste money buying pill pockets for your dog or spend tons of time making something at home, crushing pills into applesauce, etc. If your dog can have cheese, buy a pack of American cheese/other cheap cheese slices and rip off chunks to wrap around the pills and feed like a treat. This year, my dog is taking 10 pills a day, and once we started doing this, we saved time and money, and he enjoys taking his meds."


26.Before you buy something, see if it's available cheaper or used on eBay or another place. And shop secondhand! Oftentimes you can find much-better-quality items for less.

Suggested by: germancanadian

27."As we get to that time of year when temperatures plummet, it’s time to remind people of the ultimate frugal heating hack that is electric blankets. The more space you try and heat, the more it’s going to cost you. So heating a big house costs more than a small house, a small house more than a room, etc. Taking this to the extreme, just heating your couch or your bed costs about a penny an hour. Electric blankets aren’t expensive, and for when you’re sitting in front of the TV or in bed, they can make where you are really warm for not a lot of money."


28.And if you're looking for another way to bring your heating bill down, find a cheap way to insulate your windows.

"We just moved into a new place, and I couldn't even hold my hands outside the covers at night, I was so cold. It didn't matter what temperature we had the thermostat at, either, there was always a cold draft.

"So I bought a 10-window box of insulating window wrap and figured I'd just do a few rooms. My boyfriend was skeptical because...well, it's like plastic wrap. And looks tacky. Fair.

"But holy crap, the place is downright balmy now. We did every room. Turned the thermostat down to 65 for the night, and I actually got TOO WARM.

"When I'm cold at home, I have a hard time doing other stuff, like work, hobbies, whatever. I hope this helps someone cozy up their house this winter and lower their heating bills.

"This is what I bought; I think they're all probably pretty similar. Covered five standard double-hung windows with a little left over; I assume they're counting each pane as one."


The label for Duck insulating window kit
Duck / Amazon / Via

29."If you drink coffee and use a Keurig, buy a generic reusable metal mesh K-Cup pod. You can fill it with grinds you bought on sale, and not only do you have a cheaper-per-cup price than regular pods; you also won't be polluting the environment with plastic that can't be recycled."


30."Don't use a tumble dryer. it was costing me about £3 a day. Hanging washing out is a pain and looks unsightly, and in English weather...but in the summer it can really help having things line-dried in the garden. Have to be mindful of barbecues, though!!"


Clothing hanging on a clothesline outside with the text "Better for your water bill and the environment!"

31."A larger expense, but if you're looking for furniture, you can find nicer pieces at secondhand stores. Older furniture is built better than the stuff they sell today, and with small repairs, it can look brand-new. We replaced all of our bedroom furniture piece by piece, and it cost about a quarter of the price of the furniture we replaced that I purchased 15 years ago."


32."Ride your bike…going to work, getting groceries, meeting your friends! If you don’t have one, invest in one, wear that ugly helmet, and take good care of it. Six to 10 miles is manageable for a healthy human on a daily basis. Did I mention that it’s a great workout, too?"


33.And finally, "If you need food, go to a food pantry. Periodt."

"Too many people see questions about whether or not they 'should' go to a food pantry, and they internalize an impression of 'Food pantries are for people who are not like me who need food more than I do.' Well, that internalization can't be more incorrect. Community members are giving to this pantry or this soup kitchen in the hopes that YOUR life improves because of it.

"Food banks do not care how much money you make, what you drive, where you live, whether you're single, in a marriage, in a dorm, living with a roommate, or if you have 15 children. They don't care if you have nice pots and pans or if you are using tinfoil over a burner to heat up your food. They do not judge and they do not care.

"You do not have to be in misery to qualify for a food bank or for your local soup kitchen. If getting food will help you pay your rent or your utility bill, go get food. If getting food means you can buy a birthday present for your kid or your dad that you would otherwise be unable to buy, go get food. If getting food means you eat three times a day instead of two, go get food. If getting food means you can actually put some money away in an emergency fund this month instead of skating by yet again without preparing for the future, go get food.

"And if you go get food and you still feel that it's something you don't deserve or that you're taking from someone else, then give back. Find a place to volunteer your time to ensure that someone or something else in your community gets a brighter future, even if it's just one day every few months. Use the resources that your community offers you to help provide you with some breathing room, and use that momentum for a better tomorrow."


Volunteers at a soup kitchen with the caption "They're here to help you, not judge"
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc. / Getty Images

What are your best money-saving tips? Let us know in the comments!

Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.