You’ve likely heard the saying, “save money live better,” plenty over the years. It’s been Walmart’s slogan since 2007, and it’s a useful motto that can apply to your own life too. Unfortunately, many people still believe that saving money means deprivation and dissatisfaction.
There are many ways in which you can use the “save money live better” philosophy to guide your decisions. Spending less money doesn’t have to mean you’ll constantly be working, never enjoying your money.
The great thing is that you can take the choices you have and design your life to save money and also live a rich and fulfilled life.
What does it mean to "save money live better"?
The beautiful part of learning to save money and live better is that you can make this fit your lifestyle. Saving money isn’t a goal in and of itself.
Instead, you can use the savings to finance parts of your lifestyle that cost more money. Figure out guilt-free spending ideas in areas that matter, but save where you can.
You can get a similar experience for less money
One great perk of the save more live better idea is that you often can get the same experience for less money. It’s amazing how many fun experiences are out there at no charge, for one thing. Free concerts and outdoor festivals come to mind.
In most cases, you can find the same satisfaction through a lower-cost option. Whether it’s referring to a college education, a car, a honeymoon, or smaller items, there’s almost always a cheaper way to get it. And no, these don’t have to be inferior, either!
You can discover better options when you focus on saving money
When you focus on how to save money and live better, you might be pleasantly surprised to find even better choices. Sometimes, trying to save money can feel like an endless slog. But it doesn’t have to—in many cases, frugality forces us to be creative.
That creativity can unlock better opportunities we’d never considered.
6 Ideas to live better while saving money
If you’re interested in saving money to finance a far-off goal or simply want to build up your emergency cushion, here are a few ideas. You can save money and live better simultaneously.
How much to save depends on your circumstances, you’ll definitely find some ways that could improve life while still saving cash.
1. Save more by making your own food
One option is to make your own food. This is not everyone’s cup of tea, of course.
But being able to prep your own meals and snacks can free up tons of money every month. Plus, it provides additional benefits!
Eating out vs. eating at home
Obviously, a major money-saving tip that most personal finance experts share is to cut back on eating out.
This is not to say you shouldn't ever eat out. The experience of being in a restaurant among other people is energizing and fun. But if you want to save cash, you simply cannot eat out for three meals a day.
Make it a special occasion by keeping it rare—you might appreciate it more, too.
Avoid dining out on road trips
Often, even people who “never” eat out during their regular routine are the first ones to stop in the drive-thru on vacation. A road trip food stop may be fun, but what if you could save more—and live better—by changing it up?
My family nearly always packs lunches whenever we go on long road trips and even on shorter day trips. It’s not that hard to pack a cooler with food and drinks, and this enables us to stop for a meal break whenever the mood strikes. We also avoid the stress of wondering when we’ll spot a fast-food place everyone likes.
Another benefit of bringing your own food while traveling is you’ll probably eat healthier. Even with places offering salads or non-fried options, they’re few and far between. I don’t know about you, but greasy road-trip food never makes me feel my best.
Avoiding dining out on trips can help avoid wasting money, yes. That’s terrific.
But it also can result in healthier meals, feeling more energetic, and being more flexible with when and where you eat. (Parks and rest stops are great because they get you outside while you eat, too!)
Making your own food can build connections
Here’s another way making your own food is good for you: it can help draw you closer to people you care about. Spending time deciding on a meal, preparing it together, and then eating it together can be wonderful for families and friends. It definitely adds to the save more live better lifestyle!
Even if you hate cooking, you can organize your life and kitchen to be able to make more of your own meals. You could talk to family members or friends about their favorite recipes, then try making them. The connection forged by sharing something like a beloved recipe is hard to beat.
2. Save money live better: work out without a gym
Another way to cut expenses is to change your workout routine.
I love a gym, but it’s absolutely possible to gain the same benefits without one. Save money and live better by trying non-gym exercise options.
Working out in nature offers extra benefits
For me, I find that exercising outdoors in nature is *almost* always superior to anything indoors. (I say “almost” because if it’s 90 degrees and humid, obviously, it’s not the most pleasant.)
But nature offers a ton of benefits; that’s why I love when I can find an outdoor yoga class.
The American Psychological Association (APA) features Lisa Nisbet, Ph.D., who explains: “You can boost your mood just by walking in nature, even in urban nature. And the sense of connection you have with the natural world seems to contribute to happiness even when you’re not physically immersed in nature.”
If it’s available to you, instead of doing a cardio workout at the gym, you could take a hike, jog, or walk outside. This is free and also can boost your mood. It’s a fabulous tool you can use to invest in yourself.
Save time by cutting out the drive to the gym
Getting rid of the drive to the gym is also a "save money live better" perk. Inflation can make fuel costs high, so staying closer to home will save you money. Plus, you’ll save the time you would have normally spent driving to your gym.
Of course, not everyone has home gym equipment or a nature preserve right next door. But if you could cut out or even reduce your trips to the gym, you’d save both gas costs and time.
Try a YouTube workout in your living room, walk around the block, or use some inexpensive dumbbells to build muscle.
3. Find ways to save money on entertainment
Another area where it’s pretty easy to leverage the idea of “save money live better” is in entertainment. How you spend your leisure time impacts your budget. Luckily, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy that free time.
Choose free activities over paid admission
First of all, you likely have multiple choices, no matter where you live. Some entertainment options cost money (movie theaters, concerts, sporting events). Others are totally free or just a couple of bucks.
Check out this list of 40 fun things to do for free with friends. You can likely come up with plenty more, but a few ideas include hiking, bonfires, shopping in each other’s closets, and at-home facials.
And if you are a parent, plenty of free activities are available for your kids too!
Invite friends over instead of going out
Going along with the previous ideas of free activities with friends, remember that your home is a great gathering place. Even if you don’t have a huge home, true friends will be happy to spend time together.
You can save more and live better when you explore the possibilities of staying home. No, it’s true! You could invite friends over to sample cheap grocery-store wines, have a baking competition Chopped style, or just watch old movies together.
If you don’t have a lot of frugal friends, it might take some time to talk them into doing free stuff. They might not all support your financial goals, so it’s key to be honest about what you want.
Use your local library
Yes, I’m a nerd—my local library is my go-to place for entertainment these days. It’s incredible the volume of movies, TV shows, books, magazines, and other resources your library contains.
Don’t be afraid to take advantage of your library. Believe me, I would love to support all the authors by buying their books, but it’s simply too much money. I can save money and live better by checking out hundreds of books every year.
Reading books is great for your well-being, and you can even learn something. Using the library gets you the benefit of enjoying a book (or movie, video game, etc.) without the expense.
Plus, buying fewer books means you get a head start on decluttering your home. Many of us feel lighter when we reduce the amount of stuff like books and DVDs lying around.
Consume less TV and streaming content
Here’s a novel idea for helping you leverage the "save money live better" principle: watch less stuff. When you start to look for ways to save money, a great tip is to drop the streaming subscriptions.
You can slash your entertainment bill by getting rid of Netflix, Hulu, Discovery+, or whatever streaming platforms you currently have.
Now, I realize we’re talking about how to live better while saving money. This tip isn’t one that gets you the same amount of TV and movie watching as before. Instead, it’s about reducing your “need” to be entertained by screens.
It’s totally possible that you could drop a subscription or two just to save $10 or $20 a month. That’s a great step. But you just might discover you spend more time in nature, reading books, learning a skill, or playing with your kids.
You’ve created more space for well-being, which you won’t regret.
4. Improve your life by investing for retirement
We couldn’t talk about saving money without discussing the big “R”: retirement. Although most of our tips have focused on saving in the daily or monthly routine, that savings can go towards retirement.
A higher savings rate can help you retire sooner
When you reduce your spending and increase your saving, you have a great impact on your retirement plans. That’s because not only are you able to save more money in retirement accounts, but you reduce your retirement income needs.
The 4% rule may be a useful guide based on spending 4% of your assets annually in retirement. For example, it says if you spend $40,000 a year, you need $1 million at retirement to never run out of money. But there are always some adjustments to be made, and that’s why saving money is so key.
If you’re unclear about what to do with the saved money, it’s not a bad idea to save for retirement. And if early retirement appeals to you, then a high savings rate is a necessity.
Use a high-yield savings account
While you’re working to save more live better, be sure your savings work for you. Although you can put a lot into a 401(k) or IRA, it’s also good to keep some savings in a high-yield savings account.
It’s good to let your money grow over time. By saving more money now, you help ensure that later, you’ll be able to “live better”. Those savings choices add up, and earning interest on the savings makes your finances even stronger.
Be careful not to sacrifice too much (enjoy life in the present too!)
Even as you focus on saving aggressively, you want to be careful not to sacrifice too much. It’s so important to enjoy each day you have on earth, so don’t work 100 hours a week just to save more.
Although I firmly believe you don’t have to spend like crazy to be happy, it’s also good to relax and spend money sometimes.
Learn how to enjoy the life you have: balance your saving with spending, as it fits your lifestyle and goals.
5. Save money and live better by lowering stress
You can improve your stress levels if you manage your finances well. The idea of "save money live better" can help you because when you’re not financially stressed, you feel better.
A higher savings rate can fill out your emergency fund
If you’ve experienced financial stress from living paycheck to paycheck, you need an emergency fund. Everyone needs money to cover sudden expenses or from a job loss.
Americans under age 35 have just a median of $3,240 in savings, according to a recent MarketWatch analysis from the Federal Reserve. For ages 35-44 it’s $4,710, and for ages 45-54 it’s $5,620.
However, plenty of people have much less, and you likely need more to keep yourself afloat.
You’ll save money and live better if you take the time to build up your emergency fund. This cushions you if you lose your job and if you have unexpected emergency expenses.
A higher savings rate means less worry about job loss
If you work to save more and live better now, you are better prepared for a job loss. No matter how fantastic you are at your job, you can still be fired or have your hours cut.
When you think in terms of "save more live better", saving money reminds you that you can survive on less than your income. It’s always good to save for a rainy day. Learning to embrace a lower-cost lifestyle could be a huge benefit one day if you have financial hardship.
Tough times don’t hurt as much when you have money to land on.
6. Discover how much fun saving money can be
Finally, a reason to try Walmart’s code of “save money live better” is that it can be a lot of fun. Figuring out ways to cut expenses can be a game that challenges you to always find new ideas and opportunities.
Try new free activities
It’s a lot of fun to try new activities, right? Having the goal of saving money can help motivate you to try new things and learn new skills.
For example, learning domestic skills or car maintenance could save you thousands over the years. That also builds your confidence.
When you determine not to spend above your budget, it helps you learn creativity. You find other ways to get what you want.
Maybe you can volunteer at a local gym in exchange for free classes. Or become an adept camper instead of relying on hotels when you travel.
Change your mindset to require less money for happiness
In general, learning to adhere to the "save money live better" principle is a mindset adjustment.
Saving more money doesn’t mean deprivation. You can change from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. Hundreds of ways to enjoy your life exist without a high price tag.
So why not look around your life and look over your budget? You’ll likely find places where you could drop costs without giving up a thing.
Be generous to others
Finally, here’s one more motivation to help you when you don’t want to save money: generosity. Giving to others is a blessing, and by finding more breathing room in your budget, you may be able to help others more.
Even if you can’t give astronomical sums to charity, if you can give small amounts, it will be appreciated. You’ll be glad to have sacrificed a little of your wealth to help those who have less. And don’t forget there are many nice gestures you can do that don’t cost money.
Use "Save money live better" as a mantra to improve your life!
When it comes to saving your money, if you believe it means not enjoying life, you’re mistaken. You can live well and still reach your financial goals. You can adopt the “save money live better” mantra to bring greater joy and richness to your life.