53 ways to save money in a harsh economy


Dear readers, it is official: the economy is experiencing a downturn.

Industry experts had forecasted it, internet warriors had talked about it and now it is a reality. Not to worry, this post is not about gloom and doom. It is about how to have some extra money left in our pockets.

Today we will be looking at 51 wonderful ways of saving money in a harsh economy. Everything you need to know from ditching cabs for keke to having your own backyard farm. Let’s get right in

  1. No big parties

Yes, I said it. A big party is not needed for every occasion. For example, throwing a party for a one year old (who might sleep through the event) is not too necessary in my opinion. The money can be saved towards taking care of the child. Bottom line is, big parties have to be cut down . Not like the price of a bag of rice is helping matters.

Image Credit: Robert via Flickr

Image Credit: Robert via Flicker


  1. Avoid impulse buys

Buying everything sold during traffic has to stop. If you have to go to the market, write down a shopping list and stick to it.

  1. Buy things in bulk

If you can afford it, always buy things in bulk. If you like garri like some of us, buy a full bag. If it’s rice you like, buy half a bag. Now that the Minister of Agriculture has promised us an increase in rice prices by December, stash up if you can. Buy food items in bulk and store. The more you buy, the deeper discounts you get. You can pool in with 2 or 3 friends to buy foodstuff in bulk.  You save more this way.

  1. Hunt around for the cheapest price

I know most of us do this, but for the few who don’t, here’s your chance. If the price is high, try the next shop. Hopefully, they might have old stock and sell at a cheaper price.

  1. Reduce online shopping

If there’s a shop close by that sells same item you want to buy online, visit that shop. There is a 95% chance things will be cheaper in a physical store. Unless of course, you find a better deal online.

  1. Watch out for Awoof

Discounts, Black Fridays, clearance sales and the likes.  Maximise every awoof opportunity. Be careful, awoof dey run belle sometimes.

  1. Try cheaper brands of certain products

Often times, what we pay for in higher prices are the advertising and brand name. Try cheaper brands when you can, you might find a rare gem. Nasco cornflakes instead of Kelloggs, Roberts antiseptic instead of Dettol etc.

  1. Do your Christmas shopping earlier

It is no news that prices of items increase by Christmas. If you can, consider shopping for some items earlier.

  1. Buy used

That it’s used doesn’t mean it won’t last long. If it’s good quality and still has value, buy it.

  1. Buy quality when you can

I know this sounds ironical (seeing number 9) but it is a cost saving tip. It’s like buying a dress that lasts longer compared to one that fades once it touches water. The problem here is knowing what is quality and good value for money spent.

On the home front…

What way can you save at home? Can your current lifestyle be adjusted without affecting your happiness? Here are money saving tips on the home front.

  1. Move to a cheaper apartment

Too far-fetched? Not really. I know someone who moved from three bedroom flat with a swimming pool to a smaller apartment. The person barely had time for the swimming pool so it was just wasting so to speak.

  1. Cancel/downgrade cable TV

If you barely watch TV, you might as well unsubscribe from a cable service. If you’re only an occasional watcher (evenings/weekends), another option might be to downgrade to a cheaper bouquet. You will find all the available DSTV subscription packages here. If you can handle watching football outside, this is probably the cheapest option for you, as long as you don’t buy too many beers.

  1. Spend quality time at home

Instead of going out, you can stay at home and have nice time. Ask your friends for suggestions on hanging out at home. Play video games, watch a football game with the boys, have a nights out with the girls. The possibilities are endless.

  1. Eat in

Rather than eat out, could you use half of that money to prepare yourself a delicious meal? Can’t cook? How about you find someone who can cook in exchange for a service they need, such as fixing their computer or helping them with downloads?

  1. Try new recipes

When the tomato family was attacked by tomato Ebola, many of us embraced other means of cooking stew without tomatoes. There are so many other recipes you can try which are cheaper to prepare, but which are still as nutritious. Switch meat for fish, try a new yam dish, eat more beans etc.

  1. Dry clean, repair old clothes instead of discarding

There is that one dress that lies deep down your closet. Instead of buying new clothes, you can dig deep into what you already have, wash, repair and wear them. Familiarise with your needle and thread once again.

Image Credit: Derek Bridges via Flickr

Image Credit: Derek Bridges via Flickr

  1. Grow a garden

If you have extra space outside, consider having a garden. Things that can be planted include water leaf, ugwu leaf, scent leaf, tomatoes, onions etc. Gardening is a good hobby and has been proven to be therapeutic. Planting vegetables at home is good for the environment, it helps reduce the heat and it ultimately saves you money.

  1. Raise your own chickens

Drastic times call for innovative measures, Christmas is approaching fast. Buy chickens and raise at home if you can. Not only do you get chicken meat, you can get eggs as bonus. If ‘agric chicken’ is too stressful to care for, buy ‘native fowl’. Native ones know how to fend for themselves. If you have a home garden, you can dry the chicken poop and use for manure. Win, win. You can either buy day old chicks for as little as N150 and give them leftovers or if you’re just after the meat, buy spent layers for as little as N700 each.

Health wise

Health is wealth. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will keep you away from hospitals, saving you money in the long run. Here are a few health tips.

  1. Take your health seriously

Eat fruits, exercise, play football or tennis. Stay fit and healthy. Hospital fees are not going down.

  1. Drink lots of water

Drinking lots of water has many health benefits. Instead of drinking soft drinks, take water instead.

  1. Take longer walks

Some distances can be trekked. Saves you fuel morning and keeps you fit.

  1. Ditch alcohol and cigarettes

Alcohol has a way of putting a hole in your pockets without you noticing. Same goes for cigarettes. If they can be avoided altogether, fine. If not, at least do in moderation. There are not exactly the best habits for a sound health. Besides, the Federal Ministry of health warns that smokers are liable … (fill in blank space).

  1. Reduce your food intake

I don’t mean starve yourself. Sometimes all our body needs is that first round of a meal. The second and third rounds we take are just stashed somewhere making us sluggish. Eat smaller portions and drink more water.


  1. Ride a bicycle

Want to visit your friend in the neighbourhood? Why not ride a bicycle? Saves you petrol, money and helps you stay fit.

Energy efficiency

Efficiency is often said to be another source of energy. This is because energy saved can be used later. Of course, this also means reduced costs. Manage your energy consumption with the following tips.

  1. Turn off appliances when not in use

Since PHCN (read NEPA) increased tariffs I have been more conscious of the number of bulbs put on at home. Save energy anyway you can. Don’t leave water on the heater to boil for long. If the deep freezer is colder than the Arctic, switch it off for a few hours.

  1. Buy energy saving bulbs

In line with the above. Buy energy saving bulbs all over the house.

  1. Reduce generator time

This goes without saying. A harsh economy is not the best time to run generators every time. Turn off generators when going to sleep and use only when necessary.

28. Turn off that AC

Yes, the feeling is out of this world but turn off the AC when you can.

Repair and maintenance

Properly maintaining appliances can keep them from damage. However, where faults develop, there are cost effective ways of getting them fixed. Consider some of the options below.

29. Become a DIY expert

There are some things that can be handled without calling a professional. Instead of calling the computer guy to install antivirus for you, search for “how to install antivirus” and do it yourself. There are so many tutorials on Youtube showing how to do most of the things we pay people to do. You can even charge others to help them out, and then look it up on Youtube! If however the role is very technical (like electrical works), get a professional and save yourself the cost of being electrocuted.

30. Do routine maintenance checks

Check your appliances from time to time. Change the oil in the car, be vigilant for anything that might need repairs. Don’t wait for things to go very bad before stepping in.

Image Credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin via Flickr

Image Credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin via Flickr

31. Make your own tinned tomatoes (and other household essentials)

Why buy tinned tomatoes when you can make them yourself? Plus they stay preserved for about 1 year with no electricity required. All you need to do is buy your tomatoes in bulk and follow these step-by-step instructions. From then on, just scoop up what you need. On Youtube, you can also learn to make other things at home from detergents to bread.

32. Call a friend

There are services you need that your friends can provide. Why call another plumber when your best buddy is one? I’m not endorsing exploiting people. Ask nicely, if they call a price, negotiate something fair. If their fees are high, consider number 28 above or go for cheaper alternatives.


Many other means exist whereby we can save money in a harsh economy. Let’s proceed.

33. Use public transportation

Is having a car at this stage of your life really cost saving? Is the extra comfort worth it? These are questions to ask before taking that car out or buying one. Keke riders may drive like they’re in Fast and Furious sometimes but may be cheaper than a personal car. You also have to consider the joy of them beating traffic like ninjas. A bus will charge you much lower than going Uber. However, if you want to live the soft life, Uber is allowed.

34. Spend less on your hair

There are hair styles that are classy and still soft on the pocket. The money spent on hair per year can be seriously cut down. For the guys, an option is to buy a clipper and have a friend/relative barb you. Barbing is a skill anyone can learn with time. For ladies, I believe there are cheaper ways to maintain your beautiful hair. You just have to seek and use them. Or totally change your hair style.

35. You may want to avoid getting a pet

Sorry pet lovers, this is a perfectly logical financial decision. Having and taking care of a pet (like a dog) involves good money. If you’ve done your calculations and you’re okay with you see, you may go ahead. It’s better to not have a pet than get one and watch it suffer.

Image Credit: Jenn via Flickr

Image Credit: Jenn via Flickr

36. Take lunch to work

If you can do it, cultivate the habit of taking lunch to work. It may look funny but saves you a lot of money. Plus, the meal is home cooked.

37. Swap video games, DVDs, books

Whichever you are fan of, you’re better off swapping than buying new. For gamers, you can see if fellow enthusiasts are looking to swap games in the area. Not everybody has the capacity to spend N14,000 on a new game CD every time.

38. Use the internet to replace your phone

Skype, WhatsApp, BBM, Facebook messenger, IMO (yes, this is the name of an app) all come with call making capabilities. You can even make video calls with these. What is needed is an internet data bundle. With the ongoing data wars between telecom firms, data prices are crashing down every day. Save that money you use on long calls to friends, loved ones and family.

39. Go for the best call rates

For those calls that must be made consider cheaper call rates on offer. Two Double SIM phones give you the advantage of packing four networks in your pocket. Within a brand, there are tariff plans that are suited for your usage. Exploit them.

40. Cut internet data usage

If you’re not a heavy data user, there is no need buying a 10GB internet plan. At the end of the month, you may barely use 4GB. It’s better to buy a faster, cheaper plan.

41. Spend less on hygiene/beauty products

Honestly, you don’t need to wear three different perfumes anytime you go out. A good deodorant or body spray is okay. They last long and keep you smelling nice. Same goes for soaps, shampoos etc. The price of some soaps can buy two carton of others. As long as you take good care of yourself, bathe daily there should be no cause for alarm.

42. Don’t waste food

If there’s one thing I learnt from a friend is to never waste food. Now it feels like a sin for me to waste food. Take only what you can finish. If you can’t finish it, store for later. If you eat out and can’t finish the food, request it be packaged for you to take home. That way, the food is not wasted.

43. Reduce cinema time

Trust me on this one: I know some cinema junkies. Sometimes you could wait and buy the movie much later. I know some movies are best watched at a cinema. But, you can tone down on the cinema time.

44. Cut down on extra property

Is that third phone really necessary? Do you need three TVs in your house? What about the thousands of spoons in a family of four people? If it doesn’t really serve any function or bring joy then it is best removed.

Personal finance tips

Personal finance tips are good in any economy. Whether it’s to think before spending, or save every month, there are tips worth using.

45. Pay yourself first

As a salary earner, one of the first things to do after receiving your salary is to pay yourself first. You can save 10-30% of your monthly income in a separate bank account. This savings can be put for rainy days or big projects.

46. Allow that money to “breathe first”

This is personal finance tip I live by. Anytime you get paid, allow the money to breathe. This means not touching the money for a few days. I noticed this way, I can plan properly and avoid buying some unnecessary things.

47. Ask yourself these questions before buying anything

  1. Can I do without it?
  2. Do I have an alternative I can use?
  3. Can I make this thing myself?
  4. Is it ok to buy used in this case?

48. Set a budget

Having a budget helps you with planning how you spend your money.

49. Keep accurate accounts

Having an idea of how much earned and spent will help you in planning your financial life. Some people keep Excel spreadsheets of their monthly income and expenses. This helps them plan better and stay within their financial lane.

50. Don’t be afraid to switch

If your bank charges are too high, switch. If you run out of GB after just checking your e-mails and your provider won’t look into it, switch. If your mobile call tariff costs too much, switch. If your DSTV plan is not doing it for you, switch. You are not in a marriage, and no one will beat you. Switch to get the best deals, and negotiate wherever you can.

51. Rent out a spare room

If you have a spare room in your house which no one uses, put an advert online to see if anyone wants it. You could easily add an extra N100,000 to your savings using this simple idea.

52. Follow retailers on social networking sites such as Twitter

You get to find out latest price cuts and you can enter competitions to win free stuff.

53. Join a carpooling website

Join GomyWay, Africa’s carpooling site. It’s a no-brainer. It means that if there’s someone going the same way as you, they offer you a lift and you contribute towards the cost of their petrol. Not only do you ride in comfort, but you also save your own petrol and dignity from getting clothes trapped in rusty public transport vehicles.

At the end of the day, everything boils down to living a simpler lifestyle and being more efficient. With the above tips (and others you might have), I am sure you can save money in this wonderful economy.


What money saving tips are you using in this current economy? Kindly share with us below.


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