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People underestimate how much they can save by making small changes. You have the potential to save hundreds of dollars each year. In this article, you’ll learn how to save money on groceries, everyday items, gifts and so much more!
Save Money on Cooling Cost
- Switch your ceiling fan to turn in a counterclockwise direction in the summer. In the winter, run your fan clockwise at a low speed. If you’re not already using ceiling fans, you should consider installing them. Ceiling fans use no more electricity than a standard light bulb. Turn fans off when not home. They only cool people, not rooms. Did you know that the breeze from a ceiling fan can make you feel three to four degrees cooler?
- Make sure to clean or change your AC’s air filters at least once a month.
- Set your thermostat fan switch to “auto” to save energy automatically. When you leave it “on,” air runs constantly.
- Repair leaky ducts to reduce cooling (and heating) costs. Additionally you may qualify for a rebate toward the repairs. Contact your local electricity company to find out more.
- Hang light colored curtains to allow more light to enter your home while blocking some of the sun’s rays. Paint your walls a light colored paint to reflect heat.
- Close unused air vents in your home. We close our vents in our guest room. Why pay to cool an empty room?
Save Money on Heating Cost
- Raise your temperature slowly in the winter. When you quickly raise the temperature on your thermostat, you activate the heat strip. This uses tons of energy which cost you a lot of money. Raise the temperature a degree or two at a time.
- In the winter, set your thermostat to 68-70 degrees during the day and 65-68 degrees at night. You’ll save on heating costs and still be comfortable.
- Avoid using portable heaters. They give off great “spot” heating but are very expensive to run.
- Warm your home with the sun’s help. During the winter, leave your curtains/blinds open during the daytime.
Save Money on Lighting
- Replace standard bulbs with CFLs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are much more energy efficient than standard bulbs. You should also consider replacing halogen light bulbs with CFLs. Halogen bulbs can become hot enough to be a fire hazard and use a lot of energy.
- Open your shades and blinds during the day. I know it seems silly but you’d be surprised by how often I forget to open my blinds and flip on a light.
- Place your lamps in corners so that they reflect light from two walls. This will put off more light without using two lamps.
Save Money on Appliances
- Use a toaster oven or microwave to cook or heat leftovers. Conventional ovens use much more energy and heat your house up.
- Pull your refrigerator out and dust the coils.
- Set the temperature of your refrigerator between 30 and 42°F.
- Keep your freezer and refrigerator full. They use less energy than an empty one. Save even more by filling the empty space of your freezer with frozen gallons of water.
- Wash and dry several loads of laundry at once. Take advantage of a dryer that hasn’t completely cooled down. Also, avoid over drying clothes. You can also speed up your drying time by placing a dry towel in with a wet load.
- Clean the dryer lint filter before every load to dry clothes faster. This also helps prevent fires. Speaking of fires, lint is a great fire starter during the winter months.
- Turn the dishwasher off after the wash cycle. Let your dishes air dry. You’ll save energy and keep your kitchen cool.
- Grill out during the summer months to keep your home cool. The oven heats up the house and makes the AC work harder
Save Money on Your Water Heater
- Wash all your clothes with cold water. Laundry detergent works just as well and you’ll save 40-50 cents per load.
- Turn off your water heater if you’ll be gone from your home for a few days. When you get back, most models only take about an hour to reach the set temperature.
- Get an insulation wrap to help your old water heater hold in heat more effectively.
- Set your water heater temperature setting to 120 degrees. I used to have mine at 140 degrees and have seen a savings of 30 dollars a month since I made the change. The water will still be hot enough for showers and dishes.
- If you’ll be using hot water for your laundry, make sure you wash a full load.
- Install a timer on your hot water heater. Set it to turn off when you’re not home during the day.
- If your clothes are clean, don’t wash them. You can wear a pair of jeans a few times before they need to be washed.
Save Money on Your Electronics
- Plug electronics into a power strip and turn the strip off when not in use.
- Use a laptop computer. They use less energy than a desktop.
- Set your computer to sleep or hibernate mode. It will use less electricity during periods of inactivity.
- Unplug battery chargers when batteries are fully charged. Battery chargers draw power continuously even when nothing is plugged into the charger.
- Turn your television off when it’s not being watched. I’m guilty of leaving my TV on the entire day and often forgetting to turn it off at night. Not only can you save money on your energy bill but your TV will last longer.
- Pass on extended warranties. It’s not worth spending $125 on a two year warranty for a $300 product.
Save Money on Your Finances
- Move your bank accounts to take advantage of perks and earn more interest. Many banks offer sign up bonuses while some bank accounts offer attractive interest rates for new customers. Many banks offer free checking accounts for college students.
- Implement a 30 day rule for large purchases. If you’re thinking about buying a new TV or other large purchase, wait 30 days. Last year I purchased new furniture from Rooms to Go. The furniture is beautiful but it was a very expensive impulse buy. I wish I had waited for a sale or purchased a used set.
- Look through your cart before you checkout. I’m usually able to put back a few items that I don’t really need. Please be courteous and put the items back where you got them from.
- If you have credit cards, negotiate rates or transfer your balance to a new card with no interest.
- Stay organized and avoid missed payments. Some companies charge as much as $50 for a late fee.
- Be careful using ATMs. If you withdraw money from a bank you don’t bank with, you could spend as much as $5!
Save Money with DIY Projects
- Make your own gifts instead of purchasing expensive gifts from the store. I love to make fresh banana bread for my neighbors during the holidays. I wrap the loaves nicely with holiday cellophane and a ribbon. It’s a thoughtful and tasty gift that doesn’t cost me much. People tend to enjoy these gifts more because they involve a personal touch.
- Repair clothing instead of buying new. My husband wears button down shirts for work and they lose buttons more often than I’d like them to. He used to purchase new shirts! Not a very good way to save money. Even if you’re not very good at sewing, replacing a button is a very easy fix. Don’t toss out clothing with some damage, instead wear them when you’re working in the yard or doing chores inside.
- Make your own cleaning supplies. Check on Pinterest for recipes. You can also clean with white vinegar. It’s cheap and chemical free.
- Make your own holiday decorations. You can enjoy fun family time doing this! There are so many tutorials on Pinterest. This year we made the cutest paper mache pumpkins with balloons and they hardly cost a thing to make.
- Make your own greeting cards. I let the boys have fun making cards for the family. The boys have fun and family cherish their little works of art.
Save Money on Groceries
- Sign up for store loyalty cards to maximize your savings at grocery and drug stores.
- Make a list before you go shopping and stick to it! It’s easy to be attracted to impulse items but if you stick to your list, you’ll save a lot of money.
- Drink more water! Water isn’t just good for your health, it’s good for your finances. Most tap water is just as clean as bottled water and will only cost you a few pennies.
- Save money by avoiding fast food and convenience meals. I’m a mom and I’m usually exhausted by Friday at dinner time. Each Friday we have soup and sandwiches. It’s simple and doesn’t cost us much.
- Make a large casserole and freeze half of it. You’ll save money by buying the ingredients in bulk and not having to rely on fast food. If you’re in a hurry, you can take out the frozen casserole and have a quick meal.
- Plan your meals with your store’s weekly sales.
- Buy generic brands of items you regularly buy. I purchase my headache medication from the dollar store and it works just as well as that $8 bottle you’d buy elsewhere.
- Get the Target RedCard debit card. It’s free and you’ll save 5%! You will also get free shipping on all online orders when you use the card.
- Don’t be scared of leftovers. Jazz them up or turn them into a new dish. I made tacos a couple nights ago and used the leftover taco meat for a delicious mexican soup.
- Invest in a deep freezer. When items my family use go on sale, I can stock up since I have the space.
- Eat less meat. We have meatless Monday at our house. It saves us money since meat is expensive and we get to experiment with fun recipes.
- Make your own flavored coffee syrup. Simply reduce sugar and water, add flavor and you’ve just made syrup for pennies!
- Cut your own food. Never buy food that’s already been cut. You’ll spend so much more on less.
- Eat before you shop. Never shop on a hungry stomach. You will be much more likely to impulsively buy items that you don’t need.
- Always use the produce scale. You may think you’ve only grabbed a lb of grapes but actually grabbed 4-5!
- Watch the cash register. It’s easy for a cashier to accidentally ring an item up twice or a product could be priced incorrectly. Some stores will even give you the item free if it rings up at the wrong price.
- Don’t shop with your kids in tow. I always spend much more when I’m distracted by my children. I end up buying them treats and special things they want but don’t need. I leave the boys with my husband and they get quality time with their dad.
- Stock up after the holidays are over. After Thanksgiving, stores practically give turkeys away. If you have a deep freezer, this is a perfect time to stock up on protein.
- Shop for items during their yearly sales cycle. Each month, certain items are cheaper than they will be during the rest of the year. Example: Baking supplies are their cheapest during December.
- If you just need a few things, grab a basket instead of a cart. It’ll keep you from tossing more in than you need.
- Buy a food dehydrator. I make my own dried banana chips and jerky. I love both of these treats but don’t like the hefty cost.
- Understand expiration dates. Most dates are set for quality and not safety. Your bag of popcorn that expired yesterday isn’t magically spoiled.
- Coupon, coupon and coupon. Please see my blog to view all the hottest deals and freebies.
- Don’t buy an item you don’t need just because you have a coupon.
- Buy what’s in season. Example: I buy a ton of strawberries and blueberries when they are in season and freeze them. This way I have them for recipes through the year and never have to pay a maximum price.
- Use Rebate apps such as Ibotta, Checkout 51 and Snap by Groupon. I earned over $70 last year using Ibotta. The best part? You earn cash back on items you’re already buying.
Save Money on Entertainment
- Invite friends and family over instead of going out. When you enjoy an evening out, you not only pay for your food but you spend money on expensive drinks, tip and gas. Host a fun night where everyone pitches in with a dish. During the summer, backyard barbeques are a blast and during the winter we love to have friends over for a bonfire.
- Don’t spend tons of money to entertain your kids! Most children, especially younger ones would rather play with an empty box than expensive toys. Take your kids to the park or play outside. Children don’t want fancy toys, they want your time. Save some money and make some memories.
- Purchase movies and video games used. I also buy a lot of my sons books used. They don’t mind and I save a bunch!
- Check books out from the library! Most libraries these days rent DVDs as well.
- Cancel magazine subscriptions. My mom has a pile of magazines that she never reads. I don’t even want to know what she has spent on them. It’s a habit for her, a bad one! You can find most magazine material online for free.
- Share the cost of a media streaming account. My mom and I share the cost of Netflix.
- Slow down your internet speed. Surfing the web can be enjoyable but you can save $10 or more each month just by choosing a slower speed. Unless you use the computer for gaming, you likely won’t notice a difference.
- Check for free events around town. Many cities have free family events on the weekends, especially during the holidays. Why spend $100 or more on fireworks when you can watch an amazing show downtown?
- Attend free events at the library. My local library has a calendar full of free events for kids and adults.
- Check with your local zoos and museums for discount days.
Additional Ways to Save Money
- Change your car’s air filter or clean it. A clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by up to 7%.
- Avoid buying items at a yard sale just because they’re cheap. It may only cost $0.50 but when you buy six things at that price each week that you don’t need, that’s $12 a month. (and $144 a year!)
- Buy used when you can! I have purchased most of my ceramic bakeware from thrift stores over the years. They are in perfect condition and saved me more than half the cost if I had bought them new.
- Do your holiday shopping right after the holidays. Last year a few days after Christmas, I was able to purchase candle sets for $2 that were originally $10. They made great gifts throughout the year. You can also save on bows, wrapping paper and decorations. This doesn’t only work for Christmas. You can save on every holiday this way.
- Purchase clothing after a season has passed. Once the weather warms back up, stores want to sell all those jackets fast! Each year I purchase my boys clothing after the season has passed in the next size up. I save hundreds of dollars doing this!
- Get rid of your home phone if you have a cell phone.
- Bring your lunch to work with you. My husband works at a hospital and was spending $8 a day on lunch. I can make him lunch for $3 a day. That saves us over $100 a month!
- Keep your tires properly inflated. It keeps you safe and you’ll save on gas.
- Carpool. Take turns riding with a co-worker to save on gas.
- Cook with a crockpot! You can dump in your ingredients in the morning, let it simmer during the day and have a simple dinner in the evening. You’ll save on energy cost and a crockpot won’t heat up your kitchen.
- Pack food for road trips. Buying snacks at gas stations can add up fast. You could even pack a picnic and stop along the way and have lunch.
- Always ask for fees to be waived. Example: When I signed up for cable, they wanted to charge me a $200 activation fee. I told them I’d go with another provider and they instantly waived that fee to get my business.
- Refill your oil diffusers. Check online for instructions.
- Use rags on your Swiffer. The refills are quite expensive and are no more than a thick paper towel. The best part of using rags is that you can wash them and use them again and again.
- Compare the meter reading on your utility bill to what you actually see on your meter. You’d be surprised how often people are overcharged.
- Check your local area for beauty schools. You can get a great haircut for a fraction of the cost.
- Hang items up to dry outside. I’m not a fan of hanging clothing up because it can become stiff. I dry towels, blankets and sheets on a clothesline.
- Earn free gift cards with apps like Shopkick. I earn gift cards through the year and save them for Christmas presents.
- Clean the junk from your car. Did you know that an extra 100 lbs in your car can decrease your fuel mileage by two percent. You can save $40-50 a year by keeping your car tidy.
- Limit trips you make in your car. Plan a day of shopping and running errands rather than going out each day. You’ll save on gas and be less likely to splurge.