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75 Easy Ways to Save Money

Oh my goodness!  When I ran across my friend Corinne’s enormous list of money-saving tips, I knew I had to share it here.  Many, many thanks to Corinne at One Income Life for allowing me to reblog her fabulous post.  Please visit her blog, too – you’ll enjoy it as much as I do and I promise you’ll pick up even more tips on how to “live comfortably for less!”

75 Ways to save money

Here are 75 easy ways to save money on lots of everyday expenses.

Utilities

  • Use a power strip. Attach any appliances that can, and should, be turned off to a power strip. Get in the habit of switching off the strip when you leave the house or when you turn in for the night.
  • Take advantage of fan power. Running your air conditioner all day will run up a hefty electric bill. Instead, use ceiling fans to cool you off. When the cold weather hits, flip the fan into reverse so that it pushes warm air out. It won’t completely heat your home, but will help reduce your overall heating usage and costs.
  • Paint your roof white. In a study done in 1999 by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Heat Island Group, they found that homes with white rooftops used 40% less energy for cooling when compared to homes with black roofs. Use a white coating that is both durable and waterproof to cover your roof in a lighter hue.
  • Check for window leaks. Make sure your windows and doors are properly insulated. If possible, install double-pane windows. Without good insulation, some of your heat or cold air could be going right out the window.
  • Lower your thermostat. You may like your home just right when you return from being out all day, but having the heat or air conditioner on all day when no one is home is just wasteful.
  • Turn down your TV’s clarity. HDTVs have awesome pictures, but did you know that the brightness is actually costing you more money? Most TVs are programmed to “retail” or showroom mode; which is code for optimum clarity and brightness. Reducing the level of brightness on your HD television could significantly reduce your electric bill.
  • Bundle your services. In some areas, one company will offer cable, phone and Internet. Call up your provider to see if you qualify for a discount if you bundle your services and get them all from one company.
  • Fill up with food. Your refrigerator that is. An empty refrigerator uses up excess energy by when it has to cool off all that extra space. Keeping it full will help your refrigerator run more efficiently.
  • Keep the warm in. If you use a fireplace in the winter, an inflatable damper will help keep the warm air from escaping through a leaky metal damper. Purchasing an inflatable damper will save you money each year.
  • Don’t overfill your kettle. Only boil as much water as you need. Boiling more than needed is just a waste of energy (and time!)
  • Cut showers down. Running the water during a shower can eat up gallons of water. Cutting showers down to just 10 minutes a day can significantly reduce your water and water-heating costs.
  • Cancel cable. Cable packages are costly, and chances are you don’t watch half the channels you receive. Instead, get Netflix. Or hulu online. Or rent movies from your local library. Any of these options would be cheaper than paying for cable.

Clothing

  • Shop second hand.  Yard sales, thrift shops, consignment stores. All of these are great options to find quality used clothing. Often times, you can find name brands for a steal, or even clothes that have never been worn.
  • Wait for sales. Even thrift shops have sales at times. Check with your local stores to see if and when they hold sales.
  • Don’t buy more than what you need. If the item is a “want” instead of a “need,” then you don’t need to buy it.
  • Make use of accessories. Rather than replacing an entire out-of-date wardrobe, update your look with scarves, belts and inexpensive jewelry.
  • Empty your closet. I know I’m guilty of this. I buy something new because it was on sale, and it never gets worn. Search through your closet for anything that still has the tag on it and see if it can be returned.
  • Buy easy to launder items. Skip clothes made out of fabrics that require special handling or dry cleaning. Though they may look nice, the additional cost of laundering isn’t worth it.
  • Ditch the dryer. If you have the space, put up a clothes line. Not only will getting rid of your clothes dryer save you money, it will help your clothes last longer.
  • Use up your gift cards. If you were gifted any store gift cards, make use of them by using them to replenish your family’s clothes. Got one for a store you’re never going to shop at? Swap or sell it! Look on sites like plasticjungle.com or cardpool.com to sell or exchange your unwanted gift cards for one that you can use.
  • Have patience. If you see an item that you absolutely need to have, wait awhile to buy it. After an item stays in store for a month or so, retailers will usually drop the price and place it in clearance. Waiting 6-8 weeks after an item is introduced in a store can score you a great discount.

Food

The bigger your family, the more you will have to spend on food. Luckily, there are many ways to save in this department as well.

  • Stop eating out. Purchasing a ready cooked meal or take out for a family of four can cost you over $20. On the other hand, you can easily make a home cooked meal for about $5, and have left overs for the next day.
  • Pack lunch. Pack a home lunch for anyone who eats outside of the home.
  • Shop your pantry. Instead of going out and buying more groceries, check your pantry and freezer and make a meal out of what you find. Use sites like supercook.com and recipematcher.com to help you come up with a meal using the ingredients you have on hand.
  • Buy in bulk. More packing material means more costs. Purchase family packs of meat or poultry. Buy blocks of cheese by the pound and slice and grate it on your own. Purchase frozen juice and add water rather than buying cartons.
  • Double your recipes. When you cook a meal, double everything and freeze half. You will save money by buying in bulk, and you will save yourself time by stocking your freezer with meals that simply need to be defrosted.
  • Store ingredients. If you buy food or ingredients that you can’t use right away, freeze or can any extra. It will save you from throwing out food that has gone bad, which saves you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Shop farmer’s markets. Local farmer’s markets typically have the best prices on fresh, in-season produce.
  • Buy a membership. If you have a warehouse superstore near you, consider buying a membership. Better yet, split the membership fee with someone and shop together!
  • Buy generic. Many grocery stores have their own store brands that are identical in quality to name brand items, but for a fraction of the price.
  • Buy less meat. Have one day a week where you go meatless. Substitute tofu or beans for your source of protein.
  • Buy lower-priced cuts of meat. Instead of buying the best and highest-priced meat, buy a lower-priced cut and tenderize or marinate it.
  • Make everything homemade. Bread, butter, yogurt, jam and sauces can all be made at home for much less than it costs to buy it commercially.

Entertainment

  • Eat early. Take advantage of early-bird specials and happy hour deals at bars and restaurants.
  • Drink at a friend’s home. Instead of having a night out with your friends, have a night in. Buy a bottle of your favorite alcohol and some mixers, and have a great night at someone’s home.
  • Throw a potluck. Instead of planning the party and supplying all the food, invite your friends over and ask everyone to bring their favorite dish.
  • Buy the pass. If you frequent a certain park or children’s center, purchase the season or annual pass instead of paying admission each visit.
  • Avoid peak seasons. For major theme parks, avoid the business times of the year. Prices will be heightened and you will run into larger crowds.
  • Volunteer. If you like the theater or festivals, volunteer to work as event staff for local events. You will have to work the event, but you get free admission.
  • Attend dress rehearsals. Here is another idea for the theater fanatic in the family. Ask your local theater if you they sell tickets to the dress rehearsals. It will be cheaper (or maybe even free!) and you get to see the same show.
  • Visit the library. If you love books, a library card is your best friend. In most libraries, the card is either free of close to it, and you can borrow as many books for you and your kids as you want.
  • Rent movies from the library, too! Most libraries have DVDs available to rent for about a buck each. Instead of paying for the new releases, wait a little while you can rent them from the library for MUCH cheaper.
  • Swap books. If you grow tired of the library or have a ton of books lying around, join an online book-swapping club. You get to swap books with other avid readers for the cost of postage.
  • Take advantage of discounts and free hours. Plan your trip to the museum during the discounted season or during free business hours.
  • Listen to tunes for free. If you love music, you don’t need to shell out hundreds a year for a Sirius subscription. Instead, use an online radio provider such as Songza or Pandora. They allow you to create playlists and save music, and they are both absolutely free.
  • Skip the gym. Instead, work out at home by jumping rope, running, cycling and lifting weights. A set of dumbbells shouldn’t cost you a ton, and you will save money over the pricey gym membership.
  • Check discount sites. Online sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are great for finding great deals on local sites, shops and restaurants.

Auto

  • Keep your tires inflated. When you tires are low on air, it takes more power to move your car, thus using up more gasoline.
  • Have your car maintained. Keeping up with your routine maintenance can help prevent major problems.
  • Lighten the load in your trunk. Excess weight can increase your gas mileage. Take out anything that you do not need.
  • Drive a little slower. If you have a lead foot, you are using up gas faster than you should be. Braking too hard also eats up extra gas. Easing up on the pedals will help increase your gas mileage.
  • Look for lower prices. Check your local AAA page for the lowest gas prices near you.
  • Walk it. If you are going somewhere within a mile of your home, skip the car and just walk it.
  • Carpool. If you have after school events to tote your kids to and from, consider asking other parents who live nearby if they want to take turns hauling all the kids.
  • Buy used. When you absolutely need to replace a car, buy used. Just make sure you check the history report of the car first.
  • Increase your insurance deductible. If you rarely get into an accident, consider increasing your auto insurance deductible. In the rare event you do cause an accident, you will have to pay more, but your annual insurance payments will be lower.

Baby and Kid Stuff

  • Take hand me downs. Kids go through clothes very quickly. Forget buying a whole bunch of new clothes; instead, ask your friends and family members if they have any old clothes you can take off their hands.
  • Shop second hand. Thrift shops, consignment stores and yard sales are a gold mine for baby clothes. Since babies outgrown them so fast, you can often find items that are barely used, or even brand new.
  • Breastfeed. Enough said.
  • Use cloth. Long are the days where cloth diapers are limited to big pieces of cotton that need to be folded and pinned. Today, cloth diapers are fashioned to look just like disposables, completely waterproofed and Velcro on for fast changing.
  • Use coupons. Don’t want to do cloth? Use coupons on disposable diapers. Not breastfeeding? You can find coupons for formula as well. Sign up for company mailing lists-they often send samples and coupons through the mail.
  • Buy generic. Both diapers and formula come in store brands, for a fraction of the price of name brand. If you’re concerned about the quality of store brand formula, don’t be. All baby formula must pass the same health standards.
  • Make baby food. When it’s time for your baby to start solid food, skip the jarred food and make your own. It’s cheaper, better for your baby and better for the environment.
  • Buy in bulk. Like food, buying your formula and diapers from bulk warehouse stores can save you money. Some membership clubs even have their own brands that will save you even more.
  • Be smart with your registry. If you are registering for your baby shower, be practical when you choose your items. Pick things you are going to need, rather than things you want.
  • Skip the pricey furniture. Despite what your local baby store seems to think, you do not NEED that dresser changing table combo. If you do need a dresser for your little one, shop thrift stores or even Craigslist. You can easily buy a changing pad and place it on top for an instant changing table.
  • Buy fewer toys. Babies don’t really need that many toys. In fact, your little one will be perfectly happy playing with safe household items.

Home Repairs

  • DIY. With online gems such as YouTube, you can quickly learn to do some basic home repairs on your own.
  • Shop sales. Before buying home repair supplies, take a look at the weekly circulars. Compare prices between a few stores, and even online.
  • Look for rebates. If you are purchasing all the materials yourself, check the manufacturer’s website to see if they offer any rebates on supplies.
  • Buy salvaged materials. If you have a salvage yard in your area, try to find material there. It will be much cheaper than buying brand new, and you may find new ideas you never even thought of.
  • Be flexible. If you are hiring a contractor to work on your next project, ask him when he has a wide open hole in his work schedule. Ask if he would give you a discount if you booked during that time.
  • Negotiate. You can do some negotiating when it comes to hiring contractors. Get price quotes from a few reputable contractors, and then talk to each about discounts if you hire them.
  • Don’t pick the lowest bidder. Although you want to save as much money as possible, avoid going with the guy who quotes you a substantially low price. The last thing you want to do is hire someone who is inexperienced, and end up having to find someone else to fix the shoddy work.
  • Check for tax credits. If you have to do a big home overhaul, check the IRS website or with your account to see if your remodel qualifies for a tax credit or deduction.