Eleven Ways To Save Money Every Month

If you are trying to pay off debt, save for a down payment on a home, or build wealth in general, one of the most important things to do is trim your monthly budget as much as possible. Unfortunately, that usually comes with great sacrifice, but not always. Here are a few ways to save money every month without a lot of effort.

How to Save Money Every Month

1. Shop for cheaper car insurance using online tools such as Esurance.com (free quotes available). We saved quite a bit just by switching carriers. If you have a solid emergency fund in place to easily cover deductibles, it might make sense to increase those deductibles on your auto insurance policy.  Raising deductibles from $250 to $1,000 can save you a few hundred dollars on insurance–just be sure you can afford that $1,000 in the event something bad happens.

2. Consider dropping home telephone service. Just about the only people who call us these days are telemarketers. Most friends and family have cell phones and those that are “in network” can talk to us for free for an unlimited amount of time.  Even if you don’t cancel your home telephone service, you can probably save some by cutting back on extras like call waiting, caller ID, etc.  Since you are not using the land-line that much, you won’t miss the features.

3. Cut cell phone service down to minimum. Talk to your current provider about reducing your monthly minutes, or eliminating features you just don’t use that often. We recently asked our cell phone provider to tell us the average paid minutes we used over the last six months and discovered it was well below the next smallest plan from our current arrangement. Dropping plans shaved $20 a month off our cell phone bill.

4. Transfer high-interest debt to a zero (or low) interest card.  By reducing your interest rate you will pay less interest to creditors each month, and make more of a dent in outstanding balances as you pay them off.

5. Run your ceiling fans in the winter. I know, it sounds crazy. By changing the blade direction on your ceiling fan to create an updraft, you can help recycle heat throughout a drafty room. Most fan models have a switch on the base of the unit that allows you to change direction.

6. Use microwaves in the summer, and ovens in the winter.  During the dog days of summer, cranking up an oven can put an air conditioning system into overdrive.  However, in the winter the warmth of an oven can lessen the load of your heating system.  Your monthly utility bill will thank you.

7. Reduce the temperature setting on your hot water heater.  This one does require a little effort, especially if your water heater is in an out-of-the-way place.  Set the temperature to around 120 degrees.  You can count on about a 5 percent reduction on energy bills for each 10 degrees you drop the water.  While you are at it, consider a thermal blanket to insulate your water heater, particularly if it is stored in an uninsulated location that gets cold in the winter (garage, utility room, etc.).

 8. Switch to generic prescriptions. Talk to your health care provider about switching to generic prescriptions, and be sure to check out places like Walmart and other grocery store pharmacies that now offer 30-day supplies of many popular generic prescription medicines for only a few dollars a month.

9. Disconnect electronic devices when not in use.The easiest way to do this is to plug devices into a single power strip and then unplugging the power strip when the items are not in use.  Electronic items continue to pull small amounts of power continuously even when powered down (this phenomenon is often referred to as “vampire power,” probably because it is sucking the life out of your finances!

10. Improve your car’s gas mileage by replacing the air filter.  I know I said these would be effortless, but this one is so easy you can do it in less than five minutes.  Stop by a parts store and ask for a new air filter.  They will need to know your vehicle’s make, model, year and maybe the engine size (six-cylinder, eight-cylinder, etc.).  All this information should be listed in your owner’s manual, or on the inside of your driver’s side door panel.  Following the directions in your owner’s manual, which include locating the filter’s housing, removing a few screws, and swapping out filters, only take a few minutes of time.

11. Use a drying rack for heavy linens. If you aren’t up for hanging a clothesline (or your neighborhood frowns on their use), consider buying  a simple drying rack to hang heavy towels and jeans over.  When the clothes are nearly dry, toss them in the dryer for a couple minutes with a fabric softening pad to freshen them up a bit and remove most of the wrinkles.

Learning how to save money every month doesn’t have to be a chore, and in most cases requires very little (if any) investment up front. Give a few of these ideas a try, and feel free to add a few of your own ideas in the comments below.

Are you thinking of saving in a more long-term fashion? It may help to speak to a wealth management firm, who will work to understand your goals and help you lay out a plan.

Comments

  1. The switch to generic medicine is a big one. Specifically over the counter drugs. You can buy the CVS brand for a lot less than Tylenol and it does the exact same thing. On prescription drugs I’m sure there is a huge price difference as well, but I know you have to see which generic brands your insurance covers. Hopefully it’s the ones you need.

    Craig
    http://www.budgetpulse.com

    • I’m a HUGE believer in generics, store brands, etc. However, I did have a really bad experience with a generic asthma drug a number of years ago. I was a “frequent flyer” at the local emergency room, and on vacation made 2 trips to the ER in one night because of asthma. My blood level of the medication would always be subtherapeutic. We happened to move to another state and my meds were changed then, and the entire picture changed. Several years after that, I was conversing with a doctor, and I asked him, “My doctor got copies of the ER reports every time I was there. Why didn’t he pick up on that?” The reply: “He probably assumed you weren’t taking your medication.” So I would just advise caution; if you aren’t doing well on a generic, discuss it with your doctor.

  2. I keep a box fan going on my woodstove in the winter – sure keeps the heat circulating around the corners of the house instead of just being stuck in the living room.

    If you hang your items to dry in the same room as the fan, you’ll get double duty out of the fan running :)

    I can’t drop my landline as it is required for the cable for the internet – so they ding me even tho I didn’t want the phone – which is basic, no features, and no LD. However, before losing the landline, consider what it would be like if the cell phone towers go out… a real possibility. We were without cell phones here for 7 days last winter – a land line was the only connection – internet was out also. Your loved ones might want to be able to check on you, or you on them, and if the cell towers and internet are both out, or even if you needed to cal 911, a landline will come in handy for emergencies. One bad storm, and poof go the cell phones!

    Remember to make a paper copy of that credit card bill so you will have that important piece of paper to send with the check so it gets credited right…unless you are paying online :)

  3. These are pretty good tips. We can’t eliminate the land line, because we are in a dead zone for cell service. We recently added caller ID, and it’s been awesome – now we know if the caller is “unknown name”, one of our alma maters, etc. so we don’t pick up. We only have a pay-as-you-go cell.

    Our electrical bill recently went up because we bought a mini-freezer. We can’t really do much about the vampire power. Our oven needs to remain plugged in. The microwave plug is behind the fridge. The DVR has to be plugged in or it won’t connect, and the clocks…well, that’s an obvious one. But our electric bill is pretty low.

  4. The list is great and shows how a few simple changes can add up to plenty saved.

    The biggest change we made in our budget was to start cooking and eating at home. We make a little extra at dinner so my wife and I have food leftover for lunch the next day. This has trimmed hundreds off of our budget.

  5. i agree that a landline is a good thing to have IF you have children (our 4th grader is home alone a lot and unlike his friends does not have a cell phone) for emergencies. We have a landline with no long distance – cutting out the long distance carrier has really saved on our bill.

    Another way to save is to drop your cable service down to the “limited basic” package. We pay less than $15 a month for cable and have plenty of channels.

    An additional way to save money: Invest in cloth napkins. Walmart, Target, Kmart always have seasonal ones on sale (brown ones now as fall decor is “out” – look for red and green ones really cheap come January). We have a family of 5 and have invested $30 in 20 cloth napkins. Because we’re doing on average 1 load of laundry per day, we add them to the wash and rarely find ourselves without clean ones for the next meal. Considering we were buying 1 pack of throwaway napkins per week (my kids are messy) we are saving money and our sanity because we no longer are without napkins on BBQ night.

  6. These are great tips and I use pretty much all of them. I love my indoors clothesline. I have a long utility room and ran a chain the length of the room from hooks. I can hang jeans, comforters, and jackets. I also will hang towels.

  7. Increase your tire pressure a hair, too. It can shave 10% off your gas mileage. There are 2 pressures advertised for your vehicle– the one in the owner’s manual which is the manufacturer’s recommendation for the smoothest, quietest ride; and the one on the side of the tire for the highest safe pressure for the tire according to the tire manufacturer. Try upping your tires as close to that number while still feeling like you have good control of your car. Check out the USDoT guidelines for increasing gas mileage. They even say so.

  8. Those are some nifty ides. The ceiling fan was particularly creative; I’d never heard of that one before. It’s amazing how much we can do to save money. Last week it was reported that the U.S. wastes $42 billion a year in food. Sometimes I think my family accounts for $5 billion of it!

  9. Prepaid cell phone plans work well up to 300 minutes/month (over that amount, contract plans are usually cheaper)

    e.g., $100 for 1000 minutes on T-mobile prepaid.
    (check your local area for which carriers have good coverage)

    Basic cable here (channels 2-16) is $9/month.

    A large chest freezer (15 cubic feet) costs only about $40/year in electricity (1 kWh/day), are widely available used (mine cost $25), and will save on food costs.

    • I pay $48.94 per month for unlimited minutes, talk, text and I think the internet is included (I don’t use it.) But if it’s even just for talk and text it’s a good price.

  10. Jason,

    It’s been a while since I’ve been here and it’s great to see how much your blog has grown!

    And this is a great post. Simple things that can be done easily. What’s not to like?

    Thanks!

  11. Adjusting your insurance premiums is a good idea, but actually run the numbers to see what it looks like. I had my deductible at $1000 on both my cars for years, thinking it was saving me big bucks. When I actually checked the money involved, reducing the deductible to $500 only cost me about $30 a year (for both cars). I was very happy when I got in an accident earlier this month and my deductible made a dent in my emergency fund instead of wiping it out.

  12. For those not comfortable chucking the landline, try going with an internet phone provider such as Vonage or Skype. I use Vonage and you get free long distance, caller ID, etc. for the same amount as a basic landline in my area. Vonage does 911, not sure about Skype… The free long distance prompted me to use the landline more and allowed me to bump my cell phone plan down.

  13. Most of these suggestions are very good, but the one about splitting your credit card payment seems a little weak.

    Reducing your average daily balance by $50 for half your billing cycle, or $25 a month, might save $5 a year on interest (assuming you aren’t paying postage to mail in the payment), but the first and foremost goal for dealing with credit cards is to get all past balances paid off ASAP and then pay them off in full each month. (Avoid closing accounts, though, as this could negatively affect your credit score.)

    When you pay in full each month, you are charged no interest at all regardless of your average daily balance. Also, it boosts your credit score a lot, which translates into substantial savings on most auto and home insurance policies because premiums are set based in part on credit scores.

    (I get a 30% discount on my car insurance because of high credit scores – $400 a year in savings.)

    If I were using my credit cards for things I can’t afford to pay for this month, then I would go back to my budget and figure out where I made my mistake. Even “extraordinary” expenses like car repairs, vacation travel, etc., can and should be estimated and saved for rather than put on credit cards.

    I’m not one of those people who hate credit cards; they are a great convenience, and I charge pretty much all my monthly expenses because it’s a great way to keep track of them – but then I pay it all off each month. I get either cash-back or free airline tickets on mine, but I haven’t paid interest on a credit card in years, and the savings is huge. This IS doable, and the sooner you do it, the happier (and more free) you’ll be.

  14. I will second that all you need to hang a clothesline indoors is a ropee. This is how I dry my clothes (and damp bathroom towels after showers) year-round. If you have a straight line between two doorways, just wrap the line around one hinge and stretch it over to the next hinge and tie it there. you can use a trucker’s hitch to fasten the line back to itself and cinch the line tight. google it if you don’t know how.

    Or just put two hooks in studs somewhere that works for you. it takes about one minute to string the line when you are getting ready to use it, and one minute to take it down. No need to bother with special equipment, pulleys, etc.

  15. Regarding credit cards – a suggestion I read a while back (sorry, I can’t give credit as I don’t remember who wrote it) was to sign up for free web bill pay on your credit card. Then, if your intention is to pay $150 that month, log on and pay $5 every single day. Not only are you going to reduce the interest costs by dragging down the average daily balance faster, but you are more likely to make that $150 for the month, rather than letting it slide down to $50 minimum because something else came up that cost $100. Also, if you do the $5 a day, and still find you can afford the $150 you intended to pay, then pay that as well. It shows that most of us really wouldn’t miss $5 a day.

  16. I am finally going to try that ceiling fan idea, its just seemed so backwards for so long.

    Get one of those plastic boxes that you can vent your dryer into, it has water in the bottom that catches the lint. In Colorado we are extremely dry in the summer and by using the humidity from that it really warms up the house with heat we were previously venting.

    Get yourself into the habit of planning your dinner at least in the morning, defrosting food in the microwave is a complete waste.

    60 degrees during the day, 65 at night on the thermostat. Don’t let your house get too cold, do not warm it up too much.

    Open the drapes during sunny days in the winter. Close them at night.

    Cut netflix go with Redbox. Get rid of cable entirely. Get videos from the library. The Internet has a ton of television shows on it, with fewer commercials.

    Don’t order pizza, doctor up a frozen pizza.

    Do not let your dishwasher dry your dishes, open it up after the rinse cycle. More humidity, no electricity used.

    Low flow shower heads not only save water, they save HOT water. Turn your hot water themostat down to a level where you don’t even need the cold water handle in the shower, the hot one alone is the pefect temperature.

    DO NOT OVER INFLATE YOUR TIRES. 1) The inside of your tire heats up when its moving, you blew it to 42 psi cold, its now at 50 psi at 60 mph, blow out. You will also wear out your tires much quicker. Maintaining a constant speed is much better for fuel mileage than wearing out your tires, not to mention traction when roads are wet.

    Your computer might need more memory instead of you needing a new computer.

    Board games under really underrated.

    Outside Christmas decorations are fun to look at, but put them on a timer.

    Trees are on sale right now, consider buying some and planting them for future shade for the summer months.

    Your emergency fund is for emergencies, consider a deductible fund as well.

    If you are really, really bad with money consider having your paycheck deposited into a friend or family member’s account, have them do the budgeting for you and give you an allowance.

    Check your credit report.

    If it embarrasses you to ask your neighbors for work in their yards then go a couple of neighborhoods over and ask them if they will pay you to rake their leaves or shovel their walk.

    Electric space heaters are underrated, consider turning the rest of your temp down and moving the space heater to the run you are going to be in.

    Best of luck to everyone.

  17. I’m new to this particular site but I really like what I’ve read so far. Just changed the direction of the ceiling fans last nite because we are utilizing our fireplace now and the updraft of the fan helps circulate the warm air. Haven’t had to turn the thermostat up above 68 for the last few nights. (But you’re right about cleaning them 1st-makes a terrible dust-bunny mess on the ceiling!!). Another idea: cook on a grill as often as possible in the summer-won’t heat up the kitchen at all, and in the winter I leave the oven door open aft. cooking so the heat circulates throughout the house. Also, I have a “sleep mode” on my computer which saves apx. 90% of energy than leaving it on all the time. (Tried turning it off at night but the kids complained I was logging off their programs and losing their informatin. Also, make sure all the cracks around windows and doors are sealed and I use a lot of draft dodgers for under the doors-they really help a lot! Got rid of the home phone a while back-that saves apx. $35.00 a mon. Got rid of all the credit cards & now I only use pre-paid debit cards. A monthly service charge of $4.95 sure beats 24% APR and you never go over budget that way. Also, cut back on cable television as much as possible. Cut out all the channels you don’t watch so often and play more interactive games with the kids. Also, open all the shades on the South side of the house to use solar heat as much as possible.

  18. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the latte factor yet. More often than not its vices like the daily coffee or little services like Netflix that add-up to a budget breaker. These eleven suggestions are great, but don’t forget that if you can master the urge to spend frivolously, it can be the best way to effortlessly save.

  19. for those worried about disconnecting landline service due to not being able to call 911 – if the line physically goes into the house you can dial 911. it’s the law EVERYWHERE in the US as far as i have been able to tell. i recently lived at a place where the landline had been physically cut during a neighbor’s landscaping and since i wasn’t paying for a landline i couldn’t get it reconnected… but i haven’t had a landline in over a decade and always keep a cheap phone plugged in to the disconnected line to be able to dial 911. if you pick up a phone on a disconnected line you will hear a weird tone that is unlike a dial tone. it’s proof that the line is physically connected and you can dial 911.

  20. Thank you for the insurance deductible suggestion.

    My car insurance is due for renewal early in January 09. I’ll increase the deductible and see how the savings is like.

    I have previously never thought about “savings” this way, but why waste. After all, my wife and I are careful drivers.

  21. To expand on Tip #8 – purchase health and personal care products directly from the *manufacturer* to help lower your health care spending during this recession period. One NY-based healthcare manufacturer, Geritrex, produces many generic comparables and generic equivalents of brand name skincare items. Their offerings are just as effective as name brand counterparts –such as Cetaphil®, Lac-Hydrin®, BenGay®, Aspercreame®, Vicks® VapoRub®, Mineral Ice®, Alpha Keri® Moisture Rich Oil, Eucerin®, Aquaphor® and Lubriderm® – but are sold for a fraction for a price. Check out their Web site for more information – http://www.geritrex.com.

  22. When it comes to savings, prepaid cell phone companies offer consumers real savings without loosing anything in terms of product. I was paying more than $110 a month with AT&T before I switched over to Net10 prepaid and I am keeping more than $70 in my pocket every month. Over the next two years, I have the potential of saving more than $1,600 over AT&T’s contract service. No contract means I don’t have to worry about purchasing a phone every year or extra fees attached to my bills – the savings are huge on every front. Not to mention, I can easily find Net10 at Target or Walmart while I’m doing my shopping. Net10 is great for one person or for families – its an all around great buy.

  23. A great way to save monthly is cut down on your monthly bills! I refinanced my car a few months and have saved $75 a month! I read a blog post on AOL’s walletpop the other day about a company called MoneyAisle. It does the online research for the consumer and has banks bid on us online, where we receive the top 3 rates to choose from for new/used auto loans and refinancing. I went through the process and ended up saving $75 a month on my payment, which basically pays off my insurance. Right now the search process for the best rates is such a pain and dealers try to get the best dollar amount, so this is a super awesome tool. I def suggest taking a stab at going through the process, you will be shocked when you see what you get as a rate compared to what you are currently paying or what you are given by other banks/dealers. Hope this helps!

  24. I try not to worry about money too much, but sometimes I find myself in a position where I’m asking myself what I can do to improve my life? Money always seems to be one of the top answers in my head, it creates stability, comfort, peace of mind. but the one thing that makes me worry is getting too comfortable with my expenses and my cash flow. Sometimes when I have enough money to survive for a while, I tend to get way too comfortable and I find myself months down the line worrying about making more money to get back into my comfort zone.

    It’s good to stay on the ball, and I agree with putting the energy into making money instead of worrying about it.

    Please come check out my blog and let me know what you think.

    http://www.wealthvest.com/blog/

  25. Be careful paying credit cards every 2 weeks. I used to do that, and ended up with a late fee because of the date the cycle ended. They reversed the fee luckily, but I started paying the minimum every two weeks(doubling the payments) and I am now debt free!

    About land line phones and 911: check with your local services, some can locate a cell caller. Otherwise, your landline phone should be able to call 911 whether you have phone service or not. Be sure to find out before you change any phone service.

    Great article, I love your site!

  26. I particulary like number 5. Our apartment tends to have warm areas and cool areas when we have the heat running. Awesome tip, I am going to give it a shot.

  27. These are really good tips. There is another deep aspect of money, tho, which is the reality that, no matter how smart we are about spending, there is no getting around the need to control our level of consuming. The Quizzle blog has a regular column about the psychology of money and happiness that can really help people with this layer of personal finance.

  28. I never really cared for a cell phone but my second cousin gave me one . I rarely use it . I pay about $ 50.00 dollars a year in order to keep it active . The only time I use it is when I travel long distances . Do not give my cell phone number out to friends. I see people driving , in restaurants , supermarkets talking endless nonsense NON STOP . Whenever someone wants to call me and i am not at home , they can leave a message and I will return the call when I get home . Mental midgets talk endlessly and still have little of value to say.

  29. Elec Water Heater! I always turn mine off after our nightly shower and turn it on right before our shower the next day. Saves me almost $35-$40 a month off the electric bill. Basically nothing uses hot water in the house. Dishwasher uses cold water but has heating coil so works for me. I unplug everything since the severe storms just killed my new microwave. Storms not good for all the electric appliances now that they are digital and LED. Ann

  30. I like your tips for saving money,This money saving related articles are very useful to us because now a days expensive is more for maintenance,this type of articles are useful to our best.

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