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.