There are two ways to have more money... earn more or save more. Earning more money is often times harder to control and not always in our hands. Learning how to save money each month, though, is something each of us can work towards in our daily lives.
We've compiled a comprehensive list of 76 easy things you can do right now to save money each month. Some of the items are very simple to do and will put money back into your pocket immediately.
We've broken the list up into sections, so feel free to skip ahead to the areas that interest you the most. Good luck, and let us know how you're saving money every month!
Knowing where to start saving money every month can seem overwhelming to get started on. However, it all starts with a shift in your mindset. Acknowledging that you need to put focus on it is just the beginning.
The best products often aren't the most expensive. For example, in our review of the top rated stick vacuum with a cord on the market, our recommendation is 3X cheaper than the most expensive stick vacuum. Learning how to find value will save you a lot of money.
Know that it is a journey. You'll get better and better every month, and before long, saving money will come much more naturally to you.
Setting goals has a proven positive psychological effect. Furthermore, without goals, you won’t know what you are shooting for.
If you want to know how to save money every month, you need to start by setting a goal. Just saying “I want to learn how to save money each month” won’t get you any closer to actually doing so.
Start by determining an amount of money you want to save each month. Or, perhaps it would easier to go with a percentage, such as cutting back on 10% of monthly spending.
Once you have a specific goal, put together a plan of how you’re going to attach and (ultimately) achieve it. You’ll find 75+ ideas in this article to save money every month, and many are simple to put into action today.
Lastly, determine how you’re going to track how you’re doing. There is a lot of software that will do it automatically and semi-automatically. It also helps to have an accountability partner or friend to meet with and ask you the tough questions.
How to save money each month starts with a goal and plan to achieve that goal. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it is entirely necessary.
Budgets are never fun to put together, but they are entirely necessary if you want to get your spending on track. Budgets don’t have to be all gloom and doom though.
Use an automated budget tracker like Mint.com to help you create and follow your budget. It takes a lot of the legwork out of tracking your spending, and makes sticking to your budget a lot easier.
Services like Mint allow you to set up budgets for each category, and notifications when you are coming close to your monthly total. Want to know how to save money at the grocery store? Set a monthly grocery budget in Mint, and the software will notify you when you are close to going over your budget.
Mint harnesses technology to make sticking to a budget simpler and less of a headache. It is relatively simple to set up, and will help you stay on track with saving money every month.
Obviously, it goes without saying, but the rubber meets the road when you follow your budget and stick to it. Perhaps its easiest for you to save money by settling for alternative purchases or lower priced options, like a cheaper vacuum cleaner instead of an expensive one.
Yes, this can be an uncomfortable topic for many. But, if you don’t at least try, you’re leaving valuable money on the table.
Perhaps it would be best to not call this “negotiate”, but instead change it to “ask.” Start by calling all of the companies you do business with, and ask them if they have any better pricing options available.
Some notables to call include your insurance providers for your home, car, and life. Also include utilities, internet, phone, and even some of your monthly subscriptions like the newspaper.
Next, when you are purchasing something new, ask the same question. You can often get a better deal just by asking.
An interesting service to try is Trim, which will negotiate your bill down for you, and pass along those savings.
Using a credit card for the bulk of your purchases can save you money each and every month, if you pay off the bill every time it arrives.
Opt for a credit card that doesn’t charge a yearly service fee. Often times, credit card companies will offer large bonuses, but include a service fee. Unless you are sure that you will use the card enough to maximize the benefits, the service fee might end up costing more than the benefits are worth.
Instead, opt for a free credit card that gives you cash back. Typically, there are a few available without a yearly fee, and you can earn 1%-2% back on your purchases. While not a lot, it adds up quickly.
A lot of banks sneak hidden fees into their services. And, if you’re not paying attention, they can chip away at your savings.
Often times, banks will charge a monthly fee for a bank account that doesn’t keep a minimum balance amount. And, it can get tricky… the fee usually gets triggered if the balance drops below this minimum at any point during the month.
So, you can keep a healthy balance throughout the month, but drop below for a day or two before a paycheck hits… and you’ll get charged with the fee.
The same situations can apply to your savings account and any other accounts you have with your bank. ATM fees are another annoying fee that can really add up.
Talk to your bank about the fees they charge, and make sure you thoroughly understand them. Ask if there is any way you can get out of them. They might have a package or suite of products available that make it so that you can avoid these fees.
And, be mindful of the triggers, and try to avoid them.
If you’re up for the work, looking around at what other banks offer is not a bad idea. Often times, a local credit union can offer much more attractive packages and fee structures. Besides, banks and credit unions will often offer nice up front bonuses for moving your money over!
If you are more of an impulse purchaser, try instituting a rule that you can’t make a larger purchase without waiting for a period of time. Otherwise known as a “cooling off period”, this will allow you to evaluate how badly you truly need it.
For example, set a rule that any purchase over $100 requires you to wait 5 days from when you decide you want to buy it. As ridiculous as it can sound, giving yourself this time allows you to evaluate how much you really need it.
After 5 days (in this case), your emotional attachment to the product might have subdued, and you can evaluate the purchase more objectively.
Putting something like this in place helps to stop you from spending money unnecessarily.
Make sure to read this one carefully… borrowing instead of buying is a great option when you are only going to use it a few times. When this is the case, borrowing will save you a tremendous amount of money.
For example, lets say you’re doing a home remodeling project, and you need a specific tool to accomplish the task. It’s a tool that you can’t imagine having a use for after this project is done with.
You need the tool, no doubt. But instead of running to your closest Home Depot, try borrowing the tool from a friend or neighbor.
You’ve saved the money of having to buy the new product, and you don’t have to store it or figure out how to get rid of it when you’re done with the project. And, you can show some neighborly love and buy your friend a six pack as a thank you.
Having an emergency fund might seem a little antiquated, but it can actually keep you out of a world of financial trouble when you need it.
Lets say that you have an unexpected car repair. Without an emergency fund, you’ll have to finance the repair on a credit card, and then start paying 20+% interest. The unexpected car repair will end up costing you a lot of money in the end, once you factor in all of the interest you have to pay for the credit card charges.
Instead, lets say you have an emergency fund. While it’s a bummer to have to tap into it, you can use the money to make the car repair right away, and not have to pay any of the exorbitant credit card interest rates. That savings can go right back into replenishing your emergency fund.
A good emergency fund should have at least two weeks of your take home pay, as a minimum. A better sized emergency fund is 3-6 months of expenses. This is the type of emergency fund that can see you through a job loss or health scare.
Rebates are used by companies and the government to encourage purchases of a certain product or brand. In essence, they are free money.
While you might not want to let a rebate influence your purchasing decision, you definitely want to be on the look out for rebates that are available on the products you are buying.
Here’s a recent example – the decision had already been made to upgrade to a smart thermostat in our household, and we selected a brand that we had researched and trusted. As it turns out, our local energy company was offering rebates for smart technology purchases. A quick application resulted in $200 of savings via rebates.
Sometimes rebates can be difficult and cumbersome to apply for, and this is always a bummer. However, some companies have made it really easy to apply and get your money. Newer technology such as making your home smart makes it easier to get your rebate.
Do a quick scan on the internet to see if there any rebates available for products you just bought, and pay attention as you make future purchases.
One of the best ways to save money is to keep up and maintain what you already own. Whether it is your home, car, or other possessions, taking good care of what you already own will extend their life and delay future expenses.
If you own a home, then you have so many areas you can focus on maintaining. Home improvement projects can be fun while simultaneously raising the value of your home, not to mention make big ticket items last longer. Having a high quality home security system that you are able to monitor also ensures that you won't have to pay sudden damage costs in the event of fire or intrusion.
Beyond that, though, set up a system to maintain what you already have at home. Weekly chores will keep the dust and dirt at bay, and setting up a schedule for the cleaning will keep everyone on track.
Its also great to involve your kids around the house. It can be difficult to keep the home clean with full time jobs and busy schedules, but there is a variety of technology and apps to keep you organized.
On the flip side, employing a home cleaner is expensive. Save money by keeping your possessions clean and maintained, and you won't have to constantly invest in new items.
Starting a business has a multitude of financial benefits. The obvious one is that it can allow you to make additional money. And, making more money is just as good as saving more money.
However, since this is an article about saving money, its important to highlight that starting a business can save you a lot of money. Businesses come with expenses and write-offs, which can lower your taxes significantly.
Depending on the type of business you start, you might be able to start writing off purchases as business expenses that you are already making anyways. We’re not talking about creating a tax shelter here – we’re talking about a legitimate business.
As an example, lets say you enjoy woodworking, and purchase woodworking tools and supplies regularly. You could start a small side business that sells woodworking plans online. Now, your purchases become a writeoff, because they contribute to the business.
Talk with a tax professional to get an assessment of your exact situation, but know that the possibility is there for you.
We all spend a lot of money, month in and month out, to live and support our lifestyle. What if we could save a little bit of money each and every month on the things we bought? You would be surprised how much money is available with a few simple tweaks to your purchasing habits.
Lets be clear – there are certain things you should probably not buy the generic brand of. However, there are a lot of products that you can buy the generic brand of, and save a lot of money in the process.
Where that line is drawn is entirely up to you. The best way to approach it is to determine what you feel is entirely necessary to have a brand name for. Perhaps it is because you prefer the flavor of Coke vs that of a generic cola.
Another way to approach it is to evaluate from a trust factor. A lot of people prefer to buy name brand medicines, because they feel that they can trust the brand more on something that is very important to be accurate about.
In the end, a simple rule of thumb you can start following is that, if you don’t really have a specific reason to buy the brand name, try purchasing the generic brand. You'll find you can save a lot of money, especially if you don't have a brand preference. For example, you would be amazed at some of the great options on our list of vacuums for under $100.
Generic brands can often be 20-40% lower in price than name brands, so the savings you stack up could end up being pretty significant.
Ebates, or similar services, offer cash back for purchases. It is similar to a coupon, but differs in application. Ebates is the most popular but there are many cash back sites available.
This is best used for purchases you were already going to make. But, since you were already going to make the purchase, you might as well get a little bit of cash back.
And, it’s incredibly simple to use. Sign up and you’re off to the races.
This should not be misused to purchase additional products you weren’t planning on buying in the first place.
Cutting coupons doesn’t elicit the most amazing of visions, but it is still entirely relevant, and a wonderful way to save money. How to save money with coupons starts with creating a simple system.
Some people plan all of their meals each week around what is on sale and has coupons offered. If you’re one of the few that can stomach this much work and commitment, you’ll save a lot of money.
However, a simple easy version of that is to set aside time each week before you shop to scan the weekly flyer from your grocery store of choice. Go online and search for coupons for the week from the same store. And, if you see anything that is appealing or that you were already planning on buying, use the coupon.
Using coupons doesn’t necessarily have to be a tremendous time investment. But, even used sparingly, it can cut down on your grocery bill every week. When you're looking at how to save money grocery shopping, cutting coupons is an easy place to start.
Gas is a commodity that you should be paying as little as possible for. And, you’ll find that the savings can really add up.
The easiest way to do this is find the cheapest gas station in your neighborhood, and start making a habit out of filling up there. Do your research, and track prices – make sure that they are consistently the cheapest.
If you’re out and about, use an app like Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gas station nearby.
The average American drives 10,000 miles each year. At 25 miles/gallon, a $0.25 savings per gallon will save you $100 each year. Think that it’s hard to find that kind of savings per gallon? Think again – you’d be surprised.
New costs more, we all know that. But new actually costs a lot more.
It is commonly said that a car looses over 10% of it’s value the first time it is driven off the lot. New clothes, new cars, new furniture – all of it costs a lot more new. And yet, so many things can be purchased used with little to no drawbacks.
Buying a used car that is one or two years old can save you up to 25% of the car’s price, for hardly any of the drawback. On a $25,000 car, that’s a savings of over $6,000.
But you shouldn’t just buy used on large purchases. Gently used clothes can be like new and come at a fraction of the cost. Consignment stores sell furniture, often in excellent condition, at bargain prices.
Here is a great list of things you can and should buy used.
Sales are a part of everyday commerce now. No longer are there only sales on products once or twice a year.
If you don’t absolutely have to have the product right away, try waiting and shopping the sales. Set weekly reminders to check around and see if the product has gone on sale. And, when it does, make sure to buy it immediately.
A great example of this is buying new tires for your car. Aside from the occasional blowout or emergency repair, buying tires is fairly routine and easy to predict.
As you near the time, get a feel for how much tires are currently going for. This way, you’ll be able to identify a good sale when it comes along.
Pay attention each and every week to the places that sell tires, and look for sales to take advantage of.
Buying on sale is best used with an element of planning. That way, you still get the product you want, but often times you can find it at a discount.
For purchases you buy every month, consider stocking up when you see a sale. If pasta sauce is on sale at the grocery store, buy enough for the next 6 months and store it. This method will save you money every month on your bills, and is also how to save money grocery shopping.
Many purchases follow a seasonal trend and, thus, have price swings to account for this. Buying in the high season, when it is easiest and top of mind, will cost you more. On the other hand, buying in the offseason can save you a lot of money.
The most obvious example of this is heating and air conditioning services. Everyone has air conditioners installed in the spring and summer, and heaters installed in the fall and winter. If you know you are going to need one, purchase it in the offseason.
Make sure to couple this approach with asking for a discount. During the slow season, manufacturers are much more likely to give you a discounted price.
With a little bit of planning, you can save a lot of money on purchases by taking into consideration the seasonal cost effects.
Here is a great list of things you can buy in the offseason.
A simple task, but one that is so easy to pay for. Instead of dropping $15-$30 on a carwash, simply do it yourself.
Washing and cleaning out the inside of your own car isn’t going to make a huge contribution to your savings, but it is money you don’t need to be spending.
Oil changes nowadays are a lot more expensive, due mostly to the synthetic oil that newer cars use. Once you know how to do it, changing the oil on your car can be a relatively quick, painless process.
Look up how to change the oil on your specific car, and make sure it isn’t too difficult. Some cars have the parts in difficult places to reach, making it less worth the effort. However, for the vast majority of cars, it will be pretty convenient.
We all know that there are different levels of each and every product that we purchase. Whether something as simple as a cleaning product, all the way up to large purchases like an automobile – each and every one has different levels of quality and price.
When possible, evaluate which products you need to buy the highest quality on. And, in turn, what products can you potentially buy cheaper alternatives, knowing the potential sacrifices?
Some people are geared to buy the cheapest thing they can find. Others have become used to always buying the highest quality product money can buy. In general, its best to live somewhere in the middle.
Buying cheap can often come back to bite you. If the product breaks quickly, you’ll end up spending more in the long run anyways. And, you have the added hassle of having to deal with the problems along the way.
However, there are some things that you do not need to buy the most expensive product for. Whether it’s the type of oil you put in your car, or the type of pasta brand you buy, or the wine you drink, chances are you can find an alternative that is almost as good for a lot less money.
Determine what things you want to spend your money on to buy the best, and limit this to a short list. For everything else, work to find a cheaper alternative. Cut back or cut out - do you need it? You get the picture.
Bonus: Another way to look at this is to analyze where you are spending money for someone else to do something for you, when you could be doing it yourself. For example, instead of getting your clothes pressed at the local dry cleaner, pick up a highly rated garment steamer and do it yourself.
Of all the different types of insurance that you have to have, car insurance has the most potential for rate fluctuations. And, as the years go by, if you have a good driving record, you might qualify for some extra discounts.
Car insurance companies have a habit of slowly raising your rates, and they find good ways to conveniently hide it from you.
Let your car insurance company know you’re shopping rates, and see what they can offer you. Then, follow through and look around at a few other companies.
Obviously, make sure that you are comparing similar insurance policies when reviewing the pricing options.
Buying in bulk isn’t a new concept, but it can save you a lot of money. The unfortunate part is that it costs more upfront, but you’ll see the savings over the next several months.
Certain items are cheaper in bulk than others. Examine the cost per unit as your benchmark.
It can be confusing at times, because sometimes companies package items differently in bulk than they do when individually wrapped.
In this study, a family saved more than $650 in a year by buying in bulk at Costco, instead of shopping at their neighborhood grocery store. As they warn, though, you need to be smart about what you buy in bulk.
Yes, you buy more when you’re hungry. And not just more food – you actually buy more of everything when you’re hungry.
In general, this brings up a larger point, and that is to make a plan for when you do your shopping. Create and build a routine around it, and try to stay consistent.
If you are consistently shopping at times when you’re rushed, hungry, or tired, you’re going to make poor and rash decisions. These decisions will cost you over the long run.
Saving money doesn't mean that you can't live the life you want to anymore. Moreover, it is about prioritizing what is important to you to spend money on, and then trying to save in the areas that are less important. Chances are, you can find a few ways to live the same lifestyle while saving money at the same time.
Making your coffee at home can be one of the largest money savers, when you compare it up against the amount of time it will save you.
For starters, buying coffee out is expensive… really expensive. Lets say you stick with drip coffee (and not the expensive lattes). The average cup of coffee at a coffeeshop is right around $2, while you can make your own at home for $0.17. This one action can save you over $500 each year!
Drip coffee is easy to make at home. You can set it up the night before and use a coffee maker that has a timer. Extra bonus points if you use the coffee grounds in your garden.
If you’re the type that likes expensive lattes, consider finding an alternative. Can you switch to drip coffee for the majority of the time, treating yourself to a latte only once each week? Doing so will save you a whopping $1,000+ each year!
If you have to have your latte, consider buying an espresso machine. You can buy fully automated ones that require little work out of you. While these can cost several hundred dollars, you’ll save that in a mere couple of months.
Learn how to cook. You don’t need to become a master chef or anything – just learn how to make some basic, staple meals. Cooking at home is both healthier for your body and your wallet.
The average American spends $232 eating meals out each month, resulting in almost $3,000 in restaurant bills each year.
Stop eating out whenever possible. Whether it’s the routine lunch outings with coworkers, or the fast food stops on the way home from a long day at work, get creative about eating at home.
Slow cookers can help you make a simple meal with little work, and it will be ready for you when you get home from a long day.
Try making several meals in bulk on a day off from work, and then re-heating them throughout the week. Which brings us to our next tip…
When you’re cooking, make more than you need for that meal. Leftovers are fantastic to use for lunches the next day, or for dinner after a busy day (where you would normally be tempted to grab some take-out).
There is a stigma with leftovers, and you need to get over them. Not all food works great as leftovers, but there are some fantastic options that re-heat very well.
Whether you bring leftovers, or develop a routine where you make lunches ahead of time, removing the habit of eating lunch out will save you thousands each year.
Develop a routine and try to stick to it. It’s really easy to get out of habit and back into eating out for lunch again.
Packing a lunch is best combined with cooking dinners at home, and making enough for leftovers. Master these three things: cook dinner at home, make more than you need for that meal, and bring the leftovers in for lunch the next day.
Lets look at home much money that could save you over a year:
Detergent is expensive (like so many things) but super simple to make at home (unlike so many things). It is easy to make and doesn’t take long. Given how much detergent a household can go through, both dish detergent and laundry detergent, it can make a lot of sense.
Here is a great recipe for making your own detergent.
Exercising does not have to be expensive, and the gym membership can be one of the fastest ways to save some cash. For example, join a pick up soccer league - the only thing you'll need to pick up is a decent pair soccer cleats.
If you aren't ready to give up you indoor workout habits, perhaps its time start a little home gym for yourself - all you need is a little space and some flexible, adjustable equipment to use.
If you still want to have a gym membership, look into some of the low cost options that are available nowadays (Chuze, Crunch, etc). There is no reason to spend $40+/month on a gym membership any longer.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to become a full-fledged gardener to learn how to grow a few vegetables and herbs. Take stock of what you commonly use, and try your hand at growing these.
Some common (and easy) vegetables to grow are lettuce, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and squash. Some simple herbs to grow are basil, thyme, oregano, and mint.
Go one step further and make a DIY compost bin at your house, and get some really great organic soil to grow with.
Not only will you save money from not having to buy these vegetables and herbs at the grocery story, but you’ll be eating organic!
If you’re the type that purchases a lot on books, try going to the library. Often forgotten in today’s digital climate, your local library often has a treasure trove of books. And, they are available to you free of charge.
As an added bonus, libraries will also have a lot of children’s activities as well. If you have kids, try taking them to the library. They are entertained, you can pick up a few books – that’s a win all around!
Do you buy bottled water? No need, you can make your own. And its time to start doing so.
Consumers spend more than 300 times the cost of tap water to drink bottled water. The amount of money that is spent on water that you could purify yourself is staggering.
Buy a water purifier for your home, or make use of the one that might come with your refrigerator. Buy a couple of BPA free water bottles, and bring water with you that you need.
Not only will you be saving a lot of money, but you’ll be helping the environment. More than 60 million plastic water bottles end up in landfills every year.
The average American spends $967 on holiday gifts alone, and that doesn’t even include birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and celebrations throughout the year. Gifts add up quickly, and yet they do it in a way that sneaks up on you. $50 here, $35 there… before you know it, it results in several thousand per year.
Homemade gifts are not only cheaper, but have the added charm of being made by hand. Grandparents and parents love homemade gifts featuring their grandchildren.
And, a homemade gift for a spouse or significant other can really go a long way in showing how much you care.
Here are some great homemade gift ideas.
Hobbies are rewarding for all of us, and add to enjoyment of life. Unfortunately, they can also be expensive. Try out a hobby that saves you money in the process.
This might be easier than it sounds. For example, if you like to drink beer, try out home brewing. If you need new furniture for your house, try learning woodworking. The list goes one, but try to find a few hobbies that combine your interests with your expenditures.
Like death and taxes, your monthly bills are unavoidable. However, one of the easiest ways to learn how to save money each month is to cut your expenditures on monthly bills. A little trimming here and there can put cash back in your pocket each and every month.
With the average cable bill nearing $110/month, and the plethora of other options available, this one should be easy for you to manage. Here are a few alternatives to cable that will keep you occupied but save you a bunch of money:
Lets be honest – cable TV is a thing of the past, and moving on from it to better options will pay off big dividends for you. How does an average of $80/month in savings sound?
Cell phone bills have gotten out of control. It isn’t uncommon to see a bill with Verizon or AT&T reach $150 per person for data and phone.
Cell phone plans have gotten a lot more competitive in recent years. No longer do you need to lock yourself into long contracts at expensive rates.
There are several options here to consider. First, do you want to switch companies? Lesser-known brands offer very competitive prices, and can make a great option. Make sure to check around your neighborhood and work to make sure you have adequate coverage in the areas you frequent most.
A second option is to stick with the same company, but call and renegotiate your rate. Chances are they have a special running, or could move you into a plan that is more suitable to your usage patterns. Tell them you need to save money.
Every month, you spend money on your credit card(s). You have automatic bank withdrawals. You have returned purchases. All of these things get accounted for on your monthly statements.
And, if you’re like most, when they come in the mail, the get filed away in the “I’ll look at that later” section. To which, you never do.
Checking your statements on a monthly basis will typically reveal some shocking discoveries. You’re getting overcharged and mis-billed on a monthly basis. When you find something, pursue it and get it resolved.
It will also help you keep better track of where you’re spending money, and you’ll find areas you need to address. Which brings us to our next point…
Chances are, you have some memberships or subscriptions that you’re not taking advantage of. Perhaps a magazine subscription that you’ve had for years, but you just don’t have time to read the magazine any longer. Maybe it’s the morning newspaper, or a gym membership.
Take honest account of where you’re spending money on a recurring, monthly basis. Make a list of all of these expenditures, whether you know you’re going to keep them or not. Then sit back and evaluate.
You might just want to start by cutting one subscription out, and see how it goes. Who knows, you might realize just how little you needed that membership, and it could prompt you to cut other subscriptions out of your budget.
If you have a bunch of student loans or credit card debt, consolidating them can help you pay them off quicker, and might also save you money.
Consolidating moves several loans onto one, streamlining your payment process and consolidating the loan or debt structure.
Often times, you might be able to refinance in order to pay less per month, or event settle to pay less overall.
A home refinance, or refi, is the process of adjusting your mortgage loan, usually to take advantage of different interest rates or equity built up through appreciation.
The reasons for doing a refi are lower monthly payments, or less time to pay off your loan. Both reasons end up saving you money.
Refi’s are best suited for situations when you are going to be in your home for at least another 3-5 years, due to the upfront costs associated with the refi. However, if that is your plan, and you can capitalize on a lower interest rate, then a refi can make a lot of sense.
Most of the monthly bills we incur have to do with our home. Energy usage alone is a huge factor in our monthly expenditures, and is one of the easiest things you can adjust to save money.
Because so many things in your home use energy, there are a lot of opportunities to learn how to save money each month in your house. Lets talk about some energy saving solutions to get you on the right track.
Its easy to leave the computer on when take a break for a few hours, but leaving appliances running when you aren’t using them is costing you.
Develop the habit of turning off appliances and computers when you aren’t using them. Often, these appliances are high use anyways, and so running them less will have an impact on your bill.
During the winter, a change of perspective might have the biggest saving to your wallet.
For every degree you lower the thermostat in the winter, you can save around 10-15% of your heating bill. That is a huge amount of savings for such a small adjustment.
See how low you can drop the temperature in your house without starting to struggle. Throw on a sweater if you need to. You can save a lot of money by dropping the thermostat temperature a few degrees.
During the summer months, the hot sun bakes your house during the day, heating it up and requiring you to run the air conditioning to keep the house cool.
Planting trees on the southern part of your property will provide shade for your home, lessening the effects of the hot, summer sun.
This could take awhile to show its effects, but a well placed shade tree can lower your cooling costs by 25%.
Rather than taking on expensive home improvement projects, why not delay those upgrades? Even better, learn how to do a few repairs and DIY projects yourself. You'll increase the value of your home, and save money in the process.
Learn how to spruce up your flooring, paint the front door, and redo the landscaping. There are a variety of simple projects that you can do around yourself. Delay the big upgrades that are nice-to-haves (and not needs).
Insulation keeps the heat in during the winter, and cool air in during the summer.
90% of American households are under insulated, and the attic is the easiest place to change this. Typically speaking, your attic insulation is exposed when you are up in the attic, making it an easy candidate to effect change.
Head into your attic and take a peak. Homes in southern climates should have roughly 13-14” of R-38 insulation, and homes in northern climates should have around 16-18” of R-49 insulation.
Its not hard to add more insulation, and the cost is minor in comparison to the amount you’ll save each year.
Did you know your phone charger draws electricity, even when you aren’t charging your phone?
Many chargers do this. And, while the amount of electricity they draw when not in use isn’t high, it adds up.
It’s a simple habit to get into. When you’re done charging your phone, simply unplug the charger from the wall, leaving it unplugged but resting next to the outlet.
if you’re one of those who leaves their computer on when not in use with a screensaver engaged, you’re costing yourself money.
We’ve already talked about eliminating stand by mode on as many devices as possible. When your computer is using the screen saver function, it actually isn’t in stand by mode – its fully engaged and drawing power.
Don’t leave your computer on when you’re not using it. Eliminating this habit will help you save on your monthly power bill.
This is especially true in the winter, when the temperature outside can drop 30-80 degrees compared to the temperature inside your house.
Your curtains provide an extra layer of insulation from your heat escaping out of your windows. It takes a few minutes each evening, but it will help keep your home warmer and thus using less heat.
Your exterior doors, such as the front door, back door, and patio doors, can be leaking heat and cool air and you’d never even know it. Even the smallest of gaps between the floor and door, or on the sides, can create reverse pressure and literally pull the air out of your house and into the outside.
To test this out, close all the windows and doors to your house, making sure your home is completely sealed. Turn on the kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans to create negative pressure in your home.
Next, light a match or incense stick near your doors. Look for an increase in the smoke coming off, or a flickering from air movement.
Sealing doors can sometimes be simple, and could turn expensive. There are plenty of DIY items you can buy at your local hardware store. And, if you find the drafts to be bad, a professional can help you get them solved.
When your fireplace isn’t in use, make certain that you close the damper. Heat escapes through the open damper when your fireplace isn’t in use.
Closing the damper can actually be a bit inconvenient. When you’re done with a fire, it will still be smoldering, so you can’t shut it right away. Put an alarm in your phone to come back 30-60 minutes later to make sure it gets shut.
Learn more about how to save heat while operating your chimney here.
In many households, the TV becomes background throughout the day and into the evening. While there are many times you are watching TV, chances are there are a lot of times where it runs for awhile without getting watched.
This has started to be a repeating theme in the article, but its worth summarizing: systematically reducing latent energy usage throughout your house will have an impact on your energy usage, and thus on how to save money each month. Energy saving solutions put money back into your pocket.
Turning off your TV and computers when not in use, unplugging your chargers, and not running appliances unnecessarily – all of these things will have an impact. When all done in unison, you will start to see a large amount of savings.
Incandescent light bulbs have been the standard for lighting for decades, but new advancements in CFL (fluorescent) and LED bulb technology has made it a no-brainer to make the switch.
There has been a lot of research done on this topic. Suffice to say, it’s clear nowadays that you can save a lot of money by making the switch to more energy efficient light bulbs.
A recent study found that incandescent light bulbs are more than 4X more expensive than CFL bulbs and more than 5X more expensive than LED light bulbs
The savings are even more dramatic in regions that charge more than the national average for electricity ($0.12/kilowatt hour in 2013).
One easy way to ease into the transition is to buy energy efficient light bulbs and have them on hand for when your incandescent bulbs start to go out.
During summer months its hot, and during the winter months its cold. Each season demands you run an appliance to keep your home at a reasonable temperature. And, these heating and cooling appliances can also cost you a lot of money. Learning how to save money with your heater and air conditioner can save you a lot during these summer and winter months.
Make sure that the area around your thermostat is clear. If you have a lamp or an appliance near the thermostat, the will sense the heat from these devices, causing your heater or air conditioner to run longer than it needs to.
Keep the area around your thermostat clear so that it can accurately read the temperature properly. Every degree counts when it comes to how long your furnace or AC runs.
We discussed this earlier, but it’s worth honing in on. Every single degree setting you adjust can cost or save you energy, which translates into dollars. This is a large energy saving solution that is simple to do.
Immediately try to bump your thermostat a few degrees. In summer, if you are used to keeping it at 76 degrees, try 78 degrees. In the winter, if you typically set the thermostat to 68, try pushing it down to 66 degrees and throwing on a sweater.
At night, adjust the temperature even more. The 8-10 hour stretch you’re sleeping can be used to recapture some of that energy that you expended during the day.
During the time you’re gone for the day, keep similar settings that you would at night time.
Over time, the ducting that moves your heat and AC through your home can develop cracks and gaps. Just like with your doors letting air through, a crack or gap can let valuable heat or cool air out into your walls, and not transmit it all the way through into your home.
There are dozens of companies that will come out an inspect your ducting. Leaks can be easy or hard to fix, depending on where they are and how easy they are to access.
The filters on your furnace and air conditioning need cleaning and replacing, but since we don’t interact with it very often, its easy to forget.
Pull the filters off every couple of months and lightly vacuum them.
Once they become too dirty to vacuum, replace them. You’re seriously impeding air flow at this point, causing your unit to be inefficient and work harder than it needs to.
Ceiling fans used in conjunction with your heater or air conditioner help to maximize it’s efforts.
A ceiling fan in a room will allow you to adjust the thermostat by 4 degrees and still experience the same level of comfort.
Given what we know about much even a degree difference can affect energy savings, that is a big number.
Don’t forget to set you ceiling fans for the season. During the summer, you want the fan rotating counter-clockwise, so that it pushes cool air down into the room. And, during the winter, you want your fans rotating clockwise, so they circulate the warm air around the room.
Most fans have this setting and its easy to do in every room.
Your main air conditioning unit is located outside, likely up against your house in a out-of-the-way area. Many will put fences, structures, and bushes around the AC unit in order to hide the unit from being seen.
This has aesthetic benefits, but make sure there are at least several feet between the AC unit and anything else around it. The AC unit needs proper ventilation to perform efficiently.
If you have bushes or a fence too close, its going to cause your AC unit to work harder than it needs to. This will cost you extra money every time you run it, and will likely lead to it breaking sooner.
Most families spend a lot of time in the kitchen together... cooking, cleaning, and conversing together. As such, kitchen's absorb a lot of the energy usage of an average household. There are a few key strategies you can employ to save you money every month from your kitchen appliances.
Out of all of the appliances in your kitchen, your oven uses the most energy… by far. Whenever possible, use other appliances instead of the oven.
When re-heating food, use your microwave, the toaster oven, or even the stove.
During the summer, try cooking outside on the BBQ whenever possible. Not only will this lower the amount you use the oven, but will also help with your AC bill, as the oven heats up the house.
When you do use the oven, turn it off immediately when you’re finished using it. In the winter, crack the door and let the heat spill out into the house. At least you can get several uses from that electricity!
Every few months, pull your refrigerator out from the wall and inspect the coils. Chances are, they will be dusty and need cleaning.
Lightly vacuum and dust the coils, being careful not to move them around or jostle them too much. This will keep your fridge performing in peak condition, and maximize the energy you are using to keep your food cold.
When you are cooking on the stove, heat passes from the stove into the pan, and into the food your cooking. Without a top on the pan or pot, though, a lot of the heat continues to pass out of the food and into the air.
Certain meals you cook actually require them to be cooked uncovered. Wherever possible, though, put a lid on the pot or pan that you are cooking with.
Boiling water is a perfect example. Putting a lid on the pot will keep the heat in and allow the water to boil faster, moving the process along quicker and saving you energy.
Wherever possible, avoid using the Dry feature on your dishwasher. The Dry feature takes a lot of energy in order to heat and steam the dishes, and that energy costs you every time you run it.
Instead, let your dishes air dry. Open the dishwasher up for a few hours and let them dry naturally.
When you buy a new refrigerator, its natural to move the old one out to the garage to use as a second fridge for long-term storage. Or, you might have an old chest freezer out in the garage to keep meat and other freezables.
The older these appliances are, the more electricity they are probably drawing, and the more money they are costing you. For many households, these extra appliances aren’t necessary.
If you can, eliminate any extra appliances that you don’t necessarily need. Can you try consolidating and living on just the refrigerator in your home? If so, you’ll save money every year from the consolidation.
Your fridge typically has a temperature range that you can set it to. Often, the temperature isn’t defined. Rather, it might have a dial with settings ranging from “cool” to “cold”.
Your fridge really doesn’t need to be set any lower than 40 degrees. The trouble is that very few of us know the actual internal temperature of our fridge, and thus we don’t know how to set the dial options it gives u.
Put a thermometer into your fridge to get an accurate assessment, and adjust the fridge’s dial accordingly to get a temperature of around 40 degrees. Chances are, you’re cooling your fridge lower than it needs to be.
With the oven being the most expensive kitchen appliance to run, every time you open it while it is on you are losing valuable heat.
Use your oven light to peek in on food whenever possible. Avoid opening the door at all costs.
For checking the temperature of meat, buy a meat thermometer that has a cord that extends out of the oven. This way, you keep tabs on the meat without having to open the oven door.
Laundry is as inevitable as the bills we pay every month. And, as your family grows, so does the amount of laundry you need to do. Every load costs you money in power and water, and learning how to maximize what you have to spend will help you save money each month.
It used to be that you had to wash any clothes that needed real cleaning in hot water. Nowadays, laundry detergents are high enough in quality that you don’t need to do this any more.
Heating the hot water for each and every laundry load is expensive, and you really don’t need to do it for the average load of laundry.
Most clothes actually last longer when washed cold anyways. Chances are, you're already washing your expensive delicates like specialized bras, dress shirts, and lingerie. Just replicate the process for the rest of your clothing.
If you have a bunch of heavily soiled clothing, you’ll probably still want to wash it in hot water. Otherwise, try washing your laundry in cold water. You’ll save on having to heat gallons of hot water for every load.
Whether you have a gas or electric dryer, it takes a lot of energy to dry a load of laundry. Whenever possible, you’ll save money if you can avoid using the dryer.
Separate your loads of laundry by how heavy the clothing is, if possible. Wash lighter weight loads of laundry, like cotton shirts and socks. In other loads, wash the heavier clothing, like jeans and blankets.
Heavier clothing will take a long time to air dry, but the lighter weight loads can be hung on a rack.
Every time you run the washing machine and dryer, there is a sunk cost. Ensuring that you maximize every time you run the washer and dryer will maximize this sunk cost.
Don’t go too far and overload your laundry appliances, though. Read the instructions so you know how much your washer and dryer can handle, and try to maximize this each and every time.
Your dryer naturally builds up lint over time as it dries more and more loads. This lint gets caught in the lint trap, but it also builds up in the exhaust ducting that your dryer has.
Make sure to clean out your lint trap frequently, as the more lint it has, the harder it is for air to pass through, and the harder your dryer has to work. This results in longer drying times, which eats up for energy, and thus costs you more.
Every couple of months, clean out your dryer exhaust tubes with a vacuum. Lint will build up in there as well. And, while it isn’t as tough on the dryer as a packed lint trap, it will still end up having the same effects.
Water is one of the most limited commodities we have and, as such, its cost is going up each and every year. Saving water amounts to saving money (and the environment) - here are a few strategies to saving water and money each month.
In the average home, the shower uses the third most amount of water, behind only the toilet and washing machine. The average American shower uses 17.2 gallons of water, each and every time.
All of this water is controlled through your shower head. Low flow shower heads are cheap to buy and easy to install, and they’ll dramatically lower the amount of water you use on ever shower, sometimes by as much as 50%.
Make sure to do some research, so you pick up the best low flow head for your shower that still has the settings you prefer.
Just like a shower, but to a lesser degree, your faucets put out an unrestricted amount of water.
Faucet aerators allow you to lower the amount of water that comes out of each faucet, every time its turned on. While the savings are much smaller than with a shower, think of how many faucets your have throughout your house, and how the small savings will still add up over time.Additionally, faucet aerators are really cheap, usually costing less than $5 for each one.
Many people have never even looked at their water heater’s temperature setting. Chances are, you have yours turned up too high.
Your water heater’s setting is the temperature that it keeps the water at inside of the water heater. It has to keep that water at the temperature constantly, so that when you turn on the hot water, it is ready to go.
The higher you have that set, the more gas has to be used throughout the day to keep it at that temperature. And, when you draw new water into the hot water heater, it has to bring that water up to that high temperature.
All of this uses a lot of energy. Try setting your hot water heater to 120 degrees, instead of the 140 degree setting that a lot of manufacturers recommend.
For more information on setting your water heater temperature, click here.
Older water heaters are not insulated very well, and leak a lot of their heat out through the storage tank. Newer models have much better insulation, but if your water heater is more than a decade old, chances are it isn’t properly insulated.
You can buy an insulation blanket for these older models to help keep the heat in. If it isn’t in the cards for you to upgrade your water heater, grab an insulation blanket to save some of the heat you’re leaking right now.
Believe it or not, you lose a lot of heat through your hot water pipes. Hopefully your hot water pipes never run outside of the house, because during the winter you’ll lose a tremendous amount of heat through this process.
Either way, you can insulate your hot water pipes to save energy. You won’t want to rip open walls to insulate all of the piping. Instead, just focus on the first 4-6 feet of pipe that extends out of the hot water heater as it travels into the wall.
If your hot water piping ever travels outside, you’ll also want to insulate this piping.
If you've made it this far, it clearly shows how committed you are at learning how to save money each month. Start today by implementing several of these tips. Once you get started, you'll find that you build a natural momentum, and you'll want to keep adding more and more things to save money on.
Good luck, and let us know all the ways you're saving money!
Allen Michael is the Founder and Editor of Home Viable, a website that he started to provide readers with tips on home efficiency and automation. He draws on his engineering background combined with his family-of-four experiences for his articles.