21 Teeny-Tiny Ways to Save

by Mikey Rox on 21 August 2012 12 comments

They say it’s the little things in life that have the biggest impact — and that’s quite true in the context of money matters. While making massive changes to the way you spend can help boost your bottom line, so too can minute measures that you may not have considered. Starting today, keep more cash in your pocket by instituting these teeny tiny ways to save. (See also: 37 Savings Changes You Can Make Today)

1. Sign Up for the Keep the Change Program

The Keep the Change program is exclusive to Bank of America, but there are other banks that have similar programs that round every debit-card purchase up to the nearest dollar and deposit that amount of change into your savings account. If you use your debit card frequently — I sure do — the savings can add up quickly.

2. Dress Warmer Around the House When It’s Cold

No need to turn up the heat when there’s a nip in the air. Head to your closet and put on socks, sweatpants, and a nice warm top to stay cozy instead of cranking up the thermostat.

3. Use Natural Light Whenever Possible

During the daytime, rely on natural light around your home and office when you’re working. You’ll save electricity, of course, but you’ll also prevent your bulbs from burning out faster.

4. Eat More Leftovers

Don’t let perfectly good food go to waste by stuffing it in a plastic container to rot in the fridge. Eat the leftovers for lunch or incorporate them into a new dish the next night.

5. Raise Your Insurance Deductibles

If you raise your insurance deductible, your premium will go down. Of course, then you’ll have a high deductible, but if you're confident that you won’t get into an accident anytime soon, this money-saving idea can save you a nice chunk of change.

6. Pay Down Credit Card Debt

If you have a credit card, stay on top of the payments — and try to pay them down quickly — so you’re not charged the high interest rate that’s attached to them.

7. Walk or Bike Instead of Driving

Put the car in park and travel by foot or bike to run errands that are near enough. Even once or twice a week will preserve a generous amount of gas throughout the year.

8. Bundle Your Media Services

If you don’t already have a package deal for cable, phone, and Internet, call your provider to inquire about a bundle. Savings for bundling all three products could result in a decent reduction on your monthly bill.

9. Use Your FSA If Your Employer Offers It 

If your workplace offers a Flex Spending Account, take advantage of it for co-pays and other eligible medical expenses and health products.

10. Use a Grocery Store Club Card

Many grocery store reward loyal customers with exclusive savings that are only given to those shoppers with club cards. It only takes a minute to sign up, and you’ll see just how valuable it is on the bottom of your receipt.

11. Open the Windows When It’s Cool Out

Instead of blasting the air conditioner or fan, open the windows to cool off if the weather outside is conducive.

12. Examine Your Bills Closely

This is one of my favorites on the list because so many people take their bills for granted. The billing entities (probably) aren’t trying to rip you off on purpose, but mistakes happen, whether it’s human error or a computer glitch. Take a look at your bills closely each month to make sure that all charges are correct. If something seems to be off, inquire about it — it could mean more money in your pocket.

13. Brew Your Own Coffee

If you’re a frequent coffee-shop patron, you’ll save money when you switch to a regular regimen of home-brewed coffee. Just be sure you're making the appropriate amount of coffee for those drinking it; don’t brew a whole pot if you only intend to drink a cup or two. You’ll also lessen your carbon footprint by investing in a reusable travel cup — I prefer these barista-approved KeepCups — which will save you a few cents off your coffee shop purchase on those sporadic days when you choose to indulge.

14. Unplug Electronics and Appliances When Not in Use

"Vampire voltage" is when electricity is being consumed by electronics that are plugged into an outlet but not in use. It’s called that because it’s literally sucking money out of your pocket. When you’re not using an electrical item, unplug it to avoid being bled dry.

15. Record Movies on Your DVR

Have you noticed that there aren’t many good DVDs available lately? Unhappy with the current rental selection, I’ve starting scrolling future screenings on my premiums channels to find movies that I’d like to watch later. When they're in my queue on a Friday night, I can skip the potential On Demand or DVD kiosk purchase and put a few bucks back in my budget.

16. Reuse Paper

Every sheet of paper has two sides. If you can use the other for notes or for printing, do it. That’s less waste in the recycling bin, fewer trips to the office store, and a savings of up to 50% on paper each year if you make this a habitual practice.

17. Visit the Library for New Books

When you’re in the mood for a new book, visit your local library (yes, these still exist) instead of purchasing a hard copy or digital download.

18. Pay Your Bills Online

If you haven’t noticed, stamps aren’t cheap. You can save a few dollars a month on stamps and a few dollars a year on envelopes by paying your bills online instead of through the regular mail.

19. Just Say No to Newspapers and Magazines

We live in an age where information is disseminated almost immediately. By the time those print editions come out, someone in cyberspace has already let the cat out of the bag. Drop the newspaper and mag subscriptions — and avoid them in the checkout lanes — to save money.

20. Save Loose Change

Put the change in your pocket in a jug at the end of each day. Every few months or so, roll the change and either deposit it in your savings account or treat yourself to something special.

21. Buy Store Brand Food

Switching just one of your name-brand favorites to the store brand will save you anywhere from a few cents to a dollar or so. Imagine how much you can save if you switch several.

What other small ways can you think or to save a few bucks here and there? Let me know in the comments below.

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Guest's picture
Beth

Great article!

I have one...stop buying disposable products. Use cotton or microfiber cloths instead of paper towels, cloth napkins instead of paper, (I have found them new with the tags in thrift stores, and found them crisp and new in my grandmother's cupboards), use your plates and cups, get a nice steel lined to-go mug.

I save my loose change and put it through Coin Star for Amazon gift cards. They do not charge for counting the change if you get certain gift cards. I also carry pennies in my wallet so that I get only silver change back.

Also, if you have 5¢ or 10¢ recycling in your state...take your bottles and cans back. You paid the deposit, get your money back!

Guest's picture
Jane

I'm always intrigued by these lists but am frequently depressed by them too. It is not ALWAYS about saving money. I'm as frugal as the next person but there are times when it's necessary to keep people employed so that we can all some day afford to retire.

I'm a librarian and I'm delighted to see you mention people using libraries. That is always a win/win move. However, my husband is a newspaper reporter and, frankly, telling people to drop their newspaper and magazine subscriptions is just not a good idea. It is largely newspapers that have kept all corporations and levels of government honest for years. You really want that to go away?

And, as far as forgoing a stamp and not using the post office, I completely disagree. The post office employs a HUGE amount of people and if they were to vanish, imagine what this country would do with that quantity of unemployed people.

I think it's a good idea to be mindful of your own neighbor's pocketbook too!

Guest's picture
Joe

that's the way the world works. newspapers and librarys are out dated. you cant stop technology from evolving just because it puts people out of work. It is an unstoppable force. people need to adapt or they will be left behind.

Guest's picture

Great list! This article is pretty much an all-inclusive list on the easiest ways to save money!

I have to say though, that buying store brand food is not always the cheapest. Sometimes, stores offer sales on brand name foods that make them cheaper than the store brand. If you use a coupon, you can get these on-sale foods dirt cheap. It's unlikely to find coupons for store brands. Also, sometimes you can do better buying in bulk, sometimes not. It's really best to compare each item on an individual basis, by checking the unit price, to ensure you're getting the best deal.

Guest's picture

Have you seen that device that you wire your house up to which turns off all of the appliances with one switch? I can't remember the name of it or how it works but it's really neat. Saves the trouble of going around unplugging things.

Guest's picture
Jordann

I'm happy to say that I already do a lot of these, but I definitely noticed a couple of tricks that I haven't gotten around to ingraining as a habit yet. My big one is taking my lunch to work. I eat out for lunch maybe twice a month, and I'll never go back to buying my lunch every day.

Guest's picture
Pam

This is a great list. It always amazes me when people don't think that they can save money. The little things really do add up. As for the buying store brands … I would advise that people check both the store brand and the name brand, believe it or not I have found that the store brand isn't always the cheapest. It is just about checking every price before you make that purchase.

Guest's picture
Guest

I do not agree that we should drop magazines. i have twenty mags and I only spent 2.00 for one and 3.00 for another all of the rest were free. One can read without breaking the bank.

Guest's picture
Guest

I get magazine for free by occasionally doing a survey on my lunch break. You can sign up at e-rewards.com. Got Martha Stewart and Atlantic Monthly, and almost a free night in Hilton points!

Guest's picture

My mom has always been great about saving on bills in our house. When its cool enough, the AC goes off and the windows are opened. In the winter, we all wear socks and sweatshirts around the house and feel comfortable enough with the heat a little bit lower. She's also always instilled in me to unplug things when they're not being used- this has made me a little crazy with roommates, but saving none the less.

Guest's picture
Danny

Bundling media services is a crock. You don't need cable TV and it is without a doubt the biggest waste of money of the modern century. I know a few individuals who pay close to $200 a month for a multi-channel cable TV package and this is with a bundled package. What a crock if ever I heard one.

Save your money and instead get a DVD player or a media device like an on demand box.

Guest's picture
Mere

I'm with you! We felt really ripped off by our 'bundle', so we dropped cable altogether! Hubby received an Apple TV as a groomsman's gift (very nice gift!) and we got ourselves a Slingbox. Upgraded our internet a teeny bit for streaming speed, and we still saved $55 a month. We do send my in-laws a check each month to cover our share of the HD box we stream from, which is minimal, and yes, legal. The devices easily pay for themselves within three to four months to anyone considering the switch. We will never go back!