Get rid of Private Mortgage Insurance. If the down payment on your home was less than 20%, you are probably paying private mortgage insurance (PMI) as part of your monthly mortgage payment. Once you have 20% equity in your home, though, you should contact your lender to get your PMI removed. You can build up this equity either by paying down debt or if your home appreciates. If you have a newer FHA mortgage, you may need to refinance to get rid of PMI.
Convert to a gas water heater. They are more efficient and will save you money in the long run, especially if electricity rates are increasing in your area. Plus, gas water heaters can still work during a power outage!
Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. These bulbs use 75% less energy and last 10 times longer. They do take some getting used to, and they won’t work in every light fixture. But use them where it makes sense, and you’ll save energy and money.
Have an energy efficiency checkup on your home. Many local utilities companies will do this for free. They’ll check out your home’s insulation and let you know where you can make improvements to save energy (and money!)
Add additional insulation. Even without an energy efficiency checkup, you can probably tell if your home needs more insulation. The most likely spot to need it is your attic. Additional insulation can pay for itself within a year or two, and then save you money every year after.
Buy energy efficient appliances. Look for the Energy Star on appliances and consider the annual energy cost before buying. More efficient appliances cost more, but you make up the extra cost and then some over the life of the product. You can enhance this tip’s impact with super-efficient options like induction cooktops and high-efficiency washing machines, as well.
Change your furnace filters. Keeping your furnace filters clean is important for maintaining your home’s air quality. It also saves money by keeping your system running efficiently. If you always forget to refresh your filters, consider having them automatically delivered by a service like FilterEasy.
Wash your clothes on cold. Today’s detergents typically do just as good a job cleaning on the cold cycle as a warmer cycle. And, in fact, this might make your clothes last longer.
Get a rooftop solar water heater. These aren’t very expensive and can pay for themselves in energy savings fairly quickly.
Replace your paper towels. You can get super-cheap white towels for next to nothing from kitchen supply stores. In fact, many industrial kitchens don’t use paper products because they’d spend a fortune on them. Replacing paper towels in the kitchen and for cleaning can really add up.
Save on Food
Prepare easy meals for just $5. I would have thought this was impossible until I met Erin. She’s the genius behind $5 Meal Plans. She’s been on the Today Show and Fox & Friends showing how families can eat good, healthy meals for a fraction of the cost.
Take your lunch to work one more day a week than you do now. Eating out at lunch is fun, so I wouldn’t eliminate it completely. But taking lunch just one more day a week will keep money in your pocket.
Drink less alcohol. It costs money and adds calories. When you do want a drink, learn to mix your own drinks at home to save big.
Limit how often you grocery shop. Grocery shopping less often will typically lead to savings. Try to shop only once a week. If you often shop at warehouse stores, you can hit those up once a month and then just stop for your fresh items once a week.
Buy the off brand. Many items are nearly exactly the same in off brand as in brand name. You can save a fortune by sticking with the off brands available at your local grocery store. You could save even more with options like Costco’s Kirkland brand or Aldi’s off brands.
Skip the bottled water. Instead of buying a bottle of water every time you go to work, the gym, or wherever, buy a water filter and take your own water. You can save even more by making your own coffee to take along with you on the go!
Use powders or concentrates for your favorite drinks. You can make tea or juice a lot cheaper at home.
Cook from scratch. If you’re really busy, consider using your crock pot to cook from scratch but save a ton of time.
Use a grocery couponing app. Instead of printing and clipping coupons, use an app that does the work for you. This gives you the benefits of coupons without all the time to organize them.
Check out bulk stores for more savings. Many foods can be bought in bulk for way less. For instance, you can buy frozen vegetables really cheaply in large quantities. Or buy your paper goods from a bulk store to save.
Shop your pantry and freezer. It’s really easy to forget about food stockpiled in your pantry or freezer. So before you go to the grocery store and wind up buying more of what you already have, dig around your kitchen and make a list of what you’ve got.
Save on Shopping
Buy your next cell phone from Amazon: It may seem odd to buy a cell phone from Amazon, but they offer some of the newest phones from AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Amazon offers free 2-day shipping and low prices without the hassle of mail-in rebate forms. To check out the deals, visit AmazonWireless.
Buy a refurbished Mac: I’ve written about this before because it is a great way to buy not only computers, but iPods and iPhones as well. You can check out the details on how to buy a refurbished iPhone. Just be sure you’re getting the product from a reputable company.
Get your books from the library. I love books and read every day. While I buy some of the books I read, most come from the library. Simply put, it’s hard to beat free. Amazon makes it easy to get ebooks from a library directly onto your reader.
Stream movies for cheap or for free. Make the most of your subscriptions. Instead of paying for a movie ticket, stream one from your Amazon, Netflix or Hulu accounts. You can also stream movies on demand with Redbox, some for as little as $1.99. Many libraries now have movies on DVD and Bluray that patrons can check out. If your library offers this service, it sure beats paying for a movie ticket.
Subscribe to magazines or read digital copies. If you must have a certain magazine each month, subscribe. Subscriptions offer substantial savings over the cost at the newsstand. Amazon also offers some great deals on personal finance magazines and Prime members get access to a few magazines per month as part of the membership.
Buy online when it saves you money. Services like Amazon’s Prime Pantry and Subscribe and Save services could save you tons of money on everyday essentials. There are tons of other newer services available, too, including Boxed, where you can buy in bulk online. Plus, there are plenty of great websites to buy clothes, toys, gifts, and more online at a steep discount.
Go thrifting. Thrift store buys don’t have to look used, but they’ll be a lot cheaper. Stores like Goodwill and local thrift stores are great for finding kids’ clothes, adult clothes, home decor, and household goods like dishes and flatware.
Use coupon searching add-ons. If you’re a frequent online shopper, you can save a fortune with coupon-finding extensions for your browser. Extensions like Honey will automatically try out coupon codes until they find you the most savings possible before you check out online.
Shop outlet stores. Instead of back-to-school or holiday shopping in your typical retail stores, shop at your local outlets. You can get the same looks for way less.
Use the 24-hour rule. Before you make any impulse buy, make yourself wait for at least one day. You’ll likely find that by the end of that waiting period, you don’t want the item any more.
Save on Gifts
Agree to limit gift giving. At Christmas we tend to go overboard when it comes to gift giving. To cut back, we agreed in advance with extended family about gift limits, which really helps save money for everyone.
Save ahead for the holidays. If you have to pay for Christmas gifts on a credit card, you’re much more likely to over-spend. Start saving ahead of time, and then commit to spending only what you’ve set aside.
Buy gifts throughout the year. You can often get nice gifts for next Christmas right at the first of the year. Buying throughout the year can help you feel less pressure during the holiday season and can save you a fortune.