Want to know where you're spending more money than you should be? All You shares 36 quick ways you can save up to $9,000 this year.
1. Buy in Bulk
Through Amazon's Subscribe and Save service , get stuff you know you need (such as diapers and toilet paper) monthly at a discount and save at least $40 per year.
2. Head for the Freezer
Going for the fish in the freezer case — rather than at the seafood counter — lops up to 40 percent off the price, making a cod fillet as much as $3.20 cheaper per pound. If your family of four eats fish once per week, you pocket almost $125 annually!
DIY alternatives — most can be made from a combo of baking soda, white vinegar, hand soap, lemon juice and tea tree oil — will save $40 a year.
4. Buy Store Brands
A study by Consumer Reports says you can save 15 percent to 30 percent on groceries by filling your cart with store-brand alternatives, which come with a money-back guarantee. Making the switch can save your family as much as $1,176 this year.
5. Drive Better
The Automatic device ($100, automatic.com) corresponds with an app to critique your driving. It gives tips to cut your gas bill by a third. If you typically spend $3,000, you'll pocket $900 the first year.
6. Take Your Lunch to Work
Recent research makes this familiar tip worth repeating: According to a survey by Accounting Principals, a financial recruiting company, two thirds of workers spend an average of $37 per week on lunch. Brown-bag it and, with raw ingredients adding up to half of what takeout does, you'll save $962.
7. Skip the Soda
For the next 12 months, give up ordering soft drinks whenever you eat out. Ask for water instead. If you make this soda swap just once a week, you'll rack up $104 in savings in a year.
8. Cook With the Right Pot
Don't put a 6-inch pot on an 8-inch burner! Reducing wasted heat can save $36 on an electric range or $18 on gas annually.
9. Pick a Bone
Most people know that a whole chicken costs a lot less than boneless skinless parts, but buying bone-in parts can still mean big savings: about $613 a year per family.
10. Freeze Your Gym Membership
Putting your membership on hold usually incurs a small fee–sometimes as little as $10 per month–compared with $55 a month for the membership. Come June, July and August, instead of sweating indoors, hike and bike alfresco to save $135.
11. Visit a Retail Clinic Instead of a Doctor
These clinics, found at pharmacy chains, can diagnose nonserious ailments. A visit runs you $79 less than one to a doctor's office. Use two such facilities a year and save $158.
12. Lower Your Thermostat by 1 Degree
You'll knock 3 percent off your heating costs. That's $20 annually for a home heated with natural gas, $27 a year if you use electricity.
13. Cut the Cost of Dining Out
Restaurant.com sells discounted gift certificates to more than 18,000 restaurants nationwide; we recently saw many $25 vouchers going for as little as $10. Take the family on four $40 outings this year and you'll slice $60 off your budget for eating away from home.
14. Reduce IRA Fees
Move your retirement funds to a broker with the lowest expenses. People ages 33 to 44 have an average of $157,000 stashed for post-work living. Migrate from a firm charging 1.11 percent to one charging 0.19 percent and save $1,444 a year.
15. BYO Mug
Many coffee chains, including Starbucks and Einstein Bros. Bagels, give a 10-cents-a-cup discount for bringing your own container. Do it three times a week and save $15 per year.
16. Mix Free Compost Into Topsoil
Compost doubles the use you get from a bag of fortified soil. Your county extension service may give compost away free. Annual savings: $25 if you typically buy 10 bags of topsoil that cost $5 each.
17. Use a Flexible Spending Account
It'll cover such items as co-pays, coinsurance and prescription drugs, using pretax money. If you typically spend $1,000 or more on regular medical expenses each year and you're in the 25 percent tax bracket, you'll save at least $250.
18. Use a Gas-Pricing App
Fuel prices can vary by 37 cents per gallon within a zip code. Apps such as GasBuddy find the cheapest spot to fill up weekly. With a 16-gallon tank, in a year you'll save $308.
19. Plant Your Own Herbs
Why pay a bunch every time you need only a bit of basil or parsley? One plant will cost you about as much as buying a few sprigs at the grocery store, but it will last all summer—and maybe all winter, if you freeze some homemade pesto. Annual savings: $10.
20. Seek Free Checking
The average monthly bite is $5.48, so going to a fee-free bank (Ally, say) or credit union (Alliant) saves you $66 each year.
21. Install a New Thermostat
Choose one that raises and lowers the temperature at preset times to save $180 per year.
22. Compare Drug Prices
Prescription costs differ from pharmacy to pharmacy. Prices for Metformin, a diabetes drug, can vary by as much as $37 for a one-month supply. Go to the cheapest pharmacy to save $444 a year.
23. Take a Defensive-Driving Course
In as little as four hours of online classes (see idrivesafely.com) you could lop 10 percent off your auto premiums. Those average around $791, so you could save $79 this year.
24. Track Your Mileage
Like to nest? Many insurance companies give discounts for low-usage cars (driven fewer than 7,500 to 15,000 miles per year). Nab 10 percent off and save $79.
25. Ditch Your Cable
Replace it with Netflix or Hulu Plus streaming service ($8 per month each). The average cable bill is $62 a month, so cutting the cord saves $648 annually.
26. Text for Free
The WhatsApp and Google Hangouts mobile-messaging apps let you communicate via your data network or Wi-Fi. The savings are worth it. Sprint, for example, charges $20 per month for unlimited texting–which means you could sock away $240 per year.
27. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water
It will cut your energy bill, since 90 percent of the power used is for heating water. Annual savings: $40 for an electric water heater or $30 for a gas water heater.
28. Say No to Overdraft Protection
Signing up seems prudent—your debit card won't be declined if you're short on funds. But it also runs up an average $31 charge. Dodge just two fees in a year and you'll save $62.
29. Use Pretax Cash for Commuting Costs
If you spend $100 each month to commute on mass transit and are in the 25 percent tax bracket, you'll save at least $300 per year.
30. Get a Checkup
Being fit and healthy can pay off. Expect $40 to $1,000 back on your health insurance premiums if you get a physical and meet certain targets, such as weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The number of employers who offered this incentive almost doubled in the last four years alone. Annual savings: $40.
31. Try Skype to Save on International Calls
Use the website to connect to U.K. landlines for $4 (for 400 minutes) per month, compared with $10 for monthly international cell-phone plans. Annual savings: at least $72.
32. Skip the ER
Need immediate help for a non-life-threatening medical issue? Urgent-care centers charge less than emergency rooms. Average savings based on average costs, according to Consumer Reports: $280.
33. Swap Bulbs
Switch to Energy Star lights in the five fixtures you use most, and save $70 a year.
34. Take a Shorter Shower
The average annual indoor water bill is $366; 16 percent of that is due to showers. Shave five minutes off yours and save about $19 per year.
35. Bundle Your Car Insurance
Nationwide could cut your bill by as much as 20 percent if you bundle car and homeowners insurance. Because Americans spend, on average, $1,700 annually on those expenses, that adds up to $340 in savings.
36. Lose Your Landline
Get an Internet phone such as Ooma ($150) and all you pay are monthly taxes and fees of about $5. If your bill normally is $50 per month, you can save $390 this year.
— Kate Ashford
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