How to Save Money: Small Cutbacks that Add Up

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Money Saving Ideas

Money Saving IdeasYou often hear stats about how if you give up that morning cup of coffee at Starbucks, you’ll be saving x dollars per year. That’s great, but some of us just aren’t ready to give up that shot of energy in the morning. That’s okay! There are many other small changes you can make in your life that can add up to big savings over time. Here are a few to consider:

Get water when you go out to eat.

When you purchase a Coke at a restaurant, it can run you around the same price as a whole two-liter at the store. You can save yourself around $730 a year by ordering water instead of soda once a day. The savings go up if you are avoiding pricy mixed drinks, wine, or any other alcoholic beverage. Save these treats for at home. Want to take it a step further? Skip the restaurant meal altogether every now and then. You can probably make the same meal at home for a fraction of the price.

Give your library some love.

With apologies to book stores and video rental places – why aren’t you just going to the library? It’s free! Local libraries are some of the most versatile sources of entertainment around, but most people don’t even realize it. Today’s libraries loan out books, DVDs – some even have video games! And all of these either come completely free or at a very low rental price. Even better, most libraries allow you to reserve new releases and items on your “wish list.” Take advantage, and save a few dollars at the same time.

Use electricity smarter.

Sure, there are the old standbys of unplugging things when you’re not using them and replacing older lightbulbs with CFLs – both good ideas – but did you know your microwave can save you money? Using your microwave instead of your oven uses up to 50 percent less power. Who knew? These small changes can save you several dollars a month which adds up in the long run.

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Full loads, please.

You know that little dial on your washer that asks if the load is small, normal, or large? Apparently you should always go for large – or “full” – loads. This is because several small loads end up using a lot more water than one or two large ones. A similar rule applies to running the dishwasher. It uses the same amount of water whether it’s full or not, so load it up before you turn it on. For an added cost-saving bonus, let the dishes air-dry instead of using the heat cycle.

Lower the flow.

Looking for more ways to cut back on your water bill? Relatively inexpensive flow-restricting faucets and shower heads can save a family of four 8,000 to 12,000 gallons of water a year – and that’s not even counting the cost of heating that water! Even better, many low-flow devices actually provide better flow and pressure than older models with “regular” flow.

Forget cable – try Netflix and Hulu.

The average cost of basic cable – not counting any taxes or government fees – is about $50 per month. Basic cable. No premium channels, and not even a lot of what we consider “standard” these days. In contrast, you can subscribe to the streaming services of Netflix and Hulu for a combined cost of less than $20 per month. Sure, there are probably a few things you’ll miss out on, but both of these services are more robust than you think.

Netflix has thousands of older movie and TV titles on their service, and HuluPLUS gives you every current-season episode of 45 different TV shows as well as full series runs of 90 different shows. Plus, both services can be streamed almost anywhere – including any computer, most smart phones and video game consoles, and many current-generation TVs and Blu-Ray players.

Learn how to groom your pet.

Professional grooming can run you anywhere from $30 to $100. This can be a weekly or monthly expense, so it adds up fast. But you can purchase professional-grade clippers and scissors for as low as $50, and there are many classes and instructional DVDs that can walk you through the process.  You can ask your veterinarian for any additional pet care tips if you are uncertain about any step in the process.

After the initial investment in the equipment, you’ll just need to buy a bottle of shampoo every now and then. Wondering what to do with the extra cash? Consider setting it aside in a special savings account for any emergency veterinary visits or using it to purchase pet insurance.

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Small cutbacks like these can add up to big savings, but if you’re serious about trimming your budget, make sure you’re also looking at ways to slash big expenses like your mortgage payment, car payment and even the interest you pay on credit card debt. Find out how to save bigger and faster at And check out these other great money-saving articles: