5 Ways to Save a Little More Each Month

Reduce your heating and water bills and take a close look at your cell phone needs.

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Many of us are always looking for ways to save a little more each month. Indeed, even spare change can be helpful when it comes to saving a little more. The idea is to get in the habit of looking for ways to keep a little more money for yourself—and your future—rather than spending it. When you are in this habit, you will find that it becomes easier to save a little more each month. These are savings that can start to add up to bigger amounts of money down the road.

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Here are five ways to save a little more each month:

1. Reduce Your Heating and Cooling Costs

Whether it is summer or winter, it is possible to cut your utility costs. Look for energy leaks in your home, and work to plug them up so that heating and cooling are not as expensive. You can also audit your plugs and power strips, consolidating your appliances and electronics in a way that allows you to turn off power to the plugs and avoid energy vampirism. Turn your water heater down and get a programmable thermostat. Efforts to reduce your utility costs can be surprisingly effective.

2. Cut Your Water Bills

My mother-in-law does laundry almost every day. Imagine what she could save in water bills if she waited and did laundry only once a week—or when there was a full load. You can cut your water bill by filling your dishwasher before running it, and taking shorter showers. Outside, you can use native plants in your landscaping so that water is not as necessary for your yard. A timer for your sprinkling system can help. You can also get a rain barrel, and store up water that can be used for your plants, rather than relying only on sprinklers.

3. Re-evaluate Your Cell Phone Needs

Many of us have cell phones now. But do you really need a huge plan? We have a pay as you go plan that does really well for us, saving us a bundle. You can also reconsider your need for a land line if you decide that your cell phone plan is necessary. Figure out whether VoIP services like Skype might be helpful, and how you can combine these types of phone services with a reasonable cell phone to save money.

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4. Cancel Subscriptions

Do you really need those publications? Can you find them online? Is there a cheaper online subscription? What about downsizing your current subscription? Our family would never dream of canceling our Netflix subscription, but we are thinking of downsizing it to a streaming-only version. With the ability to have rentals available instantly, without discs, we may not need more expensive versions. Of course, our desire for certain shows means that we still have cable, but we have the most basic package. Consider where you can cut back, go to the library, or just forget subscriptions altogether.

5. Plan Your Meals

This is a big one. Actually planning your meals can be a good way to save money overall. You won't be scrambling to buy take out or use pre-packaged foods that are often more expensive. Meal planning also requires that you create a grocery list—something that has been shown to help you keep costs under control while shopping. Learn how to use the crock pot, or make simple meals that take little time to prepare. This can help you save a little money on food costs.

Bottom Line: These ideas are pretty simple and seem kind of obvious. However, sometimes we forget to go back to simple financial basics, making things more complex (and expensive) than they have to be.

Pinyo is the owner of Moolanomy Personal Finance Blog, which covers a wide range of personal finance  and investing topics, with features that include reviews, comparison guides, and Q&A sections.