[In Pictures: 10 Kitchen Tools That Will Save You Money]
17. Reduce your utility bills. Making sure your home is properly insulated can save you money on heating and cooling costs. Using a programmable thermostat so that the temperature automatically rises (in the summer) and falls (in the winter) when no one is home during the day can yield annual savings of about 30 percent. While some 25 million households own programmable thermostats, only half actually use them.
18. Use less energy. Small changes, like closing doors to unused rooms or turning off the air conditioner during the day, can make a serious dent in utility bills. So can unplugging appliances, turning off lights, and shutting down computers at night. Even televisions can use power when they're turned off, so unplugging them when they're not in use saves energy. A $30 power strip, called the Smart Strip, automatically cuts power to devices that don't need it when they're off, such as a DVD player, while maintaining power to those that do, such as a cable box.
19. Use fewer products. Instead of lathering up with soap, shaving cream, shower gel, and body scrub, Diane MacEachern, author of Big Green Purse, suggests cutting back to just a handful of products. "Put everything you use in one day on the counter and it will blow your mind. Pick a day where you just brush your teeth and your hair and forget about the rest," she says. In addition to creating less waste, the change will lower your monthly drugstore bills, because you won't be buying all of those unnecessary lotions and creams. You can save up to $200 a year.
20. Start making cleaning supplies from scratch. Even Martha Stewart endorses this technique. A bowl of vinegar or simmering lemon rinds can absorb smells just as well as manufactured air freshener. Scrubs made of baking soda and water make kitchens sparkle just like chemical-laden cleaners. The Internet contains hundreds of do-it-yourself recipes; Jennifer Taggart's thesmartmama.com can get you started.
21. Find inspiration online. There are hundreds of personal finance blogs and websites; find the ones that speak to you and visit them regularly to help keep you on track. Popular options include Wise Bread, The Simple Dollar, and Centsible Life.
22. Give yourself a stress test. How vulnerable are you to sudden job loss or unexpected expenses? Do you have an emergency fund? If not, start building one. You should have at least three months' worth of living expenses in your bank account.
23. Work with family members. Sometimes, family members can help each other save more money by working together. Adult children are increasingly living with their parents, for example, but this arrangement doesn't have to be a burden if the adult children contribute to household costs or pay rent. You can also help out by gardening, doing housework, or sharing your computer skills.
24. Decide what type of investor you want to be. If you're like most people, you probably want to skip stock-picking and put your money in low-cost index funds instead. Create a diversified portfolio, with longer-term savings in more aggressive investments (such as an index fund that tracks the S&P 500) and shorter-term savings in safer spots such as money market funds.