Cancel your landline phone. Many people find they rarely make calls on their home phone. If you're not using it, why are you paying for it? Ask about bundling your phone with your cable and Internet service – but be warned that a cable phone will not work in a power failure.
Review your insurance costs. Call your insurance agent and make sure you're getting all the discounts to which you're entitled. Make sure your coverage fits your current circumstances. If your teenage driver moved out and got his own car, get him off your policy. You might also want to get quotes from other companies on auto or home insurance.
Call your credit card companies and ask for lower rates. Or do balance transfers. Credit is loosening up and card companies are sending more offers. If you get a good offer, call your existing company and see if it will match the new offer. If your credit is good and you make all your payments on time, you're in a good position to negotiate. "All they can do is say no," Harzog says. "Consumers have more power than they know."
If you are in debt, make a plan to pay it off. Paying $200 a month in interest charges is a waste of money that would be better used toward retirement savings, your kids' braces or a trip around the world. Some experts advise paying off the smallest balances first, although Harzog recommends targeting those with the highest interest rates. Either way, start paying off those cards, one at a time. Make the minimum payments on all cards, but target one card at a time and make bigger payments so you can pay it off. When you've paid off one card, go to the next.
Look for a cheaper health club. Are you paying $75 a month for a gym membership you never use? Maybe you should cancel and take up walking, biking or hiking. Perhaps you can get a gym membership that's equally good for half the price at a YMCA or community center. Shop around.
Look at the fees associated with your bank and investment accounts. If you don't have free checking, ask your bank what you can do to get it. If your bank doesn't offer free checking, find one that does. If mutual fund fees or stock account fees are eating into your returns, move your accounts to a discount brokerage, especially if you're not getting personalized advice.
[See: 8 Painless Ways to Save Money.]
Don't shop for recreation. If you're not in the stores, you won't be tempted to buy. That goes for yard sales and thrift shops, too, Weston says.
Be careful of online purchases. It's easy to shop online in the wee hours of the morning, but that spending can add up. Unsubscribe from email alerts that urge you to spend. Get yourself off stores' online mailing lists and restrict your online shopping to things you really need, when you need them.
Make a budget and stick to it. Give yourself a realistic allowance for discretionary spending and don't spend any more than that. "It sounds quaint," Harzog says, but having a budget works.