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How to Cut Expenses and Keep More of Your Money

MacPharlain offers some great insight about tall ship history and their modern-day relevance.

Save more of your money each month by trying out these tips.

Save more of your money each month by trying out these tips.

Save Money Every Month

Do you want to save more money? Whether trying to make ends meet or save up for something special, the dollars you spend add up quickly. Here are a few ideas to help you save more of your money each month.

Not all of these tips may be right for everyone. Take a look and start using the ones that fit your lifestyle and savings goals.

  1. Reduce Your Monthly Recurring Expenses
  2. Plan Your Meals for the Week
  3. Cut Your Hair at Home
  4. Use the Library
  5. Cut the Cable
  6. Review Your Utility Bills
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Bag Your Lunch
  9. Look for Free and Low-Cost Events
  10. Unplug Devices

How Much Can You Save?

By using the tips in this article, your total estimated monthly savings could be $200–$400 per month or more!

What are you waiting for? Start saving!

1. Reduce Your Monthly Recurring Expenses

A Monthly Recurring Expenses (MRE) is anything that you pay on a regular basis (typically monthly) such as utility bills, memberships, services, etc.

Most of the tips on this site are designed to reduce these expenses in ways that lead to big savings over time. Where practical an estimated monthly savings is listed with each tip.

2. Plan Your Meals for the Week

Estimated Savings: $50–$100/month (or more)

Pick a time when everyone is home and plan out your dinners for the next week. Once that's decided, figure out what ingredients you'll need and make your grocery list. This will help you only buy what you need and reduce the amount of spoiled food you throw away.

We started doing this last year and it really helps keep the grocery bills down. It also gets rid of the nightly "what are we going to have for dinner?" drill. We already know and (even better) have all the ingredients on hand. No more last minute trips to the grocery store.

3. Cut Your Hair at Home

Estimated Savings: $15–$30/month

Why pay $15 or more every few weeks to get the same simple haircut when you can do it at home for free? If you wear your hair short, then get your spouse, roommate or kids to cut it for you. The clippers will pay for themselves after the 3rd or 4th cut.

Helpful Hints: Buy a set of clippers that come with an instructional DVD and/or watch a "how to cut hair" video on YouTube.

4. Use the Library

Estimated savings: $8–$12/month (or more)

Borrow books and videos for free at your local library, which is a great free resource. If you really like the book and think you'll want to read it again, then go buy it.

Our county library system has a good inventory of movies and other videos (TV shows, cartoons, etc) and we check out a lot of DVDs. No Netflix or other online streaming subscription required.

Remember to renew or return the books on time so you don't rack up late fees. Many libraries offer free online renewal.

5. Cut the Cable

Estimated Savings: $40–$100/month

How many of your cable channels do you actually watch? Are they worth paying all that money for each month? I gave up cable 9 years ago*, don't miss it and still watch too much TV. If you feel you can't live without cable, at least drop the premium channels.

People in many areas can get good reception of the broadcast networks and public television. With the switch to digital signals, you may even get a better picture with an antenna than cable.

*Update: I live in an area that doesn't get strong digital broadcast signals and had to sign up for a basic cable plan after the switch to digital broadcasts. With some research, I found a basic cable plan for $10/month.

6. Review Your Utility Bills

Estimated Savings: $5–$30/month

Take a look at your phone, cable and internet service bills.

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First, look to see if there are any items such as call waiting that you may not need but are paying extra money for. Highlight those.

Next look at how much you are being charged each month and compare that to your service provider's listed rate for new customers. You can usually find that information easily online. Are you paying more than a new customer?

Now call your provider. Ask them to cancel the extras you don't need and lower your monthly rate to match what new customers pay (if applicable). Also ask if there is a cheaper plan or bundle you can switch to.

When you call, be nice to the customer service rep and it will be easier to get your bill reduced.

7. Quit Smoking

Estimated Savings: $180/month (pack a day)

The average price of cigarettes is over $6.00 per pack. That's a lot of money to spend to ruin your health, give yourself bad breath and all the other harmful effects of smoking. Plus you're probably paying higher life and health insurance rates because of it.

Do yourself a healthy and financially smart favor...quit smoking now.

8. Bag Your Lunch

Estimated Savings: $100/month

How much do you spend going out to lunch every day? Probably $5 to $10 a day including snacks from the vending machine. Making your lunch at home could easily save you more than half that amount...and will probably be more nutritious.

Don't have time? Prepare it the night before. It only takes the time of a TV commercial break to fix a sandwich. That way it's ready when you are in the morning.

9. Pay Your Insurance Annually

Estimated Savings: $5–10/month

Many insurance companies charge a fee for you to pay your annual premium in monthly installments. If you can afford to, pay your premium in full and avoid the fees.

10. Look for Free and Low-Cost Events

Keep an eye out for free events in your community that will add some variety to your life and keep money in your wallet. Your local paper, TV morning news and local bulletin boards (church, grocery store, etc) are great ways to find out about these events.

Here are a few examples of things to watch for:

  • Concerts - Free summer concerts are common at city parks and malls.
  • Programs for Kids - Story hour at the library, a magic show at the mall, musical programs at the park, etc.
  • Open Houses - Not the real estate kind...look for open houses at places like your local fire or police department, equestrian center, power company, etc. These are fun, free things to take your kids to.
  • Workshops or Educational Tours - Check with your local parks department about free events such as guided nature tours. Many craft and building supply stores regularly offer free workshops for do it yourselfers.

11. Unplug Devices

Estimated Savings: $5–10/month

Many electronic devices like TVs and DVD players continue to suck up electricity even while they're powered off. Unplug them when not in use.

Take a look around your house and see how many other devices like alarm clocks are plugged in and using electricity. Do you need all of them? If not, unplug it.

Unplug any cell phone chargers or other battery chargers once the device is fully charged.

Before you go on a trip, unplug as many electronic devices as possible. Consider shutting off your hot water heater if you'll be gone more than a couple days.


Were any of these money saving tips helpful for you? What do you do to keep more of your money? Please leave a comment below.

Your 2 Cents

anonymous on July 24, 2013:

Turn off your airconditioner. Thats half of your electric bill.

Klaartje Loose on May 05, 2013:

Prepare a great picnic for a day at the zoo or another attraction parc. It saves you lots of money!

anonymous on December 30, 2012:

@renyou: ya renyou thats right i always do that when i go out

Ronald Tucker from Louisville, Kentucky on December 07, 2012:

Excellent tips!...I hope to save over a hundred dollars a month by quiting smoking by participating in EX (a free three-step quit plan based on the latest scientific research from experts at Mayo Clinic and practical experience from ex-smokers.

anonymous on September 04, 2012:

great article

renyou on September 03, 2012:

These are truly helpful, packing lunch than eating out would save a lot.

kmyangel on September 01, 2012:

I love the idea to plan my meals for the whole week! Thanks for sharing !

OrlandoTipster on August 04, 2012:

I usually turn the a/c off in summer if no one but me is home.

Run the fan a lot.

anonymous on March 11, 2012:

There are a couple good tips here that I will put to use. Thanks.

baby-strollers on December 18, 2011:

Turn off the lights, that's a big deal for us!

KingLobster LM on October 29, 2011:

Amazingly helpful lens. I started reading it and then putting the tips into action. I particularly liked the part about saving money by planning out your meals. I actually started doing that because of this lens. At least the next three days are planned out. Thank you for the money saving advice. I will link this lens to one of my own because it is just that helpful.

Frischy from Kentucky, USA on September 08, 2011:

If you are someone who gets thirsty while you are running errands and stop for a soda or bottled water, you could be spending hundreds of dollars a year (or even more) on fast food or convenience mart sodas. A cooler in the car with soda or water from the grocery will save big bucks! If you refill water bottles at home, you can save even more. Or just switching from sodas to ice water at the drive thru can add up and be better for you, possibly saving you some medical or dental bills down the road.

MacPharlain (author) on August 26, 2011:

@anonymous: My wife cuts my hair most of the time and does a good job. We save $15 each time she cuts it.

anonymous on August 25, 2011:

Cutting your own hair is fairly extreme but I like the sound of it. I will have to give it a try. Check out my lens for some other money saving ideas.

th123 on May 18, 2011:

Clear any debt as soon as possible. Also write down everything you spend for one month and it can highlight some surprising areas where you can save money quite easily.

1dollar on May 04, 2011:

Really good tips

E L Seaton from Virginia on February 25, 2011:

Great suggestions. This lens will pay for itself in no time!

MacPharlain (author) on December 26, 2010:

@marsha32: Thanks!

marsha32 on December 25, 2010:

you give lots of good sane advice! We have many things that are plugged in constantly and I recently read these alone can account for up to 75% of your electric bill! I keep telling them to cut down the cable bill...we don't need the home phone since we all have cell phones, nor do we need over 200 channels to choose from either.

Blessed by a Squid Angel

AuthorNormaBudden on December 06, 2010:

You have some splendid ideas here...I enjoyed this lens a lot. It's very practical and it isn't like suggesting impossible goals.

anonymous on November 02, 2010:


Enigmaa8 on October 16, 2010:

Some great tips trying to hang on to your money is hard sometimes especially when it comes in slowly and goes out with such speed. Good to know where the holes are! Thanks!

greenlife17 on September 25, 2010:

all of the above except for the unplug the tv and dvd player. my sons and mother are tv addicts, so we leave our tv and dvd player in the sockets for easy access. now, after reading this, it'll be a no-no..thanks!

LadyelenaUK on May 22, 2010:

Thanks for the useful tips. I'm tired of money bouncing out of my account the minute it bounces in. lol. Great one - Cut the cable. Most of the cable channels can be watched on line for FREE these days. Regards.

anonymous on April 17, 2010:

Some really good sensible tips here. Good work.

alohaitsaj on January 02, 2010:

Great lens! You might want to consider looking into some personal finance software. There are a few web-based programs that are popular right now such as Green Sherpa, Mint, and Wesabe. I know if there is a squidoo page for Wesabe, but I know there is one for Mint and I made one for Green Sherpa. Check them out as they are great money management solutions!

alohaitsaj on January 01, 2010:

Great ideas! You also might want to consider looking into personal finance software to help you manage your money. A couple current web-based options that are popular are Green Sherpa and Mint.

Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on November 16, 2009:

Very good suggestions. I always cut my husband's hair at home (it's pretty easy; he has a ponytail), and that definitely saves about $130 to $150 per year by itself. I'm lensrolling this to my own lens about saving moolah. Nicely done.

CCGAL on April 16, 2009:

Why reinvent the wheel? I'm lensrolling this to my lens about thrift. Thanks for another good lens!

totalhealth on March 30, 2009:

good ideas... there are really things, we spend money to that are not really needed. also having a planned meal for the week really saves a lot, specially your frequent trips to the grocery.

Debbie Hawkins from British Columbia, Canada on December 05, 2008:

Good page - we cut our hair at home and go to the library. I also made a pricelist over the last few months and learned what a good sale is, which has saved us alot!

EmmaCooper LM on October 14, 2008:

Some great ideas!

Mihaela Vrban from Croatia on August 17, 2008:

Well, I really could use some of these tips!

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