Being frugal has become a national obsession. Finding ways to save money has become a way of life for many people since the Great Recession of 2008.
While that recession is officially over, many Americans aren’t as optimistic and are still looking for ways to save money. Chances are you’ve implemented at least a few ways to save money each month, but there are many more out there that are worth trying — at least for a month.
Here are 11 ideas to save money each month. Try a few for a month, and if you can’t get them to stick, try a few others:
Save money by dumping your landline
1. Dump the landline. If you’ve already got a cellphone, why keep a landline phone? For better reception during an emergency? Yes, the dispatcher can generally see your address when you call 911 from a landline phone, and there could be some issues with a cellphone if the power is cut.
The average landline bill is $20 a month, which isn’t a huge sum to save when you consider your cellphone bill is probably close to $50 a month. But it’s a start if you don’t mind a short delay when calling 911 in an emergency, and even that’s questionable.
2. Cut the cord. If you can dump the home phone, you can at least try getting rid of cable TV. With so many online viewing choices through Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and others, along with DVD rentals and a chance to get through all of those books you’ve been meaning to read, dropping cable TV for at least a few months is easier than its ever been.
Many streaming services cost about $8 a month, though some are free. Unless you want to watch shows on your computer, you may have to invest $100 or even much less in a streaming device such as Roku, Apple TV or Google Chromecast so you can drop the $75 or so you’re spending each month on cable TV.
3. Fan it. If high summer temperatures are causing you to turn the air conditioner up, you could see your electric bill rise by $50 or more in a month. Stop cooling the entire house and buy a portable fan for the room you’re in.
An oscillating stand fan can cost $25 and more than pays for itself. If you’re away from home much of the day and find your electricity costs go up, buy a programmable thermostat that will set the temperature to a comfortable level a few hours before you get home.
Save money on gas
4. Shop for gas. If you wait until the last minute before a trip to fill up your car’s gas tank, chances are you’ll buy at the gas station that’s nearest you or the freeway entrance. That can be costly, and can be about 30 cents more per gallon than it is at a discount station such as a warehouse club.
Also look for the best prices in your area at GasBuddy, and use discounts that your supermarket may give you for buying gas through them. It’s a smart way to save money every month.
5. Buy generic. Whether it’s gasoline, drug prescriptions or groceries, the savings can add up by buying generic products. Some foods, for example, may taste different than the name brand (store-brand cola vs Coke), so try it out before committing to a large purchase.
6. Coffee. Starting the day without a cup of coffee can be difficult, but starting it by paying $5 for a cup at your local coffee shop can hurt your wallet. Add that up and you could be spending $100 a month on coffee. Instead, take 10 minutes of your morning and brew it yourself with a French press and buy some coffee in bulk at Cosco that you can ground up at the store.
7. Use those gift cards. Unused gift cards can gather dust or get lost, so before you lose them, either go spend them or trade them for some cash at places such as Coinstar and Cardpool. It’s not a way to save money and make a dependable profit every month, but it beats having unspent cash just sitting around the house.
Save money on credit cards
8. Find a better credit card. If you keep a monthly balance on your credit card and are paying a high interest rate, it’s time to shop around for a better rate or even an introductory 0% rate. Or better yet, give yourself a raise by paying off the bill in full each month and don’t pay any interest charges at all. If you do transfer a balance to a better credit card, be sure you don’t have to pay a fee for such a move. If you’re too busy to shop for a different card, call your current credit card company and ask for a better rate.
9. Stop buying books and DVDs. You might have to wait a little longer to get the newest releases, but most public libraries at least get the latest book titles relatively quickly. In my neighborhood, some popular books can be borrowed the same week as they come out. The same isn’t true with movies, but there have got to be some old movies you’ve been wanting to see but haven’t had the time for. Being frugal is a good time to catch up on old films.
10. Don’t dine out. Try this for a month and see how much money you’ll save. Chances are it be a few hundred dollars. Cook at home and save big. And if you do go to restaurants, drink free water and skip the expensive drinks and desserts.
11. Buy used clothes, or none at all. Shopping at thrift stores for used clothes is in style lately, so at least you’ll look hip while saving money. Better yet, save money by not buying any clothes at all for at least a month. Take a good, hard look in your closet. Are you wearing everything you have throughout the year? If you haven’t worn something in a year, get rid of it.