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100+ Smart Ways to Save Money on Almost Everything in Your Budget

Updated on June 27, 2017
Gregory DeVictor profile image

Gregory DeVictor is a financial adviser and author who has published over 100 articles and e-books on various topics of consumer finance.

Cutting the excess fat from your budget is not challenging as you might think. Although you may have little control over your mortgage or property taxes, you can save hundreds of dollars every year on groceries, utilities, cell phone charges, prescriptions, bank fees, insurance, dining out, textbooks, clothing, electronics, a tank of gas, and much more. This article teaches you over 100 ways to save money on almost everything in your budget.

For your convenience, I have divided my article into the following categories:

  • How to save money on utilities
  • How to save money at the gas pump
  • How to save money on cell phone charges, cable bills, and Internet service
  • How to save money on a new car and car repairs
  • How to save money on dining out and entertainment
  • How to save money on a vacation

Author's note: In a separate article, I teach you "50 Smart-Money Ways to Live Fiscally Fit." . In another article, I teach you "50 Smart Ways to Save Money on Everything from Dental Care to Car Insurance."

About the author: I am a financial adviser and have published over 100 articles and e-books on the following topics:

  1. Debt consolidation and debt settlement
  2. Fundamentals of successful financial management
  3. Financial mistakes that can become big money leaks
  4. Costly mistakes to make with credit cards
  5. The pros and cons of prepaid debit cards
  6. How to save money on almost everything in your budget

Author’s note: Although I have made every effort to provide you with accurate, timely, and trustworthy information, I cannot guarantee that such information is correct, effective, or up-to-date at the time of your access.

How to Save Money on Utilities

According to the United States Department of Energy (DOE), the average American household spends over $2,000 every year on utilities. Here are some estimates of how the money is allocated:

  • Heating: $662
  • Cooling: $394
  • Water heater: $317
  • Lighting: $269
  • Clothes dryer and washer: $143
  • Refrigerator: $95
  • Electric oven: $90
  • TV, DVD, VCR: $57
  • Dishwasher: $49
  • Computer: $28

Here are 75 large and small changes that you can make to keep your home more energy efficient and cut utility bills:

1. If you’re not using an appliance, unplug it.

2. Turn off the lights in a room you are not using.

3. During the summer, never leave home with the air conditioning on.

4. Have your furnace tuned up every two years and save up to 15% in fuel costs.

5. Clean or replace furnace filters once a month. Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy consumption.

6. Raise the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer. They don’t have to be on the coldest setting.

7. Paint your rooms with light colors. This reduces the need for artificial light.

8. Turn off your outdoor lights when you get home.

9. According to the United States Department of Energy, you can save about 10% in utility costs by installing a programmable thermostat.

10. Soak your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher.

11. Unplug your battery charger when you are not using it.

12. Don’t leave your holiday or outdoor lights on during the day.

13. Turn off the lights when you are watching television.

14. Unplug the computer, scanner, printer, and fax machine in your home office if you are not using them.

15. Open the refrigerator and freezer doors as little as possible.

16. Don’t keep the television on if nobody is watching it.

17. Use table lamps instead of overhead lights to brighten a space you are using.

18. Watch less television. Instead of watching the evening news, why not opt to resolve the latest financial challenge in your life?

19. Use a manual can opener.

20. Air-dry your hair instead of using a blow dryer.

How to Save Money on Utilities

21. Turn off your Nintendo or PlayStation if you are not using them.

22. Use your toaster less.

23. Remove your clothes from the dryer while they are still damp. They will probably last longer as well.

24. Never use dish detergent in your washing machine.

25. Do multiple loads of laundry in succession. Your dryer will work more efficiently because it will not have to keep warming up.

26. Check the progress of your dryer periodically. This allows you to untangle sheets, bath towels, jeans, or overalls so that they will dry more quickly.

27. Just because you have set your dryer for 60 minutes doesn’t mean that it will take that long for your laundry to dry.

28. Do not overload your washer or dryer.

29. No washing machine can completely remove oil from your clothes.

30. Paint your roof white. You can save up to 40% in annual cooling costs--over $100 at current utility rates--by having a white roof instead of a black one.

31. Install compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL). According to

If every American home replaced just one light bulb with a light bulb that's earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.

By changing one bulb, you could save $40 or more over the lifetime of the bulb.

By changing 5 bulbs, you could save $200 or more over the lifetime of the bulbs.

Because the average U.S. household has more than 50 light bulbs, think of how much you could save if you switched them all to ENERGY STAR certified models.

32. Do basic household maintenance regularly. Here are 15 Quick Fixes to Make Around Your House.

33. Run full loads of laundry and dishes.

34. Air seal and insulate your home. points out that:

A typical family spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget--roughly $350--on air that leaks into or out of the house through unintended gaps and cracks. With the money you waste in just one year, you can plug many of those leaks yourself. It’s among the most cost-effective things you can do to conserve energy and increase comfort.

35. Insulate your water heater and pipes.

How to Save Money on Utilities

36. Check to see if your meter and utility bill match.

37. Plant tall shrubs and trees around your house to shade your home in the summer and block harsh winds in the winter.

38. Use a crock pot and reduce your cooking costs. According to, a crock pot "is perhaps the best deal on earth for reducing cooking costs in a busy family. You can just dump in your ingredients before work, put it on simmer, and dinner is done when you get home."

39. Choose white curtains and blinds to reflect heat away from your home during the summer.

40. Here is the average daily water use for a family of four in the United States:

  • Washing dishes – 15 gallons
  • Cooking and drinking – 12 gallons
  • Laundry – 35 gallons
  • Bathing – 80 gallons
  • Washing hands, etc. – 5 gallons
  • Toilet – 100 gallons

Here are 100+ Ways to Conserve Water.

41. Take quick showers.

42. Do not use the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket. Never put cigarette butts, paper towels, disinfecting wipes, cotton swabs, cosmetic puffs, coffee grinds, or plastic bags into the toilet.

43. Store cold water in the refrigerator.

44. Install a low-flow, water-saving shower head.

45. Do not let the faucet run while you are cleaning fruits and vegetables.

46. Get rid of the second refrigerator that you occasionally use for parties and family gatherings.

47. Put a layer of mulch around plants, trees, and shrubs. Mulch will slow the evaporation of moisture.

48. Buy a water-efficient toilet. If your toilet was manufactured prior to 1994, you are probably losing about 2 gallons of water every time you flush.

49. Did you know that the permanent press cycle on most washing machines uses about one-third more water than the regular cycle?

50. Do not flush the toilet unnecessarily.

51. Make sure that the water is not running continuously in the toilet.

52. When washing dishes by hand, do not let the faucet run needlessly.

53. Repair leaking faucets. A dripping faucet can waste over 300 gallons of water a month. That adds up to nearly 4,000 gallons a year.

54. Do not use hot running water to thaw frozen foods. Instead, allow ample time for frozen foods to that before cooking or eating.

55. Use a water-efficient “soaker hose” instead a sprinkler to water your lawn.

How to Save Money on Utilities

56. Since it takes about 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub, taking a shower is more cost-effective.

57. If you are unable to take a shower, fill the tub about halfway. That’s about 35 gallons of water.

58. Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving.

59. Buy Energy Star certified products. Energy Star is the partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Energy (DOE) that identifies energy-efficient products. Energy Star acknowledges that “Heating and cooling costs the average homeowner about $1,000 a year - nearly half the home's total energy bill. Replacing your system with an ENERGY STAR certified model could cut your heating and cooling costs by 30%.”

Here are some examples of Energy Star certified products:

  • Air purifiers
  • Ceiling fans
  • Central and room air conditioning units
  • Clothes washers and dryers
  • Computers
  • Dehumidifiers
  • Dishwashers, freezers, and refrigerators
  • Furnaces
  • Light bulbs and fixtures
  • Ventilation fans
  • Water heaters

60. During winter months, use extra layers of blankets instead of turning up the thermostat.

61. Pay your utilities on time to avoid late charges.

62. Water your outdoor plants and lawn early in the morning before the sun burns off moisture.

63. Carefully go over each of your utility bills before paying them. If there is something that you do not understand on a bill, call the supplier and ask for help.

64. To make paying utility bills easier, consider using a budget payment plan. Budget billing is designed to manage fluctuations in your monthly utility bills. It estimates the total annual cost for a utility based on past or estimated consumption and expected utility prices and fees. This estimate is used to determine your monthly budget payment for twelve (12) months.

65. If you need help paying your utility bills, most suppliers have customer assistance programs. CAPs can help you to reduce your bills and/or provide you with information on cash grants:

How to Save Money at the Gas Pump

1. Shop at supermarkets that have fuel perks programs. You can save 10 - 20 cents off a gallon of gas for every $50 you spend on groceries, prescriptions, and qualifying gift cards. You can learn more about fuel perks here: .

2. Clean your car's air filter every 10,000 miles.

3. Gas Price Watch lets you text your zip code to They will respond with the names and addresses of the cheapest places to buy gas in your area. You can also use the AAA Triptik or GasBuddy apps on your smartphone to find the cheapest gas prices in your locale.

4. According to, there is a 65% chance that you will find the best prices at the gas pump on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

5. Rapid braking and accelerating decrease fuel efficiency.

6. Fill the tank full. Instead of adding two gallons today and three gallons tomorrow, save time and money and fill up all the way all at once.

7. Combine errands. For example, you can do the grocery shopping, buy postage stamps, pick up a prescription, and even do your banking all in one trip to the supermarket.

8. Buy discounted Gulf, Shell, and Mobil gift cards at You might pay $90 for a gift card but get $100 worth of gas.

9. Don‘t forget to tune up. A properly maintained engine can increase fuel efficiency by up to 10%.

10. Don’t carry around nonessential odds and ends in your car. You lose one mile for every gallon of gas for every 250 extra pounds.

11. Don't let your engine idle.

12. Don't speed. According to, each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an extra 24 cents per gallon for gas.

13. Don't pack items on the top of your car.

14. Use the air conditioning only when it is absolutely necessary.

15. Ride a bicycle to work. According to the U.S. Census, nearly 750,000 Americans bike to work. Bicycling is a popular mode of transportation in cities like Portland, Denver, and Washington, DC. agrees:

By leaving your car at home two days a week, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by more than 3,000 pounds a year. Plus, you’ll save money on gas and parking if you bike rather than drive to work. For example, you’ll save about $7 a day by biking rather than driving if you have a 15-mile round-trip commute. Use our How Much Can I Save Biking to Work? Tool to see what the financial benefits are for you. If biking isn’t an option, you still can drive less by organizing a carpool, using public transportation or walking.

How to Save Money at the Gas Pump

16. Buy a smaller car. Generally, smaller cars are lighter and get better gas mileage.

17. Anticipate stop signs and lights. advises: “Look far ahead; get to know your usual routes. You can let up on the gas earlier. Coasting to a stop will save the gasoline you would otherwise use maintaining your speed longer.”

18. Take public transit to work or to the ballgame. Here are 10 cities with excellent public transportation: New York City, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Honolulu, Denver-Aurora, and San Jose.

For example, parking for a San Francisco Giant’s game at AT&T Park is expensive. Using public transit—Muni, BART, Caltrains, or a dedicated ballpark ferry—might be a more cost-effective option.

Here is another example:

Getting to a Steeler’s game at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field can be stressful and expensive. Fighting your way through the city’s “notorious tunnel traffic” and regular road closures is no stroll in the park. However, taking advantage of Pittsburgh’s best forms of public transportation--shuttle boats, the Gateway Clipper, or the subway-surface “T”--can decrease the amount of stress and expense.

19. If your employer gives you a free transit pass, count your blessings and never leave home without it.

20. If you live in a city with excellent public transportation such as New York or San Francisco, you might not need a car. Of course, you can always rent one for special occasions.

21. If you ride public transportation frequently, buy a weekly, monthly, or annual transit pass. You could save lots of money.

22. Pump up your tires and save up to six cents a gallon. reveals that “More than one-quarter of vehicles are driving on deflated tires. The average under-inflation of 7.5 pounds causes a loss of 2.8% in fuel efficiency.”

23. Maintain a safe following distance. advises:

Don't stick to the bumper of the car directly in front of you. You will brake more and accelerate more to keep that unnecessary and dangerous narrow gap. This also gives you a lot more room to play with when you are timing traffic signals. Likewise, ignore tailgaters. They will tailgate you whether you go the speed limit, or 100MPH over the speed limit. Allow them pass when it's convenient.

24. Some gas stations charge you more when you pay by credit or debit card in order to offset the “processing costs” that banks charge them. As a result, look for gas stations where paying by credit or debit card is the same as paying with cash. You could save five cents or more per gallon.

25. For more ways to save money at the gas pump, go to How to Save Money on Gas.

How to Save Money on Cell Phone Charges, Cable Bills, and Internet Service

1. Do you really need 100 cable channels? Why not switch to basic cable and use the money that you save to pay off debt or boost your retirement savings.

2. Avoid signing term contracts with a cable company. Instead, choose a provider where you can cancel service at any time.

3. Instead of cable, consider Netflix. For only $7.99 a month, you can watch unlimited television shows and movies. Netflix also gives you one month for free.

4. Bundle your cable and Internet service into one monthly payment. Why pay for separate charges each month?

5. The average American household spent over $1,500 in 2015 on cell phones and services, and the biggest spenders easily spent twice that much. If overpaying for what you need sounds like a bad idea, here are 12 Tips to Cut Your Cell Phone Bill.

6. If you have a cell phone, get rid of your land line. Why pay $25 or more every month for a phone you rarely use.

7. Never pay late fees on your cell phone and cable/Internet service bills. Some providers charge as much as $10 for a late or missed payment.

8. Be careful about paying your cell phone or cable/Internet service bills by using the credit card option on the provider’s web site. Some providers charge you a service fee of up to $25 for the convenience.

How to Save Money on a New Car and Car Repairs

1. When buying a car, here are five factors that you must consider:

  • Fuel economy
  • Is new or used best for you?
  • Does leasing or buying make more sense?
  • What is your target price?
  • What is the net worth of your old car?

2. You can find expert ratings and buying advice for new cars at

3. points out one way to save money on a new car:

Auto manufacturers roll out new models in October, so dealerships make room by discounting older stock in late summer. According to Phil Reed, consumer advice editor for, September shoppers can save up to $2,000 with very little negotiating--as little as, 'I'm taking last year's model off of your hands, and I need a better price; what can you do?

Here is Red Book's "score anytime secret" on how to get a better price on a new car:

To score a deal on new wheels any time of year, ask your dealer about 'program cars,' which are driven by sales staff for up to 10,000 miles and are kept in tip-top shape by the dealership, then sold at a steep discount.

4. Here are three useful links that can help you to save money on car repairs:

How to Save Money on Dining Out and Entertainment

1. If you've been eating out more than twice a week, consider eating out no more than once a week, once every two weeks, or even once a month. You will appreciate eating out more and be amazed at how much money you can save.

2. Stop spending $5.00 or more on a latte and muffin every morning on the way to work. Use the money that you save to pay off debt or build up emergency savings.

3. Go to a matinee at the movie theater. It's cheaper than going at night.

4. Give up the daily or weekly lotto. Your chances of winning on a single ticket are one in 175 million. If you're spending $10 a week on scratch-off tickets, that adds up to over $500 annually. Use the money for your debt reduction program or to build up cash reserves.

5. Stop gambling at land-based or online casinos as well because the odds are also against you.

6. Get rid of magazine subscriptions that you no longer need. If you have a pile of unread magazines around the house, it's probably from a subscription or two that you should cancel.

7. Are you looking for something to do this weekend? Get a free newspaper and check the listings for free or low-cost theatre, exhibits, festivals, kid stuff, etc.

8. Use your AAA discount to save on entertainment and attractions in your area as well as total vacation packages.

9. Entertain at home instead of going out. For example, consider having a potluck with friends.

10. When eating out, look for half-priced dinner specials.

11. To learn where you can get free food on your birthday, go to 110 Restaurants That Offer Free Birthday Food.

12. Here is a list of over 50 places where kids can eat for free or inexpensively: Kids Eat Free.

13. Sign up with and save 50%-90% on restaurant meals, movie tickets, and more.

How to Save Money on a Vacation

1. Vacation during the off-season.

2. The average price for a gallon of gas nationwide was $1.87 in January, 2016. With gas prices so low, why not consider a road trip? Here are 10 Simple Ways to Spend Less on the Road.

3. To get a lower price on airfare, book your flight at least 21 days in advance and be willing to stay over on a Saturday night.

4. Sign up with an airline’s frequent flyer program to accumulate points toward free flights.

5. Don't forget to travel light. advises that "Airlines are starting to charge for everything now and if you have 2 bags or more, expect to be charged for it. Remember to not use oversized bags whenever possible and try to keep it all within one bag per person."

6. Use to compare prices on hotels, rental cars, flights, and cruises.

7. You can also use to compare prices on hotels. I have used Trivago several times and have always had favorable results.

8. Be specific with car rentals. According to

One way car rentals (when the pickup and drop off locations are different) are sometimes more than twice the price of standard rentals, especially if the two locations are in different states (or country). If you need the car for 7 days and will be in the same city for 5 and another city for 2 for example, break the rental period in two and have a 5-day same location rental and another 2-day one day rental. You might need to go back to the rental facility but it really doesn’t take that long and it might save you a few hundred dollars.

9. Check out daily deals from Groupon in the city that you’re traveling to. You could save up to 80% on select things to do.

10. Bank of America cardholders can receive free admission to more than 150 museums on the first full weekend of every month. Here are some examples:

  • Atlanta - Atlanta History Center, High Museum of Art, Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • Boston - Museum of Fine Arts
  • Chicago - Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago History Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Los Angeles - Autry National Center of the American West, LACMA, Skirball Cultural Center
  • Miami - Coral Gables Museum
  • New York City - Brooklyn Historical Society, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Philadelphia - National Constitution Center, Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Phoenix - Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum
  • Pittsburgh - Carnegie Museum of Art
  • San Francisco - Contemporary Jewish Museum, de Young Museum, Legion of Honor

11. There are 398 national parks in the United States. At least 265 of them have free admission.

12. Here is a list of over 50 places where kids can eat for free or inexpensively: Kids Eat Free.

100+ Smart Ways to Save Money on Almost Everything in Your Budget

This article has taught you 100+ ways to save money on almost everything in your budget. Now that you have learned how to receive a longer receipt for less money, here is another important way to live fiscally fit: Write down every cent you spend. “Every cent” includes the $150 gas bill you paid yesterday as well as the $6.99 pastrami sandwich you bought today for lunch. Every week or so, go over your list of expenses and decide which ones can be reduced or eliminated. You will have more money left over at the end of the month and will not be burdened with trying to make ends meet.


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      BRENDA 3 months ago

      I find that a track phone with 3x the minutes gives me plenty of emergency minutes to use when I'm out for about $20.00 every 90 days. I have even accumulated minutes that roll over each month by not gluing it to my ear. If I need the phone I use it but I don't need to talk to my bestie while shopping, banking, driving or going to dinner with my husband.

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