Saving money should be a cinch: Just cut your expenses so you take in more than you pay out, and voila, more cash in your pocket. Too bad it’s not quite so easy in real life. But even if you’re pretty good at spotting bargains and resisting splurges, we bet there are still plenty of ways to hang on to your hard-earned dough that you haven’t thought of. To get ideas, we went to financial and frugality experts who make a living out of finding unexpected ways to slash spending. Try some of their tricks, and watch your wallet fatten up.
1. Cancel Cable
Thanks to Netflix and Hulu, you’re no longer dependent on your cable provider to watch Scandal. “The FCC says an expanded basic cable subscription costs $64 per month on average, while customers on Netflix pay $8 per month,” says David Bakke, a money saving expert at MoneyCrashers.com.
2. Cut Coupons Old-School Style
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3. Fill Up with Regular Gas
“Unless your owner’s manual specifically recommends it, avoid using premium fuel,” says Bakke. “It does not boost your car’s performance.” Emptying your trunk and keeping your tires inflated will make the gas in your tank last longer, too.
4. Have BYOB Nights
Just a couple of cocktails or glasses of wine can run you $20 to $25 if you and your friends order them at a bar or restaurant. Split the cost of a few bottles, and invite everyone over. You’ll save big, says Holly Johnson, frugality expert at GetRichSlowly.com.
5. Avoid ATMs with Fees
Those little charges may seem like nothing, but just four transactions at ATMs that are not part of your bank’s network can run you $12 a month. (Looking ahead, that’s almost $150 extra a year!) So yeah, forgoing the extra block to use the ATM at your own bank can get mighty expensive, says Bakke.
6. Do Less Laundry
Avoid buying items that have to be dry cleaned so you don’t have to keep shelling out $8 or more per cleaning. And when you do hit the washing machine, use cold water…and consider skipping the dryer part. “Laundering your clothing in cold water and drying on a clothes line makes them last longer,” says Bakke.
7. Renegotiate a Better Phone Deal
Shop around and find out what competing mobile providers offer, then call your company and renegotiate, says Bakke. “If you find a deal that a competing company is offering and mention that in your discussion, your chances of success go up,” he says. Or ask for a breakdown of your usage over the past several months, and see if there’s a cheaper plan that still meets your needs.
8. Download Money-Saving Apps
Bakke suggests RedLaser; you scan a product’s bar code, and you’ll be given a list of nearby stores as well as sites with the best prices for the item. “Apps like Shopkick and Ibotta allow you to earn money and rewards when doing your daily shopping,” he says.