Piggy Bank

With all the talk about “fiscal cliffs” lately, many of us are looking for ways to save even more money. (Think: “A penny saved is a penny earned.”) Unfortunately, for those of us pinching pennies pretty hard already, coming up with new ways to save can seem elusive at best, downright frustrating at worst. Thankfully, those extra pennies might be closer than you think. You just need to know where to look.

If you need to find new ways to save, try these 10 cost-cutting strategies for your home and living expenses:

Pile of pennies

“A penny saved…”

#1 – Insurance premiums. When was the last time you shopped for home and auto insurance? One year, we received a notice that our rates were going up, so we secured quotes from competing companies. Switching carriers saved us over $400. Of course, you might not get that kind of payoff every year, but it’s certainly worth a few phone calls to find out.

#2 – Cable TV. This year, my family did the unthinkable: we cut the cord on cable TV. When we signed up for Internet services a few years ago, the best way to get it was to bundle the high-speed service with phone and TV. Recently, we spoke with a cable representative, who helped us find an Internet-only plan, drastically reducing our monthly payment but still giving us that high-speed Internet service we need. (In case you’re wondering what we’ll do for TV, check a later post for some TV options that don’t require a monthly bill.)

Ooma Telo

Ooma Telo

#3 – Home phone. Yep. You guessed it. When we pulled the plug on cable TV, we also ditched our local phone service. We both have cell phones, but because we wanted local phone service as well, my husband did some research and discovered this product called “Ooma.” With a one-time purchase, you can avoid a monthly telephone bill altogether, paying only the applicable taxes (typically less than $4.00/month!).

#4 – Cell phone services. Don’t take it for granted that you’re getting the best deal on your cell phone. First, make sure you need and use everything you pay for in your current plan. Then check out other plans and offers. Doing a little research on alternate options might net you more savings than you’d think. Check out this site for more helpful tips.

Make-it-and-take-it breakfast

Make-it-and-take-it breakfast

#5 – Dining out. If you’re in the habit of eating out once or twice a week, consider “brown bagging it” instead. Whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can save 50 to 90% of the cost by preparing meals at home. On those occasions when you do eat out, consider skipping drinks and ordering water with lemon instead. Or eat just half the meal, bringing home the leftovers to enjoy for lunch the next day. (This tip could also help you accomplish some of those weight-loss goals, too!) You can look for specials, too, like “kids eat free.” And remember, coupons aren’t just for the grocery store any more!

#6 – Utility services. In our neighborhood, we have a choice of service providers for trash pickup. One year, we switched providers and saved $10/month. In itself, this might not seem like much of a savings, but every penny adds up—in this case, to the tune of $120/year.

Jillian Michaels DVD

Exercise DVD

#7 – Gym memberships. Far be it from me to discourage anyone from regular exercise, but the gym isn’t the only place to get in shape, particularly if you rarely go. Instead, consider alternate forms of exercise. Last year, I lost 20 pounds and shaved 20 points from my cholesterol, all for the low price of this exercise DVD and a few dietary changes. (OK, working in my garden over the summer played a big part in the weight loss, too, so by all means, move ahead to the next strategy!)

Mel Bartholomew's Book

Square Foot Gardening

#8 – Plant a garden. A small patio garden with a few herbs and salad ingredients can cut your grocery costs over the summer. Plant a larger garden, freezing or canning your harvest, for even greater savings. We’ve been using the square-foot gardening method for a few years now with great success. And for canning tips, check out this how-to guide.

#9 – Shop less frequently. Instead of making daily or even weekly trips to the grocery store, try extending the time between shopping visits to every two weeks. Map out your monthly meals with a menu plan, and be sure to stock up when sales arise.

#10 – DIY. You can save a ton of money by doing or making things yourself. Whether it’s a product like laundry detergent or cleaning wipes, or a do-it-yourself construction project, like a complete bathroom remodel, making or creating it yourself can reap huge dividends in savings and, in some cases, healthier living!

True, employing these 10 cost-cutting strategies isn’t going to make anyone rich overnight, but if you’re looking for new ways to save, every penny helps. Who knows? You just might get rich slowly instead!

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