We all want to save money, but it can be hard when you have a family, mortgages and more. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “a penny saved is a penny earned,” and it couldn’t be more true.

Sometimes we don’t realize how much money we’re wasting when we make seemingly small decisions, but that little bit of change starts to add up quickly.

In this blog post, we will discuss 26 things that are costing you money in your everyday life without you even realizing it!

Cook at home

Cooking your own food is cheaper than going out to eat or buying pre-packaged foods from the grocery store. Plus, you know exactly what’s in your dishes! If you opt to grocery shop with a list, then you are less likely to overspend.

Change your air filters

It’s important to change the filter in your HVAC system at least once a year – this is an easy way to save money on energy costs for heating and cooling because it keeps the air free of dust, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, bacteria and viruses that can build up in our homes over time. A clean home means less wasted energy from constantly running fans or AC units!

Invest in a water filter for your kitchen sink or tap

This is an easy way to cut down on bottled water purchases, plus it will save the environment from additional plastic waste (for those of us who care about that). It may seem like a small investment up front, but over time this little change can really add up and have significant effects on both your wallet and the planet as a whole.

Buy generic instead of name brand

If you’re looking for ways to save money, one of the best is buying generic instead of name brand. Sure, sometimes it’s worth paying a little more for the better known brands, but not always.

Name brands are usually just marketing ploys and cost more because they have to pay advertising costs as well as manufacturing costs. Generic products also need to advertise and manufacture their product, but that cost is less than what name-brand companies must spend in order to stay competitive. Many times people will buy the cheaper option without realizing that they are actually getting something better! So next time you find yourself at your grocery store or pharmacy with two options; don’t automatically reach for the pricier brand and make sure you check out both labels before you buy.

Keep a budget

This is the key to saving money, and one of the most effective ways to do so without changing your lifestyle too dramatically. Make sure you are aware of how much money is coming in each month as well as what it’s being spent on, including all monthly bills (such as electricity, gas, cable, internet, rent etc). Then look at the balance in your bank account each month and work out how much you can afford to spend. Set up an electronic transfer so that any excess money is automatically transferred into a savings account.

Pay off debt sooner rather than later

There are two main types of debt: high interest and low interest. High interest debt, such as credit cards or payday loans are expensive and should be paid off as soon as possible because of the high fees that accompany them. Paying off this type of debt now will save you money in the long run. Low interest debt is more common with student loans, mortgages on homes or cars and personal loans. Your monthly payments may be higher, but they will save you money in the long run if you need a loan for something important.

Carpool with coworkers

If you live close enough to work and carpool with others who commute on similar schedules as yours (or if one coworker has their own parking spot), carpooling can be a great way to save money.

Benefits of carpooling with coworkers include saving money, increasing your gas mileage and having someone to talk too in the morning. The average cost per month for a carpooler is $38 a month or $4 dollars a day. If you are commuting to work from out of town, this may be more cost effective than renting a hotel room because it allows you to continue living at home while still commuting to work.

Drink (lots of) water

It may seem boring, but drinking water is a great way to cut back on buying sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice. Water is free (as long as you have a faucet), and it’s good for your health! So, drink up and save some money!

Skip the Starbucks

Many people look forward to that morning cup of joe in the office, but if you’re already spending $10 or more per week on fancy Starbucks coffees, cutting out this habit will add up quickly!

It’s actually deceptively easy to spend hundreds of dollars a month on coffee without even noticing. If you’re a caffeine addict, and you like your morning cuppa joe, then this habit can really break the bank. But there are plenty of ways to cut down on spending without sacrificing your daily dose of java.

Use your bank’s ATM

If you bank with a national chain, do you mind paying a few bucks per month to use their ATMs? Try to use those instead of other banks’ machines.

Banks often charge a fairly high fee when you withdraw money from other banks’ ATMs. You will also need to pay your bank for the privilege of using their ATM, so it would be more cost-effective to exclusively use your own bank’s machines instead.

Eat out less often

Similar to the first tip about cooking at home, eating out costs more than making food on your own (and it also tends to be less healthy!). You can save money by bringing lunch from home and packing snacks for long car trips or plane rides.

Brown-bag it every day, and you’ll save an average of $50 to $150 per month.

This can be tough with a full workload at work or school, but if your schedule allows for some flexibility in the mornings before coming into the office, then pack up your lunch on Sunday evening when you get home and you’ll be set for a week of lunches.

If you’re in school, this is also an excellent way to save money on food while avoiding the cafeteria or dining hall which can often be costly!

Buy in bulk – and use the right sized plates

This is a quick, easy way to save yourself money on groceries because you won’t be throwing away as much food that doesn’t fit in your containers!

This one may not seem like it’s “cheap”—in fact, it seems almost backwards—but it can help you save big time when grocery shopping if you’re buying in bulk, which is a great way to save money on groceries and food costs.

Get creative with clothing

Do you really need that designer label shirt? How much is it really going to cost compared with something that might look just as nice from H&M, Target or Walmart? Will it last you longer than clothes that are more affordable and were made to be more durable?

If the answer is no to these questions, then why would you spend 100 dollars (or more!) on a shirt if you could look just as good while wearing a shirt that cost only 10$ or 20$. It all boils down to prioritizing what you really need and not letting yourself get caught up in what the media tells you that you “must have”.

Cut out the extras

Do you really need that premium cable package? What about internet service that’s faster than what you can get elsewhere?

Try checking out your options for cheaper services. Maybe you can get a friend to add their name as an additional line for that cable package, or perhaps you don’t really watch all the extra channels that they give you.

Likewise, are you paying for faster internet just because “everyone else has it”, but do you actually need it? Opting for cheaper service means saving a lot of money every month.

Get your insurance through a credit union instead of one of the big national companies

These tend to offer lower monthly payments and better service, especially when it comes to claims processing. They also offer more value for money since they keep policyholders’ fees low while offering valuable services like ATM machines with low fees at most locations, access to international ATMs in their networks or other perks (like discounted travel tickets).

Negotiate your credit card interest rate

If you’ve been a good customer, some credit card companies may want to keep you as a customer and will offer to reduce interest rates or waive certain fees. If you’re able to do this, it will save you money in the long run.

Stop mailing stuff!

With a fast internet connection and services like Google Voice or Skype, you can communicate with people from around the world for free. You can also pay bills over the internet and have most things delivered by email or online document storage sites (like Google Drive). This means you can completely avoid the cost of paper checks and postage when it comes to sending out bills or cards.

Look for deals

Look for deals or offers on car insurance, utilities, internet access plans and other big-ticket items. Many times companies will offer exclusive discounts or incentives if you use them for other business (like using their cable provider).

Take public transportation

The benefits of taking public transportation are countless – and they don’t just include saving money. You’ll also be reducing your carbon footprint, getting more exercise as you walk to and from transit stops, eliminating the need for a car that’ll cost you hundreds of dollars a month in insurance, gas, and repairs, and avoiding the high cost of parking.

Use auto-pay

Set up auto-pay on all bills that have it available. Many companies charge extra to print and send a physical bill, and while these fees are typically very low, they add up over time. Not only does this also help ensure that you don’t forget anything, but the reduction in paperwork is great too!

Look for ways to cut down on energy and utility costs

Replace old appliances with newer ones that are Energy Star rated (check out the EPA’s website for information on this). Make sure all lights in your house/apartment are turned off when not in use – this includes TVs, phones, computers, etc. Install weather-stripping and draft stoppers in your windows to keep the cold air out. With just a little effort you can save money on utilities by making sure everything is turned off when not in use.

Make the most of all those “free” perks offered by credit cards

If you have an active rewards/affinity card (like one from Chase for example) make sure to always utilize all available discounts or perks that come with it. These include things like upgrades, free checked luggage, better seats or even complimentary access to certain destinations!

Many people don’t use these because they’re unaware of them or forget about them – so if this sounds like your next birthday trip, check with your card provider first!

Ditch that landline!

Yes, this is easier said than done. But you’d be surprised how many people only have a land line because it’s “free”. With more and more people having cellphones and wanting everyone to call them on their cellphone at all times of the day, you may actually save money by moving to something like Google Voice (or similar) instead of paying for a home phone service.

Check with your cable provider

If you’re paying a lot for cable or satellite TV, check and see if there are better options available to you. Many companies (like Dish Network) offer cheaper plans as well as packages that include internet access, making it easier than ever to dump those expensive monthly bills from the cable guy!

Check out your insurance policies

Many times you’ll find great deals or coupons on things like car, insurance home insurance and health coverage just waiting for you to pick them up. Your current provider may very well already have offers waiting for you, but they’re not going to apply them automatically.

What do you have to lose? The worst that can happen is that the company says no – but with so many people fighting for business these days, they’re more desperate than ever (especially during a recession) to ensure their customers are happy.

Talk with your employer

Many employers offer discounts through their employee discount program or have exclusive offers that are only available to those who receive the payroll check from them. While this isn’t as much an opportunity to save money as others, it’s still a good idea to make sure you’re getting the most value out of this benefit. Keep in mind that many companies also offer freebies like premium coffee or discounts on insurance (health, auto and life).

Eliminating most of the expenses above will save you well over a hundred dollars a month, depending on your situation and how much you were spending before. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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