11 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Slash Your Expenses

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If you need or want to reduce your everyday expenses, there are simple solutions that won’t require you to make major lifestyle changes.

Cutting costs doesn’t need to be painful or complicated. There are many practically effortless ways to keep more money in your bank account.

What follows are some surprisingly simple ways to do just that.

1. Turn down your water heater

Water heater
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While some water heaters are preset to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, 120 degrees is adequate for most households, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Making this adjustment could save you $36 to $61 per year in standby heat losses, meaning heat lost from the water heater into the surrounding area. Lower temperatures also are safer since water heated to 140 degrees poses a risk of scalding.

Another option is to wrap your water heater in an insulating jacket or blanket. As we detail in “16 Home Maintenance Tasks That Save You Money,” this can reduce your water heating costs by 7% to 16%.

2. Unplug electronics

Electrical outlet
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You may not realize it, but electronic devices that remain plugged in when idle continue to use electricity. This occurs in most devices that use electricity, such as televisions, computers and kitchen appliances, according to the DOE.

If you remember to unplug your electronic devices when they’re not in use, you can reduce your energy costs.

Alternatively, plug multiple devices into one power strip so that you can turn them all off with the press of a button.

3. Drop underused subscriptions

Woman thinking at her laptop
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When was the last time you scoured your bank account and credit card statements in search of charges for subscriptions or memberships you no longer use, need or want? If that sounds like too much work, a service like Rocket Money can do it for you and also cancel any unwanted subscriptions.

Either way, this step stands to save you money over and over again, as subscriptions and memberships are generally recurring expenses and may continue until you cancel them.

4. Change your driving habits

Happy female driver
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Speeding, quick acceleration and hard braking burn more gas. According to the DOE, these driving habits can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in heavy traffic.

5. Use cold water in your washing machine

Woman next to clothes dryer
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One of the easiest ways to save money is to adjust the settings on your washing machine.

Heating the water consumes about 90% of the energy used to run a washing machine, according to Energy Star. Just changing your temperature setting from hot to warm can cut energy use by 50%.

6. Switch to generic medicines

Patient holding a prescription pill bottle
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Brand loyalty often is misplaced when it comes to medicines. Generic medicines are generally cheaper than yet equivalent to their brand-name counterparts.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

“All generic drugs approved by FDA have the same high quality, strength, purity, and stability as brand-name drugs. In addition, FDA inspects facilities to make certain the generic manufacturing, packaging, and testing sites pass the same quality standards as those of brand-name drugs.”

Note that you might be able to get certain generic medications for free, as we detail in “3 Pharmacy Chains That Offer Free Medications.”

7. Delay purchasing ‘wants’

Woman thinking about money
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When you feel compelled to buy something you know you don’t really need, give yourself a few minutes to overcome the urge to spend. Consider how much you need the item and whether there is someplace else you could buy it for less.

If you take time to think it through, you may find that your desire to buy on impulse has faded away.

If that doesn’t work for you, consider establishing a policy, requiring yourself to wait anywhere from 24 hours to one week before proceeding with the purchase of a “want.” Tell others in your household about your policy so they can help you stick to it.

8. Visit a beauty school or barber college

Woman getting a haircut
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A haircut or hairstyle can be expensive. If you get your hair done at beauty schools or barber colleges, you’ll likely pay less.

For example, at Empire Beauty School, which has locations in 21 states, a clipper cut costs $9 and a haircut is $12, although prices may vary by location.

To find training schools in your area, do an online search for “beauty schools near me” or “cosmetology schools” plus the name of your city.

9. Shop online whenever possible

Senior shopping online
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It’s hard to walk into a brick-and-mortar retail store and beat the shopping deals you can find online. Plus you will save time, save money on gas and reduce wear and tear on your car.

10. Stop using your car’s roof rack

Car with a roof rack and bicycles on the rooftop
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Using a vehicle roof rack is handy when you’re hauling recreational gear or luggage, but it will cost you. Carrying cargo on your car’s roof rack can decrease fuel economy by as much as 8% when driving in the city and as much as 25% at Interstate speeds, notes the DOE.

If you can place items inside your vehicle, you’ll reduce air resistance and increase your car’s fuel efficiency.

11. Re-gift

Couple exchanging gifts
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When you receive a great gift that isn’t right for you, save it and re-gift it to someone else. You often can find someone who will appreciate something that holds no interest for you. That means one less gift that you’ll need to buy.

Just make sure you don’t end up sending the unwanted gift to the same person who gave it to you. And don’t forget to remove the old gift tag.

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