20 Painless Ways for Nearly Anyone to Cut Costs in 2018

Follow these easy tips to save so you'll have more money for things that really matter.

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A decision to save money doesn’t have to be life-changing or even a major sacrifice. It’s surprising how much money you can save simply by paying attention to how your money is being spent. People routinely buy things that they don’t truly need or perhaps even want. It’s all about being aware of where your money is going. Following are 20 easy ways to save money in the year ahead.

1. Raise your auto insurance deductible

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Auto insurance pricing is all about risk. Having a higher deductible means you assume more risk up front, so you’ll likely pay less in premiums. If you have an accident after raising your deductible, you will need to pay a greater share of your auto repair costs. However, if you make it through the year accident free, it is pure savings.

2. Delay big purchases

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Many purchases are made on impulse. You see something you want in a store and get an urge to buy it, especially if it’s on sale. The problem is that after the impulse fades, you may realize that you didn’t really need the item as badly as you thought. Maybe what you really liked was the song that was playing on the store’s sound system or the colorful product display. If you can wait a week or two before making a purchase, you may decide against it and keep the money in your bank account.

Did you know stores have ways to persuade you to buy things you don’t want or need? Check this out: “Beware These 10 Retail Sales Tricks That Get You to Spend More.”

3. Improve your credit score

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Your credit score is a reflection of how well you manage your money. If your credit score improves, it can lower the amount of interest you pay on loans and credit cards. It may even reduce your car insurance premium. All you have to do is to make sure you pay all of your bills on time.

If you need some help restoring your credit, check out our Solutions Center, which can help match you with an expert on credit restoration.

4. Use credit cards that offer rewards

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As long as you pay your monthly credit card bills on time, there’s no problem with using credit cards for daily purchases. Some cards offer cash-back rewards of 3 percent or more for items such as groceries and gasoline. This can produce real savings over time. One place to find a credit card that best matches your lifestyle and needs is in our Solutions Center.

5. Reach for a sweater instead of the thermostat

Young woman in cozy sweater, indoors.Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

Instead of turning on the heat at home every time you feel a chill, try putting on a sweater. Even if you find you must turn on the heat, you’ll use less energy and reduce your fuel bill if you’re wearing a jacket or sweater on cold days.

For more ideas, check out: “7 Easy Ways to Stay Warm This Winter.”

6. Read books on mobile devices

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Instead of buying books over the internet or at your local bookstore, have them sent to your mobile device. The price for an online book typically is much lower than the paper version, and you won’t have to thin out your hard-copy collection as often. Another great option: your public library.

Books also are among valuable things you can get for free. Before you shop, learn some of the alternatives.

7. Close your self-storage unit

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Self-storage can be a great idea if you don’t have room for everything you need in your home. Just make sure you’re not storing items you no longer need. If you’re paying hundreds of dollars a month for storage and you can’t remember what you’ve put away, you’ve got a problem. Consider closing the unit and pocketing the cash.

Need a hand paring it down? Check out: “10 Ways to Cut the Cost of Self-Storage.”

8. Compare prices online

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The easiest way to find the cheapest price for something you want is to go online. Whether you’re buying a book or an automobile, there’s no better way to do comparison shopping.

9. Use coupons when you shop

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Coupon clippers have a big advantage over shoppers who go to the mall or grocery store without arming themselves with that cost-cutting weapon. You can sort through the coupons that are mailed to your home or go online to find them on shopper websites such as Coupons.com and RetailMeNot.

10. Stop paying for recorded music

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The internet has made it easy to listen to music by your favorite recording artists whenever you like without spending a dime. Websites like Pandora and Spotify offer free services that make it easy to hear the type of music you like. (Of course, they also offer a “premium” version for a fee.) YouTube is another source of free music for anyone with access to a computer or a mobile device.

11. Sign up for a retail store credit card to get a one-time discount

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Having too many credit cards can get you in trouble. However, if you’re financially responsible and pay your credit card bills in full each month, it may make sense for you to apply for a credit card to receive a one-time discount from a retail store. This can result in big savings if you’re planning a major purchase, such as replacing kitchen appliances in your home. When you’re spending $1,000 or more, a one-time discount can make a big difference.

12. Don’t forget to ask about senior discounts

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If you’re 50 years old or older, you often can save money just by asking about senior discounts. There are senior discounts at many businesses, ranging from restaurants and clothing stores to amusement parks and airlines. All you have to do is ask and be prepared to show your ID.

13. Buy health insurance

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When you’re young and healthy, it’s easy to dismiss health insurance as unnecessary and too expensive. That may seem true until you become ill or have an injury that requires medical care. Doctors and hospitals are expensive. Even a brief hospital stay easily can cost tens of thousands of dollars, far more than a monthly insurance premium would cost you. If you come down with a serious disease that requires ongoing treatment or surgery, your bill easily could exceed $100,000. The financially smart move is to be insured.

14. Get rid of your telephone landline

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You can save money if you’re willing to give up your landline telephone and exclusively use your mobile phone. At one time landline connections were much clearer than cellphone connections, but technology has improved. If you have a cellphone, chances are good that you rarely use your landline. If that’s the case, why keep paying for it?

15. Set up an automatic savings plan

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It’s easier to save when you’ve arranged for money to be automatically deducted from your paycheck or transferred from your checking account to an investment account. That way you don’t have to think about how much you can afford to save each month. Once you become accustomed to having money taken out of your paycheck or checking account, you may not even notice the difference. Just make sure you choose an amount to save that won’t leave you without enough cash to take care of your expenses.

16. Get a roommate

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Whether you own your home or rent, having a roommate can greatly reduce your monthly living expenses. We often think of having a roommate as something people do when they’re in college or just starting out as adults. In reality, it can make sense to share expenses at any stage of life.

17. Don’t buy a brand new car

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While it’s great to have a car that’s shiny and new, being the first owner of an automobile is an expensive proposition. That’s because cars tend to depreciate in value quickly. As soon as you drive a new car off the dealership lot, the value plummets by thousands of dollars. Instead, consider buying a slightly used car after someone else has absorbed the depreciation. According to CARFAX, which tracks vehicle histories, a new car loses about 10 percent of its value upon purchase and another 10 percent over the first year.

18. Pay attention to the price per unit when grocery shopping

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It’s easy to get excited when the foods you like go on sale, but the real way to identify a bargain is to look at the per-unit price. In many cases, sale items are more expensive than products being sold at regular prices. So don’t fall for the hype.

19. Take time to read grocery expiration dates

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Products often are marked down in price when they near their expiration dates. This can offer you a good bargain on food items, but only if you plan to consume them soon. If you end up tossing them out, you’ll be wasting your money.

20. Eat at home rather than dining out

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Dining out is fun, but it’s also costly compared with preparing your own meals at home. According to the FitDay website, the $20 you might spend on a restaurant meal could be used to prepare three or four meals at home. So enjoy your home-cooked meals and reserve dining out for special occasions.

What tricks do you use to save money day-to-day? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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