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7 Surprisingly Simple Ways to Save Money

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Life is expensive. If you prefer to spend on the fun parts like dinners out, special occasions and vacations, here are some useful hacks to save on the less-fun parts. The less-obvious savings methods outlined below can help you stretch your paycheck a little further on the everyday expenses.

1. Shop Smartly

The way you spend makes a huge difference on how much you spend. It’s a good idea to make a list before you head to the store so you know you are buying only what you need. You also might want to research what is in season and buy accordingly. If you want some food but it’s expensive because it’s out of season, consider getting the frozen or canned version. The opposite is true of clothing — you can buy out of season to capitalize on sales.

2. Power Strips

If you already remember to turn off lights each time you leave the room and keep the thermostat automated to an appropriate temperature, you may think your electricity bill is as low as it can get. In reality, many gadgets and appliances use power if they are plugged in even when turned off, a phenomenon called phantom power. To reduce this problem, you can plug all of your electronics into power strips and turn those off when devices aren’t in use.

3. Insulate

Keeping your home well insulated can reduce energy costs significantly. Use plastic or caulking to plug drafty doors or windows and keep closets closed so you aren’t wasting money heating or cooling them. Many power companies offer free or inexpensive energy audits so you can see where you are losing money.

4. Make Your Own & Do It Yourself

If there is work that needs to be done around the house, try hitting hardware stores that offer free DIY workshops, study up and try it yourself. You can also try making cleaning supplies with household items like vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice. Save big jobs for the professionals, but don’t be afraid to cut back by taking charge. And now that it’s spring, you may be thinking of growing some of your own food. That, too, is possible, even if you have limited space.

5. Get Paid to Recycle

While cashing in on your state’s plastic or can deposit can help with your grocery bill, it is time-consuming. You might want to try programs like Recyclebank or TraX that work with your waste hauler to give rewards for staying green. They offer benefits like coupons for popular restaurants, supermarket savings and free magazines or entertainment. There are also websites that allow you to recycle old electronics for cash on the Internet.

6. Clean & Maintain Appliances

It can be a good idea to mark on your calendar routine checkups for everything from HVAC filters to dryer screens to dishwasher filters. These machines use huge amounts of energy, but will run more efficiently if the filters are clean. Sometimes it’s just about remembering to add them to your routine.

7. Renegotiate

If all else fails, remember that almost everything is negotiable. As long as you have good relationship with credit cards, cable providers and insurance company, you can contact the customer service or retention department to ask for a discount, explaining that you may rant to e-evaluate your decision to use their services. This can work even if you are locked into a contract, as long as you are really willing to walk away. Often these are services that eat up a large chunk of your monthly budget, so saving money here can pay off for months to come. Especially if you use the extra savings to pay down credit card debt, which can increase your credit scores (you can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com) and lower your lifetime cost of debt.

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This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

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