11 slightly less obvious ways to save money

When it comes to smart money management, our top priority tends to be saving money. That is, reducing our spending and making what we have go further.

So we tend to talk about ways to save a lot. But the truth is that you probably already know quite a few ways to save money, and telling you to turn the lights off or make lunch at home is really just telling you things you already know.

Understanding that, here are a few ways to save that might not seem quite so obvious:

Exercise – Healthcare costs the average American household nearly $15,000 per year. Maintaining good health, however, is significantly less expensive than regaining good health. Investing in your body and your overall health can pay enormous dividends over the long run.

Eat healthy – Just as exercise can drive down your healthcare costs over time, so can healthy eating. The idea that eating well is cost-prohibitive doesn’t hold water, but more important is the fact that maintaining a baseline of good health is always cheaper than trying to recover from a significant medical event or condition caused by poor diet or lack of exercise.

Drink more water – One last healthy living tip, I promise. Truthfully, unlike exercising and eating better, drinking more water has a very immediate benefit to your budget. Dropping soda, juice, iced tea, beer, and all your other drink options in favor of drinking more water can save you a substantial amount at the grocery store.

Graduate faster – College is expensive. You don’t need me to tell you that. Student loan debt is fast becoming the number one debt obligation of young Americans, so it makes sense that the faster you can obtain your degree, the more money you can save. Graduating in three years on an accelerated program can save you thousands of dollars.

Paint your roof white – Here’s one you might not have ever considered – painting your roof white. We’re so used to dark (usually black) shingles that the idea of a white roof might seem comical, but there’s a pronounced benefit to having a white roof. A white roof can reduce energy use in the summer by 10 to 40 percent, while also having a marked impact on pollution. Reduce your energy bill and help the environment? That sounds pretty good to me.

Use all your available freezer space – Your freezer is your money saving friend. You can freeze left overs and eat them later. You can buy large quantities of certain perishable foods when they’re on sale and use them over time. You can even extend the life of candles and certain kinds of batteries. Oh, freezing also kills dust mites and certain kinds of bacteria!

Clean out your car – Leaving all sorts of junk in your car is bad for carpooling, but worse for your gas mileage. Travel light to make the most of your car’s fuel efficiency.

Take advantage of corporate discounts – If you work for a sizable company (or even a not-so-sizable one) there’s a good chance that your employer has relationships with certain brands and services. Be sure to research all of your available corporate discounts and use them when appropriate.

Use your banking perks – Similar to corporate discounts, there’s a good chance that your financial institute of choice also offers certain benefits for being a member/consumer, including discounts or even free tickets to museums.

Take a navy shower – We waste a lot of water every year, and the cost adds up. One potential solution – try taking a navy shower. A navy shower basically means running the water just long enough to get wet, then turning the water off while you lather up. Get everything nice and clean and then turn the water back on only long enough to rinse.

Delete fast checkout options – Online shopping is easy and sellers are always trying to make it easier and easier. It may seem convenient to have preferred shopping sites keep your credit card info on file (or worse – offer “1-click” shopping), but you really want to slow down your shopping, not speed it up. Taking the time to enter in your credit card info every time gives you a bit more time to consider whether or not that purchase is really the best way to spend your money.

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

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