With spring approaching, it’s time for a little spring cleaning of your finances. Today we discuss how to save money, giving you 10 actionable items.

1. Eat at home.

Try to limit how often you eat out. This is where many people spend more than they think. If you spend $10 every weekday at lunch, that’s more than $2,500 during the course of the year. Limiting that to one day a week would save you a lot.

2. Trade in for a more fuel-efficient car.

This doesn’t mean you have to drive an expensive hybrid. If you currently own an SUV but rarely utilize all the interior space, consider trading it in for a mid-size sedan. Of course, you should always compare the gas mileage first before you go through the rigmarole of changing cars.

3. Cut back on your electricity and water usage.

Examine all of your habits and see if you can improve on them in any way. This is probably one of the easiest tips to implement on this how to save money list.

Ways to save more money in regards to electricity and water:

  • Turn off lights when you’re not in the room.
  • Don’t let the water run while you’re brushing your teeth or doing the dishes.
  • Unplug appliances that aren’t being used.
  • Turn your thermostat one or two degrees higher in the summer, and one or two degrees lower in the winter.
  • Take shorter showers.

4. Look at all of your bills for the past three months.

This tip on how to save money takes a little bit more time. Examine all of your bills for frees, unused minutes, etc. You might be able to avoid some fees if you pay attention to fine print. You can also save money by downsizing your cellular plan if you consistently have extra minutes. Other things to look for: extra cable packages with channels that you rarely watch, unused gym memberships.

Most services have less pricy alternative. You can exercise outside or pay a cheaper rate at your city rec center rather than go to the gym. Netflix might be a better option for you instead of costly cable. You can also mow your lawn and clean your pool. Look at this examination as a spring cleaning of your finances.

5. Shop around.

Look for coupons and compare prices in the sale papers of the newspaper. If you’ve gone digital, check Facebook and Foursquare for specials on your smart phone before heading to check out. Sometimes restaurants, stores and even doctors offer discounts or freebies for checking in with social media.

6. Find free entertainment or discount days.

Is your city hosting any festivals, parades, concerts or other free events? Check out the official website and you’ll probably learn that there’s a lot going on in your city that you didn’t know about.

7. Try buying store brand or off-brand.

This applies to everything, from food to medicine to toiletries to clothes. If your physician doesn’t require that you take name-brand drugs, then try the generic brand.

Oftentimes, store brand food tastes the same, and toiletries like contact solution and mouthwash have the same main ingredients, making them very similar to name-brand items – they’re just packaged differently.

When buying clothes, try department stores instead of shopping at couture or specialty stores. Or try the next tip to save money…

8. Buy resale items.

Craigslist, Ebay, used car dealerships and consignment stores are all great ways to buy gently used items for less. Are you an avid reader? Go to Half Price Books instead of Barnes & Noble. Even better, trade books with your closest friends to get more bang for your buck.

9. Shop with a list (and only buy what’s on it).

When going to the grocery store, for example, always make a list and only buy things that are on it. This will save you from impulse buying and filling up your cart with items you won’t need.

10. Institute a waiting period for large purchases.

Put a ceiling on purchases that should require more time. You could decide that anything more than $45 requires a 48-hour waiting period before you can purchase it. This is especially helpful for impulse buyers. Your shopping bug might disappear during the days that follow, indicating that you didn’t really need the item—you just wanted it.

Another alternative is making it mandatory to discuss purchases that cost more than $45 with your partner. That opens a dialogue and will help you decide if you need the item. If you don’t have a significant other, find a friend or family member that will keep you in check.

If you can learn how to save money, you’ll be more adept to handling unexpected expenses when they pop up and you’ll be more stable financially.

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