5 small changes that helped people save big

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Small Money Moves That Make Big Differences

A lot of people think the only way to save money is to make major sacrifices: no meals out, no cable, no shopping, no fun. Of course that's not true, and there are plenty of ways to cut back without feeling deprived. In fact, just making a small tweak to your lifestyle can reap big rewards over time. It doesn't have to be huge; it can be something as simple as turning off the lights you're not using to cutting the old cable cord, which can be a big money waster for many.

Here, a few consumers share the small adjustments they made to their lifestyles that helped them save in big ways.

1. Get Thrifty

"I gave up my full-time job as a fashion editor to become a freelance writer in December, so I've gone from being cash-rich and time-poor to just the opposite," Lauren Indvik, who is based in New York, wrote in an email. "Giving up taxi and Uber rides in favor of the subway has saved me $30 to $40 a week. I've also stopped spending what now seems like an absurd amount of money — about $500 a month — on clothes, both by buying less and by shopping at thrift stores."

2. Cut the Cord

"Our cable and internet bill was $199 a month before we pulled the plug and bought an Apple TV in November," Lindsay Miller, the senior entertainment editor for PopSugar in Los Angeles, said via email. "Now it's $66. We still shell out for Netflix and Hulu and buy the occasional $1.99 episode of a show on iTunes. But all told, we're still easily saving $100 a month. As an added bonus, I find we spend a lot less time idly flipping through channels hoping to land on something worth watching. I can't believe we didn't do it earlier."

3. Delete Delivery Apps

"As a single guy living away from home, I used to order food — a lot," Adarsh Thampty, chief executive of LeadFerry, a content marketing site based in Las Vegas, said via email. "My phone's homescreen had two or three food delivery apps on it, which I used all the time. There was always something new to try, be it a restaurant or a fancy dish. A few months in, when I installed a spending-tracking app, I realized that my monthly food bill was in excess of the rent I was paying for my two-bedroom apartment. That brought me back to reality. I uninstalled all the food delivery apps. Now if I feel like ordering, I do it the old-school way. Either I go to the restaurant or pick up the phone. Not only did I cut my food bill down to about 35% of my rent, I lost six pounds."

4. Go Natural

"I stopped chemically straightening my curly hair and went natural," said Danielle Faust in an email. She's a freelance writer whose blog, okdani.com, chronicles her adventures running a small business and raising a young family. "This saved me hundreds of dollars each month on products and salon visits, and had the added benefit of helping me learn new skills, embrace and fall in love with my natural curls."

5. Fire the Maid

"Having a maid come in once a week was a huge relief for me, because sometimes moms don't get a lot of help from their kids," Crystal Rau, a certified financial planner with Syntal Capital Partners in Colorado Springs, Colo., said via email. "I became intent on setting up a chore chart for myself and the kids. Monday became the day for bathroom clean-up and washing towels; Tuesday became the kids' laundry day; Wednesday became the day for dusting; Thursday the day for washing bed linens, and so on. The kitchen is cleaned every night after dinner, and our kids help with loading and unloading the dishwasher. Last month we saved $520."

Remember, having a good credit score is also a great way to save money on everything from interest rates on credit cards and mortgages to auto loans. Your debt can cost you literally hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime, so spending a little time on improving your scores can go a long way. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing your two free credit scores each month on Credit.com.)

Related: 15 things you should stop wasting your money on

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5 small changes that helped people save big

1. Cable TV

With the advent of Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Apple TV, there's hardly a reason to splurge on a fancy DVR system or even basic cable — so long as you're willing to be patient.

Most shows are added at least 24-hours after airing and some networks won't give them up until eight days.

See some great alternatives to cable TV here.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

2. Bank fees

Banks love to slap you with fees at the drop of a hat, but that doesn't mean you've got to put up with it.

"Consider going with a credit union, which are better than banks in many ways, to avoid some of these fees," says Andrew Schrage, founder of MoneyCrashers.com.

"If you travel abroad often, make sure you use credit cards without foreign transaction fees, otherwise you'll be paying an extra 3% to 5% on all your purchases."

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

3. Extended warranties

Retailers push hard to sell you extended warranties — and conveniently pump up their sales figures at the same time.

Don't do it, Schrage warns.

"The only instance I'd recommend a warranty is in the case of a laptop. Otherwise, the warranties themselves can often cost as much as simply buying a used or new replacement for your item, or repairing it," he adds.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

4. The roof over your head

If you're blowing most of your income on a loft in Midtown, you're making a big mistake, says Jeremy Gregg, executive director of the PLAN Fund.

His organization provides loans to low-income entrepreneurs, who Gregg says he often sees spend more than half their income on rent and utilities.

The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development recommends spending less than one-third of your income on housing.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

5. Unnecessary smartphone data

"Many of us (including me) pick a cell phone plan, then never check to see if it's the right one for us based on our usage," writes author of "I Will Teach You To Be Rich," Ramit Sethi. "Because the average cell phone bill is about $50, that's $600 per year of money you can optimize."

When buying a new cell phone, Sethi likes to pay a little bit more upfront by choosing the unlimited data and text messaging plan. He then sets a three-month check-in on his calendar, and analyzes his spending patterns after a few months to see where he can cut back.

You can use this method for any usage-based services, he says.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

6. Online shipping

Nearly all retailers offer some sort of option that gets your purchases to your doorstep without additional fees.

Zappos and L.L. Bean are among the rarest breed of businesses offering free shipping on every single purchase, but most companies will demand a minimum purchase.

To help track down deals on shipping, use Freeshipping.org. The site stores information on expiration dates, tells you much to spend to qualify, and lets you search by store name or product.

Otherwise, check out CouponSherpa or Retailmenot, which offer discount codes for free shipping.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

7. Cheap art

Environmental designer Pablo Solomon says picking up knockoff prints and other art is a great way to blow cash for no good reason.

"Nothing sends me through the roof like the art sold on cruise ships and at resorts," Solomon says. "(They're) basically glorified posters being sold as originals."

The best way to score deals on art is to track up and comers, he says. You can nab their art early on and laugh your way to the bank after they've made it big.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

8. Fast food

You're only hurting yourself (and your wallet) if you're feeding yourself out of the bodega around the corner from your home or office.

"I am shocked at how many people live paycheck-to-paycheck and yet routinely spend $10 per day on fast food and convenience store food," Gregg says.

If you're looking for an alternative to brown-bagging it, check out how to shop for the healthiest foods at the grocery store for the least amount of money, and start preparing your own food.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

9. Piecemeal insurance

Buying overpriced insurance for things like accidental death and diseases is an easy way to blow your funds.

"Instead of buying piecemeal insurance policies, get good term life insurance and disability insurance," says Sally Herigstad, a certified public accountant and Creditcard.com columnist.

Take a look at the types of insurance you should buy at every age.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

10. Lousy gifts

Personal finance expert Dani Johnson suggests you think twice before rushing out to buy Dad another tie this Christmas.

"You should make a pact with your friends and family to give back instead," Johnson says. "Pool a percentage of money you were going to spend on gifts and give a secret blessing to somebody who is truly in need."

If you want to buy a great gift without completely breaking the bank, check out these holiday gift ideas for under $50.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

11. Weight loss traps

Weight loss pills and supplements marketed as miracles for overweight couch potatoes are most likely traps.

"Not only are there enough pills and potions that you could start a new one each week, but the negative effects on your health outweighs the money you will waste," says nutritionist Rania Batayneh.

"This is a billion dollar industry and the truth is that a lean body does not come in a pill," Batayneh says.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

12. Lottery tickets

"Sure, you can (buy a lottery ticket) every once in a while just for fun, but never make a lottery purchase with any real expectation of winning," Schrage warns.

"The odds are significantly stacked against you, and why waste your hard-earned money on lottery tickets when you could be saving for retirement or treating yourself to a nice meal?"

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

13. Brand new cars

"People get bored with cars quickly. They always want a new car and so they're always dealing with a car payment," says certified financial planner Michael Egan. "But it's a hugely depreciating asset. You don't want to be putting a lot of money into something that's going to be worth nothing after a certain number of years."

Look for used car options, which could save you a substantial amount of money. Check out Kelley Blue Book to get an idea of how much you should pay for a used car.

Another option is leasing a car. You can determine whether or not this is a good option for you by following this flow chart.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

14. Subscriptions

Subscriptions — to magazines, newspapers, and the gym — can add up, and oftentimes, we don't use them as much as we had originally planned.

Sethi recommends implementing what he calls the 'à la carte' method, which takes advantage of psychology to cut our costs.

"Cancel all the discretionary subscriptions you can: your magazines, TiVo, cable — even your gym," Sethi explains in "I Will Teach You To Be Rich." "Then, buy what you need à la carte. Instead of paying for a ton of channels you never watch on cable, buy only the episodes you watch for $1.99 each off iTunes. Buy a day pass for the gym each time you go."

It works for three reasons, Sethi writes: You're likely overpaying already, you're forced to be conscious about your spending, and you value what you pay for.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

15. A morning latte

Author of "The Automatic Millionaire," David Bach, coined the term, "The Latte Factor," which basically says that if you ditch your $4 latte every morning, you'd have quite a bit of money to contribute towards savings — about $30 a week, or $120 a month). Over the course of a few decades, that money could grow substantially.

Rather, invest in a nice coffee maker, even if the price tag is a bit steep. Oftentimes, spending more on high quality items can help you save in the long run.

It can seem counterintuitive to make purchases to save, but that's what some of the most successful money-savers do. They're not just buying things, they're investing in things — tools and services — that will eventually save them money over time.

Via Business Insider

Photo Credit: Getty

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