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