From the latest online shopping tools to time-proven home frugality tricks, there are always new and effective ways to trim costs and keep more of your cash in your pocket. Try some of these today! And once they become a habit, come back to this list and try a few more. In time, you'll be amazed not only at how much money you've saved, but also at how much less you can get by on each month.
Lisa Rowan, personal finance editor for Lifehacker.com and author of Money Hacks
1. Let your online shopping cart sit. If you sign in to your account and stick a few items in your cart, don't check out just yet. Retailers often will email you a coupon in a few days to entice you to place the order.
2. Sign up for texts. Surprisingly, you often can get better discounts from a store's text message stream than from its emailed newsletter. You can unsubscribe once you've made purchases.
3. Shop at warehouse clubs without a membership. You can buy prescription drugs at Costco or Sam's Club without being a member. You can also buy almost anything in Costco if someone gives you a gift card. Nonmembers can buy alcohol and get free hearing tests at Sam's Club.
4. Pay for subscriptions up front. We're talking streaming services, news services, paid apps or anything auto-delivered. Many offer discounts if you pay for the whole year in advance.
ILLUSTRATION BY TOMMY PEREZ
Tips From the Chef
Jim Haurey, owner, chef and buyer, the Grange, a farm-to-table restaurant in Warwick, New York
5. Shop where there's competition. Where farmers markets are back in business, remember that lots of vendors will have produce that's being harvested locally — so the price will be lowest for those items. Skip the shopping list, buy what's abundant and choose recipes based on what you buy.
6. Braise and save. There are two ways to get tender meat: Buy tender cuts, or buy tougher cuts at a fraction of the price and cook them to tenderness. So get out that old cookbook and braise low-priced chuck or stew meat, along with overflow veggies, for a low-cost, delicious stew.
7. Make vegetable stock. Save veggie scraps and peels, and once you have plenty, put in a pot, cover with water and boil for an hour or so. Strain it, and you have vegetable stock for making soup or for cooking rice, lentils or quinoa.
8. Buy wild-caught domestic fish. It's healthier and better tasting than farm-raised. To save money, look for specials on cod, pollack and haddock — delicious and inexpensive species.
Dan Kim, deputy deals editor at Wirecutter, the New York Times’ product review website
9. Confirm it's really a sale price. If you aren't sure whether a price on Amazon is good, plug it into a free price tracker, such as the CamelCamelCamel website or the Pricepulse phone app, to see the item's cost over time.
10. Get paid for shipping! If you have Amazon Prime (meaning you often get two-day shipping for free), you can opt for slower shipping on some orders to get other discounts, like $1 off Kindle books or Amazon music, or money toward a Prime Pantry box.
11. Skip the router rental. Your internet provider might be charging you a monthly fee for your equipment — but you can buy your own modem and router and make up the cost in a year.
12. Splurge on smart home devices to save in the future. Some gadgets can help trim utility bills — the Nest thermostat adjusts heat and air-conditioning for better energy efficiency, and the Belkin Wemo Mini Smart Plug controls the power to any device that's plugged in.
13. Protect your phone. Invest in a screen protector (often under $10) and a good case for your phone. According to one report, roughly 30 percent of U.S. smartphone owners have a cracked screen. That can mean a new phone much earlier than necessary, or a $100-plus repair.
Focus on Cleaning
Michelle Robles, director of systems for Molly Maid, headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan
14. Use microfiber. These towels, mops and dusters can be washed and reused hundreds of times — a great savings over disposable products. And, because they trap dust, liquids, oils and even bacteria, you can clean with water instead of harsh, expensive cleaning products.
15. Don't pay for dusters. Old white T-shirts and clean socks are great for dusting. To clean blinds, put a sock on your hand like a glove. Dampen it with water and run it over groups of slats. Start from the top so that any dust that falls downward will get wiped up.
16. Reuse old toothbrushes. They are great for cleaning grout, jewelry, sink edges and hard-to-reach areas on your appliances.
17. Buy concentrate, in bulk. For liquid cleaners, the bigger the container, the less you'll pay per gallon. You'll save even more by buying concentrated cleaners that you dilute yourself — why pay for water? I also recommend buying “all-purpose” or “multisurface” liquid cleaners instead of lots of specialized products in small quantities.
Tarsha McCrae, interior decorator and home stager for Catch Decor, based in Washington, D.C.
18. Create unexpected art. Have an empty wall that's dying for some art? Go through your garage or storage to find interesting pieces of fabric or wallpaper and insert into a picture frame.
19. Bring a little outdoors in. Transform old patio seating into a new piece for inside your home. Clean, spray-paint, and add a cushion and throw pillow for the final touches and — wow! — you have a new accent chair.
20. Check out model-home auctions. After homes in a new development are sold, furnishings in the model homes are often auctioned off for cheap. Go to the Builders Auction Company website to find auctions near you.
21. Consider these online discounters. Design websites like Rue La La and Gilt offer free discount memberships. They often have sales on all types of housewares, decor and furnishings from higher-end retailers.