How to Save Money on Monthly Expenses | Ways to Save

Practical, doable tips to save money on monthly expenses.

If you get sticker shock from seeing your bills, you may be looking for money management tips to try and cut down on those monthly expenses.

There are some easy fixes, like using more cost-efficient lightbulbs, and some that may take more effort, like reevaluating your car expenses.

Spending time managing personal finances may not sound like fun. But the good news is that in one afternoon, you can figure out how to save money each month and hopefully how to manage money better. And the money you save can go straight into a savings account, helping you afford the bigger things on your list.

The first task is to create a monthly expenses list using your:

  • Bank statement
  • Credit card(s) statement(s)
  • Receipts
  • Bills
  • Checks

Ways to save money at home

  • How to save money on utilities It takes a lot of energy—and money—to be cool in the summer and warm in the winter, to read when it’s dark outside, to take hot showers, to watch TV. What are some tips for saving money on energy?

  • Control the temps. Want to know how to lower bills on heating and A/C? Set a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature when you’re out, to avoid heating or cooling the house unnecessarily. You can save $15 a month (or $180 a year) in energy costs.1 Lowering the water heater to 125° or 130° F can save up to 22% on your bill every year (which could equal hundreds of dollars).2

  • See the light. Saying goodbye to incandescent lightbulbs is a great way to save money at home. Switching to compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED lights can save 66 cents per bulb per month. Even switching just 10 bulbs in your house can save more than $6 every month or close to $80 per year.3

  • Cool and heat your home for less. Easy ways to save money on cooling include installing solar screens that block 70% of the sun’s rays and using fans instead of A/C.4 Also, check that you’re not heating or cooling unused areas of the house, like the attic. And air leaks can cost you money by making the unit work harder. By sealing windows and doors, the EPA estimates that people can save an average of 15% per year on heating and cooling costs.5

  • Keep it clean. Heating and A/C units run at their most efficient—and cheapest—when the filters are clean.6 (The U.S. Department of Energy recommends cleaning or replacing air conditioner filters every 1-2 months.7) If you are in the market for a new system (units 10 years or older should be replaced), an Energy Star-qualified unit can cut your energy costs by as much as half.8

Learn how to save money on the water bill and other ways to cut your daily expenses.

Save money on car expenses

Does your car seem like a money pit? Here‘s how to save money on monthly expenses for the car:

  • Maintenance is worth it. Car maintenance can save big repair bucks in the long run.9 You can save $80-$250 per month, or $1,000-$3,000 per year, by making sure your car has:

    • Properly balanced and inflated tires
    • Clean air filters
    • A professional tune-up
    • Regular oil changes
    • The right fluid levels
  • Shop around for car insurance. Shopping around for a better rate could save $30 per month. Check out websites like The Zebra, Insurance Quotes and

  • Consider selling your car. You may save on your commute by switching to public transportation, a car-sharing service or taxis.

Save money on debt repayment

If part of your paycheck is going to paying off debt, consider these ideas for how to cut costs:

  • Transfer the balance. Those 0% balance transfer offers come in handy by lowering your monthly payment. Just pay attention to the transfer fees.10

  • Pay automatically. Signing up for an automatic debt repayment plan may mean a lower interest rate.

Save on food, phone and fun

Eat well and spend less
Another way to cut expenses is to rethink the food budget. Instead of, “What should we eat tonight?” think, “What should we eat this month?” Stock up on your favorite non-perishables when they are on sale. Plan menus around what’s in season, what’s on sale and what your coupon app has a deal for. Sales and coupons alone can save a family of 4 more than $500 per month.11

Get more tips on how to save money on groceries.

Lower your cable and phone bills
Each month, the average American pays about $100 for cable12, $70 for cell phones13 and about $50 for internet.14 But it is possible to lower these monthly bills without living “off the grid.”

  • Compare cell phone carriers. Cutting costs may require calling carriers to compare prices. But it can help you lock in a terrific deal.

  • Check your statements. Are you paying for unused data? Lowering the data plan can save $30 per month.15

  • Cut the cord. One of the most efficient ways to save on the cable bill? Cut the cable, or downgrade to a basic plan. Or, use a less expensive streaming service, stocked with shows and movies.

  • Go slow. If you only need internet for checking social media and replying to emails, reduce the internet speed, which can save $30 per month.16

Cancel the memberships
Are you going to the pool or gym frequently enough to justify a membership? Are you reading all those newspapers and magazines? An easy tip for how to cut expenses is, “Don’t pay for things you don’t use.” Websites like Trim can analyze your accounts and find places to save.

Lower the cost of your kids’ activities
Parents are paying, on average, more than $730 per kid every year for those activities.17 For 3 school-age kids, that’s more than $2,000 a year. There are lots of benefits to extracurricular activities, but consider these ideas for how to save money on bills for after-school lessons:

  • Limit activities to one per child.
  • Get used equipment (gloves, uniforms, instruments).
  • Check if you can get a discount for volunteering on the field.

Save on medical care

There are some creative ways to save money on health expenses:

  • Double check invoices for mistakes, like getting charged for a service that should be covered. Nine out of 10 invoices have these types of errors.18

  • Request generic drugs, which can be up to 85% less than name-brand. The generic version of prescription and over-the-counter medications are just as safe and effective as their name-brand counterparts.19

Try to DIY

If you want to know how to cut spending, sometimes the answer is rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself. DIY cleaning, gardening, cooking, minor house repairs…bringing these chores in-house instead of outsourcing them can save you big on monthly expenses.

Cutting expenses and rethinking how you spend is challenging—but satisfying. Hopefully, you will uncover some doable, simple ways to save every month—which can lead to more money and more peace of mind.

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