I think we can all agree that saving money is never a bad thing — and it's even better when we don't even have to deprive ourselves of things we enjoy, like ordering in, chai lattes, or HBO. It's why simple ways to save money around the house are generally so awesome; they're often small or one-time changes that pad our wallets yet take minimal effort or self-restraint.
I've written about ways to cut costs before, and while all of those tips were relatively simple and achievable if you put your mind to it, they also almost all required a little change in routine, like packing lunches for work the night before, or consciously not buying coffee outside of the house, and for the most part consisted of common-sense advice that you may have already considered doing yourself at one point or another (how many times have you bought that afternoon four dollar latte and already kind of known you shouldn't).
It's the little hidden things around the house that we often don't even think of at all that make up the easiest ways to save money here and there, and it's because of this that I've compiled eight incredibly easy and near effortless tips that will save money.
1. Unplug You Electronics At Night
For real guys. According to Time Magazine just simply unplugging things like your laptop and TV at night can save about $100 a year. That's 100 bucks you can spend on a massage (or, better yet, actually save...). And if this seems like a pain, just connect your devices to a single power strip and turn them all off with the click of a button each night.
2. Update Your Lightbulbs
GE Compact Fluorescent Lightbulb, $8.99, elightbulbs.com
According to a piece in SFGate, the overall cost of an energy-efficient light bulb is $28 over it's lifetime, whereas a regular light bulb will cost you around $120 a year in energy bills. You're thus saving about $92 with every energy-saving bulb you purchase, and because they actually last longer, you'll be buying them less often.
3. Don't Buy Bottled Water
A piece for Today about our dubious addiction to bottled water pointed out the fact that 90 percent of tap water meets regulations set up by the EPA, whereas bottled water does not technically have to meet any EPA standards, and it costs around $2 a bottle. And while the piece points out that we don't technically need home filtering devices for safety since most tap water is actually perfectly save to drink, they're still way cheaper than a bottle-a-day habit. So buy yourself a Nalgene and count the dollars saved!
4. Use Blinds To Reduce The Need For AC
Mainstay Room Darkening Vertical Blinds, $34.97, Walmart.com
The piece in Time also noted that reflective blinds can reduce heat gain in summer by about 45 percent, and that means you can go that much longer without using your AC. In New York City, where electric bills are hiked up in summer specifically because the electric company anticipates more air conditioner usage, this make a huge difference. So keep those blinds down during the day while you're at work for a much cooler home temperature when you return in the evening.
5. Clean You Dryer's Lint Trap
According to Melissa Maker, cleaning expert and founder of CleanYourSpace.com in an article for Today.com, just removing lint from the trap after every few loads isn't enough. Instead you should give it a thorough cleaning every six months in order to extend your dryer's shelf life. “Just use warm soapy water and a cleaning toothbrush, wash gently, and leave to dry overnight. Your dryer will work much more efficiently," she said, adding, “Vacuuming the dryer lint trap is also important to remove any lodged dust, which can be a fire hazard.”
6. Cook With The Right Size Pans
This tip from Energy.gov was totally news to me when I first read about it; apparently cooking with a pan larger than you actually need makes cooking time take longer, as larger pans absorb more heat, which means you're spending more money on energy overall. So be sure to use the proper pan size whenever possible for a super easy money-saving hack.
7. Use Your Slow Cooker When You Can
Crock-Pot, $28.99, Staples.com
The same piece for Energy.gov pointed out that using a slow cooker to cook things that take several hours, like stews and chilli, burns way less energy than when cooked on the stove. This means you'll also be paying less money on gas or electric at the end of the month.
8. Keep A Coin Jar
This final personal tip isn't so much about saving money as it is about keeping track of the money you never even notice you have — coins! I keep a coin jar in my bedroom for all of my loose change, and I try to remember to take it to the store with me at least once every two months. Sure I become the crazy lady in line buying my foundation with quarters, but it also means I'm paying with money I didn't even really consider I had when looking at my bank account. So grab a grubby cup and fill it with that pocket change!
Saving money isn't always the most fun thing on the planet, and — let's be real — sometimes it can actively be a bummer. The good news is there are a few super simple ways to save a few extra hundred dollars a year that won't actually feel like you're doing anything at all.