Follow these quick, cost-cutting tricks, and save hundreds each year without feeling the pinch.

Money Smarts
Follow these quick, cost-cutting tricks, and save hundreds each year without feeling the pinch.
| Credit: Van Chaplin

Raise your hand if this scene sounds familiar. You're scrutinizing your water bill, your grocery tab, or your electricity costs, and you let out a little grunt because you can't believe how fast it all adds up.

If you'd like to part with less of your paycheck, here are little changes you can make to save a lot of money in the long run.

Whittle That Energy Bill

  • Sealing air leaks around the house may shrink your energy bill by 15% to 20%. On a windy day, hold a lighted incense stick up to a common leak area, such as window and door frames, air ducts, and water and furnace flues. If the smoke blows horizontally, you may have a leak that needs weather-stripping or caulking. You can find weather-sealing foam and tapes to stop drafts at home-supply stores.
  • Install a programmable thermostat. If your thermostat is typically set at 72°, program it to drop to 65° while you're at work, and you'll save about 10% on your next bill.
  • Call your electric company and ask if they offer deals for using energy at off hours. Doing laundry during the Late Show could save you a chunk of change.

No Dollars Down the Drain

  • Repair that running water closet ASAP. A toilet that runs constantly wastes about 9,000 gallons of water each year. Your savings could add up to $125a year.
  • Install water restrictors on sink faucets and showerheads. A family of four can save between 8,000 and 12,000 gallons of water each year. The potential savings on your water bill: $100-$300 a year.

Spend Less at the Store

  • Beware of buying in bulk. Give the unit price a once-over before you put that 24-pack of toilet paper in your cart. You might pay less per item if you buy a smaller set.
  • Scan the prices on all the shelves. Typically, more expensive items are at eye level, so look low and high before you select anything.
  • Clip coupons, and keep them organized in a plastic file folder that's labeled to correspond with your grocery store aisles. Visit All You to find coupons and other money-saving deals.