AleksandarNakic / Getty Images

AleksandarNakic / Getty Images

Savvy shoppers might be the masters of coupon cutting and buying on a budget, but those aren’t the only ways to save money. If you don’t take advantage of all the life hacks available to you, you’re essentially leaving free cash on the table.

With a little effort and creativity, you can cut hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year from your budget. Plus, if you handle a few small items on your to-do list that you’ve been putting off, you can even find ways to earn more money without working more. Take these steps to gain control of your financial future.

Last updated: Feb. 24, 2021

Sponsored by Navy Federal Credit Union.

Young woman photographing a receipt in the cafe.

Young woman photographing a receipt in the cafe.

1. Scan Grocery Receipts for Cash Back

You can save money on groceries by using smartphone apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51, which give you cash back on grocery store purchases. All you have to do is scan the receipts after you shop. You could easily earn $5 or more a week for just a couple minutes of your time.

Costco Pharmacy

Costco Pharmacy

2. Buy Prescription Drugs at Costco Without a Membership

Membership warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco have good prices on prescription drugs — and you don’t have to be a member to buy them. So, take advantage of Costco’s low prices on doctor-prescribed meds without shelling out $60 or more a year to join the club.

Cropped shot of young african-american woman shopping online in cafe using laptop and credit card.

Cropped shot of young african-american woman shopping online in cafe using laptop and credit card.

3. Get a Lower Interest Rate With a Balance Transfer

If you’ve racked up high-interest credit card debt, you don’t have to keep suffering. An easy way to cut costs and potentially save big is by doing a balance transfer to a low-interest card.

Navy Federal Credit Union’s Platinum card, for example, offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months. On top of that, this card also doesn’t come with balance transfer, foreign transaction or annual fees. With no balance transfer fees, that means that instead of paying high interest on your credit card debt, you can pay it off without any interest accrued for 12 months. Think about all the money you could save that way.

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*Information on promotions is accurate as of Feb. 3, 2021. Additional requirements may apply. Offers and terms are subject to change.

Third party printer cartridge in the hand.

Third party printer cartridge in the hand.

4. Get More Ink Out of Your Printer

If your printer is out of black ink or toner, change the text color to dark blue — you’ll be able to print a couple more times before purchasing a refill. Additionally, avoid thick, ink-wasting fonts in favor of slimmer ones like Arial and Courier New.

woman putting hundred dollar bills in her purse wallet

woman putting hundred dollar bills in her purse wallet

5. Ditch Your Low-Interest Savings Account

If you’re still using your first savings account, chances are you’re getting a low interest rate. The national average savings account interest rate is 0.05% annual percentage yield, as of Feb. 2, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. With a rate like that you’d only earn about $12.50 on a $25,000 balance … which isn’t much. Meanwhile, some high-yield savings accounts offer rates of 0.50% APY and higher. With that APY, if you deposit the same $25,000 and leave it there for a year, you’ll earn about an extra $125 for doing nothing. Failing to open a high-interest savings account means you’re saying “no thanks” to free money — and why would you do that?

Young smiling man sitting by table and looking at waitress while paying for his order through smartphone.

Young smiling man sitting by table and looking at waitress while paying for his order through smartphone.

6. Shop With Discount Gift Cards

Want to get cheap or even free gift cards? Gift card exchange websites sell discounted gift cards for all your favorite retailers — and for less than their remaining value. Stock up and use them instead of cash for your future purchases.

Convenient store female cashier counting the cash at the counter.

Convenient store female cashier counting the cash at the counter.

7. Carry Cash

Research shows that if you pay in cash rather than with a credit card, you’ll spend less. Take this tip one step further and only carry large bills like $50s or $100s, which are hard to break — it’ll keep you from making impulse purchases.

a person driving a fast car

a person driving a fast car

8. Skip the Rental Car Insurance

A lot of private auto insurance policies and many major credit cards provide coverage for rental cars, particularly when rented for personal use instead of business. Check the policies to make sure, but chances are good that you can save money on your car rental and skip the expensive insurance coverage the company offers.

Other Ways To Cut Costs: How To Save Money When Filing Taxes

Shot of a young man cleaning his home.

Shot of a young man cleaning his home.

9. Make a DIY Cleaner

You can make an inexpensive, all-purpose household cleaner by loosely filling a heat-resistant glass container with leftover citrus peels and adding equal parts boiling water and white vinegar. Cover the mixture and let it sit for a week before straining it into spray bottles.

Blue towels and clothes

Blue towels and clothes

10. Save by Using a Clothesline

Go back in time and dry your clothes on an old-fashioned clothesline. According to The Simple Dollar, you would save almost $10 for every hour you spend hanging up your laundry — plus you’ll save on the cost of dryer sheets and your clothes will last much longer. If you need to buy a new dryer, wait until Labor Day to get the best deals.

Mop sweeping the floor

Mop sweeping the floor

11. Opt For the Thriftier Swiffer

Has your Swiffer WetJet run dry? Remove the cap from the fluid canister and fill it with a cheaper, concentrated cleaner mixed with water, rather than buying another Swiffer-branded bottle. You can also save by using dryer sheets — new or even used — instead of Swiffer sheets for your Sweeper.

Rustic wedding bouquet.

Rustic wedding bouquet.

12. Find Alternative Payment Methods for Big Events

When big life events like a wedding, moving or a special vacation pop up, it can be hard to find the funds to pay for them. And when it’s hard to find the funds, it can be really tempting to use just use one of your credit cards.

However, your current credit cards might have high APRs, and you really don’t want to have to pay more for that event or emergency than you’re already spending. Instead, consider a new card with a lower APR so you can spend less money on interest. With Navy Federal’s Platinum card, you can score an APR between 5.99% and 18.00%. Considering some cards can carry an APR over 20%, you could end up saving a lot on interest by finding a new one for your big expense. And by choosing a card from a credit union that is member-owned, not-for-profit and understands the needs of the military community, you know your financial situation will be in good hands. Membership with Navy Federal is open to active duty military, veterans and families.

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*Rates are accurate as of Feb. 3, 2021.

Sack of potatoes

Sack of potatoes

13. Get an Extra Potato for Free

When buying prebagged produce — like a 10-pound bag of potatoes, onions or apples — always weigh the bags before selecting the one you want to purchase. The weight marked on the bag is the minimum required by law, and some bags will likely weigh in higher, even though they cost the same.

Norman, OK June 20, 2018 Close up photo of a grape and orange Kool-Aid Jammers box and three different flavors of Kool-Aid drink mixes on a wooden table with a white background.

Norman, OK June 20, 2018 Close up photo of a grape and orange Kool-Aid Jammers box and three different flavors of Kool-Aid drink mixes on a wooden table with a white background.

14. Pour Kool-Aid in Your Toilet

Pour a package of dark-colored Kool-Aid, like grape or strawberry, in the tank of your toilet and don’t flush it for an hour. Then, check your toilet bowl. If the water changes color, you know you have a slow leak that’s wasting water — and money. Fortunately, you can usually fix these leaks easily and cheaply.

Young couple after grocery shopping on parking lot, putting groceries in car trunk.

Young couple after grocery shopping on parking lot, putting groceries in car trunk.

15. Skip the Shopping Cart

When you run into the grocery store to “pick up a few items,” carry them in your arms instead of using a cart or shopping basket. By forcing yourself to hold your purchases, you’ll be less likely to buy things you didn’t intend to buy and don’t truly need.

Two friends checking in to a day spa

Two friends checking in to a day spa

16. Ask For Free Upgrades — Don’t Book Them in Advance

Use this trick to upgrade your vacation for free: Reserve a standard rental car or hotel room and then politely ask for a free upgrade when you arrive. If one is available, it’s usually a pretty easy score.

Man shaving face

Man shaving face

17. Get a Closer, Cheaper Shave

When your multitrack disposable razor gets dull, try pushing the blade a dozen or so times against your thigh while wearing a pair of blue jeans. This will realign and sharpen the blades, giving you more shaves for your buck.

Men cleansing shave

Men cleansing shave

18. Skip the Shaving Cream

Skip the expensive shaving cream and lather up with a bar of bath soap instead. Invest in an old-fashioned bristle brush, and you’ll get the cleanest and cheapest shave available, sans cream.

Man pouring glass of water from tap with clean filter in kitchen, close up stock photo

Man pouring glass of water from tap with clean filter in kitchen, close up stock photo

19. Install a Faucet Filter

Spend a few bucks to install a faucet water filtration system and reap the rewards all year. These easy-to-use filters trap sediment and reduce chlorine and other contaminants, so the water tastes fresher. As an added bonus, cutting out plastic water bottles is good for your budget and the environment.

Find Out: 17 Steps Millennials Can Take Now for a Brighter Financial Future

Laundry Washing Machine

Laundry Washing Machine

20. Zip Pants Before Washing

Always remember to zip up your jeans and other garments that have metal zippers before laundering them. Those little metal teeth are like miniature chainsaws, tearing up and ruining other expensive clothing in the washer and dryer.

Young girl catching water from gutter

Young girl catching water from gutter

21. Save Rainwater

Installing a rain barrel to provide water for your lawn and garden can save you a barrel of money on your water bills. Conserving water is also eco-friendly, and many municipal governments now offer tax and other incentives to encourage homeowners to reduce stormwater runoff.

Young couple sleeping in bed

Young couple sleeping in bed

22. Sync Your Sleep Schedule With Daylight

Adjusting your sleep schedule to better coincide with daylight hours will allow you to save on daily electrical usage. Plus, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

man working out in gym

man working out in gym

23. Save on a Gym Membership

Some health insurance plans offer reimbursements or discounts on gym memberships. Benefits vary by provider, so check with your insurance provider to see if you’re eligible.

Young mechanic prepairing the car for inspection,distant view,bright light.

Young mechanic prepairing the car for inspection,distant view,bright light.

24. Be Prepared With Options for Unexpected Expenses

Pretty much everyone faces unexpected expenses, whether you have a medical emergency or need repairs done to your car. If you’re lucky, you’ll have enough money saved up to pay for these expenses, but not everyone is lucky. That’s why it’s important to plan now for what you would do if you were hit with an expense you couldn’t afford. Because if you aren’t ready, you might have to skip getting the necessary work done or you could face fees and more on an unpaid bill.

Turning on off light switches

Turning on off light switches

25. Insulate Your Outlets

Stop heat loss and drafts with inexpensive, easy-to-install foam insulating gaskets on the back of electrical wall switches and outlets.

Slow cooker

Slow cooker

26. Make a Slow Cooker Humidifier

Cooking more meals at home in a slow cooker will save you some major bucks. But you can also use a slow cooker in the winter to add humidity to the air and stretch the heat in your home. Just keep it filled with water, with the lid off and the temperature set to low. It won’t cost much to operate, and house guests will be really curious about the steaming slow cooker in your bedroom.

Modern electric kettle and tea cup stock photo

Modern electric kettle and tea cup stock photo

27. Buy Granny’s Electric Teapot

You might make fun of your grandma for her electric tea kettle, but the fact is granny knows best. When boiling just a small amount of water, an electric teapot is the most economical method, compared to the microwave or stove-top — plus it’s quick.

Mother and her baby girl playing

Mother and her baby girl playing

28. Use Wool Balls in the Dryer

Skip the fabric softener and dryer sheets by making your own “wool balls” out of old woolen yarn and a pair of worn-out pantyhose — just Google “wool balls” for DIY instructions. They’ll help your clothes dry faster and keep garments soft, all without the use of chemicals.

Window glass lined with bubble wrap stock photo

Window glass lined with bubble wrap stock photo

29. Bubble-Wrap Your Windows

In the fall, lightly mist the insides of uninsulated windows with water. Then, apply a sheet of bubble wrap, bubble side facing the pane. The bubble wrap will cling to the window all winter long, boosting the insulating value, and it’ll come off neat and clean in spring.

Woman examining new smart phone

Woman examining new smart phone

30. Stay Away From Extended Service Plans

Those extended service plans that appliance stores tend to push on their customers are a great deal — for the stores selling them. While they do provide some additional protection for most products, the vast majority are never used, since many problems are covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. What’s more, people often forget they bought the extended coverage plan in the first place.

Asian woman grocery shopping at the market and holding a bottle of milk - dairy products concepts.

Asian woman grocery shopping at the market and holding a bottle of milk – dairy products concepts.

31. Choose the Store Brand

Everyone knows that generic or store-brand products are cheaper than name brands, but maybe you don’t know just how much cheaper. According to Consumer Reports, you’ll save about 25% when you buy store brands.

Mature woman pruning tomatoes in garden

Mature woman pruning tomatoes in garden

32. Grow Food, Not Lawns

The movement to replace costly, high-maintenance lawns with veggie-producing garden space is growing in popularity. Google “grow food, not lawns” for tips on how to supplement your grocery budget and reduce lawn care costs by starting an eco-friendly yard or neighborhood garden.

Woman looking into refrigerator

Woman looking into refrigerator

33. Check Your Refrigerator Seals

The seals around refrigerator and freezer doors need to be replaced periodically to avoid energy loss. Test for a tight seal by closing the door on a dollar bill; if you can pull the dollar out, the seal needs replacing, and your money is being wasted on an inflated energy bill.

Detail of dust and dirt heap accumulated on a parquet floor under a bed.

Detail of dust and dirt heap accumulated on a parquet floor under a bed.

34. Kill the Dust Bunnies

After you check the seals on your fridge, take a few minutes to vacuum out the dust bunnies living underneath it and clean the coils. Keeping the coils clean can increase the energy efficiency of a refrigerator, saving you money on your utility bills.

young man planting a tree

young man planting a tree

35. Plant Some Trees

Trees not only increase your home’s value, but if carefully positioned to shade the house and act as windbreaks, they can also reduce your home energy costs by about 25%. Talk about a growing investment.

Cleaning the clothes dryer lint trap

Cleaning the clothes dryer lint trap

36. Clear That Dryer Vent

Keep your dryer vent clean and free from blockage at all times. A clogged dryer vent reduces the appliance’s energy efficiency and can cause a fire.

Beautiful woman shopping onlain using smartphone and debit card.

Beautiful woman shopping onlain using smartphone and debit card.

37. Trick Yourself Out of Online Impulse Shopping

When shopping for an item on an e-commerce site, search for the specific product (such as “DVD player”) instead of surfing the general product category (“electronics”). One study showed that online shoppers who searched by category were three times more likely to keep browsing after they found the items they wanted.

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Laira Martin contributed to the reporting for this article.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 37 Life Hacks That Will Save You Money

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