6 Simple Tricks To Save Money EVERY Month

Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
By Keara Dowd

Besides rent and student loans, utilities are probably the third-highest payment you make every month. While groceries, going out, and buying new duds can all add up, you can cut yourself off at a certain point. Maybe you buy the store-brand cereal instead of the brand name, or maybe you go without buying a new top for a while.

Utilities are just one of those expenses that you can't really curb, because, well, you do need electricity every month. Lights are a must and air circulation is beyond necessary, especially during the sweltering summer months. You can tell yourself, "I'm not going to online shop anymore" and be done with it. But you can't really tell yourself, "Oh, electricity? No biggie." You're stuck with those utilities — and their bills — making them an even more important bill to try to cut down.

Living in D.C., I have to cope with both the high costs of heating for the winter and the air conditioning bill in the summer months. Eventually, I got to a point where I could no longer put off taking care of my utility bills. Instead, I learned how to deal with the situation at hand.

Check out six simple things I did (and you can, too) to bring down that monthly monstrosity.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
This is the most obvious way to lower your bill. Resist the urge to make your home “just right.” Get to your perfect point, then dial it back at least two degrees. If your ideal temperature is 72º, make it 74º or higher in the summer. (Or better yet, turn it off completely and invest in a good fan.)

On the flip-side, try not to warm your home over 68º F in the winter. Just two degrees can make a huge difference in your bill. Most importantly, remember that you don’t have to have your place at the same temperature all the time. I often bring the temperature down another two to three degrees at night for comfort, then adjust it back to something warmer and more manageable during the day.

Also, if no one is going to be home all day, tone down the control. If you think you're likely to forget, leave a note right by the door. You can always adjust it when you get home. If you need help sticking to a temperature plan, several systems even let you set automatic settings at different times of the day.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
If you make a point of doing it, this is probably the easiest thing to adjust at home. But getting into the habit takes some getting used to. You know how you leave your cellphone/computer/tablet chargers plugged in for convenience? Unplug them. If they're not charging anything, all they're doing is using up energy.

Pro tip: Use a power strip, so you can easily unplug them all at once. This is probably obvious, but not everyone does it. If your device is fully charged, unplug it. Leaving it on the charger when the battery is full will both shorten the battery life and run up your bill.

Related: 20-Somethings Reveal The Splurge Buys That Ended Up Saving Them Money
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
We all know to turn off lights when you leave the house, but turning off lights when you leave a room is also a great habit to get into. Turn on a lamp instead of using the overhead lights when you’re watching TV, which uses less electricity. And when you’re not using your lamps, unplug them! There's no need for you to keep the lights on in a room you're not currently using.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
This is potentially a big one, but it’s always the furthest one from my mind. There are little things, like appliances, that if you unplug them while they’re not in use, will save you money. This applies to toasters, coffee makers, blenders, etc. However, this also applies to larger appliances like the oven and microwave. It can be impractical to pull them out and unplug them, but if you really need the savings, it can be a game-changer.

Related: 24 Things I Regret Spending Money On
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
Obviously, using a dishwasher (if you’re lucky enough to have one) uses quite a bit of water and electricity. Make a conscious decision to stop using your dishwasher altogether for a month and you'll cut back on both of those utilities. But on the flip side, if you’re completely attached to your dishwasher (understandably so), stop pre-rinsing your dishes. Most new dishwashers are built so that you don't actually have to pre-rinse.
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Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
If you've got a washer and dryer in your apartment (first, consider yourself very lucky), know that you'll be paying for each load of laundry you do, even if you're not shelling out quarters every time. In order to keep your bill down, you have to cut down usage. We typically only think to air dry our delicates and sweaters, but there are a ton of other items you can hang: towels, workout clothes, sheets. A drying rack is cheap, plus it's better for your wallet and the environment.

Next: Everything I Learned From Moving In With Someone Way Too Soon
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