Tweaking spending habits with these smart moves can free up more money this year.

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Do you earn a decent salary but often don’t have extra money to make it to your next paycheck? Your everyday spending habits could be the culprit. Fortunately, it’s easy to free up extra money by making small changes that add up to big savings by spending less each month.

Here are eight ways to tweak monthly spending so you have more money for savings, paying off debt and maintaining overall peace of mind.

1. Use only your bank’s ATMs

When you get cash from an ATM that’s not operated by the bank where you have your checking account, you’ll typically pay two fees: The ATM bank’s fee plus a fee charged by your own bank. The national average in fees for using another bank’s ATM is nearly $5 per withdrawal, according to personal finance site Nerdwallet.

Money-saving tip: Plan ahead by withdrawing enough cash from your bank’s ATM to get you through the week so you can avoid paying ATM fees.

Find out: Don’t Get Blindsided by These 7 Credit Card Fees

2. Pause or cancel streaming services

Americans spend an average of $55 a month on streaming services, according to a 2021 report from J.D. Power. With a wide selection of streaming options, it’s easy to sign up for several services, even if you don’t use all of them frequently.

Money-saving tip: Pause or cancel at least a couple of streaming services to save $10 to $40 a month.

Find out: 60 Creative and Simple Ways to Save Money

3. Keep track of spending with an app

One of the first steps to spending less is finding out where all your money is going. When you download a budgeting app like Mint or You Need a Budget (YNAB), the app tracks your spending habits so you can adjust to spend less.

Money-saving tip: Search for budgeting apps and download an app that tracks spending and offers suggestions on how to spend less.

Find out: Build a Budget That Works for Your Goals

4. Prepare more meals at home

The average American household spends nearly $3,000 a year dining out, according to credit card and insurance resource ValuePenguin. That’s $250 a month you could use to pay off debt or build emergency savings. By taking your lunch to work and making your own dinners, you can reduce spending significantly.

Money-saving tip: You could get discouraged if you totally deprive yourself of the pleasure and convenience of going out or getting takeout. Instead, prepare most meals at home but allocate a small amount in your budget for dining out once or twice a week.

Find out: How to Save Money on Food Without Cooking Every Meal

5. Make a list before hitting the grocery store

If you run into the grocery store sporadically whenever the need arises, you’re probably spending too much on groceries. Next time, make a list for the weekly grocery shopping to cut down on rushed trips where you don’t have time to worry about prices.

Money-saving tip: Plan meals for the week before shopping. That way, there’s less chance of needing to run back to the store mid-week for an item or ingredient.

Find out: 9 Tips to Save Money on Groceries

6. Prepare food for the week

You can save a lot of money by simply doing a little bit of meal prep for the week on Sunday afternoon. For example, if you make a big salad, boil some eggs, cut up melon, fix a chicken salad and throw together a side dish, you’ll have ready-made healthy food you can grab instead of going out to eat.

Money-saving tip: Buy a baked rotisserie chicken so you’ll have a few easy dinners and lunches on hand during the week.

Find out: How Doing a Weekly Meal Prep can Save Money on Dining Out

7. Watch for sales

It’s easy to be in too much of a hurry to find out what’s on sale, but watching for sales can save a considerable amount of money. For one thing, you can plan weekly meals around what’s on sale at the grocery store. And don’t forget sales at home drug stores, improvement, hardware.

Money-saving tip: Don’t overlook huge savings on clearance racks and under “clearance” on retail websites, especially as the seasons change.

8. Combine errands to save gas

Gas prices are crazy high, but you can still save by using less gas. Most of us drive around without much thought to how much gas we use with each trip. However, if you combine three or four stops into one afternoon of running errands, you’ll use less gas and save at the pump.

Money-saving tip: Take a few minutes to write down the day’s errands and then plan the most efficient route.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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