Saving more money -- like losing more weight -- should be easier than it is. After all, we know how to do it. But getting ourselves actually to do it. That's tough. So I've compiled a list of eight easy-to-do things that will pay off big for the next 12 months to come. I'm Jean Chatzky, and this is Bankrate Bottom Line.
No. 1: Spend $20 on a programmable thermostat, then set it to keep your house at 68 degrees in the winter and 10 degrees lower when you're out of the house working or asleep. In summer, keep the house at 78 when you're home, warmer when you're away. Total savings: $180.
No. 2: Increase your insurance deductibles. Boosting your auto and homeowners deductible from $250 to $1,000 can save you 25 percent on your policies. The average homeowners policy costs $978, the average auto policy $907. Total savings: $470.
No. 3: As Bill Murray told the groundhog: Don't drive angry. Aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent around town. So cool it. The average driver uses about 600 gallons of fuel a year. At current prices, you'll save $420.
No. 4: Audit your communication bills. When it comes to your cellphone, cable, internet, etc. … there are so many new ways to save. You can scale back to basic cable and supplement with streaming. You can use a free texting app on your phone and not pay up for that. You can always remember to put on wi-fi and cut your minutes. Yearly savings: $500 and up.
No. 5: Use a refillable water bottle. The average consumer buys 167 bottles of water a year -- at a cost per bottle of $1.45. Refill instead. Savings: $240.
No. 6: Make Thursday leftovers night. Americans waste $165 billion annually by tossing unwanted snacks and meals. Do the math, and your jaw will drop. Savings (per person in your family): $529.
No. 7: Bag it. Finally -- you knew it was coming. The average American spends more than $1,100 a year on coffee and potentially more (around $10 for every day you eat out) on lunch. Bag it twice a week, drink the office coffee (or bring your own) twice a week, and save a whopping $1,479 a year.
No. 8: Adjust your withholding. The average tax refund runs around $3,000 year in and year out. Adjust your withholding so you get that money in your paycheck -- then save it. Savings: Up to $,000.
Then there's the all important last step: Move the money into savings automatically. The $5,000 is about $416 per month. Have the money swept out of checking and into savings electronically to make sure it happens.