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5 simple ways to save at home

By Paula Pant ·
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Posted: 2 pm ET

In your daily life, you will encounter dozens of opportunities to save money in small, simple ways. None of these methods alone will save you hundreds of dollars immediately.

But these five tiny moves can help you reduce expenses without eating up too much of your time. And over longer periods of time, the savings can be substantial.

Try to cut expenses -- and boost your savings -- over the long haul. Use the money you save to pay down debt or to fund a retirement plan.

1. Turn off the lights when you leave a room

This doesn't take any extra time or mental energy -- just form a habit of hitting the light switch whenever you exit a room.

Not only will this habit save you money, but displaying your frugal side may cause others in your household to model your behavior. That compounds the savings that end up in your pocketbook. And remember, reducing energy usage is good for the earth.

2. Replace your incandescent light bulbs

Replace your incandescent light bulbs with light-emitting diode (LED) or compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.

This takes some upfront labor, but once the bulbs are in, the savings are automated. Simply kick back and enjoy, knowing that your light bulbs are naturally using less energy -- and lowering your electric bill -- every hour they are on.

3. Don't stand in front of an open refrigerator

Do you open the refrigerator door and just stand there, staring at the food within and wondering what you should eat?

When your refrigerator door is open, you're allowing cold air to escape. That means your fridge will need to work extra hard to return itself to its normal temperature once you close the door.

Keep the door closed and you will save modestly on your energy bill. This is one of those tips that pays off over years, not months.

4. Plant herbs

You may not have the time or space to plant a full-scale garden. But even if you cannot grow pounds of vegetables, you can quickly and easily grow a few herbs in potted containers on your windowsill.

Mint, oregano and basil are low-maintenance plants. Grow these herbs in your kitchen and you won't have to buy them at the store.

As a bonus, they'll taste more delicious when they are fresh.

5. Turn off the tap

Do you leave the water running while you brush your teeth? Do you constantly let the faucet stream water while you're washing the dishes?

Turn off the tap water unless you absolutely need to have it running. For instance, wash dishes by filling the sink with soapy water, and run the tap only for the final rinse.

If you have a dishwasher, load your dishes into the washer and wait until it's full before you run the load.

Becoming more conscious of your water usage -- and corresponding waste -- can help you soak up savings on the cost of your water bills.

Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn't had an employer since 2008. Her blog, "Afford Anything," is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say "I can't afford it." Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.

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