Saving money is a key way to fund major spending without going into debt. But if you find hanging on to cash challenging, we got you covered. Here are seven easy ways to making saving money easier.

1. Cut energy waste

Unplugging electronics before bed is one simple way to save money. Televisions, computers and other appliances continue to drain energy when not in use, and pulling the plug every night could save you about $100 annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To further lower your electricity use, trade incandescent bulbs for compact fluorescents. This can reduce lighting costs by 25 to 80 percent.

2. Trim transportation costs

It often pays to leave your car at home, so take advantage of carpools or public transportation. You can also cut back on trips to your bank branch by using mobile banking features. For example, mobile deposit allows you to deposit checks from wherever you have cell phone service with your bank’s mobile app (see video below).

3. Make saving automatic

To make saving easier, automate the process. Programs available at financial institutions such as FirstBank will move money from your checking to your savings account either according to rules you set up or by rounding up debit-card purchases to the nearest dollar and then transferring the difference.

4. Take a bite out of grocery bills

To save on food, beverages and medications:

  • Use tap water instead of bottled.
  • Shop on days when supermarkets release their weekly deals.
  • Buy fresh ingredients and cook more meals at home.
  • Prepare large quantities and freeze portions for future meals.
  • Bring lunch to work.
  • Buy non-perishable groceries in bulk.
  • Choose generic medications when possible.

5. Cut entertainment costs

Most people love to unwind with television, but the average cable bill costs more than $700 annually. Cutting cable and substituting a service like Netflix or Hulu can save major money. You can also borrow books and movies from your local library, or buy used copies at many retailers. When a night out is in order, explore free and low-cost concerts, theater and sporting events, and educational programs at libraries, parks, houses of worship and other local venues.

6. Clean up without getting cleaned out

Routine cleaning can send cash down the drain. To lower this expense:

  • Choose energy efficient appliances.
  • Only wash full loads of clothes and use the cold water cycle.
  • Clean the dryer lint filter after each load, or better yet, line dry laundry.
  • Install low-flow showerheads and faucets or aerators that restrict water flow.
  • Repair dripping faucets.

7. Reduce pet healthcare costs

It’s important to protect pets’ health, but visiting the vet for every routine vaccination and checkup gets pricey. Luckily, many cities and towns offer free annual or semi-annual clinics providing shots and wellness checkups. These services could save you hundreds of dollars each year. Even minor lifestyle changes can result in significant savings over time. Once you’re comfortable saving money, you’ll be able to work toward financial goals — or splurge on a few little luxuries.

Content provided by Roberta Pescow, NerdWallet © Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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