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5 Painless Ways to Save Money

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 09-01-2016 Jim Wang
A young woman holding a piggy bank.: If you're making financial resolutions, you might want to consider these tips.© (iStockPhoto) If you're making financial resolutions, you might want to consider these tips.

Have you made any financial New Year's resolutions? Chances are saving more money is on your list if you have. Who doesn't want more money in their wallet? Unfortunately, it's easy to say you want to save, but it's another thing to take action on it.

That's what this post will help you do. If you're new to saving and associate it with depriving yourself, think again. There are plenty of painless ways to save money! Here are five.

1. Shop Around for Better Deals

One of the easiest and most common ways to save money is to shop around with various service providers. Do you still have cable? Make a phone call to inquire about lower rates. If there are other companies you're willing to use, make that clear in the nicest way possible. After all, the goal is to reduce your bill, not to argue with the person on the other side.

You get bonus points if you find deals other competitors are offering, as this gives you leverage when negotiating. Some providers are willing to reduce your bill if you threaten to cancel, but be sure you're ready and willing to walk away if it comes to that.

Perhaps you're tired of paying more than you think a certain service is worth. That happened to me when I realized I was paying just over $1,000 for my cell phone bill each year. I decided to make the switch to Republic Wireless, which saved me nearly $800 last year. It pays to research your options!

Another area to focus on when shopping around is insurance. Before you make a call, review your policies to ensure they still fit your needs. If you've had any major life changes within the past year, that may no longer be the case. You might find you need more or less coverage. Get that straightened out, and then shop around for better deals.

2. Buy Used or Refurbished

You can still get the products you want and pay less by buying used or refurbished. I did this with my MacBook Air. As you might expect, MacBooks aren't the cheapest option on the market, but they're fairly reliable and powerful. After massive amounts of research, I decided it was worth the price.

Before I purchased new, I checked the refurbished section of the Apple.com and realized I could pay a few hundred dollars less going this route. It came with a one-year warranty (my credit card doubled it) and I figured it was worth a try. Aside from a finicky caps lock key, it's been running fine in the year and a half I've owned it.

Other examples include saving tons of money buying used baby products your children will outgrow (toys!), or buying used furniture on Craigslist. There's no harm in checking these alternatives before paying more for a brand new product.

3. Take Advantage of Your Library

Did you know your library likely has tons of free resources available for you to use? We're not just talking about books here, either. I recently learned my library offers a free subscription to Lynda.com, and I was happy to cancel my membership and get the same access for free.

I'm not one to re-read books, so borrowing from the library has always been my first choice. However, I was happy to see such a large selection of ebooks available. I have instant access to some books, and I don't have to waste gas.

While most people probably have Netflix, Hulu+, Amazon Prime or some combination thereof, I borrowed DVDs of TV shows from my library. It was much cheaper than buying them, and some older seasons weren't available for streaming.

Do you have children? Your library more than likely offers free events specifically for kids, whether it's a movie night, an arts and crafts event, or a book club. Take a look at your library's calendar and you might be surprised.

4. Switch to a No-Fee Bank Account

One of your financial goals might be to keep tabs on your bank accounts more often, but in the meantime, why risk paying fees?

There are quite a few online-only banks that are fee-free. You can withdraw money from out-of-network ATMs and get reimbursed; you can get checks for free; and best of all, there are no monthly maintenance fees, so you don't need to worry about keeping a minimum in the account.

5. Get Clear on Your Values and Spend According to Them

This last tip has the potential to save you the most money over the course of your life. Most people are wasting their money away simply because they're not making conscious decisions.

By getting 100 percent clear on your values, you can analyze your spending and see if you're putting your money where your values are. If you're spending on things that aren't bringing you happiness, then you should cut those expenses out. Focus your spending on things that will bring you joy, and you'll feel less guilt and won't experience buyer's remorse.

There are plenty of other ways to painlessly save money, but this should give you a good idea of where to start. Plus, once you get addicted to saving, you'll find that other savings methods don't seem as intimidating.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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