Do you know the most painless ways to save money?

FINANCE

Bambi Turner

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Ditch your daily latte, take your lunch to work and pinch your pennies until the end of time. Sure, you'll probably end up with a bulging bank account, but you won't have much fun along the way. Fortunately, there are better ways to save that don't require major lifestyle changes. Take our quiz to see if you know the easiest ways to sock away savings without taking all the fun out of life.

You'll slash your heating bill by 3 percent for every degree you dip below this temperature during the winter on your thermostat.

Hate high heating bills? What's a degree or two when it comes to saving money? Believe it or not, you can slash 3 percent from your heating bill by every degree you set your thermostat below 70 in the winter. If you can't tell the difference between 69 and 70, there's an easy and painless way to cut costs right there. Those willing to wear a sweater or throw on an extra layer can save even more without much change in comfort.

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What price should you be looking at when comparing different products to keep grocery bills as low as possible?

Unit costs tell you how much something costs per unit -- per roll of toilet paper, or pound of cheese, for instance. Take a calculator along on your next shopping trip to calculate unit costs as you shop and find the best bang for your buck.

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What is an insurance deductible?

Your premium is how much you pay the company for insurance each month, and a deductible is what you pay when you actually file a claim -- say, when a storm knocks a tree onto your house or you get in a fender bender. Typically, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium, so asking to increase your deductible is a great way to cut monthly costs. This is especially useful for home insurance, where the average homeowner files a claim only every nine years.

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What does it mean to bundle insurance?

Bundling insurance means buying home and auto from a single company. On average, people in the U.S. save just shy of 16 percent annually with this tactic. You may be able to save even more by adding other types of insurance, like life or disability.

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How much of the heat lost in a home goes out through closed windows?

A whopping 25 percent of all heat that exits your home sneaks out through the windows -- when they're closed! Covering windows with clear, cheap, DIY film can keep some of that heat inside and cut heating costs by 14 percent. Even better, if applied correctly, you can't really tell the film is there, so it won't interfere with curb appeal.

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Which of these light bulbs costs the most to operate?

Incandescent bulbs are super cheap to buy, but 90 percent of the energy they use is turned into heat, not light, so they are incredibly wasteful to operate. If you have incandescent lights, always turn them off when you leave a room for any period of time to save money. If you have CFL bulbs, it's cheaper to leave the lights on if you'll be gone for less than 15 minutes.

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If you buy a bottle of water every day at $1 a bottle, how much are you spending on H2O over five years?

Even at a conservative price of $1 per bottle, a bottle per day habit will cost you $1,825 over five years. If you invested that sum instead, you'd have more than $18,000 over 30 years at 8 percent. Of course, you need water to survive, but tap water is practically free! Pick up a reusable bottle and put down the plastic.

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Which of these boosts fuel mileage by 3 percent?

Rotate tires and keep them properly inflated for less pain at the pump. On average, these simple practices will boost fuel efficiency by 3 percent.

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Every year, the amount of wasted food in the U.S. equates to this amount per person.

More than $165 billion worth of food gets trashed in the U.S. each year, which equates to $529 per person. One of the best ways to save money on food is to avoid waste by planning meals and using food up before it goes bad and ends up in the trash.

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Wanna get pumped up? Athletic clubs estimate that only this percent of members will actually use the club after joining.

When athletic clubs calculate memberships, they base their figures on the assumption that only 18 percent of people who pay for membership actually use the facility. Are you one of the 82 percent? If so, you might be better off quitting the club and pocketing that money instead of wasting it on a gym you never visit.

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What's the ideal speed limit to keep fuel costs under control?

Cruising along at 60 miles per hour is the best way to save money while driving on the highway -- and that doesn't even include the savings on speeding tickets! For every 10 mph over 60, your mileage drops enough that you're essentially paying 10 cents more per gallon.

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How much can you cut water heating costs by insulating your water heater?

Insulating the hot water heater is an easy DIY job that costs less than $20, but will slash water heating bills by 4 to 9 percent -- so go ahead and take that hot shower without the guilt!

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What's the cheapest way to heat up food?

Microwaves are the clear winner when it comes to saving money on cooking costs. Nuking your meal uses around 80 percent less energy than heating it in the oven.

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Which of these is the cheapest source of protein?

Meatless Monday does more than save animals -- it also helps to fatten your wallet. With both boneless chicken breasts and ground beef averaging more than $3.00 per pound, tofu is a steal at $2 to $2.50 per pound. Want to save even more? Protein-rich beans ring in at a little more than $1 per pound.

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What is vampire power?

Did you know that everything you leave plugged into the wall keeps draining energy even when you aren't using it? The U.S. Department of Energy calls that vampire power and estimates that it accounts for around 10 percent of the average electricity bill. Zap these power wasters by unplugging them when they aren't in use or by using a power strip you can switch off to conserve energy.

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How much does the average latte cost?

OK, you don't have to give up your daily latte, but keep in mind that spending the average price of $3.78 per weekday on your favorite beverage adds to just under $1,000 per year. You could buy an espresso machine or French press and enjoy delicious coffee and still save hundreds of dollars a year if you're willing to make your own brew.

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How much does the average household spend on credit card interest each year?

With $16,000 in credit card debt for the average household at a standard rate of around 15 percent, a typical family spends around $2,400 per year on interest. If your family has credit card debt, paying it off is one of the fastest ways to save money.

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How much is the average cable TV bill?

The average cable bill was $103 at the end of 2016. That's an increase of 39 percent since 2011. Consider cutting the cord to put $1,200 a year in your pocket, and use cheaper streaming services or free DVDs from your local library to satisfy your entertainment urges.

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Rolling down the windows or turning on the AC -- which is the cheaper way to cool your car while driving on the highway?

It's the age-old question -- should you roll down the windows or does the added wind resistance interfere with good gas mileage? The answer depends on your speed. In the city, keep windows down to save money. At speeds above 45 mph, roll the windows up and switch on the AC to get the most bang for your buck.

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How much will you save by putting your computer to sleep for 16 hours a day?

If you put your computer to sleep instead of leaving it fully powered up while you work and sleep, you'll save more than $7 per month -- that's about $100 more in your pocket each year for very little effort.

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How much water does a leaky faucet waste each year?

A dripping faucet wastes around $20 worth of water a year. Not only is it bad for the planet, it's also bad for your wallet. A simple washer or seal will likely resolve the problem and keep more money in your pocket.

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How many households have more than one refrigerator?

One out of three households hang on to old refrigerators to store extra food. The problem with this is that refrigerator technology has improved so dramatically over the last few decades that older units are real money pits. It's almost always cheaper to toss out that second fridge and buy a single, larger unit, than to try and pay to keep two units running. Cut costs even more by keeping the fridge full, but not packed so tightly that air can't circulate.

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What temperature should you set your water heater at to balance frugality and health?

Most manufacturers set water heaters at 140 degrees Fahrenheit by default. Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees will save you 6 to 10 percent on water heating costs each year. Don't go any lower, however, as temperatures below 120 Fahrenheit increase the risk that harmful bacteria will grow.

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How much does a thrifty family of four spend on groceries each week, according to the USDA?

The USDA offers four estimates to guide families on the cost of groceries for a pair of parents and two children. Thrifty families average $146 per week, while those with the most liberal budgets spend $289 per week. If you're spending towards the higher end of that range, you could easily save money without sacrificing nutrition with a little planning next time you shop.

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How much will you save for each incandescent bulb you replace with a CFL?

CFLs use about one-fourth the energy of incandescsent bulbs. For each one you swap out, you'll save around $57 over the life of the bulb -- even after you figure in the higher purchase price for CFLs.

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How much more in interest will you spend on a $300,000 home with a credit score of 600 versus a score of 680?

A low credit score can cost you big! The difference between a score of 760 and 680 is around $12,000 in interest over a 30-year mortgage on a $300,000 home. Someone with a credit score of 600 will pay an additional $40,000 on top of that. You may not be able to fix your credit immediately, but you can check your report annually and remedy any errors to avoid paying unnecessary interest.

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What the heck is PMI?

PMI stands for private mortgage insurance, and if you put down less than 20 percent on your home, you're probably paying it! The good news is that once you build equity of 20 percent or more, you can probably cancel your PMI policy, but don't count on the bank or your insurance broker to let you know when that time comes. Instead, track home equity and determine for yourself when to inquire about canceling your policy.

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How much does a roof-mounted storage box cut fuel efficiency?

Got extra stuff to store? Keep it away from your vehicle. Roof-mounted storage boxes cut fuel efficiency by 10 to 25 percent on the highway, and 2 to 8 percent on city streets.

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How much can a simple chimney balloon cut annual heating costs?

Got a chimney? Unless you have a damper, it's letting lots of expensive heat out of your home when the fireplace is not in use. Add a simple chimney balloon to cut heating costs by $100 per year. Best of all, if you forget the balloon is there when you light a fire, it will simply deflate so smoke can safely escape.

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What's the biggest energy hog in your home, excluding the air conditioner?

Believe it or not, cable boxes tend to be the biggest energy hog in the home, using more electricity than major appliances like refrigerators. For best results, unplug your box when it's not in use, or add a power strip to easily switch off the box at night.

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