Do you know the most painless ways to save money?

Staff

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About This Quiz

If your disposable income always shrinks to a few lonely dollars before your next paycheck arrives, discovering a few painless ways to save money could make a big difference in your quality of life. This quiz will get you started.

What's the first thing you should change when you decide to boost your savings power?

The No. 1 way to increase your ability to save is to adjust your attitude. Instead of viewing cutbacks as a punishment, think of them as a reward. After all, you can put your savings toward something that's really important to you, like an education or a dream vacation.

How much does it cost to install a programmable thermostat?

If your home's heating and cooling system isn't controlled by a programmable thermostat, you can have one installed for about $50.

How much can you save on energy costs by adjusting your thermostat?

You can expect to reduce your energy costs by 1 percent for every degree that you lower the thermostat in the winter or raise it in the summer, so long as you commit to that change for eight hours.

If climate and proximity allow, what's a great way to shave hundreds of dollars off your commuting costs?

Pending weather and distance, making the decision to ride your bicycle or walk to work can save hundreds of dollars each month in commuting costs when compared with driving a vehicle to work.

Why is it a good idea to shop for auto insurance annually?

By comparing the auto insurance rates of several different providers each year, you can determine which rate is lowest and might save hundreds of dollars a year on premiums.

If you spend $100 a month on your favorite form of latte, how much savings could you build by instead investing that money at 10 percent interest every month for five years?

If you placed your $100-a-month coffee budget into savings every month for the next five years at 10 percent interest, it would be worth $7,800.

What is a surefire way to build savings into your workday?

Instead of dining out every day (the average fast food meal costs between $4 to $7, and has about 1,000 calories), pack your lunch. Not only will it be better for your health, but it will save you money. You could probably even afford to treat yourself to a lunch with friends once a week -- and order dessert.

Dry cleaning can really add up over time, but do you know the potential health risks?

Historically, the dry cleaning process has used perchloroethylene, a chemical that the International Agency for Research on Cancer reports is a human carcinogen. Some dry cleaners now use a safer C02 cleaning process instead.

Can some clothes labeled "dry clean" be washed at home?

Many clothes that have a "dry clean" label can be washed at home using a gentle detergent and line drying. However, some materials labeled "dry clean only," like silk, should be dry cleaned professionally or with home-substitute products.

How much does a typical meal cost in a fast casual restaurant?

When you order a meal at a fast casual restaurant, like Chipotle or Blimpie, it will often cost you between $8 and $15. You can usually prepare a similar meal at home for a fraction of the cost.

What is one of the most cost-efficient food ingredients to grow in your own kitchen?

Fresh herbs can be grown at home for pennies on the dollar of what it costs to buy them fresh in the grocery store. All these hardy plants need to produce abundantly throughout the year is soil, sunlight and water.

What is one painless way to add to your savings account?

Ask your financial institution or employer if you can opt to automatically contribute a portion of your check to your savings account. When you pay into your savings automatically, you are less likely to miss the money -- or spend it on something else.

How much could you save at the grocery store by purchasing generic or store-brand items instead of brand-name items?

According to Consumer Reports, you can save up to 30 percent at the grocery store if you purchase generic or store-brand items instead of brand-name items. In many cases, the quality is the same.

Most grocery stores offer a price-per-ounce comparison for a variety of items. Where is this information usually located?

If you'd like to compare similar items quickly by brand or size, scan the store shelves. On the tags that list the price of each item, there is usually a price-per-ounce or comparison in smaller print.

Which appliance commonly found in homes uses the most electricity per year?

A set-top cable box or DVR uses electricity 24 hours a day, whether you are actively using it or not. In fact, it uses more electricity than a new, full-sized refrigerator. The estimated 160 million set-top boxes in the U.S. consume some $3 billion in electricity each year.

Researchers found that mice that exercised regularly experienced what benefits?

A study published in a 2011 issue of "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" revealed that mice that exercised rigorously on a regular basis "reduced or eliminated almost every detrimental effect of aging."

How much could the average person save on annual health care costs if he or she exercised on a regular basis?

The estimated savings in health care costs for a person who regularly exercises is $500 a year.

How can acting as a tourist in your own town save you money?

You could save a significant amount of money by opting for free activities instead of the usual dinner and a movie. Start by touring free or low-cost local art museums and historical sites. Some cities also offer free walking tours.

What is one way that music lovers can save money on live performances?

Music lovers don't need to shell out a hundred dollars for a concert ticket. Many community centers, art-focused groups and upscale shopping centers offer community concert series that feature free performances by local musicians or musical groups.

If your cable box/DVD is an older model that uses scads of electricity, how can you save money and avoid the cost of replacing it?

A typical cable box/DVD consumes 66 percent of its energy when you're not using it. Unplugging the device is a simple but effective way to save money on energy costs.

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