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How to save money: Start your financial savings plan with these 18 simple tips

TODAY financial editor Jean Chatzky has tips on how to spend less in taxes, housing, transportation, food and healthcare this year.
/ Source: TODAY

If you're looking to save more money this year but don't have a specific strategy, TODAY financial editor Jean Chatzky has plenty of tips to help you rein in your spending.

In the latest installment of the #StartToday series, helping you begin 2016 with resolutions for your home, body and wallet, Chatzky outlined helpful spending habits on TODAY Friday. She focused on the five specific areas that consume the bulk of the average person's income: taxes, housing, transportation, food and healthcare.

Before getting into each area of spending, Chatzky advocated developing a personal policy toward spending, whether that means going out to dinner less, spending less on lunch, or other concrete goals.

She also advised trading the phrase "I can't" for "I don't" when it comes to discipline in spending because "I don't" is more definitive and not as wishy-washy as "I can't."

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She also offered specific tips in each of the five areas to help you ensure you're spending less than you earn.


1. Up retirement by 1%: You can increase your tax deductions by putting more money in your retirement plans like tax-deductible IRAs and 401 (k)s by just bumping up your contributions by 1 percent.

2. Saver's credit: If you are a couple earning less than $60,000 a year or a single person earning less than $30,000, you can get a dollar-for-dollar credit against your tax bill by putting money into a 401 (k) for $1,000 to $2,000.

3. Itemize job hunting costs: If you're looking for a job this year, make sure to save any receipts related to the cost of your search because if it reaches 2 percent of your income, you can write those expenses off on your taxes.

4. Use tax software: It's cheap, and it alerts you to credits and deductions that can save you money.

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5. Downsize your pad: Not an easy option because moving is hard, but certainly a way to savings.

6. Challenge property tax bills: A third to two-thirds of properties are overassessed. Hiring a lawyer is an option to challenge the assessment if you don't want to do it yourself.

7. Reduce utility costs: One of the best ways is to buy a programmable thermostat to lower the temperature in your home when you're not there or sleeping.

8. Shop around for insurance: Benefits vary wildly, so when your policy is up for renewal, shop around first for the best options.

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9. Buy a cheaper car: Buy a used car and drive it as long as you can.

10. Pocket your gas savings: Take the money you are saving on this year's lower gas prices and put it into a savings account so you won't spend it.

11. Use ride-sharing apps: Using apps like Uber pool or Lyft line, where you share rides with others, can reduce your transportation costs by up to 60 percent.

12. Lower car insurance: If you have a good credit score, you can reduce your car insurance by 10 percent, so shop around.


13. Cook for your household: Put leftovers in individually-portioned packages to make it easier to cook later so you don't waste food.

14. Set a personal policy: Stay focused on reducing the number of times you eat out or order takeout food.

15. Shop your pantry: Look at what you have in the house before going grocery shopping.


16. Shop around for Rx: Prescription prices can be 10 times more expensive between one pharmacy or another, so make sure you find the best price.

17. Don't always use insurance: Consult with your pharmacist about whether they have coupons or discounts on certain medications and whether it might be cheaper to not go through insurance to pay for it.

18. Ask if tests are necessary: Double-check with your doctor to make sure certain tests absolutely have to be done.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.