Five ways you can start saving money THIS WEEK

What's that saying? The one about a journey starting with one single step? What is a journey but a series of steps all taken in the hopes of leading somewhere different? 

When you're looking to start saving money or limit your outgoing expenses it always sounds like giving up big things like canceling gym memberships and taking a jog around the block instead. Or canceling your satellite dish in favor of a streaming service. 

And while making more cost-effective choices will lead to BIG savings, there are also little things you can start doing today that will yield big savings results without big sacrifices. (Although I think we can argue that giving up a satellite dish probably isn't that big of a sacrifice, right?)

Today I wanted to share a few things you can to THIS WEEK to start saving money. 

1. Make a meal plan

Are you rolling your eyes? I think I just heard one of you scream "she's talking about meal planning again." But it really will save you money. 

I spent a few minutes BEFORE I went shopping to plan our meals for the week. I looked at what I had and used mostly things that were in my pantry or from my garden. I only had to purchase a few things from the supermarket and ended up only spending half my grocery budget this week. 

Not only will you save time by planning your meals and only making ONE shopping trip a week, you will also save a lot of money by skipping the drive thru or salad bar. 

Plus you will reduce food waste. 

2. Raise it a few degrees

Did you know you can save big bucks by raising your thermostat a few degrees? In fact, you can save 1 to 3 percent per degree for each degree over 72 when cooling your home. (The same goes for the winter just the opposite direction- bump it down to 68.) (Source)

3. Change your filters!

This goes for both your home's AC filter and your car's air filter. Dusty, AC filters reduce your unit's efficiency, making it harder (and more expensive) to cool your home. 

Replace your home filter once a month and according to my AC guy (who replaced my unit last year!) the cheaper the AC filter the better. No need to spend stop dollar on the less efficient filter. 

Your car's filter should be cleaned or replaced every 10,000 miles. 

4. Rethink your cell phone service

We have certainly convinced ourselves that cell phones are a necessity haven't we? Don't worry, I am not going to tell you to get rid of it. No. 

Instead, consider ways to reduce the cost of your wireless service. Rethink phone insurance, an excessive data plan, or a minutes package you don't use. 

Eight ways to slack your phone bill. 

5. Research your benefits

So a friend of mine told me last week that she just found out her company matches four percent of her 401k. 

She hadn't been investing in it because she didn't know her company matched. And she's worked at the same company for several years. Never mind that she wasn't investing to begin with, but to turn down free money!! 

Make sure you are taking FULL advantage of any benefits your employer offers, whether it's vision insurance or retirement matching. You don't want to leave money on the table. 

What about you? How are you saving money this week?