Having a healthy savings account is a great way to start building your financial foundation. It's essential to have an "emergency fund" that you can use when an unexpected bill hits your mailbox or when tragedy strikes.
Here are a few uncommon ways to increase your savings that I've discovered over the years.
1. Live in the smallest suitable space for your lifestyle.
Think about the house you're living in right now -- is it more than what you need? If so, you should consider downsizing. Not only will you save money on your rent/mortgage and utilities, but you'll also have less home to clean up and manage.
You'll probably find that by downsizing you'll have to sell furniture and other items that will no longer have a place in your home, saving you even more money.
2. Install the Honey Extension for your browser.
I just recently discovered the Honey extension for Chrome/Firefox that automatically searches the web for coupon codes every time you checkout when shopping online. It is ridiculously easy and has saved me a ton of money already.
3. Maintain all of your stuff.
This is more of a long-term way to pad your savings account, but it works.
When you purchase something, add it to a maintenance list that you review on a regular basis. Write out what the item is, how often you need to review its condition, and when you last serviced or maintained the item.
4. Have someone negotiate your bills.
One unique way you can save some more money is to use a service like BillCutterz to get some help negotiating your bills. They'll do the legwork for you. All you have to do is send them your bills and they call your providers and negotiate better rates on your behalf.
5. Rethink your entertainment.
Many people, when trying to think of ways to save money, focus on areas that would hurt the least. I challenge you to rethink your entertainment -- an area that is a bit of a sacrifice. Remember though, if you focus on changing what you enjoy, you'll find it easier to save some money on entertainment.
Many folks are ditching cable TV all together in lieu of Hulu Plus and Netflix. All you need is a Smart TV, Apple TV, or any other number of devices and you are on your way to watching tons of great movies and TV shows for about $15 a month.
6. Cut your restaurant bills in half.
I love eating out and finding new restaurants, but doing so can really put a dent in my bank account. Restaurant.com and Groupon.com offer steep discounts worth looking into (yes, many times, 50 percent off). Plus, you might find your next favorite restaurant.
Use the savings from these websites and put them directly into your savings account. Every little bit helps.
7. Dramatically cut your cellphone bill.
If you're working from home or simply don't need to talk on the phone much, consider moving to a prepaid, non-contract cellphone plan. You can save hundreds of dollars every year by having a minimalistic plan and using services like Skype or FaceTime to talk with those you love free of charge.
8. Get your property tax lowered.
When was the last time your county assessed your home's value? If it was during a boom, you might be paying way too much towards property taxes. Call your county to reassess your home's value, and you might just find yourself saving some money.
9. Lower your car insurance premium.
We are all a little numb to this because Geico runs about 10,000 commercials every day, along with all the other insurance companies. But the truth is, a lot of us are indeed overpaying for car insurance. I was one of them. I lowered my rates by $500/year for the exact same level of coverage by switching companies.
10. Quit driving like you just robbed a bank.
A few years back, Edmunds did a study to find the key factors to improving your gas mileage -- and number one on their list was to stop aggressive driving. They said, "If you slow your 0-to-60-mph acceleration time down from your current 10 seconds to a more normal city pace of 15 seconds, you'll feel the savings immediately."
They found up to 37 percent savings with an average of 31 percent savings. That is like getting $4 gas for $2.69. It might just be time to be a little more gentle on the gas pedal.
Bob Lotich is the founder of ChristianPF.com, a website helping everyday people make more money, save more, invest wisely, and increase their giving.