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Five sneaky ways to trick yourself into saving money

Stop spending all of your money on Netflix and cable. Brad's Deals writer Mark Jackson has five ways to trick yourself into saving money. 

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    Stop spending all of your money on Netflix and cable. Instead of spending all of your money on books and DVDs, get a library card.
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Saving money is tough for many people--I know I have trouble resisting the occasional splurge on my favorite beverage or a vacation away. But there are plenty of ways for you to save without even noticing! Here are a few tips that I use on a daily basis:

1.  No More Netflix

While this has become harder in recent months due to their great original programming (check out Daredevil if you haven't!), it's still a good idea to ask yourself this one, simple question: Do you watch Netflix every month? Many people don't, but still let that $7.99 per month recurring payment roll each billing period.  That's almost a $100 a year to watch TV and movies you might already have in your home library!

If you don't have an expansive movie collection at home, the library (you know, the place people used to rent books from) probably has a large selection of DVDs already, and Amazon Prime membership comes with streaming movies, many of which overlap with Netflix's selection.

Recommended: Turn your kids into super-savers: six tips for parents

2. Stop Buying Bottled Water

Guess what? That bottled water that you buy in the store is coming from the municipal water supply of a city near you. Yes, you're buying tap water at $1-$2 a pop. Get a reusable Nalgene and refill that puppy all day, it's virtually free! If you can't resist that soda buzz, buy a SodaStream and save yourself some big money in the long run by making your own sodas at home.

The great thing about water is that it actually keeps you hydrated, but soda does opposite, wiping your body of crucial nutrients to function correctly. Sports drinks are high in sugar and aren't necessary a non-athlete to get through the day, so the best option for your health--and your wallet--is to quench your thirst with the tap.

3. Ditch Amazon

If you're constantly buying books, why not get a library card? You'll save $10-$20 per new book if you grab a used one from the library, and many libraries now allow you to rent e-books straight to your Kindle or other reading device, enabling you to get new material for free--without ever leaving home!

4.  Change Your Lightbulbs

The lightbulbs you grew up with are wasteful, but replacing them with new CFL bulbs will save you a ton on electric bills, and won't need to replace them as often. It's a win-win for you and the environment! Longer term, if you live in a sunny environment, try to find a house with lots of natural light--during the daytime you'll never have to turn on the lights!

For more tips on how to save money while giving Mother Earth a helping hand, check out our recent article on thrifty ways to save the environment.

5.  Cut the Cable Cord

This is my favorite money-saving tip. Many people keep cable because it's convenient and comes bundled together with phone and internet, but I'm telling you right now: DITCH THE BUNDLE! They're tacking on things you think you need and you're getting charged like crazy in the process.

Like ESPN? Go watch it at a friend's house. The money you save will cover your beer costs. Enjoy HBO? Buy HBO Now, which is the first of what will soon be many pay-per-channel options.

If all else fails, you can call up your cable company and threaten to quit, but if they don't give you a compelling deal, just go ahead and drop the services altogether. Who needs a phone line today anyway? Everyone's got a cell phone, and most families can make do with a basic internet package.

If you're apprehensive about cutting the cord, check out our editor Rebecca's recent article about canceling her cable package. She's a major TV buff, and she not only survived this life change, she thrived because of it.

Just think: if you save $100 a month for a year, you've got $1,200, more than enough for a cheap weekend away for a family of four.

The article first appeared on Brad's Deals.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best personal finance bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. To add or view a comment on a guest blog, please go to the blogger's own site by clicking on the link in the blog description box above.

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