If you’re financially conscious, you might employ a few money-saving tricks in your daily routine. For example, you may wash clothes in cold water or unplug electronics before bed. Although these energy-saving hacks can save you money on utility costs, this only makes up a small portion of your monthly expenses.

A recent article by MSN points out that 70 percent of the American income goes into three categories: housing, transportation and food. Grant Sabatier, founder of Millennial Money and self-made millionaire, attributes much of his wealth to penny pinching in these departments. He recommends downsizing as the ultimate way to address the three money suckers. Unfortunately, downsizing may not be a viable option for much of the population.

For instance, public transportation is not available in all areas, and therefore is not a realistic solution to cut transportation expenses. If you’re a parent, you may not want to uproot your children or force them to share rooms – sometimes a necessity when downsizing. Saving money may seem like an uphill battle, but there are plenty of ways to free up cash in the three big departments without downsizing.

Housing

Reports estimate that in 2015 the average American household spent just under $18,000 on housing. It has carried the title of biggest expense for more than 70 years with no signs of letting up. To remedy this, many renters and homeowners opt to move into smaller homes or apartments where they can pay less and save more.

If moving to a smaller home is not an option for you, there are some steps you can take to save money on housing. Instead of forgoing homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, look for better rates to lower monthly expenses while keeping your coverage. Also, try to tackle do-it-yourself maintenance projects as they arise to avoid expensive repairs down the road. If you live in a state with energy choice, you can shop current rates from suppliers to lower utility bills.

Transportation

When the average car loan payment is $493, it’s no surprise transportation is the second biggest hit to the American wallet. Longer-term financing is also becoming more commonplace, which creates what is known as negative equity – the instance in which an object’s decrease in value outpaces the loan term. If you live in a metropolitan area, such as New York City or Chicago, reliable public transit is an easy alternative to owning a car.

For those who do not have access to dependable public transportation, reducing expenses here may not seem like an option. However, there are a few ways to cut costs on transportation without giving up your car. Biking to work is 60 percent more popular than it was 10 years ago. Commuters see it as a green initiative, daily workout and a money-saver. Carpooling could be another viable option if you gather a few colleagues and rotate driving duties. Driving less will help maintain the integrity of your car and save money on gas. Another way to make sure your car runs well for years to come is keeping up with regular oil changes and tune-ups. These visits to the mechanic could save you money on avoidable – and costly – breakdowns.

Food

Food accounts for a smaller portion of the standard annual budget, but is still a major opportunity to save. This category eats up more than 12 percent of the American budget, largely due to the nation’s love for eating out.

To save money in this category, the simplest solution is to cook at home. Eating out is the biggest food expenditure, but is followed by money spent on prepared foods found at the grocery store. This category includes ready-made salads, frozen meals and bagged snacks. With fresh and low-cost ingredients, you could create meals that are just as good as those found in restaurants. For added savings on energy cost, ditch the stove and oven by cooking outside when the weather is nice.

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