As the New Year begins its journey toward 2022, the money crunch occupies the minds of millions of Americans—small business owners, parents, laid-off workers, etc. Many of the people who’ve had steady income from retirement or savings have rescued not-so-fortunate relatives and friends, but financial problems are rampant. This article contains a selection of the best advice from financial experts on how to save money or use it more wisely during what we hope to be the last months of the pandemic

First of all, cutting expenses to keep more of your hard-earned money is an obvious solution, but not an easy one. If you are a smoker, it’s time to quit. Really! Now! One person who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day pays over $2000 per year for them, and we’ve known for years about the dangers of smoking. Take some of that money and get some help, if need be. Kill two birds with one stone. Save your health and your money.

Next, change the lighting in your house. CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs use a quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs and last for years, but they do have some disadvantages. They take a while to warm up to full brightness and do contain a small bit of mercury. Next to traditional bulbs, the CFLs are cheapest. Now LEDs are more expensive, but they’re getting cheaper every day. They light up instantly, are just as efficient as CFLs, produce a warm glow without getting hot to the touch, and can last for decades. This solution is rather obvious as well.

Make a grocery list and actually use it. Do not shop when you’re hungry. Hunger shopping is quite dangerous to the wallet. Before grocery shopping, take stock of your supplies and make a list of what you’ll need for the next week. That way you’ll only buy what you intend to use and nothing will be thrown out for being expired. Also buy paper towels, tissue, detergent, etc. in bulk if possible, but not to the point of hoarding. That’s an instant savings.

If the weather permits it, use the grill. Running the stove in the house in the summertime makes the air conditioner work much harder. Childproof your outlets whether you have children or not, especially if you live in an older home. Chances are good that energy leaks exist behind the outlets and closing them off will help. Be sure too that your air conditioner has some space to breathe. It needs about a foot of clear space all the way around it for maximum efficiency.

Quit buying expensive coffee! Get a take-out cup and bring it from home.

Veterans, sign up for discounts. All active military and spouses are eligible too. Use them. You earned them.

Anything that helps save a few dollars in this roughest of rough times is valuable.