Kelly King wants to be penny and pound wise.

The chairman and chief executive of BB&T (BBT)  says his company is minding its expenses as it fights to maintain earnings in the revenue-challenged environment.

Cost-cutting will be a major theme in banking until the economy improves and interest rates rise. Banks across the country are announcing staff reductions and branch closures.

BB&T, in Winston-Salem, N.C., is trying to do the same things thrifty families do when times are tight, King said during the company's first-quarter conference call.

"I pay a lot of attention to the small things because they add up," King says. "If you've got two subscriptions of a newspaper, maybe cut it to one. Be sure when you walk out of a room, you cut the lights off."

King says, "the biggies are going to be [human resources], credit and then the miscellaneous that relates to running the general bank."

For now, though, he isn’t giving specifics.

"I'm not going to come out like a lot of people do with these grand programs and grand numbers and all," King says. "We'd rather just like to prove to you what we can do and then we'll let you comment about it."

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