- Personal Finance
Cutting Costs by Cutting Extras Easy Ways to Help Save Money
The bills that always seem to cost you the most can offer you opportunities to save money. There are many ways to cut down your expenses, and by doing so will make a huge difference on your pocketbook.
Many people believe that by cutting back their expenses means they will be going without something. That is not neccessarily true...most of the time you will not even notice the difference other than the fact you will be spending less money.
Home Energy Costs
You absolutely need to become more energy efficient in the way you live each day. You will save money and shrink your carbon footprint at the same time. It will be a win-win situation by saving you money and by saving our planet.
You need to make your home as efficient as possible. The majority of our heating and cooling costs float right out of our homes through bad windows and poor insulation. If you replace and/or repair these items you will be able to cut down your heating and cooling costs.
The heating and cooling units in your home can also be robbing you blind. You should have each one serviced and cleaned yearly, by running properly it will cost you less. If your units are old and/or outdated you should consider replacing them with new energy efficient ones. They will work much better and will use less resources when heating or cooling your home, helping you to save.
The appliances in your home should also be in good working condition. If not, these should also be replaced with newer models. You don't have to tackle everything at once, pick the ones that are operating the worst and start there. The more time that passes and the more appliances updated will be constantly decreasing your spending in the long run.
We are all living in the 21st century and are unfortunately all dependent on electricity. Even though we use electricity every day, it is still possible to cut down your costs. You can now get electric utilities at cheaper rates through retail energy providers. You can look into different companies available in your area to see if it would benefit you by switching.
There are also a number of things you can do yourself to lower your electric costs, and you can start right now. All you need to do is turn off any lights that are on in rooms with nobody in them, unplug all empty chargers, and place all electronics on power bars so you can easily power them down when not in use. We are all guilty of leaving things plugged in that no one is using, and even though the power is turned off, it is still drawing electricity. One more tip, STOP sleeping with the TV on, you can not watch it with your eyes closed. Most TVs come with a sleep timer, so set it and it will turn off itself once you fall asleep.
You should also start using energy efficient light bulbs if you haven't already. I know they cost a bit more than the standard light bulbs, but it will pay off in the long run. Each time one of you current bulbs need to be replaced, replace it with one of the efficient ones. By doing it when needed you will not feel you are spending as much as if you replaced them all at once. These new bulbs may cost more, but the bulbs will last for years instead of weeks. You will be glad you switched especially when you no longer have to stock up on light bulbs. If you have lights running outside your home consider replacing them with solar powered ones.
Phone companies can turn into black holes attracting your money very quickly so beware. Most of us have both a land-line and a cell phone making the black hole very large. There is a way to cut these costs down dramatically. The land-line can save you money by bundling it with your internet service. You should also see what exactly you are paying for each month, because there may be extras on your plan that you never use. You need to drop any extras immediately.
Cell phones can also be costing you more than is necessary. You should take advantage of your company's discount if they have one. Most companies have deals with certain cell phone providers that can offer you a discount each month. The next step would be to only take the plan to fit your needs. If you barely use the phone it wouldn't make sense to have a plan that includes every thing under the sun, when you would be fine with a basic plan. If you have an existing plan get rid of all the extras. If you never text why pay for a plan that has texting, when a talk only plan would save you money. The opposite applies to this to, if you are constantly going over your minutes, you will need to take a plan that offers more minutes at a higher cost. By paying the higher monthly cost will actually save you money, because you will not be paying the 49 cents per minute charges. If your main cell phone purpose is for emergency only situations you should just buy a track phone. If will be cheaper to add minutes when needed than to pay on a monthly basis.
You can cut the cost of your what you are paying to watch your television. If you are paying for channels you barely watch consider a smaller package. Also, if your cable company is raising their rates from month to month consider switching to a satellite provide. I know from experience by switch our service from cable to satellite it has allowed us to save money and we now get a more channels for our price. If you have premium movie channels like Showtime, etc. consider cutting them out and rent the movies you wish to watch instead. The premium channels usually run the same movies over and over, in a months time. It is more cost effective to just rent movies instead. The rental industry has many choices to fit a variety of needs, you can go to the rental store, use the red movie boxes, or join a mail rental company like Netflix. You can decide what is best for you.
If you find that you barely even watch the television you can cut your cable off all together. You can enjoy watching your shows, news, etc. from your computer. You can even connect computers to the televisions no a days so you don't have to watch on the smaller screen.
If you have any leaking faucets or other plumbing fixtures your money is flowing directly down you drains. By making repairs you will notice the savings within your next bill cycle. You should cut down on the time in the shower, and also only do laundry when you have full loads of dirty laundry. You should not leave water running when you are brushing your teeth either. Decrease the amount of water it takes to fill your toilet after a flushing by placing a filled plastic bottle in your tank.
You should also limit the use of the garden hose. If you have a garden take full advantage of nature by having containers to collect rainwater. It will not cost you a dime to use the benefits of the weather. When your vehicles need to be washed take them to the car wash instead of dragging out your hose. Most car wash places recycle the water that is used and it doesn't cost much to use the service.
The price of gasoline is once again on the rise, so be prepared to pay more at the pump. You are better off filling your tank, than by only purchasing 2 or 3 gallons at a time. Even if you can not afford to fill the tank, the more you can afford the better. If you have a vehicle that needs premium gasoline you should check with your local repair shop to see if you can use regular gasoline. Some cars can, while other can not, so it is a good idea to check with a professional. If you car seems to burn through gasoline like it is going out of style consider trading it in on a more fuel efficient one. You will enjoy not having to visits the pumps as often. You should cut down on driving time too. If you can walk to your destination just walk!! You can also join a car pool with other people from work, or other parents with children in the same activities as yours.
Another way to save with you vehicles is shopping around for cheaper car insurance. You can be paying more than you should, and it is simple to call and ask for a quote. If you have been with the same insurance agency for a long time you can try calling them for a cheaper rate. Many companies will offer you some sort of discount based on customer loyalty. Trust me it doesn't hurt to ask, the worst they could say is no! You may want to lesson your coverages if the ones you have are to high for the vehicle you are driving. If you have full coverage on a vehicle you should make sure it is beneficial to have it, or if it is just costing you too much. If you are driving a vehicle that is not worth much you can raise the deductible to save you a little cash.
You can save yourself cash and save the planet by going green. If you go paperless with your bills the companies will usually offer you some type of savings. You can take advantage of local agencies that will help make your home more energy efficient. The agencies are generally funded by federal and state grant money, and different agencies offer different services. You can see if you qualify for a Winterization Program which will make heating and cooling your house more cost effective. There are also HUD Programs that will make improvements to homes such as; replacing windows and doors, updating electrical wiring, updating appliance, replacing roof materials, etc. It depends on the type of grant your area has in affect. Some of the programs will even help you swap your appliances. If it is being offered in your area you should definitely check to see if you qualify.
Always remember that if you can not afford to replace drafty windows you can resort to quick DIY temporary improvements. A good roll of plastic and some tape can seal the windows very cost effectively. You can also purchase weather striping, insulation, and what ever other material you need for reasonable prices. By doing this you will be able to save some money without spending a fortune.
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