With the economy so down and taxes so up, it’s necessary to find creative ways to reduce your monthly expenses and stretch your family dollar as far as it will go. Whether you are trying to find ways to get by, or saving for a special trip or purchase, these tips will help to shave a few dollars off of the monthly expenses.
1. Pay your bills on time
This is probably the most important way to save quite a bit of money. When you pay your bills late, you are assessed a late charge. Those late charges can add up quickly to become a big bite out of your budget. Examine your habits when paying your monthly bills. If you are regularly late on any, add up the amount of money that you are charged extra for being late. When you see the total, you will be encouraged to make sure your bills are paid on time.
2. Stop using credit cards
It might be easy to use credit cards to purchase something that you want, and that instant gratification is the main reason why there is so much credit card debt in America. Take your cards out of your wallet and either cut them up, or store them someplace safe in your home. If you don’t have your cards with you then it will be easier to resist that impulse buy of something that you really want. If you want something bad enough, you will be willing to save money to purchase it. I’ve found that if I wait to purchase something that catches my eye, sometimes I lose the desire to buy it. When you stop using your credit cards, it will be easier to get the balance paid down on them, and save on the monthly interest charges.
3. Close off unused portions of your home
If you aren’t using your bedrooms during the daytime hours, close them off, and close off the vents to these rooms. It’s easy to reopen the vents when you need to, and this will save money on heating and cooling costs. It’s not necessary to heat or cool your whole home when you are only using a portion of it.
4. Programmable thermostat
A programmable thermostat will make it easy for you to adjust the temperature setting in your home for when you are not there. If you turn your unit completely off when you are gone, then it will have to work very hard to adjust the temperature when you return. This will cause a surge in your utility usage. Adjusting the setting without completely turning it off will keep your home’s temperature from changing too drastically, and save on that power surge when you change it back.
5. Adjust settings on your thermostat
Turn your air conditioner setting up just 2 or 3 degrees, or turn your heat down the same. A small change like this is barely noticeable to you; however it will make a big change on your bill. Dress a little warmer at home in the winter and you will be comfortable. A sweater will make a big difference. Also, keeping your air filters clean will make your unit more efficient. It’s amazing how much a small change like that can make on your utility bills.
6. Turn off unused appliances and electronics
That computer sitting there playing a screensaver is using power. Those little red lights on your electronics that mean they are remote-ready, they also use power. Turn them off when they are not in use. It will mean a little more time when you are ready to use this item, but this tip will help to reduce your power usage. Use natural lighting during the day instead of turning on lights. Open your drapes on a warm winter day to allow sunlight to help warm up your home.
7. Your car
Your car is most likely the second biggest expense that you have. Between insurance, and maintenance, and most of all the fuel for it, a big chunk of the family budget is centered on your car. There are ways to reduce this expense also. You can shop around for the best deal on auto insurance, and thereby save some money. Be sure to keep your car in good condition because it’s true that a well-running car is more efficient. Keep your tires properly inflated, and change the oil regularly to get the best mileage that you can. Combine errands so that you have fewer trips out. Pay attention to your speed. When you drive faster, your car uses more fuel. Drive conservatively to save fuel also. Jack-rabbit starts and stops use more fuel than gradually accelerating and stopping.
8. Adjust the temperature on your water heater
The default water temperature on your water heater is probably between 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Most households will function well on a setting of about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is high enough to prevent bacteria from growing in your hot water heater. A lower temperature will save a lot of money on your utility bill.
9. Check doors and windows for drafts
A lot of energy is wasted around doors and windows in our homes. Check for drafts and seal them to reduce this loss of heat and cool. When it’s cold outside, keep your drapes closed to prevent loss of heat in this way. In the summer, having your drapes open to the full sun will make it harder to cool your home. Open curtains and windows in nice weather, instead of heating or cooling with your units.
Household appliances use up a large amount of energy. When you can, replace older units with newer more efficient machines. Do not run your dishwasher until it is full. Remove clothes promptly from your dryer, to eliminate the need to turn the machine on again to refresh clothes that were forgotten. If your refrigerator is not frost free, keep it defrosted regularly to help it run efficiently.
These few easy tips can save a lot of money on your household expenses, and be almost painless. They might seem like simple things to do, and they are. It’s the simple things that will add up to big savings.
More by R.E. Roe
10 Ways to Save Money on Groceries
Save Money, Live Green and Protect Against Identity Fraud
Reduce Waste and Save Money by Throwing Away Less Food