Drastically Reduce Your Expenses Starting Today.

We all need to save money, and in my opinion there is no easier place to start than in areas that we are already spending more than we should. It’s also easier to cut expenses immediately than it is to make more money, especially in this economy. Over the last year since we moved here (which saved us a ton right away), I have really worked on cutting expenses in our house for two reasons – 1. I don’t like spending more than I have to and 2. cutting expenses means I can work a little less because I don’t need to bring in as much money each month. Because of the way the economy is, I figured I would share some of the ways that we have really cut down our expenses and hopefully inspire you to make some of the changes yourself.

Haul your own trash to the landfill. In March, I canceled trash pickup at my house and decided to take it to the dump myself. They were charging me about $27 a month for pickup, and to take it myself I pay $.35 for every 20 pounds of trash. In April, I brought my trash over for the first time – and handed the guy $.35 for my 4 pounds of trash. This is now saving me over $26 a month, or at least $312 a year. If you can take your own trash, I would seriously look into doing so!

Get rid of the phone company. If you are still paying the phone company for home phone service, you are being ripped off. My mom, who still hasn’t made the switch, pays $72 a month for her home phone with unlimited calling. I pay $25. What’s the difference? I use Vonage, which is a VOIP service that lets you make calls over your high-speed internet connection. If you have high speed internet (either cable or if you can get naked DSL, which is DSL without home phone service) I recommend you switch to a VOIP service asap and start saving money. The phone works exactly the same as regular service, your computer doesn’t have to be on, and we have never had an issue. And even if you did, most people have cell phones as a backup. Over the course of a year, if your bill is like my mom’s, you can save $564!

Drastically reduce your electricity use. My electric bill last year was $53 a month. Last month? $23. And that has nothing to do with needing less heat, as we have propane for that. To get it down that low, almost every electronic device in our home is either on power strips or unplugged when not in use. In the entertainment center, the TV, stereo, & DVD player are completely switched off by a power strip when not being watched, and only the DVR is left “on”. The coffee maker, toaster oven, microwave, various radios, and our computers are unplugged or have their strips switched off. Only the wireless router, modem, and Vonage box are left on. Any device in your house that either goes to “standby” mode or has a power brick continues to use energy even when not in use. Invest in a couple of cheap power strips and put everything on them – the savings can add up very quickly. Right now we are saving about $25 a month compared to last year, which adds up to $300 a year in savings.

Slow down your internet speed. Chances are, you won’t even notice the difference unless you spend your days uploading files. When I lived closer to town, I had 7MBPS speed on my DSL – and now I have 1.5MBPS due to the fact that I live out in the country. That sounds like a major speed drop, but I rarely, if ever, notice any difference. I still stream music all day from Pandora while working on my sites, and can even still use our VOIP phone. No problems at all to be found. I didn’t have a choice in the matter, but it did save me $10 a month on my internet bill. That’s $120 a year in savings. Look into it if you are paying for a higher speed than you actually need.

The above are some major ways you can cut your home expenses starting TODAY that could save you over $1,296 a year or about $100 a month if your bills are anything like ours. That’s a pretty easy $100 a month to save. Even by doing all of them, our life has not changed in the least – it is no different now than it was last year, except for the fact that we are saving even more money. Still want to save even more? Here are a bunch of quick ways to shave a few bucks off your monthly expenses:

– Sounds simple, but making sure your tires are properly inflated can save you money on gas.
– Call a few other auto insurance companies and ask for new quotes to compare to your current policy. Policies can differ by thousands of dollars a year, and it is definitely worth a 2 minute phone call to find out.
– Turn down your water heater to 120 degrees.
– Combine all your credit card debt onto a card with a 0% interest balance transfer offer.
– Raise the deductible on your home and/or auto insurance policy. Our auto policy has a $1,000 deductible.
– Fire the landscaper and mow the lawn yourself. It’s good exercise and it saves you money at the same time.
– Refinance your mortgage with these new low rates that are available.
– Ask for a discount. On everything. What’s there to lose?

Now it’s your turn – what, if any, expenses have you been able to cut at home and not suffer too much from? I am not one to advocate living like a hermit in a tent, but oftentimes many people spend way more than they need to on “necessary” household expenses, if only because they don’t know any better. That’s the point of this article, to point out what might be obvious to others. So if you have some great ways to easily cut “regular” expenses that don’t change your life too much, please let us all know in the comment section!

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Comments (15)

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  1. That’s easy – I ditched my cable TV and got a monitor cord running from my laptop to my HDTV. With a decent antenna, I get all local HD stations, and the internet is loaded with all your favorite TV shows (and most options are completely LEGAL)! Saved me $70/month, or $840/year without missing any of my favorite shows – now I’m convincing my TV-addicted brothers to do the same.

  2. Richard says:

    Take a look at your cable or Satellite bills.

    We dropped Direct TV for all but the most basic package and soon will drop that for an antenna in the attic to get local channels.

    This saves about $60/month

    We then bought Netflix for about $16/month for 3 dvds at a time and then use their downloadable movies unlimited at no additional cost and paid $100 for a “roku” player which accepts the stream from the wireless modem to feed the movie to the tv.
    The roku unit also can access Amazon’s movies/tv series on line at a cost per item.

    I feel it gives us much more entertainment and on our schedule, eliminates 90 percent of the wasted time on commercials and adapts easily to no time available or lots of time to fill and saves probably $30 a month over the year

  3. Mark says:

    How do you take care of your recyclables? I looked into getting rid of my garbage service which includes recycle pickup for no charge. If I get rid of the trash pick up, recycle pick alone costs nearly as much as both combined.

  4. david says:

    Mark – I actually bring those myself too, but that’s because I dont have a choice in the matter. Living where I do, in a very rural place, they dont have recycling pickup, so we have to bring it ourselves. However, when I did live in California, residents could bring their own recycling OR have it picked up – so maybe there is a local place that accepts recycling direct from residents in your area?

  5. Victoria says:

    We used Vonage too and were pretty happy with the service. Recently we switched to magicjack ($19 a year) and we prepaid for 6 years for $59 TOTAL. The service is better than Vonage and Lingo and we didn’t need any additional equipment. Been using it for a month now and love it.

  6. david says:

    I do like the idea of it, but the computer has to be on 24/7 to use it, which is not something I am willing to do because of the energy use.

  7. Mark says:

    Hmm. Good idea. I’ll be looking into this. We recycle about 75% of our waste so at first I was thinking hauling it to the nearby recycle center would be too much of a hastle. But maybe reducing the amount of recycled waste we bring into our home that just gets put back out is the way to go. Daily newspapers and Costco boxes seem to make up a majority of the recyclables.

    The cost of garbage and recycle pick up is $18 a month so if dumping and recycling myself is less than the monthly pickup rate, I would totally do it. I’ll be doing some experimenting this month with this. Thanks!

  8. TexasT says:

    We cut cable and use the laptop hooked up to the HDTV as a great alternative. Many favorite shows can be seen through HULU.com or the channel’s website. We have the $10 netflix account that also allows us to use the “View Instantly” feature (streaming video to the laptop). I’ve also been using the Kill-A-Watt meter to track what appliances are costing the most and trying to reduce their use.

  9. Cheryl says:

    I looked into Vonage, but it turned out that with the taxes and fees, that it really doesn’t cost less than our basic phone service.

  10. Mimi says:

    I like a lot of these suggestions, we also turn off power where we are not using. However, I have to disagree with slowing down the internet. This really depends on what people do online, as you said earlier you went from 7MBPs to 1.5MpS and said you did not have a difference. While, as I, started out with 750kps, then went to 3MBPS noticed a HUGE difference and much easier to watch videos, download lectures, download files and wait for pages to load.

    This does not work for everyone, as you probably have the same work everyday (before and after slowing down your internet) that does not require much of a high speed to work with. For most people, download speed is a major importance.

    For uploading, I notice a bigger difference. 130kps to 750kps made my work much faster. A 1GB file would take about 4-5 hours to download with my slower internet, after upgrading, 1GB took about 45 minutes to an hour.

    I feel the only expense I know of now is rent. I cannot cut back on rent…

  11. David says:

    I work for myself, at home, entirely online. I stream music, use the phone, and upload/download huge files all day, all without any problems.

  12. david says:

    Wow, that’s amazing. I have never heard of home phone service with unlimited everything for that cheap. Who is your provider, so others can check?

  13. Phil says:

    Fantastic! I am all about saving money and you have provided some great ideas for a future blog! Keep up the good work!

  14. Salika says:

    I don’t have a vonage phone or land line, I merely use my cell phone for everything and then use skype to talk to friends for free or a low cost!

  15. Tammy Deloso says:

    Great site great ideas I’ve cut back on EVERYTHING make homemade laundry soap and the like I’ve got the electric bill down to $58 a month for a family of 4 I stay home with 2 boys I homeschool so I really appreciate all of the awesome ideas thanks and keep it coming!!!