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!