Are you ready for summer yet? While the temperature here in New Mexico is still in the “I can’t decide if it’s summer or winter” mode with 80 degree days and 25 degree nights, we all know that sooner rather than later summer will be here, accompanied by heat, humidity, and bugs! Just when you start learning to cope with snow, ice, and below 0 days, everything changes and now you’re sweating those upcoming summertime utility bills. Depending on where you live, the size of your home, and how much utility costs are in your area, summer can often bring the highest monthly bills of the year. The good news, however, is that it’s only May and you have time to prepare for those hot summer days and high electric bills, so here are some easy to implement tips to both keep cool at home and save a little money at the same time. Let’s get started!
As I have mentioned several times lately, I just moved back to New Mexico from California. My rent and the majority of my expenses are a fraction of what they were prior to my move back here, but there is one expense that just went up — I needed a new vehicle. See, New Mexico is the land of dirt roads, arroyos, beaten paths, and trailblazing; it is not the land of nicely paved roads. Sure, the highways are fine, but around any town or city the roads are barely paved and often just rutted dirt paths. A MINI Cooper S, the car I had in California, doesn’t cut it here because it is so low to the ground that there are places in town that I couldn’t go to. Thus it had to go for that reason and one other, which is my plan to hit the road later this year with a camper being pulled behind my car. The MINI wouldn’t pull a camper too well, I am afraid. So what did I have to do to meet my requirements for where I currently live and where I plan on going?
Well, it finally happened — I unexpectedly received a rather large envelope stuffed full of paperwork from the IRS. My heart sank as I figured I would be dealing with an audit or something like that. When I opened the envelope the first thing I saw was that I supposedly owed taxes on unreported income from 2009, so I imagined days of digging through old paperwork, jumping through hoops, and redoing mathematical equations on two year old tax information. In the very month that both my taxes and my self-employment estimated payments are due, I would now also be dealing with an audit from the IRS. Yikes! After calming down and reading through everything that they sent, I started to understand that it wasn’t really a full-blown audit or anything that would be too painful to rectify. Rather, it would require a little research through my 2009 paperwork to find information on a 1099 form that the IRS said I they received but that I hadn’t reported. I know I don’t miss any 1099 forms, so I wasn’t too worried.
Everyone likes to travel, right? Judging by how much of the year I am on the road and how full the airports are, people are always looking to jet off somewhere for a little R&R. However, travel costs a lot of money right now because of the economy and how expensive gasoline is, so we all need to find some different ways to try to save money on flights, hotels, and car rentals, right? A few weeks ago I put together a list of the 10 Best Free iPhone Travel Apps which focused on travel, weather, nightlife, etc., so I figured a good companion piece would be a post concentrating solely on iPhone and Android apps which can help you save some money on travel. Let’s take a look at what I found for each platform, shall we? All the apps I have listed are free and the links go directly to either the iTunes or Android app store.
My monthly rent just went from $1,500 per month to $350 per month. Yes, you read that right – I just started saving $1,150 on my rent each and every month! (Do I sound like a Geico insurance ad?) This is part of the move I have referenced as of late and part of my long-term plan to hitting the road full time within the next 12 months. The place I was renting in California was a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom stand-alone house with rather high utility bills each month, while the place I am now renting in New Mexico is a studio-sized bungalow near town with all the utilities included. Counting rent, utilities, and entertainment, my costs for the house in California added up to about $1,750, while the costs for the studio in New Mexico add up to, well, exactly $350. I no longer have cable TV, and my heat/water/internet service is included in the rent, so my monthly expenses for the place end at the full cost of my rent each month. This may be too much sacrifice for some people, but for me it’s a means to an end — one I am looking forward to.