When household income is greater than household expenses, it's possible to save money. On the other hand, when income is less than expenses, the household is going into debt.
In this article, we're going to provide some money-saving tips. Our objective isn't to create the longest possible list, but we do promise to provide insights into some very practical techniques that allow families to save each month. In short, this list will favor quality over quantity. Unfortunately, saving money isn't always easy.
Saving Money on Utilities
In this first section, we're going to be looking for savings opportunities on those routine utility bills: energy, electricity, natural gas, water, and telephone.
Electricity and Natural Gas Bills
- Insulate Water Heaters: if the unit was built before 2004, then adding an insulating jacket can save around 10% annually on water heating bills.
- Service House Heaters: having a home's furnace or boiler serviced once every two years can save as much as 10% on home heating bills.
- Programmable Thermostats: the average household can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats, and maintaining those settings.
- Lower Temperatures in Winter: by lowering the temperature on a thermostat by 1 degree in the winter time, it's possible to save between 2 and 5% on home heating costs.
- Higher Temperatures in Summer: by raising the temperature on a thermostat by just 1 degree in the summer time, it's possible to save 2 to 5% on air conditioning bills.
- Compact Fluorescent Bulbs: each ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent light bulb can save $30 over its lifetime in electric costs, and pay for itself in about 6 months.
- Water Heater Temperature: by lowering the thermostat setting on a water heater it's possible to save 3 to 5% in energy costs for each 10 degrees reduction in temperature. Most households require a water temperature setting of 120 degrees.
- Low Flow Showers: the average household could save around 2,500 gallons of water each year by using a low flow shower. In addition to the $60 per year savings on water bills, it's possible to save money on water heating bills too.
- Watersense Toilets: buying a water saving toilet will save about 4,000 gallons of water each year or roughly $90 per year on water bills.
- Sink Faucets: by installing a faucet aerator in bathrooms, the average home can expect to save around 500 gallons of water each year, as well as saving money on water heating bills.
- Landline Phone: the most effective way to save money on phone bills each month is simple: get rid of the landline phone. Information gathered during a telephone survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008 indicated that 20.2% of American homes did not have a landline phone. Savings can range from $15 to $50 per month.
Saving Money on Groceries and Food
In this next section, we're going to focus on saving money on food or monthly groceries.
- Plan Ahead: take the time to plan meals for the week, and make a list before heading to the grocery store. Maintain a list in the kitchen to track the items needed. Take an inventory of what is in stock. Don't guess at the store.
- Shop Less: consolidate shopping trips with the goal of going to the food store once a week. Not only will this save money on food bills, but it'll save on gasoline too.
- Buy in Bulk: warehouse stores can offer significant savings when buying essential products (such as soaps, paper towels), and there is room in the home to store these items.
- Ads and Coupons: read the grocery store advertisements in the Sunday newspaper to see what's on sale for the week. Adjust the weekly menu based on the meats on sale at the store. Clip coupons for essential items.
Food and Restaurants
- Plant a Garden: it doesn't take an expert gardener to grow vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, and peppers in a backyard or in community gardens.
- Seasonal Foods: buy fruits, vegetables and other food items when they are in season. A local farmer's market will not only tend to have less expensive items but also fresher produce.
- Eat Out Less: eating fewer meals in restaurants will lower the cost of eating each month. Consider buying less coffee on the road, or in the office, and brewing more coffee at home. Bring a lunch to work at least a couple of days each week.
- Bottled Water: twenty years ago, people would have laughed at the thought of buying bottled water, now it is commonplace. Buy a simple container, keep it clean, and start saving money.
Saving Money on Vacations and Travel
In this final section, we'll be providing tips for saving on travel, commuting, and vacation expenses.
- Airline Fares: comparison-shop among air carriers that fly to the vacation destination. Don't forget to comparison-shop on neighboring airports too.
- Flexible Schedules: most families start their vacation on a weekend, and that demand drives up prices. Bargains can often be found by starting a vacation on a Friday instead of Saturday.
- Car Rentals: call several rental car companies and ask for price estimates. Find out which companies offer weekend or weekday deals.
- Rental Insurance: verify coverage with the household's automobile insurance and credit card company. In most cases, it makes sense to decline the insurance offered by car rental companies such as the collision damage waiver.
- Hotel Rooms: book the hotel along with the flight or as part of a vacation package. Use discounts offered by travel club memberships such as AAA when booking a hotel.
Travel and Commuting
- Drive Cars Longer: a car depreciates more when it's new than in later years. Deriving the most value from a car means driving it longer. If well maintained, a car can last 200,000 miles or more.
- Gasoline: cleaning air filters, properly inflating tires, keeping the engine tuned, and buying the correct octane will both improve gas mileage as well as lower costs.
- Travel with Snacks: consumers pay for the convenience of buying food on the road. When traveling, pack a favorite snack before leaving home, including drinks such as water and coffee.
- Walk: instead of driving a car short distances, try walking instead. Not only will it save money but it's the healthy thing to do too.
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