If ever there were an era for which our saving money and needing to lower the costs of our monthly living expenses, it is indeed now. The economy has steadily progressed in its downward spiral and has begun effecting household after household across the nation.
Fortunately for our politicians on Capitol Hill, upon obtaining office they were granted the power and authority to essentially vote on their own payroll increases (the one vote we can be assured they all show up and agree to). This easily explains why – with the exception of professional sport’s athletes and mega-stars on stage and in Hollywood – congressional leaders have the roughly the highest paying jobs in America. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we are not capable of simply raising our own income to surpass our monthly expenses enough to consistently create financial security for our families.
The financial dominos are falling upward however and although they might not reach those in Washington anytime soon, many of us feel in a constant state of financial turmoil. The financial pressures are constricting almost everyone in some way. Yet there are things we can all do to help our family remain afloat while the nation’s financial infrastructure seems destined to continue taking on water.
With this in mind, the “Top 10 Ways to Save Money on Monthly Living Expenses” list below can have an almost immediate impact on your financial situation, as well as allow you to use the money you save other Washington ideas such as Obama care.
Monthly Utility Expenses
Let’s face it, most all of us have become spoiled with the many advances made in technology over the last few decades. Plasma TVs, video games and our smartphones have long since taken over our lives. Where once we might have had one TV in the living room for the entire family to enjoy – fight over. Now we have one in almost every room and either a cable/satellite system, high-tech video game console or both connected to them all.
Homes are much larger to accommodate the larger number of family members this era is now seeing. All of this puts more strain on our pockets if we are to continue the supply of electricity, heating/cooling and water. Besides our monthly rent/mortgage and auto expenses (payments/lease/insurance/upkeep), our utility costs can account for much of the burning pile on money on our lawns every month.
If we are to save money on our utilities however, the entire household needs involved and each member has to do their part to conserve. This doesn’t mean we have to post a guard over every room’s light switch or have a conniption over the length of time the door on the fridge is open. It simply means being a little more budget savvy by paying for only the electricity, heat/cool and water we actually need, rather than being forced to pay for those we don’t.
Pay only for power/water you Actually Use!
1.The TVs, computers and similar devices we have are equipped with a “sleep mode.” This means even when we are not using them and their screens are blank, it is extremely likely there is an indicator light on somewhere within the device. No, the light itself isn’t the culprit of your family’s financial crisis, but it does “indicate” the device is still in operation and only in “hibernation.” Set these devices to “turn off” or “power down” after a couple minutes of inactivity. While this might not allow a trip to Maui, it will add up to several dollars each month.
2. Save money by unplugging devices you are not currently using. While not all devices “hibernate,” some do use small amounts of electricity even when unused. Cell phone chargers are a prime example. Even when there isn’t a cell phone or mobile device attached to them, most drain energy regardless. Chargers for these “smart” devices typically “pulse” electricity through them almost like our heart pulses blood through our body. So when not being used – unplug the darn things!
3. Turn down water temperature on hot water heater just a few degrees to avoid it continuously running at maximum energy consumption. No, you don’t have to freeze the family with ice water showers! But a few degrees here or there makes little difference in water temp and a lot of difference in energy use.
4. Install low-flow shower heads to decrease water consumption. If your water bill is connected with garbage and sewage, you might also consider having a separate outdoor meter installed. See, most cities bill you on the amount of water going down the drain and into the city’s sewage. Makes little cents to pay this added expense for water used to wash cars, water lawns or gardens which is being absorbed into the ground. Having an extra water meter calculating only water used outside greatly impacts the added sewage fee.
Reduce your Heating/Cooling bills:
Quite a few of us adults grew up believing that the only way to conserve electricity when cooling the home was to wait until it became so excruciatingly hot in the living room your grandmother could bake biscuits on the coffee table. While this might seem logical for the small homes many of us sweated in while young, the larger homes of today require a different approach.
5. One of the best way to save money on utility bills is keeping the thermostat set at a comfortable 72 degrees (cooler/warmer as is comfortable to you), or turning on the window ACs much earlier in the day means it will take less energy to cool the home over the long run. ACs drain a considerable amount more energy while their cooling condenser/pump is operating than they do when only the fan is operating to maintain the temperature.
Waiting till it has already begun to get uncomfortable means the AC will be forced to run at full capacity much longer to reach and maintain a comfortable climate. To increase operational value of your cooling unit, while decreasing the amount of costs required to operate it, allow it to begin reaching comfortable temps much earlier. We need look no further than our kitchen’s refrigerator to see the concept at its finest.
This works the same way for heating throughout the winter months. Allow the heating units to begin their warming affects earlier rather than waiting till the family is all huddled together beneath blankets in front of the TV, and even the actors of your favorite sitcom have begun to shiver through the television before allowing the heat to kick on.
6. Homes with central heat and air typically have vents scattered throughout the rooms. You can work wonders on your final monthly utility bills by manipulating these vents to increase heat/cooling in areas being used and decreasing them in areas of inactivity.
Simply close off the vents in empty rooms, basement areas etc. and focus all the unit’s energy toward the living room, kitchen and other areas which are in consistent use. Prior to bedtime, open vents to rooms and allow the energy focus to be on them and only slightly close off the ones in the larger areas of the home. This will allow an increase in value of your entire home’s heating/cooling system and the effects are so minimum no one really even notices.
Money saving tips on Gas/Fuel
While some things we use every day fluctuate in cost, the only fluctuating thing about the price of fuel is whether it goes up by dimes, quarters or whole dollars. Regardless of the economy’s current state – gas is going up!!
7. When you stumble across a great deal at the pump – fill’er up! At least purchase all you can afford when you do happen across a station running specials or in a price war with competitors. Gas that is $2.89 per gallon at the moment could easily be $3.00 in an hour’s time. Take advantage of the lower cost fuel every chance you get!!
8. Although we hear it all the time and only a few of us seem to listen, carpooling works miracles in fuel conservation. It is one of the best way to save money on gas. Find coworkers who live near you and invite them along on a ride to eliminate high gas expenses. If it has been costing you $20-$30 a week for gas to travel back and forth from home to work, imagine if you had to only spend $5-$10! This is likely if you and 3-4 other coworkers pitched in each week and rode together.
9. Try to accomplish all errands in one trip. If you plan on visiting relatives Saturday, need to shop for the kid’s shoes plus have a package needing shipped from the local post office and it can wait till Saturday, why not wait till your planned trip to do these all at once? Another idea is to speak with neighbors and friends about shopping together on Saturday, Wednesday etc. This is a fabulous way to save money, cut fuel costs and turn a mundane task like grocery shopping into a fun social affair!
10. Plan trips in advance! Whether you are taking a long trip out of state or merely on your daily commute to work, school or for shopping, pull up the area on a map or GPS and devise a route to take you from A – B in the shortest possible way.
Also: Guys, everyone knows how bad we all hate to ask directions. However, it costs way more money to drive around lost than it does to put our ego aside and ask someone to tell us where we are going!!