Before I start I want to clarify something: Neither David or I work in the financial sector. We are not debt or money experts, we are simply sharing some tips and tricks we practice in an effort to save money. If you are looking for serious debt reduction help or investment options, please contact a financial expert in your area.
One of the things that comes with being an adult is money management. And being married means there are 2 incomes to manage instead of just 1. I like to think I’ve always done a good job with my own finances, and I think a 20% down payment on our house is proof of that!
David and I have learned how to save our money by simplifying what we purchase. I know money management can be tricky for some people so I’d like to share some easy and practical ways we have saved money.
Owning a home/renting is expensive! Not only are we paying for our mortgage but we also have electricity, heating, cooling, maintenance, landscaping, property tax and more (I know a lot of people have to pay for their water usage too!). Add to that the additional expenses of car/home insurance, vehicle care, grocery shopping, entertainment, etc…! Being an adult is expensive so I’m going to make a list of ways to save money in all aspects of your life. Since I have a lot of material to cover I’m going to break this looooong post into a series of smaller ones. Get ready!
Around the Home
*Find out when the peak hours of electricity usage are (this can be found on your local utilities website) and aim to refrain from excessive usage during peak times. Our off peak hours are between midnight-6 AM, then again from 7PM-midnight so I avoid doing laundry until after 7. It might not seem like a huge savings but it adds up!
Savings per month: $50
*Unplug things like your TV, computer, toaster, coffee maker, etc when not in use. Appliance still draw electricity when plugged in, even if they are not on.
Savings per month: $10
*Use a slow cooker to prepare meals instead of your oven. A slow cooker uses FAR less energy than an oven, plus it makes your house smell so good:)
Savings per month: $40
*Instead of blasting your air conditioner during the summer consider using heavy curtains on your windows to keep the sun and heat out. And open as many doors and windows as you can to let in the breeze. We don’t use our AC at all in the summer, except when we will be out all day and can’t leave windows open.
Savings per month: $50
*In the winter, turn your thermostat down a few degrees at night and use another blanket to keep warm. Or just snuggle really close to your spouse:)
Savings per month: $30
*If you can afford it, invest in a wood stove for heat. Firewood is a lot cheaper than propane or gas (it costs us $700 to fill our propane tanks, and we would have to do that more than once a year. To purchase enough wood to heat our home exclusively for 1 year would cost around $500!)! Having a wood stove ensures we always have heat, even in a power failure when the furnace won’t work.
Savings per month: $95
*If your home is supplied with city water DRINK IT instead of purchasing bottled water! Likewise if you are on well water, ensure it is safe to drink and then drink it. In our area the local heath unit offers free well water testing, so look into a similar program in your city.
Savings per month: $10 (I’m being stingy with this figure because I honestly have no clue how much bottled water costs)
*Wash your laundry in cold water, since it uses less energy and hang your wet clothes up to dry instead of using the dryer. If you have the outdoor space I highly recommend using a clothesline (I just checked the Home Depot website and they have tons of options) or one of those drying trees. If you are lacking in outdoor space, I suggest you look into a folding drying rack for indoors.
Savings per month: $20
*Cancel your cable/satellite and subscribe to a legitimate service like Netflix. We pay $7 a month and have access to hundreds of TV show and movies.
Savings per month: $?? I have no idea what cable packages cost
*Avoid eating out. I know this is hard for a lot of people, but it really can save you a ton! David and I go out for dinner maybe 3-4 times a year, not including occasions where we are able to pay for the meal using a gift card. We occasionally pick up breakfast on the way to church, but we spend around $10 for both of us by going to a coffee chain.
Savings per month: $100
*Utilize the public library in your community for books, DVDs, audio books and magazines. If you have an e-reader you may be able to access the library’s collection of e-books for FREE. Many libraries stay current and are able to get copies of newly released books quickly. Libraries are an especially great resource for children’s books!
Savings per month: varies, depending on what you were purchasing before
*Consult with your city or township recreation guide for lists of fun (and cheap!) activities to do by season. Our county offers free outdoor concerts all summer, with well known bands and singers. Many churches host little fairs and carnivals that are either free or cost very little to enter, and are open to all members of the community. You can also pick up some trail maps and enjoy a walk or hike.
Savings per month: varies, depending on what you were doing before
You’ll notice that I haven’t told you to stop buying things, or to invest all your money. The tips I’ve given are tried and true methods to help keep money in your bank account. The methods above could save you around $400 each month, which adds up to $4800 a year, which is a nice little nest egg! Of course, your actual savings will vary from mine. The savings I gave below each point are and estimate of our actual savings. Your may be more or less, dependent on many factors (such as your home’s insulation, quality of your furnace, efficiency of your wash machine, how much you usually spend on meals out, etc).
In the next post I’ll be sharing some tips for saving money when grocery shopping, buying clothes and personal care.
What do you think of the ideas above? Would you try any? Have you already got a great system in place for saving money?