Your mortgage may be the biggest expense in your home budget, but it is certainly not the only one. Your energy costs, phone bill, and grocery tab can all add up to hundreds of dollars per month (or more). Finding ways to cut those expenses can help you bring down your overall costs and put more money into savings (or pay off other things you need to pay).
You don’t have to go off grid and live in the woods to save. Here are a few easy things you can do to save money on your home budget:
Bundle Your Services
Most homes have cable, Internet and phone services. If you get these from multiple providers, you are likely paying a premium rate for each service. Even if you signed up for these services with the same provider at separate times, you are probably paying more than you should.
Look into TV, Internet, and phone bundles in your area. Start with your current provider to find out what’s available, and then get rates from a few other local providers. Depending on what you are paying for your current services and what’s available, you could save a couple hundred dollars a month by bundling services.
Cut Your Home Phone Line
You can save even more money by getting rid of your home phone altogether. Most people now carry cell phones, and it doesn’t make much sense for them to keep a separate phone line for their home. The exception is if there are children who stay at home alone and who do not have their own cell phones, or if your home is in an area that gets spotty cell service.
Just make sure that if you drop your home phone service, it doesn’t increase the rate of your other bundled services. Some providers offer a discount for multiple services, and the price of services a la carte can end up being much more. You may actually save money by keeping the phone with the right bundle.
Install a Programmable Thermostat
When you are at work, you don’t need to be heating and cooling your home to the same level for those eight to nine hours. But you don’t want your home to be an ice box or heat box when you get home either. By installing a programmable thermostat, you can ensure your home is at the right temperatures at all times.
Program the thermostat to drop 10 to 20 degrees lower or higher while you are away (warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter). Then program it to start coming back to the temperature you like about a half hour before you are scheduled to get home. Your home will be comfortable when you arrive, but you won’t waste money on unnecessary heating and cooling during the day.
Turn the HVAC System Off When Possible
The summers may be brutal where you live, but you may still get temperate days. Ditto for the winter. When the temperature is pleasant outside, consider turning off your heating or cooling system inside for awhile. You may only get a few hours free, or you may get away with a couple of days without artificial heating or cooling.
The more you are able to shut off the HVAC system, the more you will save.
CFLs – compact fluorescent lights – use up much less energy but put out as much light as standard, incandescent bulbs. By replacing all the lights in your home with CFLs, you can save a lot of money each month and potentially hundreds per year.
CFLs are available for specialty lights, as well, so look at your local home improvement store to get all the lights you need.
Get Energy-Efficient Appliances
Your appliances can use up hundreds of dollars worth of electricity in a year. You can save a lot of money by investing in energy-efficient appliances, such as a refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, washer, and dryer.
You can also make changes to your routine to use your appliances less. For example, you can hand wash dishes at times or at least make sure that you are always running full loads. You can also dry your clothes on a line outside when it is warm.
Grow a Garden
Couponing can help you save a lot of money on groceries, but there are not many coupons available for produce like lettuce or onions. What you can do is grow a garden in your backyard instead. Depending on where you live and how much room you have to grow, you can have fresh produce all year long.
The more you grow, the more money you will save on your grocery bill. You’ll also be more encouraged to eat fresh, healthy foods, which can help you save on doctor’s bills by keeping you healthier.
Follow as many of these tips as you can, and you’ll soon be seeing significant savings in your monthly budget. With the help of a handy man or an energy audit, you can likely find even more ways to save.