Category Archives: Saving

5 Ways To Save On Utility Bills

5 Ways To Save On Utility BillsWe spend millions of dollars on utilities in America each year, and the rates seem to keep rising. Your heating bill could be seemingly under control until you have to turn your heat on in the winter, or crank up the AC in the summer, at which point you could be in for a surprise. Water bills fluctuate from state to state, and depending how much water you use, your bill can go from normal to a nightmare quickly. For someone in a one bedroom apartment, keeping the water on is very manageable while the water bill for a 5 person home can be a shocker each month.

Although utilities like lights and water are necessities that we’re all entitled to, all the bills can be overwhelming, especially if you are on a fixed income. With other monthly bills we accumulate such as cellphone plans, credit cards and student loan repayments, you may find yourself having to choose between which bills to pay while letting others fall to the wayside.

Fortunately, there are several simple ways to lower utility bills without having to decrease your quality of life. Let’s take a look at five great tips that can help shave your utility bills down and give you more wiggle room to save.

Unplug and Unwind

The first step in saving money on your electric/gas bills is as simple as turning lights off when nobody’s in the room. Make it a point to perform a walk-thru of your home at the end of the night. Make sure all lights, TVs, and other electrical devices are turned off and unplugged before going to bed. The savings from simply turning everything off can add up quickly.

Monitor Your Meter

Compare the meter reading on your utility bill to what actually appears on your meter. If the amount on your meter is lower than the one on your bill, you might be getting overcharged. However, remember that we’re human and mistakes do happen sometimes, so don’t automatically assume the worse if there is in fact a discrepancy.

Plug Those Leaks!

If you have any leaky faucets around the house, those tiny drops of water can turn into big bucks at the end of the month. Make it a point to check all of the sinks, tubs, and toilets in your home for leaks and get them fixed immediately. It could be as easy as simple tightening a screw, so pay attention to slow leaks and handle them accordingly.

Give Autopay Some Love

Some companies knock a couple of dollars off just for signing up with automatic bill pay programs where money is taken out of your bank account each month on a set day. If this is an option that’s reasonable for you, try it out and see. You might find that autopay not only saves you money, but also time as you won’t have to worry about stopping your day just to pay a bill. Also, talk to a customer service agent about other programs they offer that could save you money. You never know until you ask.

Bundle It Up

Many cable companies these days offer phone, cable, and internet bundle packages which cuts down the price of having to pay for them individually. However, do a little research before signing up for a bundle package. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for, what channels you’re receiving, how vast the phone coverage is, how fast the internet speed is, and if there’s any hidden fees. The key is to be completely aware of where your money is going. With a little time and research, you could reduce your bills by half!

2 Important Instructions for Prioritizing Earning and Saving

We need to set our priorities when it comes to earning more and saving. What will have the largest effect on our bottom line and requires the least amount of effort?

When I lived in D.C., I told my brother who lives in California to check out Lending Club. Living in D.C. disqualifies me, but I thought he’d enjoy the chance to make some great returns with social lending.

He told me to send him a link, but he never followed up even though he was interested. He got lazy, and eventually forgot about it.

Fast forward to last week, when he asked me if I had ever heard of Envaulted, a site that gives you 1% cashback on all purchases in exchange for access to your credit card transactions. It sounds like a pretty decent deal if you’re willing to let someone else have access to your credit card information, and it’s a passive way to earn a couple dollars a month.

So did I tell that to my brother? Nope! And I’m not letting any of you do it either. Not until you follow my two, very simple instructions (more on that below).

I told him that there are ways to make a lot more money and he shouldn’t worry about trying to make an extra $10 a month. Of course, I brought up the fact that he never signed up for Lending Club and he wants to make smart medium-term investments.

He argued that the two weren’t mutually exclusive and he could do both, but I shot back that he COULD, but the fact is that he DIDN’T.

There are lots of ways to make (or save) a few extra dollars here or there. You can clip coupons and pass on your daily coffee, but there are easier ways to save money.

He still argued, but I sent him another invitation for Lending Club and he signed up.

Here are my simple instructions:

1. Sign up for your company’s 401(k). Start automatically putting away money each month. These are two HUGE things you can do that will make a difference down the road. You shouldn’t feel them much now, but later, you’ll appreciate it.

2. Set up automatic bill-pay, make sure you’re not paying any unnecessary fees, and call your cable, internet, and phone providers to negotiate a better price. The one-time cost of 15 minutes will put more money in your pocket every single month.

If you’ve done the big things, you’re doing great. If you’re able to cut down on expenses without losing quality, even better. If you’re at that point and you still want to save a few more dollars, you have my permission to clip coupons, reuse sandwich bags, or make your own laundry detergent.

The 5 Worst Ways to Save Money

The 5 Worst Ways to Save MoneyThere are many ways that people save money. From clipping coupons to not eating out, the possibilities are endless. However, there are some good ways to save money and there are some bad ways to save money. We’ve all seen people go too far in their quest to save and it ends up making them look cheap.

Here are 5 ways people try to save money that just are not worth it. They either are ineffective or have negative consequences that outweigh the savings.

Staying In and Watching TV

When presented with the option to go out, some people decline with the idea in mind that they’ll save more if they sit on their couch. It’s true, they won’t be temped to spend money on drinks or food, but what they don’t realize is that they’re also missing out on experiences which brighten their day and interactions that lift their spirits. It’s hard to put a price on human interaction and the value of going out with friends, but in my opinion, it’s a no-brainer.

Skimping Out on a Bill

When you do go out with friends and buy a sandwich and drink, don’t just pay for the actual price of your food, but throw in extra for tax and tip. Sure, it’s very likely that someone else will pick up the extra two dollars, but if you cheat people out of money, it will come back to bite you. It may seem like you’re being smart at the time, but is your friends harboring ill will towards you worth it? And trust me, everyone knows who was short.

Passively Looking for Great Deals

When there’s something you need and you find a coupon, your action is rewarded in a lower price. But when you constantly check sites for great deals, and when the items you see are for things you don’t really need, you could get yourself into trouble. You’ll very often see such great deals that you’ll be more prone to make purchases. If it’s not something you’re already looking for, no matter how great of a deal it is, you’ll spend more if you buy it. While you may think you’re saving, you’re actually spending more.

Eating Fast Food

That burger may only cost you a dollar and those fries and soda may fill you up for cheap, but you may be costing yourself in the long run. Eating unhealthy food may have future consequences that include higher medical costs. It may cost an extra dollar now, but making food for yourself at home could benefit you in several ways.

Consumer Traps

When buying bulk means you have extra you won’t use, it’s not really such a great deal. When “get one free when you buy 4” means you’re buying 4 when you only wanted 2, it means you’re wasting money, not saving it! Think really hard before you get that “great” deal that’s making you think you’re such a genius.

What other saving tactics are effective but simply not worth it?