Friday, January 13, 2012

on budgeting {3}

This will be the last of my save money this way! posts, which have mainly served as a way for me to get all of our budgeting information written down and in one place.  This post is all about the random stuff, those little details that can add up to a big difference at the end of every month.

* Cut your entertainment costs.  We've eliminated cable entirely (realizing that we were essentially paying $80 a month for me to watch Jeopardy! three nights a week was all the convincing it took), but maybe that doesn't make sense for your life.  Calling your internet, cable, and phone providers to request discounts and changes in services can be a huge way to save money, though.  We're all about Hulu and Netflix, so we don't really miss having cable (although, I do miss the evening news), plus I'm just as happy not to have Natalie watching gendered, violent, and targeted-at-kids advertising every day. 

* Change the settings on your hot water heater.  We saw this on money-saving lists for a heck of a long time before we actually just did it ourselves, and it feels silly to have waited so long.  For every 10 degrees that you lower your maximum temperature, you can see up to a 5% savings on your energy bill.  Not bad, right?  We truly notice no difference in the comfort of our water temperature, and it is reassuring to know that not only are we saving a buck, but we're also preventing an inadvertant Natalie bathtime scalding.

* Unplug appliances when you're not using them.  I've always been a little too lazy for this one, but we resolved to give it a try at the beginning of the new year, and so far it hasn't been too much of a hassle.  We just flip the switch on a couple of power strips at the end of the day, and generally leave our kitchen appliances (like our coffee pot and toaster) unplugged until we actually use them.

* Occasionally use gas treatment, check the air in your tires regularly, and do some research about how often you really need to get the oil changed in your car. 

* Rethink how you do laundry.  Use cold water, reduce the number of loads you do by properly loading the washer, and fold clothes immediately when they dry so you don't have to hit the "fluff" button on the dryer and waste all that energy getting wrinkles out of clothes that have been sitting in the dryer for two days.

* Pack lunch more often & make coffee at home.  I've always been on the MYO lunch bandwagon, and in the past year Mike has gotten on board, too.  He's actually dropped around 10 pounds a result, and we're definitely saving money by planning ahead for his lunches.  I'm completely guilty of buying coffee out instead of making it at home, which is something I'm working on.  I now allow myself to buy coffee two days a week, and force myself to make my own on the other days (having a yummy creamer helps soften the blow on this one).

* Shop around for insurance.  We tried to reduce our home owner's insurance, but didn't have much luck--owning a duplex means we have to be a little more cautious in that department.  But we have cut back on our car insurance, and our health insurance costs have gone down by switching over to a flexible savings account in place of dental insurance.  I am rarely the one who takes the initiative to explore these options, but Mike has done the legwork on a lot of it and I'm always amazed at power a simple phone call can make in changing these types of costs.  Doing the research pays off, without a doubt.

What other (relatively painless) money-saving tips can you share? 


  1. I have a few...

    *Our big fault is eating out more days a week than I care to admit. We have resolved some of this by keeping fast easy dinners on hand and having common cravings in the house (shaved steak for sandwiches, frozen chicken fingers in a pinch, etc). By keeping the freezer stocked with options we are less likely to go out out of boredom.

    *Similarly, keep track of what you have on hand. After I came home with the a third box of mac n cheese, I started taking inventory...

    * We set the thermastat to 62 when we aren't home and in lesser used zones in our house. The bedroom heat turns on about 45 minutes before we typically head to bed and stays on for about 2 hours, the same in the morning. We saw HUGE changes in the gas bill when we changed this setting.

    *Fix what you can, hire what you can't. We have done several fixes around the houes (re-cabling the garage door, upgrading the pump in the toilet) for very low money.

    *Plastic wrap drafty windows you can't afford to replace yet. Especially if they are near your thermostat!

  2. I have loved your budgeting posts!! You've given me some really good ideas! Shawn and I have been using Dave Ramsey's Snowball Plan for the last several months and its been working great. One thing that we do is give ourselves a weekly cash allowance for spending money. The cash is to be used in place of just swiping the debit card for little things here and there. It really makes you realize how quickly those small purchases add up!

  3. I loved reading these posts! Great ideas... and going to turn down my hot water heater now.