5 Monthly Expenses That Can Be Reduced in a Single Afternoon

In order to make ends meet and save money for extras, you have to treat the family budget like a family business. That means keeping an eye on your finances month after month and regularly evaluating ways you can cut costs. Believe it or not, there are a number of things you can do relatively quickly to reduce expenses and continue to reap the rewards over the long-term.

Rack up significant savings over time by taking an afternoon to thoroughly assess your budget and make a few adjustments.

Monthly Expense: Utilities

The Fix: Find a Provider With Better Rates

More and more areas across the U.S. are transitioning to deregulated energy markets. A deregulated energy market is one where locals can choose their own provider rather than having to use a supplier that’s selected by the city. This is great news for budget-conscious families since you can get electricity for a lot less – if you take the time to research.

Folks that live in deregulated energy markets can go online, compare available plans and choose power providers with the best rates. Studies in Texas have shown that consumers that fail to comparison shop end up paying more than those that research rates before selecting a provider.

Monthly Expense: Television, Internet and Phone

The Fix: Bundle Services Together

Some will say that television and Internet service is a luxury and they’d be right. But if you work from home it could be a real necessity. Not to mention that TV and Internet entertainment is a lot more affordable than going out. If it’s been a while since you compared your current plan to available offers now is the time to see what else is out there.

One of the easiest ways to get the best deals possible is bundling the services together with a single provider. Typically, providers offer special rates when customers combine television, Internet and/or phone service. Even if you don’t want or use a home phone it could actually be more cost effective to bundle all three together. Another bonus of bundling is it makes bill payments easier to manage.

Monthly Expense: Insurance

The Fix: Keep Your Provider Up-to-Date

Insurance is an intangible expense. Each month you’re actually paying for peace of mind that you’re financially covered if something were to happen. You pay the bill and pray you don’t have to make a claim.

Getting insurance premiums reduced by as much as 25% could be as simple as updating your information. For example, installing a home security system can lower your home insurance premium. Other updates that can get your insurance premiums reduced include:

 

  • ·  Educational attainment
  • ·  Going an extended period with making a claim
  • ·  Improvements on your credit score
  • ·  Adding storm shutters
  • ·  Installing a interior sprinkler system
  • ·  Improving the electrical system
  • ·  Completing a drivers course
  • ·  Moving to a gated community
  • ·  Retiring at age 55
  • ·  Using gas and water sensors around the house
  • ·  Installing impact resistant roofing

 

Review your insurance policies at least once a year to make sure they’re still suited for your circumstances and as affordable as possible. If you use numerous insurance providers you may also want to consider bundling your policies together with one company.

Monthly Expense: Late Fees

The Fix: Set Up Auto Payments

Late fees have direct and indirect costs. You’ll be hit with an additional expense right off the bat, but your credit score could also suffer. When that’s the case it makes borrowing money even more expensive because you can’t get the best interest rates.

The easy fix for these problems is to put bills on auto pay. Almost every service provider and credit card company lets customers create an online account where they can include their bank’s information. Once the bank information is verified the provider can then automatically withdraw the payments. Bill management is much easier and you won’t have to worry about late fees.

Monthly Expense: Savings

The Fix: Use Auto-Debit Features

It’s a lot easier to save money if it’s never in your checking account. Ask your employer if the payroll department can set up an auto-debit so a small chunk of each paycheck goes directly to a savings account.

Another way to save without really trying is to use a roll over option. Many debit card providers will allow you to round a purchase up to the next dollar and put the difference in a savings account. It’s basically a virtual penny jar that’s even easier since it’s automatic.

 

9 Ways to Make Your Home Greener

A small change can make a huge difference when it comes to leading a greener life, not to mention have a positive impact on the environment, too. In fact, the perfect place to make these changes is within your own home.

We’ve pulled together some handy tips on how you can make some changes in your abode to benefit from a greener lifestyle, which go well beyond paper, plastic and glass.

  1. Replace Lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can really do wonders for saving energy in the home. Better still, these kinds of lightbulbs have a longer lifespan than regular ones. Simply swapping your regular lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs really is the way to go.
  2. Ditch the Dishwasher. It’s time to don your marigolds and get stuck into some good, old-fashioned washing up. Did you know the average dishwasher uses an astonishing 49 litres of water per cycle? So, fill up the washing up bowl, squirt in some washing up liquid and save some energy. If you do use a dishwasher, be sure to scrape off leftover food into the bin, as this will save water. And try not to use pre-rinse.
  3. Turn Off Electrical Appliances. You can save £30 a year, just by switching off electrical appliances. Even just turning off your laptop, the toaster, kettle or TV for the night can really cut costs. You can make things all the simpler by using a standby saver which basically enables you to turn them off, all at once.
  4. Switch off Lights. Forgetful when it comes to turning off lights? Fit movement sensors so lights only activate when required. Alternatively, you can save energy by fitting automatic timers for lights that are regularly left on in empty rooms.
  5. Set the Right Cooling Temperature. Did you know your fridge and freezer use the most energy in the house? Make sure they aren’t being used more than necessary. For example, fridges operate perfectly at around 37°F (3°C) whiles freezers function well set at 0° F (-18° C). And don’t forget to keep fridge and freezer doors shut. Even leaving them open for just a couple of seconds can waste loads of electricity.
  6. Make Your House Move Greener. When it comes to selling your home fast and reducing your carbon footprint, make your move greener by using recycled boxes rather than purchasing brand new ones. Alternatively, ask friends if they have any extra boxes from their last move. Or you could head to a local village shop, farmer’s market or coffee shop to ask if they’ll give you one of their boxes. You could even use your own blankets to protect fragile items such as mirrors or pictures.
  7. Fix Leaks. Make your house as leak-free as you possibly can by plugging, insulating, caulking, sealing or repairing leaks. You’ll soon see a significant cut in your energy prices.
  8. Plant Power. Bring some living plants indoors to rid the inside air of pollutants. By growing plants in your living space, the indoor air will become like a natural filter. Even better, some plants can soak up damaging toxins released from carpets, electronic equipment or furniture. Opt for rubber plants, palm trees or spider plants.
  9. Plump for Eco-Friendly Cleaners. Instead of choosing harsh chemical cleaners, which can contribute to health problems, choose non-toxic cleaners. There are quite a few biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products available in the supermarkets, all of which are a more natural way to clean. Even better? Make your own out of baking soda or use natural disinfectants, such as citrus oils or tea tree.