Ways to Save At Home

Balancing a household budget is difficult because of the many fluctuating expenses you will encounter.

These expenses include:

  • Utilities
  • Food
  • Housing
  • Transportation

The typical family makes $74,000 every year, but it can still be hard to save when there are a variety of different people and costs to account for. For this reason, you will want to find ways to save money. There are strategies you can use to lower the cost of food, utilities, transportation and more.

Saving Money on Your Electric Bill

Every month, the average U.S. citizen home spends $110 on electricity. The most common method for reducing an energy bill is to be mindful of the energy you are using: unplugging devices you are not using and turning off lights when you are not in the room. However, other techniques can save you even more money.

The first step is to get an energy audit. Professional audits are the best, as they involve the use of equipment that identifies the problems in your house. Even some utility companies provide free audits. The most important task these audits achieve is helping you determine where your house may be leaking air. Air leaks cause your HVAC unit to work harder than it should the cold or warm air inside your house escapes through holes or unsealed windows and doors. This puts strain on your unit and causes you to spend more per month on heating and cool costs. Saving money in this area also requires replacing your AC filter every month and having it serviced twice a year.

Your HVAC costs are likely going to be the biggest portion of your energy bill, but there are other areas where you can save money. For instance, given the fact that water is the second biggest portion of the energy bill, it is worth reducing the amount of time you spend in the shower. You may also wash your clothes with cold water, since your energy costs increase whenever you have to heat the water you are using.

Unless your energy bill is higher than average, some of the more expensive tools for reducing energy costs may not be worth it. Solar panels, for instance, are great for the environment and a good way of saving money on your bill, but they cost thousands of dollars. This means it would take many years for a solar panel to pay for itself, if your energy bill is inexpensive. There are cheaper gadgets, though, that can help you save money. Smart power strips and lamp timers both allow you better control over where power is routed, allowing you to easily turn off power to a device without even thinking about it.

Saving Money on Food and Cleaning Costs

Food can make up a significant portion of the budget, and this problem is exacerbated by the desire to eat out at restaurants. It is hard to resist the temptation, but here are a few tips you can use to eat at home instead of spending money on expensive meals:

  • Plan your meals during the weekend, cooking them so you can be ready for the week ahead. When you get home, you will then merely have to reheat the food.
  • Use a crock-pot, as this cooking device allows you to cook without worry. All you have to do is put the food in the pot, which means you can perform other tasks while your food cooks.
  • Avoid wasting food by organizing your fridge, so that all of your food is within your line of sight when you open the door. As well, keep in mind that various expiration dates on most food packaging are unregulated suggestions: you can use your own common sense to determine whether a food item needs to be disposed of.

Another area of your budget you may not think about is the cost associated with cleaning. Cleaning supplies can get expensive, but the truth is that vinegar or baking soda can clean your house just as well as the more expensive products out there. Cleaning your home regularly can help keep it maintained, which means you can avoid spending money getting various items replaced.

Saving Money on Home and Auto Costs

Assuming you follow the advice of financial advisors, your housing costs should account for no more than 30 percent of your budget. That is a significant portion of your budget and it is one you may be able to lower. If you are a renter, it is worth negotiating with your property owner, to see if they will give you a lower monthly rent. You can incentivize a deal by offering to stay in the space for a longer period. A roommate can also significantly reduce your expenses, but that may not be tenable in all situations.

Owning a house means you will likely be paying less money than if you are a renter but there are still some unnecessary expenses that could be causing you to spend more than you need to. In particular, make sure you are not paying for private mortgage insurance. Many lenders require it if you have paid less than 20 percent of the cost of your home. However, it does nothing for you: it only insures the lender. Once you have put 20 percent down, make sure you have gotten rid of private mortgage insurance.

Since the average vehicle can cost over $8,000 per year, it is worth considering whether you need a car. Public transport and biking can help you save a decent-sized portion of your budget. Assuming you want to keep your car, the best way to save on auto costs is to refinance your loans. If you have regularly paid your loan for even just six months, there is a good chance your credit is better than it was when you initially took the loan out. In addition, you will want to check if interest rates have lowered, or if your original agreement made you pay more than what your credit score merits.

Saving Money by Repairing Your AC

If your AC breaks, it can cost hundreds of dollars to fix and it may take days before seeing the repairperson. In some cases, you may not have a choice: an AC unit is a complicated piece of machinery, and sometimes you are going to need an expert. However, you can try some common AC fixes before you spend money on a repairperson.

Some of these fixes are common sense: check the batteries in the thermostat, make sure the AC did not cause a breaker to flip and see if your problem is as simple as an old filter. If none of these situations describes your problem, there is a good chance you will have to replace one of your AC parts.

Two of the AC parts that are most likely to break are parts that you can replace for yourself, cheaply: the capacitor and the contactor. To replace either of them, you will need to shut off power to the unit. You will also have to discharge any electricity that has been stored in the capacitor if you need to replace it. Take a picture of the part, so you can see how the wires are attached. Unscrew the part, remove it from the wires and then put the new part in using the knowledge you gained from removing the old part.

Because this requires dealing with electricity, there is a danger of electrocution if you do not know what you are doing. If you are unsure of your next step and are worried you might electrocute yourself, call a professional. Potential injury is not worth saving money by not using an AC repair person.

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