Guest Post: How to Cut Your Expenses Without Changing Your Life!
I’d like to start featuring more guest posts so that all of you get to meet some of the wonderful people from the blogs that I frequent! In light of this, today I’d like to share a guest post written by Elizabeth at Coupons Make Cents. If you have never been to her blog, please check it out! It has all kinds of great tips for saving money, plus the latest deals and freebies! 🙂
I’d be willing to bet that everyone reading this would LOVE to cut their household expenses – but who wants to make a huge lifestyle change to do it? I’ve done a good bit of research for this article and I’ve seen everything from hanging your clothes out to dry (lovely idea but not allowed in my subdivision) to carpooling with your neighbors to run errands around town. I have to admit that I’d actually like that last idea because I love spending time with my neighbors. Even though we’re stay at home moms, we don’t run on the same schedules and can’t really do the carpool to the grocery store thing. So I decided to compile a list of things you can easily do around the house to cut your expenses without having to make major lifestyle changes. These are things that we already do in our house, and trust me, with two preteens in the house, if we can do it, you can too.
- Turn off the lights! Bear with me while I explain why a two minute trip around the house can really pay off. A kilowatt hour (the method by which your electricity is measured and billed by your utility company) is the amount of watts you burn in an hour divided by 1000. For example: If I run 10 100 watt bulbs for 1 hour, I have burned 1 KWH. The average cost per kwh is $.12. At my house, in canned recessed lighting alone, we have 40 bulbs. That’s not even counting the lamp lights or under the cabinet fluorescents or the outdoor lighting. If I am leaving for a 2 hour trip and I turn off the lights in the kitchen ( 5 100 watt can lights) that’s going to net me about $.24. for a 2-second effort in turning out the lights. If I make the trip through the house and make sure every light is off and find another 5 on, that makes my trip – less than a minute around the house – worth $.48. For a two hour trip, one day a month! If you make 10 of those trips (I know you go out of the house at least that much!) you’ve saved enough for a latte. What if you go away for a week’s trip? That’s 168 hours, and if I turn off 15 lights (average use around the house with everyone at home) that’s $40.32 saved. (hint, check the kids’ rooms and bathrooms first!)
- There is MUCH debate about this one, but it’s about to become a reality whether you agree with it or not: Switch to CFL lightbulbs. Before you list for me all the reasons why we should not, let me just throw out a few figures for you. The latest information from Consumer Reports indicates that each CFL bulb will last you about 6000 hours. They cost, on average, about $12 each, including electricity. To buy the same amount of incandescent bulbs (which last about 1000 hours and are about $.50 each) you will spend $42, electricity included. That’s almost a 400% savings, PER BULB.
- Wash in cold water. It costs about $.30 per load to wash in hot water. That’s the electricity used JUST to heat the water, not to power the washing machine itself. If you wash one load per day, you are spending about $93 per year. Cut your washing to cold water and you will pay -0- to heat the water…so $93 per year! Now I know that there are some things you just have to wash in hot, but try warm. Most stains are dislodged best at about 100 degree water, so run WARM wash, cold rinse. You’ll still cut your cost by half.
- Use wash clothes in your kitchen rather than paper towels, and cloth napkins instead of paper ones. In my house, we use cloth already, but we still go through a roll of paper towels about every week and a half. The average family using paper towels exclusively in the kitchen will go through about a 3 rolls every two weeks. Depending on what kind you use, you could be spending as much as $2/roll on paper towels. That’s $156 per year. I bought 2 packs of 12 wash cloths (all white, so I can bleach them) for less than $10 total. So now I have spent, per year, $52 on paper towels (average of about $1.50 per towel roll) plus my $10 for my wash cloths. $104 in savings!!!
- Raise your thermostat. I will admit, I’m guilty of breaking this one, and we just have to bite the bullet every month when the bill rolls in. For every degree you keep your thermostat ABOVE 72 degrees, you add anywhere from 1-3% monthly to your bill. That’s 1-3% of your total energy bill. So if you’re like me and keep it at 76 during the day and 74 at night, I’m still paying almost 12% more every month. So if you can, keep your thermostat at 78 while you’re at home and run the ceiling fans. Think about the money you will save and see if it’s worth it for you. If you normally have a $185 power bill, you can save more than $20 just adjusting the thermostat.
- Watch where you are ironing. Yeah, it sounds weird. But I iron right below the thermostat, so when the iron heats up, the thermostat thinks the whole house is heating up, and it’s time to cut the A/C on. Solution? Move the ironing board. 🙂
- Cook more meals at home. Even with the rising cost of food, eating at home is still a no-brainer. The restaurants have to raise their prices when commodities go up, too. If you eat a steak dinner at home (and I’m talking hand-cut filets) you will spend about $60 for everything from veggies to drinks to bread and olive oil for dipping, for a family of four. Try finding that at your local GOOD steakhouse. You’ll spend at least $100. If you’re the gal who stops at Sonic, think about their hot dogs. The new ones are $1.99 each. That sounds good until you consider that a package of 8 buns costs $1.50 at the store, and the hot dogs (regular price! are about $2.50). Condiments — maybe $2? Soda — $1.50 for a 2-liter. So for a family of four you could spend $18 at Sonic (2 hot dogs and a drink each) or make that same meal at home for $7.50. That’s over $10 in savings and if you do it once a week, $40 per month!
- Now, I mentioned lattes earlier. I know we love our coffee drinks. I get that. I’ve been addicted to coffees for years, and how convenient — there’s a wonderful coffee shop on the way to my kids’ school! Which means that since I have zero will power when it comes to lattes, I was spending on average $20/week on coffees. So for Mother’s Day, I got a high-quality Cuisinart espresso machine. $199 – 20% off at Bed, Bath and Beyond (with a coupon) = $179. I discovered that I can make lattes that are just as good as the coffee shop and they are EASY to make! So instead of spending $4 per latte, I am spending less than $.50/cup of coffee. I’m saving $17.50 per week, and it will take me 11 weeks to get back my purchase price of the coffee machine. So by the end of the summer, it’ll be just savings for me!
I know this may be a no-brainer to some, but I recently had an “ah ha” moment that may help some of you. I work hard to clip coupons and bargain hunt, as I know many of you do too! I started really thinking about the things we use around our house on a daily basis and noticed we were carelessly using products that could last twice as long if we used only what we needed. Here’s what I mean:
- Although I have a ton of toothbrushes in my stockpile, I realized I was switching them out too often, along with many other toiletries in my stockpile simply because I had them on hand.
- As opposed to a handful of shampoo and conditioner, now I use more of a quarter size amount.
- Here’s one of my favorites… I cut foods in half, such as the amount of salad dressing I use, to not only make it last twice as long, but it also cuts my calories in half.
- I started actually looking at the fill line on the laundry detergent cap instead of overflowing it and then adding a little extra to get the clothes super clean. There’s a set amount for a reason!
- I was using handful of paper towels when I really only needed one or two…better yet, started using hand towels a lot more.
- I realized I only need a pump or two of hand soap to clean my hands, as opposed to three or four!
These are just a few of the things I consciously noticed that I could change to make my hard earned stockpile items last that much longer!
How about you? Are there things around the house that you could cut back on?