Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Day 4 - Reducing Household Bills

"Pick ONE thing from this list that you can implement to start saving some extra cash and let us know in the comments and/or in the forum what you’re going to tackle."

15 Easy Ways to Save Money On Your Household Bills

1. Buy in Bulk - We do this regularly. Nearly everything we purchase is at either Costco or Smart and Final. We have a pantry area and freezer and are able to store food and most food has a freshness date of at least a year from purchase date. For those items of more of a fresh nature, we will as our kids what they could use and either give them the food or go in on the price and separate out the food. It has saved us a substantial amount of money!

2. Use Coupons - I've tried using coupons and if there is something SPECIFIC I need, I will attempt to use them. We do not, however, use every coupon, every week like some shoppers do. So many of the items are cleaners, hygiene or convenience foods and we make our cleaners, and food from scratch.

3. Use Space Heaters - Rather than using space heaters, we use throws to stay warm or layer some clothing items. We do occasionally start up our electric fireplace and let it warm up the room then shut it off. Along these lines, we have used a balanced payment plan for our utilities for YEARS! And average annual amount is divided into 12 equal payments and that is what we pay per month. At the end of every 3 months, differences are figured so you don't end up having those HUGE wintertime bills. Both our gas and electric company offer this service.

4. Open Windows in the Summer - Since we don't have air conditioning, we are forced to open the windows on nice days. On those occasional days when the temps creep up to 100, we will keep the curtains closed, and we use curtains that are "thermal", they help keep the warm in in the winter and the warm out in the summer. During the hottest days, we will use electric fans to keep the air circulating. A few years ago we put electric ceiling fans in nearly every room in our house and that has helped too.

5. Line Dry - I've done this on a small basis for the past year. I have just a small wooden clothing dryer but this year, we've already been trying to figure out a better way to dry everything on nice days. It's so bad sometimes that people think they can control what you have in your yard and no one wants to see your laundry (??) so we have kept it small for now. I LOVE the smell of the clothes and on most days it only takes 1/2 a day to dry.

**6. Telephones (home phones, cell phones, extras) - This is a hard one. I've had a smart phone for years. But my current phone is almost 3 years old. I've gotten very used to having a cell phone but it's pretty expensive with all the extras. I've thought about dropping back to a more basic phone and trying to go back to just using it for emergencies. As far as the home line goes, I'd love to drop it entirely but my husband's work requires a land line so we are stuck. I've told him that if they require it, they can pay for it, but we aren't that lucky...

**7. Bye-Bye Cable Television - This is another hard area for me. We don't go out to see movies all the time since we have the movie channels at home. BUT, have you noticed that those movies are very seldom new??!! So we actually went to Netfilx to get the streaming movies thinking we would get rid of the extras on cable. But I haven't done that yet. Plus, now that we are on the streaming only portion of Netflix, they don't have a ton of choices either. I guess we just need to bite the big one and go cold turkey. That's actually been on my list of to do New Years goals for the past 3 years!! Still watching....

8. Lights Out! - This isn't that hard for me. I'm always switching off the lights we aren't using. We also went through the inside of our house and replaced the expensive to use incandescent bulbs with fluorescent. Then outdoors we use solar rather than electric path lights. That has really saved us! 

9. Cook from Scratch - This is another pretty easy thing for me to do. I've been cooking ever since I was a little kid and love it. I utilize the crockpot on busy days, put together freezer casseroles and think "dinner" right after breakfast so I have a plan for dinner and all the items necessary to complete it. We do go out one night a week on a date but you'd be surprised... once you start cooking at home, you really don't WANT to go out! Nothing is as good as what you make.

10. Use CASH - I know there are a lot of people that deal only in cash, meaning seeing that cash leave your hand. We don't go that far, I really HATE carrying cash, but we do leave the credit cards at home. If we can't afford it, we don't buy it.

11. DIY (Do It Yourself) - Thankfully, I have a VERY handy hubby. We've had electrical, mechanical and plumbing issues that he has been able to fix. He can take apart little appliances and make them work again like magic. This really helps when you buy those 2nd hand items at garage sales and thrift shops for pennies on the dollar but they don't work! And I've done my share of painting, cleaning and decorating for pennies.

12. Buy Used - Wow! My house can speak to the ways we've saved money here! One of my very best purchases last year was a fireplace for my living room that came with a HUGE mirror for $300 on Craigslist. Sound expensive? Not when you hear that it was really a $2000 fireplace! 

We've also bought furnishings for our guest rooms, outdoor items and use and donate to our local Freecycle.

13. Cut Your Own Hair - Well, I don't know how to cut hair but I did pay for one of my daughters to go to cosmetology school and she cuts our hair for now. I also wear a very simple hairstyle.

**14. Pack Your Lunch - Hubby is working on this one. He doesn't mind taking his lunch and is probably only eating at work 2 times a week out. We usually make enough dinner that I will have leftovers for lunch the next day.

15. Make Homemade Cleaners - This is one thing I'd LOVE to learn more about. I think too many of the store bought cleaners are toxic to the environment, but most of the replacement cleaners don't quite measure up to the cleaning capability or the fresh smell. I'm still looking for recipes that I like and will probably check out the ones on Frugally Sustainable.

(Taken from the Frugally Sustainable Website)

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