Really Useful Ways To Save Money

Oh, it’s on everyone’s mind these days – how to be more frugal, how to save, ways to reduce your bills.

Fine, I’ll jump on the band-wagon. Here are the easiest ways I’ve found, with the direct dollar benefits of each. In some cases, I’m using estimates based on incomplete price tracking:

1. Cancel cable TV, sign up for Netflix. Savings: $60+/month

2. E-payment of 6 monthly bills (water, electricity, gas, trash pickup, mortgage, 1 credit card). Savings (assuming 0.03/envelope and $0.42/stamp): $2.70/month

3. Cut the thermostat back 5 degrees in winter when you go to bed (why heat the whole pile of rocks when you’re under blankets?), and forward 5 degrees in summer when you go to bed (why pay for cooling when you’re under blankets to stay warm? Use sheets or fewer blankets and a ceiling fan). Savings: $8/month averaged out over 6 months, estimated.

4. Plan your car trips to get more into one trip – fewer grocery store visits if you stop in on your way back to your pile of rocks from work. We usually do this over dinner as a family discussion so that everyone knows what’s going on the next day and rest of the week. Savings: $5/month estimated.

5. Replace soft soap in hand-washing dispensers with Dawn concentrate diluted 1 part Dawn to 10 parts water. It takes the same amount of time to mix your own as it does to fill from those economy gallon jugs, you don’t have to haul as much mass/weight around, and you don’t have to find space to store it. Savings: $2/month (direct savings – more if you use the frequest Dawn product sales and coupons that seem to happen every quarter to stock up.)

6. Weather-stripping (or replacing old, worn stripping) your windows, doors, dryer vent. This will involve an initial cost of about $20 (can of expanding foam insulation, various types of weather stripping), but it pays for itself in 4-5 months and lasts for an estimated 1-3 years. So we’ll calculate this one by averaging out the savings-per-month for the first year only, giving us a nice, conservative savings number. Savings: $3.33/month for the first year. More after that.

7. Using the crock pot to convert all our poultry carcasses and beef bones into thick soup or stew (with leftover veggies and meats from meals earlier in the week so there’s less kitchen waste) and freeze it. This nets about $5/meal eaten this way. We do this 2-3 times a month. So lets calculate conservatively 2/month (and without including the time savings and more efficient microwave use). Savings: $10/month.

8. Canceling long-distance service on our land-line, switching to calling card purchased at Sam’s Club or using cell phone plan to our advantage. If you go the calling-card route, there will be an initial cost that may lower the monthly savings. Savings: $22/month.

9. Use 1/4 cup of baking soda in place of clothes washer detergent. We get the big, economical bags from Sam’s Club. Savings: $14/month

Wow. It didn’t take long to whack $122/month from our bills. These are just the big ones I could think of off the top of my head. That’s over $1,400.00 per year we lowered our expenses – more if you put the savings in a high-interest online savings account. That’s a sizeable chunk of an IRA contribution. Or it’s a generous donation to our 6-9 months of emergency expense money. Or it’s reducing the interest on a revolving credit card debt every month (and can lead to some very interesting snowball effects on debt reduction). As a bonus, most of it also helps the environment. None of it inconvenienced us. The time freed up from cable TV addiction meant we could start a side business, take classes/certifications for job-related raises, start a garden, or fix broken stuff around the pile of rocks.

What would you do with an extra $122/month?

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