Tips for Saving on Monthly Services

If money is tight right now, or if you’re just trying to live frugally, there are a number of ways to save money without having to drastically change your lifestyle. One of the best way to save money is by going through all of your recurring bills to see where you can eliminate or reduce spending.

In our age of user-friendly, advanced technology, there are more services available to us than ever before. You can call an Uber with one tap on your phone or order more laundry detergent by clicking the Amazon Dash button in your cabinet. With services this readily available to us, it’s hard not to sign up. Read on to learn how to save some money on your monthly services without having to sacrifice too many of life’s comforts.

Utilities

There are countless ways to save on water, heat, and electricity. Yes, you can turn down the heat in the winter time and take shorter showers, but there are less commonly known ways to save as well. For example:

  • Keep multiple electric-powered items plugged into one power-strip and power off the strip overnight. This will stop those items from consuming electricity in standby mode
  • Insulate your windows in the winter time by using caulking, weather stripping, and shrink wrap your windows with heat shrink film to keep the heat in
  • Some Saturday afternoon make a checklist of all of your home’s lightbulbs. Then go out and replace them with energy efficient CFLs and LED bulbs
  • Hang clothes on the line in fair weather and wash your clothes in cold water; much of the energy consumed by washing clothes goes to heating the water up first

Monthly services

Remember when there were only a few good shows on TV and paying for cable was the only way to watch them? Now any given household can have Netflix, Amazon Streaming, HBO Go, and countless other monthly services for watching TV.

To save on watching your favorite movies and television, try these tips:

  • Ditch Netflix DVD services or expensive premium cable channels and rent from your local library system. Through inter-library loans you can get the newest movies and TV shows shipped to your library for free
  • Cancel your cable bill and try a cheap service like Hulu. If you’re worried about missing the news, use websites or news apps on your smart TV to keep up to date on the issues
  • Negotiate rates with your provider. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to learn about better options. Since many people are taking the internet-only approach, cable companies are desperate to maintain customers

Saving on telephone bills:

  • First, ditch the landline. You probably only get telemarketers calling there anyway; what do you have to lose?
  • Use a family plan and calculate your data usage. Make sure your family is on wifi whenever possible. You can save up to $30/month just by having a lower data plan
  • Negotiate with your provider. Reminding your provider that you have other options when it comes to cell phones can get you a better rate.

General tips and tricks:

  • If you have a student email address (.edu) this can be used to gain discounts from a number of monthly services
  • Ask your providers to apply promotions to your account. If you see that something you pay for is running a deal, call and ask if you can have the rate as well. You’re a loyal customer after all
  • If you’ve built up good credit, look for lower interest rates online. There are apps and websites dedicated to finding you better deals

Save on Utility Bills

Did you know the average family spends over $1600 a year on utility bills alone?   Here are some simple steps you can take to not only save energy but also put some money back in your pocket.

    Put your thermostat to work

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends setting your air conditioner at 74 degrees and your furnace at 68 degrees. Investing in a programmable thermostat is a good idea. Set the thermostat to be warmer or colder when you are not home. Reduce the difference in temperature between the inside and the outside of the home to help save energy and money.

    Invest in energy-efficient appliances

You may notice now that washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, air conditioners, and computers now come with Energy Star labels which mean they are energy efficient.  Energy Star appliances will save you money over older appliances.

    Unplug

Computers, stereos, toasters, and other appliances draw energy even when they are turned off. A large LCD or plasma TV consumes about 400 watts of energy when in use and 4 watts when not in use.  Using a surge protector will help reduce energy costs. Plug your appliances into a surge protector and turn off the protector when appliances are not in use.

    Seal it up

A well-insulated house is a way to save money on heat and cooling costs. First, start by adding insulation to the attic floor. Next, make sure to fill in any holes in exterior walls especially where pipes come in and around windows and doors. Lastly, wrap hot water pipes with insulation.

    Slow the flow

Install low-flow fixtures to conserve water on your shower, faucets and toilets. Also remember to repair leaky faucets and toilets and turn off the water when brushing your teeth and scrubbing dishes.

Ten Ways to Save on Groceries

If you are looking for ways save money, cutting back on grocery expenses is often an easy way to reduce your spending.

Here are ten tips to master frugal grocery shopping. A little planning can save you some big bucks over the long term.

1. Make a list.

Before you head out to the store, prepare a list of everything you need, making sure you have everything needed for your weekly menu. Before you leave, check to make sure you don’t have it in your pantry, fridge or freezer. Stick to that list and don’t buy anything else.

2. Plan a menu.

Plan a weekly menu for each week. This way you will know exactly what to buy. Be sure to plan a leftovers night.

3. Don’t shop hungry.

When you’re hungry, everything looks good. When you shop hungry you’ll end up spending a lot more. Eat first and then you will be able to stick to your list.

4. Set a budget.

When you go to the store, know exactly how much you can spend. Then try your best to stick within that limit. Keep a running tally as you shop to ensure that you’re within your budget.

5. Create a grocery spreadsheet.

Keep your grocery receipts, then enter into a spreadsheet. This will be your price and comparison list. Use it so you know when bulk or sale items are a good deal.

6. Cook and freeze.

Plan to cook a big amount of food and freeze it for multiple dinners. A great idea is to use one Sunday and cook a week’s (or even a month’s) worth of dinners. Plan 5-6 freezable dinners and cook them all at once.

7. Shop for specials.

Every store has specials. Be sure to look for them in the newspaper, or when you get to the store. Don’t buy things you don’t use just because they are on sale; make sure you will use the items.

8. Buy store brands.

Brand names are often no better than generic, and you’re paying for all the advertising they do to have a brand name. Give the store brand a try, and often you won’t notice a difference.

9. No “one-item” trips.

They waste gas, and almost inevitably, you buy more than that one item. If you plan ahead, make a weekly menu, and shop with a list, this should drastically reduce the number of trips you make for a small number of items.

10. Stock up.

Sale items can be a great deal. If it’s an item you normally use, buy a bunch of them.

A Facelift for Your Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchens sell houses. So having a great looking kitchen is important if you are thinking of putting your home on the market or maybe you just need a fresh new look. Cabinets are one of the biggest expenses in a kitchen remodel but with a little elbow grease and creativity, you can update your kitchen cabinets without going through the hassle of an entire remodel.

Here are some tips on how to make your kitchen look like new with a cabinet facelift.

Give the wood a Good Cleaning

You will be surprised what a good scrubbing can do. Heat, water, grease and food residue all take a serious toll on your cabinets.

  • If you choose to remove the doors, label or number them so you’ll put them back in the right place.
  • Make sure to test any kind of cleaner before using it on the entire cabinet. Cleaners with large amounts of alcohol may cause the wood to dry and crack.
  • Clean and Update the Hardware

    Hardware gets greasy and grimy so make sure to clean those too.

  • Soak the hardware in a soapy-water solution for 30 minutes.
  • Scrub lightly with a soft brush and rinse.
  • Let dry and apply the proper polish.
  • You may decide instead to replace the hardware. In choosing the finish for your hardware, think about what style will look best in your home.

    Add Some Detail

    Add some detail to drab cabinets with moulding. Applying a contrasting finish or color is a quick and inexpensive way to change the look of your cabinets.

    Stripping and Refinishing

    If after cleaning your cabinets still need some help, you may decide to refinish or paint them

  • Make sure to remove all the cabinet doors and number them.
  • Liquid strippers work best, but be sure to use the gel or semi-paste types.
  • Place doors on a vertical surface. The finish won’t drip as much.
  • Let the stripping agent do the work and start with an inconspicuous area.
  • Patch any conspicuous holes, scratches and nicks with wood filler. When dry, sand lightly to smooth out the patch. Before painting, sand lightly and prime.
  • Before painting remember that the wood expands and contracts with the seasons, which will cause the paint bead to separate and expose unpainted wood.

    So with a little hard work you can have a whole new look to your kitchen in no time.