Low-cost living doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Figuring out how much you need to use versus how much you’re actually using makes it effortless to cut back. When you do, you could save hundreds on monthly expenses, while also reducing your estimated $1,412 cost of annual energy.*
Try 10 money-saving hacks to keep household bills to a minimum
Saving has become even more commonplace during our current crisis. Around 51 percent of Americans say they’re more motivated to start putting money away in the hopes of recession-proofing their finances. While the housing market has remained stable, growing an emergency fund and cutting costs are smart moves as the economy continues to recover.
Here are 10 ways to start saving money at home:
1. Don’t wash your jeans (okay, wash them sometimes).
You can save up to five times the energy when you wear your jeans at least three times before washing them. Don’t forget to wash them in cold water, let them air dry, and skip the ironing.
The American Cleaning Institute suggests washing most items less often, if you can handle it. Consider scaling back to washing PJs after four wears, towels after five uses, and bedsheets every two weeks. This could help you beat the national average of doing 4.5 loads of laundry a week.
Estimated monthly savings: About $18 per month, or $215 a year.
2. Drop (or renegotiate) services.
Give your household budget a good, hard look if you have one. (If you don’t have one, this would be a great time to make one.)
Then see which extras you can eliminate — and which you can renegotiate:
- Drop down to one streaming service, if possible.
- Call up your cable, cell phone, and internet providers and request a better price.
- Ask about any deals available, normally marketed to new sign-ons and not long-time customers.
Your budget might also benefit from getting rid of cable and streaming services altogether: TV and movie streaming sites like Kanopy, IMDb TV, and Pluto TV are absolutely free.
Estimated monthly savings: Up to $83 per month, or $1,000 a year.
3. Love your microwave.
Don’t underestimate your microwave. Every time you use a microwave instead of your oven, you save up to 80 percent energy. The microwave is considered the fastest and most efficient method of cooking, helping to cut down on the typical homeowner’s $1,412 annual energy cost.
If you love the taste of freshly baked cookies and roasted chicken, create a big batch of food once a week and enjoy it all week long. Save the oven for when you have guests over, and you’re making a meal to remember.
Estimated monthly savings: About $22 per month, or $260 a year.
4. Lower your homeowner’s insurance.
As with most forms of insurance, the amount you pay for homeowner’s insurance can swing widely depending on policy and provider. If you’re not satisfied with your rate, it’s recommended to shop around, weighing both cost and level of service provided.
To keep costs low, bundle your policies. Combining two or more policies could decrease your premium by as much as 20 percent. Looking into specialty discounts (like those for veterans or seniors), adding more security features to your home, and increasing your deductible can also help to reduce your monthly homeowner’s insurance payment.
Estimated monthly savings: About $17 per month, or $204 a year.
5. Purchase misfit produce.
Budgeting can help you get a handle on your grocery bill, and so can buying from the bargain bin. Like so many things, this can be done online. Sites like Misfits Market sell fresh, organic produce that also happens to look a little funny. The reward for purchasing slightly strange-looking produce? You’ll get as much as 40-percent off the store price.
Other ways to save on in-store fruits and veggies include buying only in season, checking for sales and digital coupons, and hitting up the farmer’s market later in the day when vendors may be more motivated to sell what’s left at a discounted price.
Estimated monthly savings: Up to $250 per month, or $3,000 a year.
6. Set it and forget it.
This one is easy. All you have to do is turn the thermostat up or down before you head to work, and that one action does all the saving for you. To get the most out of your energy savings, turn your thermostat 10° to 15° warmer in the summer and 10° to 15° cooler in the winter. This tiny change can save you up to 5 to 15 percent per year on energy.
Or, buy a programmable thermostat, and you won’t have to do a thing. The Nest runs at around $250, but you can find alternatives for as low as around $75. Smart homes have recently become the majority in the U.S., and integrating automated features could improve your property value.
Estimated monthly savings: About $12 per month, or $145 a year.
7. Sock away “sudden” savings.
The economic effects of the pandemic have affected us all in a variety of ways. You might have received a stimulus check, if you were eligible. You might also have gotten a kickback from your car insurance provider for driving (much) less often in quarantine — not to mention the money saved on gas.
While it can be tempting to want to spend these extra funds, consider setting aside at least a portion in savings. Padding your emergency fund now could help keep you afloat later. The ideal emergency account should cover three to six months of living expenses.
Estimated monthly savings: Up to $151 per month, or $1,809 a year.
8. Speed up your dryer.
Use wool to create an all-natural dryer ball that absorbs moisture quickly and lasts for years. The reason that making your own dryer balls is such a good idea is because they circulate more air to your clothes to cut down on time in the dryer.
You can up the ante by avoiding over- or under-filling your dryer, cleaning the lint trap, drying on low heat, and air-drying when you can. Wool dryer balls can help reduce your drying time by anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. You can buy dryer balls online or create your own in a few steps.
Estimated monthly savings: Up to $8 a month, or $97 a year.
9. Swap odd jobs and repairs.
Another thing to come out of quarantine? More of us are figuring out how to play to our strengths. This might look like monetizing a hobby by selling online. Or, maybe you use a barter system to swap out tasks you’re skilled at in return for help from a friend or neighbor.
For example, ask the tech whiz in your life if you can exchange your gardening skills for computer repair when that warning comes up on your PC. If you’re a great home chef, you might offer to prep a week’s worth of meals for the retired plumber on your street who can fix your leaky faucet.
Estimated monthly savings: Varies, ranging up to $155 per handyman job.
10. Trick your tank.
Did you know that you use up a half-gallon of water with every flush? That’s around 2.5 gallons every day.
But you can trick your tank into thinking there’s less water to refill by doing this:
- Fill a 2-liter soda bottle with water, pebbles, and a little bleach.
- The bleach will keep the water fresh so it can sit in there for months.
- Then, gently place the bottle in your toilet tank.
Simple as it seems, this bottle-in-the-tank trick may save roughly 10 gallons of water a day. You could also switch to a low-flow toilet when it’s time for an upgrade.
Estimated monthly savings: About $12 per month, or $140 a year.
There’s never been a better time to save money on your mortgage
Like our energy-saving tips, this part is straightforward and easy. Own a home? Connect with a local loan officer to learn if refinancing at today’s record-low rate could reduce your monthly mortgage payment. Ready to stop renting? Get prequalified in minutes and find out how much home you can afford without seeing your monthly housing cost increase.
*“Average Electric Bill.” iPropertyManagement, 2020.
While refinancing could make a significant difference in the amount you pay each month, there are other costs you should consider. Plus, your finance charges may be higher over the life of the loan.
For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.