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Posted in: Homeowner tips

Budget better: 10 ways to lower your household expenses

Reduce household expenses

2015 is your year. It’s the year you’ll stick to your budget, and save more than ever before. Don’t cut out, cut back – and see how you can still enjoy everything from books to TV and meals out by following the tips below.

1. Cable and Internet

Take an audit of the television shows you watch and calculate how many of them are truly necessary to watch live as they air. From there, see if you’re willing to get rid of your cable or satellite packages altogether by purchasing alternative streaming options like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Prime.

2. Books and movies

Get a library membership. Set up an online account so you can easily add books and movies you want to check out and make time to get them once they come in as reserved. Create a “must see” list of movies as they come into theaters and be one of the first to see them (for free!) once they arrive at the library.

3. Heating and cooling

Agree with your partner or housemates at the beginning of the winter on what the average thermostat temperature should be in your home. Then, as painful as it may be when it hits subzero temperatures, try to bundle up before turning up past that temperature. Sometimes, all it takes is an extra pair of socks and a solemn vow to keep your utility costs down. (If you have an old furnace, another idea is to buy a small space heater that you can turn on for a quick fix.)

4. Dining out

Limit yourself to eating out only once per week for dinner and once per week during lunch. If you’re worried about missing lunch outings with co-workers, see if they’ll join the challenge with you. Trade off cooking homemade meals every other day for each other so you’re still trying new things.

5. Phone line

Get rid of your landline and send your contacts a notice of the best way to contact you. Be sure to update important contacts like your doctor’s office, your kid’s school office and any coaches or teachers who may call your home and not your cell.

6. Fitness and gym memberships

Unless you’re a real gym rat, consider cancelling your gym membership and creating an in-home gym. Smartphone apps like 7-Minute Workout will help keep you in shape even during the cold winter months, and New Year’s brings great deals on new or slightly used workout equipment at stores like Second Wind Exercise Equipment. When spring arrives, put the treadmill to rest and hit the outdoor trails for a free workout with new scenery.

7. Buy in bulk

Buy a membership to a bulk goods store like Costco or Sam’s Club. Buy a stand-alone freezer and stock it with less expensive meats, frozen vegetables and fruit, and even bread products. Plus, buy toilet paper, laundry soap and other toiletries en masse so you never have to stop at overpriced drug stores last-minute.

8. Fueling up

Never fill up on gas at the first gas station off the highway. These stations are usually higher priced by at least a few cents a gallon. Learn which fueling stations have the best prices, and fill up when you drive by rather than waiting for your tank to be empty. If you have a Sam’s Club or Costco membership, see if your local store has cheaper fueling stations onsite.

9. Water heater

Insulate your hot water tank and set it to a maximum temperature of 120 degrees to keep costs down. 120 degrees is still hot enough for a hot shower, without being scalding.

10. Green your clean

Forget the expensive cleaning solutions that run you anywhere from $5-15 per bottle. To keep costs down while greening your clean, consider creating these concoctions:

  • Glass cleaner: Combine 2 cups water, ½ cup white or cider vinegar, ¼ cup rubbing alcohol
  • All-purpose cleaner for countertops and refrigerator: Mix 4 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart warm water
  • Toilet bowl cleaner: Combine ½ cup baking soda and 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • Disposal cleaner: Start by pouring a half cup of baking soda down the drain, then a cup of white vinegar. Let it sit as you boil a pot of water, then pour the boiling water down the drain. Last, add two cups of ice to the drain and turn on the disposal until it drains completely. To deodorize the drain, add a quartered lime or lemon to the disposal while it runs.

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