At some point or another most of us have had money issues. Either we spend more than we make from poor budgeting decisions or we don’t make enough to cover life expenses. Things happen. When those things happen to you, there are some things you can do to keep finances under control and get you back on track. One thing I like to do is focus on big ticket household expense like utilities.
5 Ways to Save Money on Utilities
To begin, take a deep breath and remember… These do not have to be permanent. Once you get it together you can add those extras back to your life. If you’re like me though, you won’t. With the exception of my phone I kept all these things on a tight leash since I would rather spend money on retirement or for fun stuff like vacations and date night.
1. Phone Bill
It seems simple enough, but downgrading from a smart phone will instantly save around $40/ month. If you have more than one then you can multiply the savings. Imagine how fast a credit card or medical bill can be paid down with that extra cash each month. It sure is nice to play games and check email on the go, but those things can typically wait an hour until you get to a computer. The hardest part is going to be detoxing from instant access. I find my ability to focus on what is happening at the moment is greater when I don’t have the distraction of the smart phone around. My husband and kids were happier, and I was too. I have a smart phone now, but I didn’t miss it all that much when we were living on less.
2. Cable Bill
Get rid of it! For real, get it gone. With online companies that will stream shows to you, you don’t need access to hundreds of shows you probably don’t watch anyway. When you get back on track, add all the cable programming back you want, but when you need every penny, you don’t need cable. If you absolutely must watch something then go to the library and check out a movie or try Hulu, Netflix or Amazon. They basically do for you what the cable company does. The same problem of detoxing from that immediate fix is here as well but you do get one payoff. Instead of just watching the one newest episode you can instead binge watch a whole season. 🙂
3. Electricity Bill
The first thing I do when I see the bill creep higher is to manage the thermostats. My husband is darn near nuclear with his heat output and has to have the AC on at night. I swear even in the winter. So I turn the temp down at night and turn it back up first thing in the morning so we’re not freezing and sucking up energy during the day. Next I turn to our appliances. I unplug what I can when we’re not using them and air dry the clothing. The clothing thing really seems to make a big difference. I don’t know any numbers on the energy used by the dryer but I’m going to guess it’s pretty significant if I can see an actual difference in the bill from just one month of air drying. I bought the drying rack on clearance for 5 bucks about 7 years ago and I can safely say it’s probably saved us at least a hundred dollars, so I feel confident it paid for itself by now.
4. Gas Costs
We switched from electric to gas for our stove and have a gas fireplace that we use at peak winter times to manage electricity costs. This was the best investment we made by far. We probably pay less than $300 for the entire year this way for cooking, and gas heats the house fast in the morning so we use it to get the temperature up, then let the electric unit maintain the temp for the rest of the day. We don’t have to worry about the heating unit sucking up energy and overworking and we are comfortable faster. Win.
CA, AL, IN, KY, MD, NY, OH, PA, VA, MA, and TX all have access to IGS Energy which has a great program for those that like to maintain a strict budget. They are an energy supplier not a utility company, which means they buy the energy for your utility company to use.
IGS Energy is in the business of natural gas and electric supply products. They work directly with energy companies instead of competing with them. If your state allows it, you can purchase the energy (gas/electric) from them, which gives you access to various pricing options instead of the one given to you by the utility company. You can lock in a fixed rate so you’ll know what to expect each month, choose only green energy if you’re looking to be environmentally friendly, or even choose the guaranteed option to stay ahead of the local utility rate. If any of those options appeal to you, energy choice and deregulation might be for you.
It’s easy to sign up, and the parts I like are:
- Depending on the plan you choose, you can call at any time to change it if there’s a dip in the market to get a better price.
- They are involved in the community (click to read about IGS Companies community support)
It isn’t just about making money, the IGS Energy website has a link to their giving report so you can see how they’ve given back throughout the year.
5. Water Bill
This one may seem a bit gross to some but completely normal to others. Wear your jeans and other clothes more than once between washes. Unless you spill something gross on them you can get away with wearing your jeans a good 3 or more times. Just hang those babies up to get some air and put them on again. By forgoing washing after each use, your clothes you won’t use up as much water and your clothes will last longer, saving you money in the long term.
This goes for all washing. I don’t know about your kids, but mine are notorious for wearing 3 outfits in a day and throwing them all in the dirty clothes. I monitor this closely, and I am able to reduce my laundry loads in half this way.
I actually only wash with cold water, and I can’t recall the last time I didn’t do a jumbo size load. But… that may be because I don’t want to do a small load. More work for me, no thank you. Using cold water saves on the costs associated with heating the water. Every little bit counts here!
Fun little tidbit here – taking a bath actually saves water over taking a shower. Who knew?! Go figure! Apparently we run the water longer when we’re showering, and it all goes right down the drain, so next time you have a choice, consider a bath instead.
My favorite water saver…wash your kids and the car at the same time. Hose them both down in the driveway. Just kidding.
It really is about keeping things simple. If you don’t need it then cut it out and if you do need it then don’t be afraid to find a better way. It may not be the easiest in the beginning, but it’s worth it in the end.