Are you on a tight budget? Finding ways to cut back on spending can be tough, but with these clever tips you can save hundreds each month with ease.
Let's start with your car. By getting more mileage out of your vehicle, you can take your savings farther. Start by cleaning or swapping your air filter. Doing this can save up to $100 for every 10,000 miles you drive.
Another great way to save is to keep your tires inflated. For every two PSI of air pressure under the recommended level, you lose 1 percent on your gas mileage. Doing these simple tasks for you car can easily save you between 5-10 percent on your fuel costs.
Next, take a look at your meal budget. Are you eating out a lot or throwing away leftovers and unused ingredients? Ideally, you should be spending 10-15 percent of your take-home pay on food. Any more than this can devour your cash. Do some calculations and adjust your budget as necessary.
Finally, your cell phone bill may be draining your savings. On average, U.S. consumers spend a whopping $85 a month on their phone bills. So if you've noticed that you're spending too much on data, try connecting your device to WiFi instead and scale your data plan back. Explore your options, because in some instances switching from a monthly contract to a prepaid plan could lower your costs by up to 50 percent.
So, as you set your budget for next month, remember these tips. You'll see that with a little homework, there are many clever ways to save on your spending.
12 Simple Ways to Save Money Around the House
Clever Ways to Save Hundreds Each Month -- Savings Experiment
You may think you're saving money by using that ancient washing machine or fridge from the '70s, but when it comes to major appliances, sometimes using it until it gives out isn't the best strategy.
Appliances that aren't energy efficient can run up your utility bills and cost you more than you're saving. More than one-third of refrigerators in America are more 10 years old, and these collectively cost consumers an extra $4.7 billion in energy costs, according to the Department of Energy. (Yes, "billion" with a "b.") While it may seem counterintuitive to spring for something new when the old model is still "works," investing in an Energy Star-rated appliance save you an estimated $35 to $300 over its lifetime as compared to your old model.
Don't worry about keeping up with the neighbors; focus only on the home improvement tasks that you need to have a healthy, happy home. Who cares if the Joneses just put in a new swimming pool or Jacuzzi? If a certain home upgrade isn't important to you, keep the money for things that do matter -- like paying off your mortgage 10 years early.
Bundle up in winter and keep the furnace down a notch or two. Use a ceiling or standing fan in the summer and save the air conditioner as a last resort. Get a programmable thermostat and set it to adjust the temperature when you're away from home. You can probably also drop your water heater a degree or two without really noticing it.
You can save as much as 1 percent from your heating bill for each degree you drop the thermostat, if the reduction lasts eight hours per day (while you're at work or asleep), according to energy.gov. That means a 10- to 15-degree drop in temperature could create significant savings. In addition, make sure you're not losing excess heat by covering drafts, adding weatherstripping or insulation, and installing heavy thermal curtains.
Keep an eye not just on how much water you're using (turn off the sink while you brush your teeth), but also on whether you're using hot water when you could be using cold. Most clothes and linens will come out just as clean in cold water as they do in warm or hot. Washing laundry with a hot wash and warm rinse costs 60 cents per load, while washing with a cold wash and cold rinse costs only 4 cents per load. In addition, only run the dishwasher and laundry when you have a full load to get the most out your water usage.
Deal with small problems as soon as you notice them, to prevent them from becoming bigger problems later. Patch that tiny hole in your window screen before it gets larger. Don't ignore that annoying leak or running toilet.
A few dollars on prevention can save you hundreds –- if not thousands –- on costly cures. Clean the lint trap in your dryer, change the filter in your furnace and dust out those little vents under the fridge. Have your heating ducts and gutters cleaned annually. These tasks can be annoying and time-consuming, but they can save you from some costly repairs or replacements down the road.
As a broad rule of thumb, save 1 percent of your home's value towards maintenance and repair costs each year. For every $100,000 of home, in other words, set aside $1,000 annually. That may sound like a lot, but once you consider the cost of replacing the carpets and appliances every decade, and the windows, siding and roof every 25 years, you can see how quickly costs add up. And the more you can offset the need to conduct major repairs (e.g. patching that small roof leak before rot and mold develops), the more you can lower your ultimate bills.
Use reusable sponges, dusting rags or microfiber cloths rather than paper towels. Make your own green cleaning solutions from simple household products. Make sure you're not using more than you need to, especially with concentrated cleaning products. Institute policies like "no shoes in the house" to preserve the lifespan of your carpet and rugs.
All that unused stuff you're hanging onto could actually be turned into profit. Search through your closets, storage areas and shelves and weed out anything you haven't used in a while. You may be able to sell it at a garage sale or online, but even if you just donate it, you're still saving the time and money it would take to clean and maintain this extra stuff. Plus, your donation could turn into a tax deduction.
You know that you should turn off lights and appliances when they're not in use. But did you know you're also losing money if you leave appliances plugged in when they're not in use? This standby energy drain (also known as "phantom energy" from energy vampires, and it boosts the average American household's electricity costs by $100 each year. Unplug appliances when you're not using them (even that computer you think is in "sleep mode") or put them on a power strip to make it easier to turn off the whole room at once.
Food waste is a big budget drain. Guard against it by organizing your fridge and pantry by the expiration date of items-new cans of soup behind the old ones, older produce at the front of the crisper, leftovers front and center so you remember to eat them. Before you go shopping, review the items that are due to expire soon and develop a meal plan to use them while they're still good.
Fill your flowerbeds with perennials instead of annuals you'll need to replace each year. Use cuttings from the garden to fill vases and make centerpieces. Plant a kitchen garden to save on the cost of herbs like basil, mint and oregano.
Check out YouTube videos to learn how to handle small repairs yourself. Install your own wall sconces; repaint your living room; buff your hardwood floors. Watch home design shows to learn how to make your own curtains, storage solutions and built-in furniture. Find creative ways to reuse your old stuff, like turning that old set of floppy disks into drink coasters. Get creative and put in a little elbow grease, especially if you have a little extra time on your hands. You'll save a ton of money on labor costs and learn a few new skills in the process.