- Install CFL (or, even better, LED) bulbs wherever it makes sense. These bulbs might cost more initially, but they both have a longer life than normal incandescent bulbs and they both eat far less electricity. CFLs tend to use about 25% of the electricity of an incandescent – LEDs use about 20%. CFLs are cheaper than LEDs right now and produce better light, but not quite as good as incandescent bulbs. My policy? Put LEDs in closets and out of the way places, use CFLs for hall and some room lighting, and use incandescent bulbs (until the other bulbs get better) where you read and do other eye-intensive activities. This will trim a significant amount from your electric bill.
- Install a programmable thermostat. These devices regulate the temperature in your house automatically according to the schedule that you set. Thus, when youʼre not home, it allows the heating or cooling to turn off for several hours, saving you on your energy bill. A programmable thermostat can easily cut your energy bill by 10 to 20% – and itʼs surprisingly easy to install.
- Buy appliances based on reliability, not whatʼs cheapest at the store. Itʼs worth the time to do a bit of research when you buy a new appliance. A reliable, energy efficient washer and dryer might cost you quite a bit now, but if it continually saves you energy and lasts for fifteen years, youʼll save significant money in the long run. When you need to buy an appliance, research it – start with back issues of Consumer Reports at the library. An hourʼs worth of research can easily save you hundreds of dollars.
- Clean your carʼs air filter. A clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by up to 7%, saving you more than $100 for every 10,000 miles you drive in an average vehicle. Plus, cleaning your air filter is easy to do in just a few minutes – just follow the instructions in your automobile’s manual and you’re good to go.
- Hide your credit cards. Take your credit cards and put them in a safe place in your home, not in your wallet where itʼs easy to spend them. If you argue that you need it for “emergencies,” just be sure to keep a small amount of cash hidden in your wallet for these emergencies. Donʼt keep plastic on you until you have the willpower to not use it even when youʼre sorely tempted.
- Plan your meals around your grocery storeʼs flyer. Instead of just planning your meals based on a cookbook or whatever you can dream up, plan all your meals around whatʼs on sale in your grocery storeʼs flyer. Look at the biggest sales, then plan meals based on those ingredients and what you have on hand, and youʼll find yourself with a much smaller food bill than youʼre used to.
- Do a price comparison – and find a cheaper grocery store. Most of us get in a routine of shopping at the same grocery store, even though quite often itʼs not the one that offers the best deals on our most common purchases. Fortunately, thereʼs a simple way to find the cheapest store around. Just keep track of the twenty or so things you buy most often, then shop for these items at a variety of stores. Eventually, one store will come out on top for your purchases – just make that one your regular shopping destination and youʼll automatically save money.
- Challenge yourself to try making your own things. Before I tried it myself, I thought homemade breadmaking was complicated and a waste of time and money. I came to find out that it was pretty easy and it was actually much cheaper, healthier, and tastier than buying a loaf from the store. Now, we rarely ever buy bread products at the store – and we save money by making that choice. Iʼve had a similar experience with many other household staples, like laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, and oatmeal packets. Make it yourself – itʼs surprisingly fun and it almost always saves you money.
- Donʼt spend money just to de-stress. Quite often, I used to spend money just to wind down from a stressful day at work. Instead, Iʼve found that I quite often feel much better by going home and taking some quiet time just to stretch and then meditate. I end up feeling much more together, happy, and ready to face an evening with the kids in the right mindset than I ever would by just blowing some cash after work. Instead of spending to de-stress, try some basic meditation techniques, stretching, or yoga and see how you feel.
- Talk to your loved ones about what your dreams are. This seems like an odd way to save money, but think about it. If you spend time with the people you love the most and come to some consensus about your dreams, it becomes easy for you all to plan for it. If youʼre all planning and working together towards this dream, it becomes easier to stay focused on it and reach it. Set a big, audacious goal together and encourage each other to be financially fit – soon, youʼll find youʼre doing it naturally and your dreams are coming closer than ever.
- Do a “maintenance run” on your appliances. Check them to make sure there isnʼt any dust clogging them and that theyʼre fairly clean. Look behind the appliances, and use your vacuum to gently clear away dust. Check all of the vents, especially on refrigerators, dryers, and heating and cooling units. The less dust you have blocking the mechanics of these devices, the more efficiently theyʼll run (saving you on your energy bill) and the longer theyʼll last (saving you on replacement costs).
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This is part of a series of posts begun July 15, 2015 – The Simple Formula for Creating Wealth.
Part II – Earn More – July 17, 2015
Part III – Build a Business – July 31, 2015
Part IV – Don’t Burn Your Bridges – August 7, 2015
Part V – Live Frugal 1 – August 14, 2015
Part VI – Live Frugal 2 – August 21, 2015
Learn how to manage your money, eliminate debt and build wealth in my book, Your Financial Success.Wishing you well,
Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.