When it comes to renting or owning a home, your rent or mortgage check is not the only monthly expense you need to worry about. Factors like food, electricity, water and entertainment services also play an important part in your monthly expenses. Depending on where you live, these costs can grow quickly and make it difficult to manage your budget.
Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks you can employ to lower these expenses each month. Are you spending too much on your utilities? You can try keeping the lights off and using natural light or raising your air conditioner a degree or two. While those are good first steps, here are several more tips to help you reduce your monthly bills and save your paycheck.
According to the United States Geological Survey, the average American uses 80 to 100 gallons of water every day. However, this depends on location, with warmer and drier areas using more water than colder or rainier areas. If you are paying too much for water each month, there are some quick and easy steps to take to ensure you are not wasting water.
Faucets and taps often have a number on the back of their handles, which show how much water they release while in use. The standard faucet can produce as much as 2.2 gallons per minute. By turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving, you can save several gallons in only minutes.
Taking showers and baths also uses gallons of water quickly. Be sure to concentrate on bathing efficiently to minimize your time under the faucet. Quick showers can save the most, so aim for no more than 20 minutes. Though baths can seem more efficient since you are using a set amount of water, filling the bathtub often takes more water than a quick shower does.
Residents can try their hardest to consciously save, but accidents are inevitable. Household leaks, especially those that go unnoticed, waste hundreds of gallons over time. Check for dripping faucets and water lines regularly to catch these leaks quickly. The United States Geological Survey suggests checking once every year in March.
The U.S. Energy Information Association reports that the average monthly electric bill is around $111.67. As a result, many residents look to reduce their energy consumption, and therefore their bill. As previously mentioned, turning off the lights when leaving a room is a good start. However, there are other actions residents can take to further reduce this expense as well.
Related Article: Cutting Utility Expenses
A major electricity drain comes from household appliances. Some appliances that use the most electricity and energy include:
- Washing machines
- Desktop computers
Be mindful of the amount of time you spend using these tools and try to cut back if you want to save. However, even when they are not in use, your appliances still use electricity when they are left plugged into an outlet. Microwaves that display the time, cellphone cables that charge and even DVD players that display a red power light all use precious electricity as you sleep.
To reduce this usage, unplug unused appliances until they are ready to be used again. If there are several in one area, you can use a power strip or surge protector to combine the plugs and shut them off with one easy switch.
New appliances may have “night modes” that can be activated to reduce their power consumption when not in use. Check your appliance’s manual to see if it has this function. Taking these measures will greatly reduce your electricity bill.
Save on Air Conditioning
Though air conditioning is a necessity in warm areas, especially during hot times of the year, it can easily drive up your bill. To reduce the cost, it helps to ensure that your home is fully sealed. Check windows and doors for cracks and uneven linings that block cold air from escaping and warm air from entering. Otherwise, this exchange of air causes your A/C unit to work harder and consume more electricity.
Another way to contain the cooling system is through thorough insulation. Check your walls and roof for misplaced or dissolved insulation. You may need to update and replace this regularly to ensure your home is properly insulated.
A third option is to install weather drafts along your doors and windows. These thin strips of rubber lock air inside of the building and provide another layer of protection against air leaks.
Save on Internet
Internet is a crucial part of functioning in today’s connected world, but you don’t have to overpay for this service. Many internet providers charge extra to install routers or modems in their customers’ homes. On top of this, they also charge a monthly fee on the borrowed device.
However, routers and modems are relatively inexpensive and easy to find in electronics stores. Rather than paying a monthly fee, buy the devices you need at a local store and install them yourself so you can save in the long run.
Reducing your use of the hotspot on your phone is another way to save. Though it’s convenient to have Internet connection everywhere, it can easily raise your bill the more data is used. Fortunately, many businesses offer free WiFi connection at their stores.
Rather than paying hundreds of dollars per month, you can rely on the free WiFi you come across. Reliable stores and restaurants, like Starbucks, are open regularly and provide a speedy connection. Other popular chains with regular WiFi connections include:
- Panera Bread
Save on Television
Since its invention, television has become a popular source of entertainment. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average U.S. resident spends 12 cents per kilowatts used watching TV. In addition, the average American household spent nearly $100 every month on cable television in 2018.
One way residents reduce these costs is by abandoning cable services altogether. With streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, users can watch television at a fraction of the price. Paying monthly or yearly subscriptions can save you over 50 percent per payment.
Save on Food
Everyone has to eat, so food is another expense that takes up much of a household’s monthly bills as a basic necessity. Depending on how you choose to purchase your food, you can easily overspend. In particular, ordering food or eating at restaurants can quickly add up, increasing your monthly bills significantly.
One of the easiest solutions is to focus on preparing food at home. Buying groceries in bulk can allow you to save more in the long run. However, preparing your grocery list in advance is also essential to saving money. Before going to the grocery store, it helps to know what you are looking for by having a recipe prepared. Moreover, it is better not to shop hungry, as this is proven to make shoppers buy more food than they need.
In addition, meal preparation is a great way to ensure that you actually use the groceries you buy, as it can cut down on daily cooking time. Cooking a large batch of food and dividing by meal also helps curb waste and limit unnecessary spending.
If you still miss the fun of eating out, you can consider inviting friends over for a potluck. If everyone brings a dish to share, the group can easily gather enough to feed everyone with portions to spare. Overall, saving at home requires mindfulness, preparation and discipline. By identifying areas of overspending, you can build a regimen that maximizes your income.
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