In case you couldn’t tell, one of the aspects of stewardship that Ronnica and I feel pretty passionately about is personal finance. We constantly strive to use our money in the best ways possible. A significant number of posts on here discuss personal finance, debt reduction, and money in some way or another.
But if you are on a fixed or limited income, how else can you channel your money toward more meaningful things?
Enter bill reduction–specifically the following key points:
Okay, perhaps the third one is a bit redundant, but if you are serious about reducing your bills, negotiation plays a huge part!
Negotiation is for Thursday, however. Today, I’m discussing reduction. I’m going to get a bit personal, and provide actual numbers from our own budget in this post and the next. I hope that some of our tips and tricks help you as you tweak your own finances!
In much the same way that Ronnica made reducing her consumption of goods a priority, reducing what you spend on monthly bills should become a priority if you want/need money for other items in your budget.
Rather than go into detail on the obvious bill-reducing strategies–a simple search online will yield hundreds of great tips–here are some that have worked for our family.
A programmable thermostat will save a ton–of cash AND carbon emissions. If you search for something like, “how to reduce bills”, chances are good this one will come up, and for good reason: it works. The premise is that you set the thermostat for a lower temperature (in winter) or higher temperature (in summer) when you are gone during the day, or when you are in bed than when you are up and moving.
N.B. This tip will not work if you have a more “extreme” body temperature than others in your house. It took Riley and I a few weeks–months, actually–to agree on a temperature that did not freeze me out or make him overheat in the winter! But once you get that settled, you will not only save money, but you will also help the planet because you are not needlessly heating or cooling your home (depending on the season). It is tricky to estimate the savings this has given us, because we recently got a newer, more energy-efficient HVAC system as well, but I’d wager this single tip has easily saved us several hundred dollars in the time we have lived in this house (five years). Definitely invest in a good programmable thermostat–I promise you won’t look like this!
Use a dishwasher instead of hand-washing dishes. It seems counter-intuitive, but studies have shown that using a dishwasher is actually more budget-friendly and energy efficient than washing by hand. It also saves time and cuts down on dishpan hands! I agree with the data presented by Energy Star–this has saved us about $40 a year. Don’t scoff…every little bit adds up!
Don’t use a clothes dryer. This one saves money and helps the environment in several different ways. (Isn’t it interesting how going green also saves money?). First, it cuts down on energy usage. Second, it helps save your clothes–lint isn’t just random fuzzies that crop up in the dryer, but is actually bits of your clothes!–which helps save you money.
Third, if you hang up your clothes on a line, either inside or outside, you are burning extra calories. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I’d argue this also helps to cut down on long-term healthcare costs. In addition, if dryer sheets are something you currently utilize, you will not have that expense either, with air-drying. The savings on this appear to vary from person to person, but personally I notice a huge difference between our winter electric bill (when I dry clothes in the dryer more often) versus our summer electric bill (when I line-dry)–to the tune of $50+ a month.
By far the biggest and best strategy to bill reduction is negotiation…come back on Thursday to read about tips and tricks to cutting your bills even further!