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Home Improvements That Can Save You Money

Home Improvements That Can Save You Money is a guest post by Amanda @ Car Insurance Comparison, dedicated to helping you make sense of the auto insurance industry.

Every month, a good portion of our income goes toward paying off utility bills. Consequently, every month we may find ourselves gawking at these bills because it seems like the price of everything, from water to electricity, keeps going up. While it may remain a mystery as to how you managed to use of $300 worth of natural gas on your latest bill, there are certain fixes you can make around the home to bring down the annual cost of utilities – and help you save money.

Install Low Flow Faucets

Did you know that faucets account for at least 15% of water use in the home? That may not seem like very much at first glance – that is, until you get your water bill. The worst part is that most of that water technically doesn’t get used, it just comes out of the faucet in excess.

By installing low flow faucets you can reduce how much water comes out of the faucet when it’s being used. These faucets will use no more than 1.5 gallons a minute, thus significantly reducing your water usage and your bill.

Install High Efficiency Shower Heads

Installing new shower heads is probably the easiest and fastest way to start conserving water and saving money in your home. If you’re concerned about performance don’t worry, these high efficiency bathroom staples use much less water without hindering the outcome.

Install Water Saving Toilets

If you thought faucets were the problem in your water bill you should think again. In the average household the toilet accounts for about 30% of water consumption – making them the largest water consumer in the house. By installing eco friendly water saving toilets you can save up to 20% in water and a lot more than that on bills. If your current toilets were made before 1994 you could even see savings upwards of 60%.

Change Your Light Bulbs

Most homes are still using incandescent light bulbs, meaning that your lights are eating away at your electricity and your wallet. If this is the case in your home you may want to consider switching to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs for short). They use up to 75% less energy and seriously cut the costs of your energy consumption.

Seal and Insulate

Another easy home improvement that will save you money is making sure that your home is ready for the weather outside. That is to say, when its winter make sure your home is properly insulated. This will reduce how much energy you use when heating your home and drive down the cost of your bill. Similarly, make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed during those hot summer days so as not to let an air conditioning escape.

Use a Tankless Water Heater

The initial cost of a tankless water heater may cause some sticker shock, but it will undoubtedly save you hundreds of dollars annually. A tankless water heater runs on 98% efficiency in comparison to the 80% efficiency of conventional heaters. In the long run this can save you upwards of 20% on your bills.

By making some minor adjustments around the home you can not only save water and energy, you can also save a ton of money. Fortunately, most of these projects are easy fixes so that you can start saving as quickly as possible.

Article publié pour la première fois le 08/12/2011

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Why are you saving?

He that is rich need not live sparingly, and he that can live sparingly need not be rich.  Poor Richard

During the quest for financial independence it’s all too easy to lose the forest for all of the trees.  Every now and then it’s important to step back and remind yourself just why you are clipping coupons, why you’ve been depriving yourself of that new car, why you are living frugally.  Are you hoarding money or are you saving money?  There is a difference.  Hoarding for the future implies that you fear what’s to come.  Saving for the future implies that you are planning for what’s to come.  Being thrifty is difficult during good times, however, in a down economy, like the one we are in now, many people turn to thrift not only out of necessity, but also out of fear. 

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Article publié pour la première fois le 09/08/2010

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How to Get More Miles Out of Every Tank of Gas

In the last ten years the price of gas has more than doubled, and there’s little evidence to suggest that gas prices are going to return to their previously low levels.  Just take a look at historical prices and other than a few isolated dips the price of gas has consistently increased.

Gas is just one expense that most people completely forget about when considering the cost of owning a car, but the costs can add up pretty quickly.  For example, my daily commute to work involves a 42 mile drive each way.  Luckily I only go the office four days per week, but I still have to fill up the tank an average of once a week (and my car is pretty much used for nothing but commuting to work).

Fortunately it is one expense that you have a good deal of control over.  The tips in this article will help you get the most bang for your buck at the gas pump.

Stick to Regular

Premium gas costs a good twenty to thirty cents more per gallon so switching to regular will save you at least a few bucks with every fill up.  Most cars run just fine on regular unleaded gas so unless your owner’s manual specifically states your car needs premium you’re just throwing your money away.

Slow Down

The faster you drive, the faster you’ll burn through your gas.  Slow and steady wins the race for most mileage so ease off the accelerator and pay attention so you’re not making sudden starts and stops.  This will help your brakes last longer too.

Don’t Be Idle

Don’t leave the engine running while you run into the store or hit the ATM for some cash. Even if you think you’ll just be a minute, you’re using gas for nothing.

Take a Load Off

The more weight your engine has to haul around the harder it has to work and the more fuel it will burn through. That means you shouldn’t carry around all your worldly possessions with you.  That means you should empty your trunk of anything not essential.  In other words, take out the 300 pounds in dumbbells and weights, though you should probably leave the spare tire and jack.

Speaking of weight, maybe this is a good excuse to finally drop a few pounds of your own.  And while losing twenty or thirty pounds from your waistline won’t have a huge impact on your car’s mileage, it will help you live a little healthier and happier.

Skip the Gimmicks

It’s amazing how many products promise to boost your mileage to amazing levels and there is no shortage of frugal drivers willing to buy them.  But they’re really just throwing their money away with fuel boosts and gas additives that do little good.

You can even buy a kit that will supposedly convert your car to run on water instead of gas.  If that sounds shady, you’re right.  It probably won’t work at all and you could end up damaging your car and even voiding the warranty.  Buyer beware.

Article publié pour la première fois le 24/11/2014

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Give and Let Give

Saving money?  I am a fan.   Wasting money?  I abhor the thought.  But there is definitely something to be said for making charitable donations.  There is much benefit in learning to give away a portion of your hard-earned money.  You have to be smart about it though, use caution, and make sure you are doing it right.  Be positive that your money hits where you aimed it.  Here are a few helpful hints:

One of the first steps you need to take on the road to giving is to decide what percentage of your income you would like to donate, whether that will be per paycheck, over a year’s time, or what have you.  And make sure you figure it into your budget.  Be certain that you can afford it, that you are not overextending.  Let’s not go to the poorhouse trying to save the whales.

Check out DoTopia.com.  It helps you set up your own charitable foundation and donate instantly to more than 1 million charities (all IRS-approved for tax write offs!)  Earn even more cash for your favorite causes just by shopping.   The site’s mall boasts hundreds of venders that give returns up to 40 percent of the cost of your purchase to your cause.  Also, for instant giving gratification, your company can join the [email protected] program making it possible to deposit funds automatically from your paycheck.

One helpful website to check out before getting your philanthropy on is charitywatch.org.  They have researched and gathered tons of information on many charities including what percentage of your donation goes to administration and what actually goes to the cause.   They grade charities on other criteria as well and have lists of the best charities to give to, in their opinion.  It really helps you make informed decisions about donating your money.

Maybe you want to make a difference but it is not a good time to part with your cash.  If you can’t give money to a beloved charity you can always give time.  Most charitable organizations are eager for passionate volunteers.  There are countless positions doing a variety of services for charity.  Long term, short term, even one-time gigs if you are looking to try charity work on for size.

And lastly, just for fun, I want to introduce you to the idea of an anticharity.  Your personal anticharity would be an organization or cause that you pretty much despise, one that the thought of donating your big bucks to makes you cringe.  Let’s face it people, money motivates like nothing else, for good as well as evil.  And there are websites like stickK.com that use money to set a fire under you to meet goals and make changes in your life.  Basically, you set a goal, set stakes, and allow money to be taken from your credit card and given to your anticharity when you fail.  So whether you want to lose weight, quit smoking, or call you mother more often, use an anticharity to make your slip ups really hurt.  Vehemently opposed to guns?  The NRA would love to accept your generous contribution.

Are you a regular charitable donor?  What philanthropic wisdom do you have to share?

Article publié pour la première fois le 09/07/2012

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Debt be gone: Leaving Debt Behind Us

The following is a guest post by Lisa @ Frugal Living

Are you in debt?  Depending on your definition of “debt,” you may or may not be in the majority of the population.  At get paid each month – like a mortgage, or a car payment. Some consider “being in debt” as having normal everyday payments that are paid each month. Others, who are thousands of dollars in debt and accumulating late fees, know they are in debt because they are in over their heads and struggling to get out. For many, unfortunately, getting out of debt is no easy task – but a slow and steady effort is often the best and only course of action.

The Magic Diet Pill

Remember when diet pills were all the rage?  Well, “were” might not be the best term, as that industry will perhaps always be present.  And while it is likely impossible to quantify, we could all agree that the consumers who take diet pills could be great in number, at the very least.

We can quantify debt, however.  In statistics taken from EconomyWatch (via Moneyzine and Hoffman Brinker), consumer debt in the United States amounted to $2.4 trillion in 2010 – $7,800 per person.  1 in 10 consumers has more than 10 credit cards.  1 in 50 households have more than $20,000 in credit card debt.  The numbers go on and on, such as the 1 in 160 who have filed for bankruptcy across the country.

In the parallels between remedies – diet pills or wondrous ways out of debt – effectiveness may be questioned.  Sure, diet pills may work for some people in certain situations, just as bankruptcy and debt counseling may be right for others.  What about everyone else?  What if those “easy” ways are not right for you?

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

What is the solution?  If it isn’t bankruptcy or debt counseling, then what is it – another credit card with a 0% APR for 12 months (more debt), a personal loan (more debt), or a second job?

Well, maybe.  The truth is that each household is different.  While we can attach a number to account for the average household debt ($15,799, by the way, according to the Federal Reserve’s July 2011 report on consumer credit), there is no single best way to proceed.

Certainly, maybe a lower interest credit card might help you consolidate your outstanding debt, if only to rework all of your minimum payments into an equal amount – but with a better APR.  Maybe you could consider doing some freelance work or babysit in the neighborhood to enhance your income long-term solution, although definitely not a quick-fix, in terms of generating additional (immediate) income.

Once again, each household is different.  Your current debt is of an organically different makeup than someone else.  Thus, the correct decision can only be made by you or a qualified professional in relationship to these factors. Knowing how to create a budget and sticking to it are important skills, for children and adults of all ages.

In the end, a sound plan will navigate you through and hopefully out of debt permanently.  Most likely, it won’t be quick and/or easy.  You may have to budget carefully as you attack a credit card one by one.  Aligning yourself with others who value the “less is more” philosophy, and staying informed by interacting with knowledgeable individuals on personal finance blogs like Yakezie or Budgeting in the Fun Stuff can help support you on your journey to being debt-free.

Saving money along the way, you’ll be able to attack your debt with perseverance. In what ways have you made changes to your budget or life in order to pay off debt? Share them with us!

Article publié pour la première fois le 02/11/2011

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5 Ways to save on groceries

I know that groceries are one of any household’s biggest expenses and it’s also the one commodity that often goes to waste. It’s pretty tough going to the grocery store and sticking to a limited budget. So if you want to save big at the checkout here are some smart ways of cutting back and saving big:

Create meal plans

Remember when you tried that diet that involved writing down everything you ate? Well a meal plan is the reverse but just as effective. Create a week’s worth of meals plans that use similar ingredients but have different tastes and only purchase the items necessary to make those dishes.

Shop with a list

I know what you’re thinking, that is never going to be me. A list is one of the most essential cost saving tools against overspending on your groceries. If you write down exactly what you need before you hit the aisles and stick to what’s on your list, rather than buying anything that looks appealing at the time you can save dramatically.

Buy bargains in bulk

15 cakes of soap for a 1/3 of the price? 100 toilet rolls for the cost of 20? You’re getting the idea now aren’t you? If you find a bargain of non perishable items, be it toiletries, cosmetics or even tinned foods that you use regularly take advantage of the cost savings and stock up.

Stick to store brands

You know that store brands are cheaper and usually of the same quality as well known labels right? Switch to store brands for all possible purchases and if you find the tastes really do differ then only buy non food items as you will still save a chunk of cash.

Clip coupons

This may sound like every shoppers nightmare, but it’s amazing how easily accessible coupons are. Often you will even find coupons next to the item you are buying in-store, and so many people just walk straight past them. Don’t think clipping coupons makes you look cheap; it actually makes you look smart and helps your bank balance look even better.

I hope you find this information useful and that you can use it to adjust your grocery shopping habits accordingly, saving you extra cash at a time when you really could use it.

Article publié pour la première fois le 21/06/2013

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