Saturday, February 28, 2009

Let's cut some more dollars out of that budget

It seems I've constantly got money on the brain: or at least how to spend less of it. I've found ways to cut my groceries (http://www.ehow.com/how_4800520_save-money-groceries.html), a way to cut my satellite bill (http://www.ehow.com/how_4804929_lower-rate-satellite-bill.html) and I even cut my phone and internet bill (http://jugglinghomemaker.blogspot.com/2009/02/lower-your-monthy-bills-without-losing.html). I then canceled our dairy service (some would say we should've done that first, but I really loved their milk--which is saying something since I'm not a big milk drinker to begin with), and I now spend half as much for our milk at the store.

Since my husband's hours aren't looking like they're picking up anytime soon, I'm looking for more ways to cut our spending. We just knocked our thermostat down to 66 degrees for our heating. We were at 68, which was already saving us money over last year's gas bill, even with the rate hike Questar was granted.

You won't catch me without my long sleeves, even in the house. Haha! But really, it hasn't been too bad. It's not a real noticeable difference, and when I cook (which I do a lot of to save money), that warms up things a bit. We also turned our water heater down, which means we're using less gas to heat our water. Now we just add less cold water while filling the bath or sink. That's going surprisingly well for us (even with a family of six).

We're also on the budget plan, so we pay the same amount monthly, but I see that we have a good amount still left in the reserve they set for us, so that amount should be going down shortly with our lessened usage. I'm excited to see how much it will go down when they do our review!

If you haven't signed up for the budget plan (also known as the equal payment plan) for your utilities, I recommend doing so. It makes it sting less in the times you use more, though that also means you pay more in the times you use less. The companies that offer this feature generally review your account periodically to make sure you're not being over or under charged. Having this feature makes it easier to make up your household budget too, since you know what you're going to be billed each month.

Anyway, we've also switched out more of our light bulbs for the energy efficient ones. Of course, we're also making sure that we're all turning off the lights when we're not using a room, or opening the shades on a bright day to help us to cut our electric costs too. While the initial cost for the bulbs is more than the standard ones, they last much longer and cost less to use. They also have the added bonus of being the more environmentally friendly choice. We've actually been switching them out gradually (as our old bulbs burn out), so that we don't pay so much to switch them all out at once.

Once the weather gets warmer, we're going to make sure we don't crank up the central air too much, resulting in a high bill. We plan to open our windows in the morning when it's cool, and in the evening. During the day, when it's hot, we'll have our windows closed, and the ceiling fans going. With this, I think we'll be able to keep our air set at 80-83 degrees without feeling too much of the heat. I'll also keep the ice water handy.

I've made my loads of laundry larger, using less energy to run fewer loads. I've also made sure to not run the dishwasher unless it's full. I'm finding I'm also using less detergent, fabric softener and rinse aid by doing this. This also means I'm running up and down the stairs less, since I'm doing laundry less frequently. I still have to do laundry daily though, living in a house with four kids!

All of these money saving ideas also happen to be green, so that's a plus. For more ideas on going green in your home and saving money, check out this article by ethoslogos: http://www.ehow.com/about_4807537_green-home.html. I think it's great that his ideas are not only good for the environment, but they're also good for your pocket book.

Well, I wish you all well in your endeavors to save money. Please feel free to share any of your tips here as well.