How You Could Save Money On Household Bills
How much do you spend each week at the supermarket? Do you cringe when you get the monthly power and phone bills? For most of us our home and the items in it cost a lot of money. So what are the options, for cutting our bills?
Well to start with, do you need the size house you have? We love large homes in New Zealand, but basically the bigger the house the more you will pay for heating, and maintaining it. We significantly reduced all our household bills, when we downsized from a large ex-State house to a modern, smaller townhouse. Renting or owning, larger will cost you more, and not just because of the obvious rent/mortgage costs.
Anyways, which ever home you have, there are always ways to save money, here are some ideas to get you started.
The power bill is biggie, particularly in the winter. If you are old, you may remember being told to "turn it off" as a child. It's good advice still. Turn off lights, turn off appliances, and even unplug appliances that are on "stand by".
Use timers for heaters and air-conditioners. Doesn’t waste power to heat or cool an empty house!
If you are buying major appliances check the Energy Star ratings. While it might not matter for an appliance that you use rarely for short period of times e.g. food-processor, or toaster, it makes a big difference for things like fridges and freezers which are on all the time, or dryers and washers which are big power users.
Light bulbs have come a long way too, if you are still using the traditional one, similar to that invented by Mr Edison, it might be time to move on. Options are evolving quickly. Incandescent bulbs can now be replaced by modern energy savers, halogens by LEDs. Some of these options cost more to buy, but the running costs can be a lot, lot lower.
Not everywhere in New Zealand pays for waster, but more and more of us are ending up on water meters. Even if you don't, yet, pay for water, make sure you have no drips from hot water taps, thats going to be hurting your power bill.
If you are paying for water then consider replacing, or asking your landlord to replace, older shower heads with newer low-flow models. The modern models will still give you plenty of water, but you'll notice the difference in your water bill.
If you are a keen gardener, consider installing a rain-water tank for the plants, or an efficient irrigation system which will minimize water use
Check with your bank if there is a better deal for your mortgage or everyday banking. Banks aren’t charities, they make plenty of money from your mortgage, and you shouldn't be paying fees on your day-to-day accounts as well. Keep an eye on interest rates too, as rates go down, often existing customers don't get the benefit. A simple phone call to your bank could save your thousands. Negotiate for a better deal; you are the customer after all!
How many phone lines do you have in your house? If you count cell phones, many households now have more phone lines than people! Then there is the Sky subscription and the Internet. If you have these all split over a lot of different providers it may be worth taking a second look. Ring up your main phone company and ask for a deal. Check how you use your phones; do you call others on different networks? Would it better to have the home line with the same company as your cell phones? Are you still paying every month for a message service which is hardly ever used, now everyone has a cell phone?
Pay TV is expensive in New Zealand, do you really use the Sky subscription. How many channels are actually free-to-air? Could you get some content online for free?
Shopping smart can save you money on a regular basis. If the supermarket has a deal on a non-perishable item that you buy regularly, stock up. If this week there is a 30 cents/litre discount on petrol, then it's worth spending up to the minimum amount, so long as you are buying things you'll need, not just treats and luxuries. If you are doing it right, your next week's shop should be correspondingly lower.
Oh and yes, going shopping once a week or less, does save you money, as you avoid all those temptations that you didn't know you needed until you saw them!
Don't buy bottled water - we have some of the best water in the world, the water industry is a triumph of marketing over common sense. If you really don't like the taste of tap water, then buy a cheap filter jug and keep it in the fridge.
Don't pay over the top for “organic” food, again most of our food is still produced using traditional farming methods, and has a lot fewer additives and chemicals than that of the US or parts of Europe.
Get smart with use-by dates. They are recommendations, not rules. Milk is off when it smells funny, or you get lumps showing up. If it's kept in a decent fridge it will last at least a week past its use-by date. Hard cheese will last almost indefinitely in a fridge, cutting off mould is totally fine.
You don't need a different cleaning product for every surface in your home. Simple baking soda and white vinegar will work as an alternative cleaning agent for everything from showers to floors to toilets. If you do buy commercial products, you will save a lot of money buying concentrate and adding water rather than paying for the dilute "ready to use" form.
Saving money isn't that hard, it's a way of thinking, of being mindful before you spend money. I'll spend money on something I want and that will make me and my family happy. That's generally not the power bill or the toilet cleaner!