Saving money is essential to achieving early financial independence. But saving money at the expense of wrecking your quality of life is a game that I don’t play. Here are some methods that I have have successfully used to reduce my bills. And I promise no BS about meatless Mondays, biking to work, or taking cold showers.
Power / Electricity
- Turn off your electronics when they are not in use. Even in ‘sleep’ mode a computer set up is a huge power hog.
- Turn off lights when you aren’t in the room.
- Replace light-bulbs with efficient LED or CFL models as they burn out. Not CFL and LED bulbs last longer, but they also use less power.
- Use box fans to substitute for running the air conditioner. Depending on where you live, these fans will knock up to several months off of your air conditioner use. And they’re cheap. You can pick them up for $15-$20 at your local Target or Wal-Mart.
- Lose weight. Not only is getting to a healthy body weight better for you, but your heat tolerance will go up because you won’t be carrying around as much extra insulation (fat). Healthier life and less need to run the air conditioner – it’s win/win.
- Work out in the morning and take your showers at the gym. Get in shape and save water. Win/win again.
- Be conscious to turn off the faucets when they are not needed.
- Fix leaky sinks and toilets. If you live in an apartment, call your landlord and tell them to get on this.
Natural Gas / Heat
- Wear an extra layer of clothing. A long sleeve shirt, a pair of comfortable sweatpants, and maybe some socks are all you need to put off turning on the heat for a couple of weeks or months.
- Use a towel to block drafty doors.
- Open your windows and let the sun warm up your home. May not help in the night, but it can help a lot during the day, depending on the direction that your windows face.
- Try to negotiate a lower price with your internet service provider. I’ve been lucky twice with this tactic, but both times it required far more effort than it should have.
- Shop around for the best price. This only works if you are fortunate enough not to live in a monopoly.
- Shop at an ethnic food store (Hispanic, Indian, Asian, etc.). Vegetables are often much cheaper here. Although they may not look like the perfect specimens that you’ll find at the higher priced yuppy-marts, they taste just as good when diced and sauteed.
- Don’t stockpile meats or frozen foods. If you’re a family of one or two, limit your stockpiling of food. Just because you can buy chicken or steak for a buck off, doesn’t mean that you should buy three months worth of it. Most of which will sit in your freezer, get forgotten about, and get slowly ruined by freezer burn. Make sure that you use everything that you buy.
- Plan meals ahead of time. This will help you focus your grocery shopping on just those items you need for the week, as opposed to buying whatever you feel like eating when you get to the store. Plus, by planning your meals, you’ll be better able to make use of all the fresh meat and vegetables that you buy before they go bad.
- Stop eating out. With a little bit of practice you can make meals just as good as those served at Applebee’s, or any other mediocre chain restaurant, for just a fraction of the cost. With a little more practice, you’ll be able to beat Applebee’s (seriously, most chain restaurants are a low bar to overcome).
Readers: What are your suggestions to save money without reducing your quality of life?