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After I Read This, I Have Saved Thousands On My Household

After I Read This, I Have Saved Thousands On My Household

These days being frugal is rather trendy. You probably already know how to save money on online shopping, cut down business costs, and get education for free, however it is the monthly utility bill that sucks up a pretty penny out of your paycheck. Start following these simple household money saving tips today and save at least an extra thousand dollar this year!

1. Fix your pipes and install low-flow water faucets

Did you know that 7 billion gallons of drinking water a day are wasted in the US? That’s enough to fill over 11,000 swimming pools! Make sure you conduct timely inspections of your pipes (at least once a year) and fix all the leaks. A dripping faucet adds extra 10% to your water bill.  Moreover, consider installing low-flow faucets which cost around 10-20$ per item. Ask yourself: do you really need a fire hydrant flow to wash your dishes or would you prefer to drastically reduce your bills?

Money saved: up to 60% on water.

2. Keep the electronics unplugged at night

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    How many electric appliances do you have at home? Think TV, microwaves, all your cell phone gadgets, laptops etc. What you may not realize is that all of them still use electricity even when they are powered off. An average US household has around 40 electronic devices powered up at any given time of the day, sucking over 100$ a year without owners even realizing it! The solution is surprisingly simple: keep all your appliances plugged into a power strip and disconnect them by the end of the day.

    Money saved: up to 5% on electricity.

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    3. Invest into Energy-star equipment

    If you work from home at least once a week or even run a home office, investing into Energy-star devices will save you a few hundred dollars per year as they consume at least 50% less electricity compared to standard equipment. For example, merely switching to energy star-labeled laptops and computers will cut down your energy consumption twice. The same goes with printers, fax machines, VoIP phones and other equipment you need to keep your small business running smooth and efficient.

    Also, think about installing access floors in your home office room to hide all the cables and wires, thus protecting them from mechanical damages (think riding with your chair over your laptop cord). Cables working at half-power drastically increase energy consumption and definitely will not help your equipment to last longer. Besides, you can use the extra space to store large items and avoid clutter. A clutter-free office looks better and makes you work harder.

    Money saved: up to 65% on electricity.

    4. Insulate your hot water heater

    By adding an extra layer of protection to your hot water heater and water pipes, you’ll save an extra 40% of heat from being wasted during cold months. There are numerous options available – from buying a 10-20$ insulating blanket (up to 40% of heat loss reduced) to spray foam insulation that typically cost around 400-500$, but will save you much more in the long run.

    Money saved: up to 9% on utilities.

    5. Seal the windows and doors properly

    Did you know that your household probably loses one-third of the heat due to drafty windows and doors? It’s the same with the cooling during warm seasons. Instead of paying extra, you can easily fix the issue by:

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    • Using insulated blinds and drapes on glass doors and large windows to regulate the heat. Also, cover up windows facing west, east and south on hot days and leave the shades up on sunny cold days, but do not forget to close them at night.
    • Replace single-pane windows with storm windows for cold seasons. That will reduce heat loss by 50%.
    • Use “low-e” transparent film to seal the drafty window for winter. It costs pennies, yet reduces the losses up to 20%.
    • Fill up all the window, floor and door cracks with caulk.

    Money saved: up to 40% on heating.

    6. Switch to fluorescent light bulbs

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      Only 6% out of all consumed electricity is turned into light by old traditional bulbs. Everything else goes into waste heat you obviously don’t need. Fluorescent bulbs cost a bit more, however they last up to 25 times longer, plus transform more energy into actual light. For example, replacing 15 bulbs could save you up to 600$ over the life of the bulbs.

      Money saved: up to 75% on electricity.

      7. Stop spending on bottled water

      Let’s do some simple arithmetic. Approximately, you pay 6$ for a standard case of water that is 0.40$ per bottle. An average family of four consumes up to 2 gallons per day which is 5.3 bottles per person a day and 2.13$. Multiplied by four and then by 365 we have over 3.000$ spent on plain water! The most basic model of a water filtration system will cost you roughly 20$ + a new filter required for every 40 gallons.

      Money saved: 2.900$ per year

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      8. Get a programmable thermostat

      If you work endlessly long hours, often go on business trips or have a lot of time to travel, getting a programmable thermostat should be your priority. It will automatically adjust heat/cooling settings according to the schedule you’ve set, thus reducing electricity and heat wastes. That’s extra 180$ saved per year.

      Money saved: up to 15% per year on electricity

      9. Use the right-sized cookware

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        Not only makes it your food cook faster and taste better, but using appropriately sized pans and pots can significantly reduce energy consumption. A 6″ pot placed on 8″ burner wastes 40% of heat. Depending whether you use an electricity or a gas cooker, you can save up to 36$ and 18$ respectively per year.

        Money saved: up to 9% annually on electricity

        10. Use the microwave to boil water

        On average, it takes four minutes less to boil a cup of water in the microwave comparing to the same action done on the stove. Besides, the appliance consumes 60% less energy. Imagine that each time you spend 3 cents less on your bill. Multiply the number by 365 and get a pretty decent amount of savings to spend on a weekend trip.

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        Money saved: 6-10% on electricity.

        11. Clean your dryer lint trap

        It seems pretty obvious, yet you probably forget cleaning the lint trap anyway. However, you should realize that this simple action will make your appliance work at least 75% more effective (less energy consumed) and increase its overall lifespan. Also, consider cleaning the dryer vent completely once in a while and occasionally washing your lint filter to reduce the bills even more and let your appliance serve you well for decades.

        Money saved: 4-8% on electricity.

        12. Take shorter showers

        Soaking in a warm bath requires 70 gallons of water on average, plus extra heating costs. While having a quick refreshing shower uses just around 10-25 gallons. It’s a no brainier that taking a shower is cheaper. But how much? Say, you like taking a 12 minute shower on average and your shower head pours around 2 gallons/per min. By opting for a 5 min shower instead, you’ll save nearly 3000 gallons per year. That’s from 10$ to 100$ saved annually depending on your current water rates.

        Money saved: 25-40% on water.

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        Elena Prokopets

        Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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        Last Updated on August 20, 2019

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

        Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

        In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

        5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

        Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

        1. Be Clear About the Objectives

        Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

        It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

        Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

        2. Keep Them Realistic

        It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

        It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

        3. Account for Inflation

        Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

        Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

        For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

        4. Short Term vs Long Term

        Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

        As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

        More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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        5. To Each to His Own

        The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

        It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

        By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

        11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

        Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

        • Ensuring healthy savings
        • Making smart investments

        You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

        Ensuring Healthy Savings

        Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

        This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

        1. Track Expenses

        The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

        Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

        2. Pay Yourself First

        Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

        Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

        The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

        Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

        3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

        Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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        Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

        At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

        Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

        You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

        4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

        Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

        If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

        Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

        All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

        5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

        In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

        Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

        Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

        If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

        If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

        So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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        6. Talk About It

        Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

        Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

        7. Maintain a Journal

        For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

        So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

        Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

        When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

        At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

        Making Smart Investments

        Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

        8. Consult a Financial Advisor

        Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

        Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

        9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

        Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

        Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

        Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

        It is here where that classification will help.

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        So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

        10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

        Einstein once remarked about compounding,

        Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

        So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

        Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

        11. Measure, Measure, Measure

        All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

        If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

        If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

        Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

        The Bottom Line

        This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

        As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

        More About Personal Finance Management

        Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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