This was originally published on Monday, April 20, 2015, in the Pacific Daily News. Click here to subscribe to the PDN.
We all want to save but sometimes finding areas to save can be difficult. Most of the time our savings are small and seem insignificant. But if you add it up over the year, your savings can be tremendous.
Utilities, especially power, is a major expense. One of the largest electrical expenditures is cooling the home. Weatherproof your home. Caulk areas where air escapes. Ensure that your door and window seals are still flexible and not cracked.
Use window treatments that keep out the sun and heat. Many use storm shutters to block the sun and to add extra security. Use trees to help shade the house especially on the side that is exposed when the sun sets.
Other appliances that use a lot of energy are the water heater, oven/stove, dryer, and the refrigerator/freezer. Turn off the water heater when you are not home during the day. You can purchase a water heater timer to keep your heater on when you need it and off when you don’t. Try grilling outside to offset the use of the stove. Dry clothes outside on sunny days. Replace the seals around the doors if necessary. Also keep the number of times they are opened to a minimum. The refrigerator/freezer work harder to keep the internal temperature cool every time a door is opened
Water is another bill that can sneak up on you. If you have dripping faucets or running toilets fix them right away. You can go online and find videos that can help you make these simple home repairs. Many of the items you use to fix the problem are inexpensive. If you have a major leak, turn off your home’s main water line and contact someone to repair it immediately. Letting your water run can cost you several hundred dollars a month.
Take your average utility bills and compare it to the bill that you made a conscious effort to save. If you saved money, take that difference and apply it to your savings account.
Entertainment is a necessity, but how much is spent is a choice. We work hard for our money. Take some time to enjoy it. Bundling your entertainment and communications with one company could increase your savings. Take a look at which television channels you use the most. Do you pay for an add-on package in which you only watch one or two channels? Can you get those programs online for free? Many sports events can be viewed or followed online for free or for a small cost. Many of the over-the-air channels show their programs free on their websites. Also very popular are movie and television programing sites like Hulu and Netflix. Can you live on these and remove cable all together? Before deciding, go one month without turning on your television and using just the internet. If you find that you can get by, maybe remove some of your premium channels or cable altogether.
There are also online companies that rent movies by downloading them to your computer or delivering them through the mail. Purchasing video games can be quite expensive. Try subscribing to one of the companies that rent games through the mail or purchase your games from the previously owned section. Thrift stores have video games, DVDs and CDs that are donated and are resold for a bargain. One of my coworkers shops at thrift stores and it is amazing some of the things he finds. A movie at home with the family can be a great treat. Buy some microwave popcorn and cook some hot dogs. Have a movie picnic in your very own theater. Comfortable clothing and pillows included!
Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at email@example.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.