It’s hard to believe it’s January already, but what better time to put to work all the great opportunities and ideas for saving money this year. After all, chances are your healthcare expenses went up, along with utilities costs and general inflation. Unfortunately, wages haven’t really been keeping up well with general inflation (USA Today) even though the stock market seems to be doing well. Without wages growing in real dollar terms, it’s never been more important than to implement some effective personal budget cost-cutting improvements. Here are some easy tips:
- Automate Your Thermostat – I’m surprised by the number of people that are still using the old manual dial thermostat. You’d be amazed by the savings that can be achieved by getting an automated thermostat. Now, with the likes of the Nest and various Honeywell and competing thermostats, you can even connect your thermostat to the web and control it from anywhere in the world. I just used this feature this past weekend when we were away. I set it to “away” to leave the house at a low temp and then raised it early before we got home. This saved plenty in gas and electric costs this weekend alone. This type of investment pays for itself quickly!
- Lock in Lower Fixed Energy Costs via Deregulation – Depending on where you live, you may be able to seek better rates from other third party providers. I found a much lower fixed-rate from another provider and now I’m seeing it carry through on my bill. The only thing to watch for is some companies will try to entice you with a low variable rate which can then be jacked up later. Mine is fixed for at least a year so I know what my savings are.
- Negotiate Everything – I’ve negotiated everything from my cable bill to what I’ve paid to have work done around the house. “Not paying retail for anything” also goes for services! Face it, the economy isn’t great, so service providers are just as willing to strike a deal.
- Say Goodbye to Useless Subscriptions – In the past year, I’ve cut my subscriptions to satellite radio, 1 magazine and chopped my newspaper delivery from daily down to Sundays only. I probably have more room to go, but this past year has reinforced that I wasn’t really using these subsciptions anyway and I don’t miss them. I read most content off the web now and use Podcasts over radio. Who needs these monthly fees?
- Switch to a 0% Balance – Finally, and this one could save a bundle per month depending on your particular circumstances – transfer your credit card balances to a 0% rate card. There’s no sense in paying higher monthly interest rates on a recurring basis when a perfectly good alternative exists which will save you money.
What Are Your Top Savings Ideas for 2014?