One of the best parts of being an adult is the financial freedom. You go to work, earn a paycheck, and spend your hard-earned money however you please. You can choose to rent or own a home, then design and decorate said space to suit your tastes.
You can choose if you purchase or lease a car, where you want to vacation around the world and even take the lead on increasing your savings account or preparing financially for the future.
Yet one of the worst parts of being an adult is spending money on the essential, yet boring, expenses like utilities, taxes, and transportation. Annually, people spend more than:
- 11 percent of salary on utilities
- 12 percent on taxes
- 14 percent on transportation
- 16 percent on housing
While these expenses are mandatory, there are simple ways to cut back spending and save a bit of money each month. Here are six suggestions to help beef up your monthly budget.
Monitor Your Water Consumption
Your water bill comprises of a chunk of your monthly utilities. While you can’t avoid this bill altogether, there are several things you can do to cut back your consumption and save money. Mr. Rooter Plumbing suggests the following:
- Be mindful of how often you’re using the dishwasher. Use it less frequently and always be sure it’s completely full before running.
- Minimize the use of the garbage disposal. In-sink “garburators” require lots of water to operate properly. Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing of food waste.
- Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. Every time you flush a facial tissue or other small bits of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.
- Don’t leave the water running for rinsing dishes. If you have a double-basin sink, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. If you have a single-basin sink, gather washed dishes in a dish rack and rinse them with a spray device or a pan full of hot water.
Bundle Your TV and Internet Packages
Another major expense for many homeowners are television, streaming and internet services. We all want fresh entertainment options, however, no one wants a hefty cable bill at the end of the month. Look for cheaper alternatives to your current cable and internet plan and consider bundling your package to save money each month.
Automate Your Thermostat and Lights
Home automation is becoming an increasingly popular option for renters and homeowners alike. The Internet of Things (IoT) is taking over and allows people to automate everything from their sprinklers and thermostat to pet feeder and coffee maker. While automating your entire home can get pricey, start small and consider installing a smart thermostat. These will learn your habits and adjust the temperature based on your schedule. You can save up to 30 percent on your energy bill with a smart thermostat.
You may also consider switching your light bulbs to energy-efficient or automated bulbs, says Richard Ciresi, a franchise owner of Aire Serv.
“Lighten your look with energy-efficient lighting upgrades,” he says. “Lighting accounts for up to 12 percent of your energy budget, and those old school, incandescent (bulbs) give off 90 percent of their energy as heat, taking a toll on AC. Replace those bulbs with (compact fluorescent lights,) which use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer, or LEDs, (which) use 80 percent less and last 25 times longer for substantial savings.”
Use the Energy Saving Feature on Appliances
It’s easy to forget that your appliances suck energy, even when you aren’t using them. Mr. Appliance offers two tips to help save on your energy bill:
- Use energy saving settings on large appliances. Operate dishwashers, washers, and dryers only when full, preferably at night or when temperatures are cooler. Opt for microwave or outdoor grill cooking during the hottest times of the day. Remember, refrigerators and freezers use less energy when full, so pack them accordingly.
- Small appliances, like microwaves, toasters, TVs, and DVD players are energy vampires — consuming energy even when not in use. Don’t let them drain your budget. Plug them into power strips, and turn off when not in use.
Look for Insurance Discounts
Many insurance companies offer discounts on car, home, renters and life insurance if you ask. For instance, some insurance companies offer a “good grades” discount on car insurance if you are a student.
You may also be able to save money on homeowner’s insurance if you have added security features such as an alarm system or security cameras. Ask about discounts if you bundle packages, as well. You’ll be surprised at the savings you can acquire by simply asking.
Assess Your Home for Weak Spots
It’s easier and cheaper to fix a problem earlier rather than later, so assess your space before issues come up to see if something looks amiss. Larry Patterson of Glass Doctor suggests starting with the windows.
“Improperly-sealed windows can negate energy efficient temperature settings and can be responsible for 20 percent of energy loss in the home,” he notes. Also be sure to look at areas like your roof, windows, or doors for potential issues, so you can fix them now and save money in the long run.
Let’s face it: Utility bills are inevitable. But there are simple ways to reduce monthly costs and save money in the long run. And wouldn’t that extra cash look so much better invested in your 401(k)?
This piece originally appeared on DailyWorth on Sept. 6, 2017.