At this time of year, the majority of the United States sees an increase in utility usage. With cooling temperatures and less sunlight, there’s more of a need for heat and electricity to light and warm our homes.
An increase in energy consumption means more money doled out to the utility companies, and less available to spend on things you want and need. Couple this with the highest inflation the country has seen in decades, and you’ve got a perfect storm for creating debt.
Despite this inevitability, there are efficient ways to save money that won’t hurt your pocketbook or your lifestyle. Below are easy cost-cutting hacks to follow so that when utility costs increase, you won’t be left out in cold – or the dark!
1. Pay Yourself
It might feel counterintuitive to try and save money while you are running on a shoestring budget, but the best rule of thumb to savings is – you earn what you don’t spend. Do you “treat” yourself to a gourmet drink when you could easily make the same thing at home?
Do you “window” shop on Amazon and find yourself giving in impulsively to buying items you don’t need? Before you can do any of those things, when your paycheck arrives, set aside $5 or $10 into your savings or dedicated account, and before you know it, you’ll have a sweet little nest egg.
2. Review Your Car Insurance
Too often, high premiums and infractions can limit your ability to drive, making it necessary to use public transportation or rely on others for rides to work. By reviewing your car insurance policy to be sure you have the best coverage at the lowest premiums possible, you can take back control of your finances.
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to acquire SR-22 insurance because of DUI’s or too many at-fault accidents, finding the best insurance provider will help you get back on the road – and back to making and saving money.
3. Pay Cash
While using credit cards makes shopping and paying for things easy, it also can create a mountain of debt that feels insurmountable. When you pay cash as you go for things like groceries, gas, and any other regular expenses, it can give you clarity with your spending.
It’s much harder to spend $20 in your wallet than it is to hand over a card, but in reality, if you don’t pay credit cards off every month, that $20 can easily be $24 or more when you end up paying it back.
4. Make a Budget
Do you know exactly what monies are coming into your accounts and how much is going out? For a month, save your receipts, (both online and in-person), to determine the categories you could cut back on. You might be surprised to see how much you’re spending at the grocery store on little things you don’t need, fast food, or other impulse items.
5. Take a Staycation
The good news about staying home for your vacation is that you won’t be waiting in any long security lines at the airport or dealing with the general hustle and bustle of traveling. Especially now, during pandemic times, choosing to stay home for your vacation instead of planning something more extravagant will not only save you money but may also prove to keep you safe.
Take some of the money you would have spent on the vacation to spruce up your backyard with lights and patio cushions, to plan some fun meals and cocktails, all while enjoying your own space in an area of positive energy.
6. Smoke Less
Cigarettes are extremely expensive. Even if you don’t smoke three packs a day, you could still save thousands of dollars each year by either cutting back on cigarettes or giving them up altogether.
While at one point in American culture smoking was considered trendy and cool, now only 1 in 5 Americans smoke, which is at an all-time low. When you find yourself heading for the corner store for some smokes, put that money into a jar instead.
7. Brown Bag It
Sometimes, lunch can feel like the highlight of any workday. You look forward to ordering a tasty treat from a local restaurant. But, when you do this often, it can really add up to lots of money going out of your wallet unnecessarily. Instead, kill two birds with one stone by packing your lunch and choosing nutritious foods. This way, you’re not only saving money but you’re eating healthier, too!
The furnace might be running longer and more often these days, but don’t be afraid to keep yourself comfortable. There are plenty of areas in your life where you can pull back and save money to offset the increased usage and higher rates.