Thinking back, I blush at how naive my husband and I were when we purchased our first home. There were so many things we failed to take into account as we rushed headlong into home ownership. We may have learned the hard way, but since then we've discovered just how expensive it can be to run a household — whether you own or rent. Now that I'm off work for a year with our children, we've had to scale back even more to make ends meet. Here are six of our favorite ways to save money on everyday home expenses.
Sometimes simplifying can take a little time and effort, but it can save you a big chunk of change. Bundle your services, lose your landline, use automatic payments to ensure that your bills get paid on time, and use just one credit card (with a great rewards program) to help you keep track of your spending.
2. Speak Up.
Another way to save a lot of dough is to simply ask. Call up your cable or insurance company and ask if there are any promotions or discounts that you can take advantage of, appeal your property tax assessment, or if you're making a large purchase ask the retailer if they're willing to sweeten the deal. The worst that can happen is that you'll pay the original amount anyway.
3. Choose Free.
There are a ton of great free services out there — you just have to take advantage of them. Use Skype, Google Chat, or FaceTime instead of paying long distance charges, kick cable to the curb in favor of Hulu, or try a free texting app in place of your pricey texting plan.
4. Buy Secondhand.
There are so many services available today to put you in touch with other people who want to part with their things. Try Craigslist, Freecycle, or ReStore, or go the less technological route with a yard sale or thrift store. Often times the items are in great condition and you can get them at a steal (especially if you're good at haggling). Anything from furniture to supplies for a project (wood flooring, tile, pavers) to appliances — the sky's the limit. And don't forget about borrowing either — your local library is a great place to score free books, DVDs, magazines, and even kids' toys.
5. Go Green
This is a big one — small changes can really add up when it comes time to pay the bills. Install a programmable thermostat, bulk up your weatherstripping, turn off lights as you exit a room, wash your laundry in cold water, unplug electronics when not in use — the list is endless. Try adding one new energy saving act each week until it becomes habit. Your wallet and the environment will thank you.
6. Do It Yourself.
Why give your hard-earned money away to someone else when you can do it yourself? Even if you aren't handy, there are a ton of things you can do to hold onto your cash. Paint your own walls, clean your own house, mow your own lawn, wash your own car, grow a vegetable garden, learn to cook, bag your lunch, brew your own coffee, and drink tap water — the possibilities are endless.
(Image credits: Bethany Nauert)