Our mortgage broker recently sent out these helpful hints on tightening our financial belts.
How to Save Money in Any Economy
(Suggestion: print this up or post on your website for Parents to have too.)
Many people these days are worrying more and more about the state of the economy. Here’s a suggestion: instead of worrying about things out of your control begin thinking about doing something about things you can control! This is a great time to focus on bulking up your savings. Maintaining the savings habit will really look smart when our economy turns around. Finding a way to save can be difficult but with a little diligence and creativity you can take some cost cutting measures that you’ll hardly notice.
* Set up your savings goals. Have a clear and determined goal in mind. With a goal in mind you can accomplish what you have set out to do. Create a budget and decide how much you can comfortably spend each month. Stick to it and carry cash. Leave the credit cards at home. Note expenditures in a ledger or small notebook. This way, you can track where your money is going, and you will know where the biggest cuts need to come from. Having the evidence in black and white will help you curb your impulse buying. Add an amount to your budget in which you pay yourself. This amount goes into savings each month. Decide when you will transfer this money each month, or better yet, sign up for an automatic transfer and include it with your monthly bills.
* Have a no-spend weekend. This can be a fun challenge for the entire family. The rewards may even bring your family closer together. Try to go the entire weekend without purchasing anything, eating out or ordering anything on line. Try having a family game night or watching DVDs with some popcorn and a simple homemade dinner. Go ahead, explore other ways for a no-spend weekend!
* Check out the library. If you haven’t been to a library recently you’re in for a surprise. They have movies, video games, books and magazines for free. If there is something particular you are looking for, they may be able to get it for you by calling other libraries in the area. Also, signing up for an online DVD service can be a great way to skip the theatre. There are many low cost plans available.
* Save energy and money. Doing laundry in cold water uses 90% less energy than using hot. It not only reduces hot water usage, but it’s actually better for your clothing. Many new laundry products have been reformulated specifically for cold water washing. Run full loads in your washer and dryer as much as possible. Also, clean the lint filter in the dryer after each load. This will make it run more efficiently. Use a drying rack or line dry heavy clothing if possible. When these heavier clothes are nearly dry, put them into the drying to complete the drying cycle, remove wrinkles and soften up the clothes.
* Compact fluorescent light bulbs cost slightly more at first, but they can save you a lot of money in the long run. Think long term in this area. Replace regular bulbs as they go out and conserve on energy throughout the year. These bulbs reduce electrical use by 75 percent. Compact fluorescent bulbs are available in many stores. They have great energy savings plus they last a lot longer than traditional bulbs. The CFL will save you $30 over the life of the bulb, and they last 10 times longer than regular incandescent bulbs. They use two-thirds less energy than a regular bulb. Recycle CFL bulbs wherever possible, and turn off all lights that are not being used.
* Conserve on your heating bill by cutting the thermostat down about 5 degrees at night. Cooler air makes you sleep more comfortably. Just throw some extra blankets on the bed. Sleep in warmer clothing and close doors to rooms that aren’t being used. Keep the thermostat on 68 degrees or lower during the winter and 78 degrees in the summer. Install a programmable thermostat. Make sure to get one that is compatible with your current heating and cooling system. When you are home during the summer, 78 degrees F is a comfortable, energy-efficient temperature. You may have to adjust according to your comfort level. You will see a savings of seven percent on your cooling costs for every degree you increase the setting on your thermostat above 78 degrees. When you will be away from home during the day, raise the thermostat 5-10 degrees to reduce the amount of energy needed to keep your home cool all day. Your air conditioner will have to work three to four times harder if the shades are open during the day. Keep them closed while it is running.
* Lower the temperature on your hot water heater to 120 degrees. Try never to run the dishwasher or washing machine unless they have a full load. Air dry dishes if possible rather than turning on the heated drying feature on the dishwasher. Also, look for the Energy Star label when selecting appliances. They meet strict guidelines set by the US Department of Energy.
* Carpool whenever possible. Do you have a co-worker near where you live? Try to share the ride a couple times per week. Also, consolidate errands when setting out for the day. Try to save single trips and group them with other errands you need done another day. This will avoid driving back and forth from home to store.
* Save on groceries. Take a calculator with you as you shop. Comparison shopping will help you save each time you shop. Is that 24 ounce bottle a better price than the 32 ounce? Use your coupons. Take the coupons that come in the paper and match them up to your grocery store circular. Buy only what makes sense for your family. Don’t use a coupon for something your family simply won’t use. Eat a snack before you shop so that you don’t impulse buy. Look for items above and below your eye level. Some of your best savings can be found on the lower shelves.
* Shop at a Farmer’s Market for in-season produce. You support local growers when visiting a farmer’s market. The produce is grown locally and may even be fresher than that at the grocers. The cost savings will be substantial.
* Eat and drink healthy. Cut back on buying soda and bottled water. Drinking tap water is better for your body, and if you just can’t stand the taste, purchase a filter for your tap. Get a refillable bottle to refill and carry it with you.
This article is courtesy of Steve Jaffe- Certified Mortgage Planner
Caroline Jaffe - Loan Coordinator
Steve Office: (425) 945-8092
Caroline Office: (425) 818-1823
150 120th Ave NE Ste 200
Bellevue, WA 98005