Five Tips on Reducing Your Utility Bills

Five Tips on Reducing Your Utility Bills

Everyone who owns a home or rents a home has to pay for utilities. Sometimes they are included in the rent and if this is the case, then you will not be able to control how much you are charged. If you want to reduce how much you pay, you may have to just move to somewhere cheaper or find a place where they are not included. You could try some of the tips below, but it is unlikely to make a significant difference unless everyone in the apartment block does them. Even then, the landlord may still charge the same rent despite the fact that the utilities are now cheaper. If you are interested in using less water or energy for environmental reasons, you may think that it is worth doing these things regardless of there being a risk that you will not save any money.

Use energy saving appliances

These days it is much easier to see what the energy rating is on various appliances. Although you may not know what the rating is for the appliances that you already own, when you buy know ones, particularly white goods, there will be a rating on it. This will allow you to compare different brands and models and choose one that is the best. Although energy ratings are meant to help the environment, it will also allow you to see which will be cheaper to run. This that use less energy will be cheaper as well as greener.

It can therefore be tempting, if you can afford it, to ditch all of your appliances and replace them with efficient ones. This can make you feel greener and that you are saving money, but actually may not be the case. Each appliance not only has a lot of raw materials to make it, which has an environmental cost, the old appliances also have to be disposed of. If you sell them or give them away and someone else uses them, this will minimise waste but they will eventually have to be broken down somehow.

Also, cost wise, it is likely to be a lot more expensive. If you calculate the money saving of running a more efficient appliance you will see that it is minimal compared with the cost of buying a new one. Paying $500 for a new item which lasts 20 years will not justify the energy saving of a dollar a week. It can be card be hard to calculate exactly how much you will save and how long you will need an item before you start saving money compared to keeping the old one.

It can therefore be wiser to only replace items that are broken down but when you do replace them then look for something which is really energy efficient.

Turn appliances off when not using them

It makes much more sense to use the appliances you have already less often and this could save a lot of money as well as energy. Just switching off a TV set, rather than putting it on standby can save a lot of money and if you do this with every appliance it can really add up. So switch off those computers, don’t leave items charging unnecessarily and remember to turn out the light as you leave a room.

Making these very small changes can really add up to make a difference and you will find that you will soon get into the habit of doing it. It is wise to try to get your family doing it as well, although this can be a lot more difficult than just doing it yourself!

It is a good exercise to walk around your apartment or house and find every item which uses electricity and think about whether it could be switched off or if not, whether there would be times when it could be switched off.

Use windows/drapes/blinds/clothing to help with temperature control

Keeping ourselves warm or cool can cost a lot of money. Whether we are using air conditioners, fans or heating they all cost a lot of money to use. It can be wise to try different ways of keeping your home a comfortable temperature without using them.

Dressing appropriately is a good way to start. Make sure that you have lots of warm layers of clothing if you are feeling chilly. Alternatively, have light and loose clothing for when it is warm. Drinking warm or chilled drinks and eating hot or cold meals, depending on the climate can make a difference as well.

If you have a lot of windows then they can make a big difference. Sunlight can pour in a warm a room, which is great in cooler climate, but if things are getting too hot you should pull the drapes or close blinds to block that heat out. In cooler climates make sure that you make use of the warmth of the sun by opening those drapes and blinds to let it come in and warm the room.

Minimise water usage

If you have a water meter then you will pay for each bit of water that you use. This means that by using less you will save money. By showering instead of bathing you can save money, as long as you are not in there too long. Make sure that you have no leaks or dripping faucets. Use water efficient appliances, but remember the tips above about replacing appliances and make sure that it will either save you money in the short term or that you only replace appliances as they break down. Think hard before using hosepipes and if you are washing a car use a bucket of water and water the garden with a watering can to stop you using more than is needed.

Compare prices

Comparing prices of utility suppliers can really make a difference to how much you are paying. It can be tempting to stick with the same supplier all of the time. It is certainly easier and you may feel some loyalty towards them. However, you need to make sure that you are not paying significantly more money for this. It could be well worth seeing whether you can switch to a different supplier and save some money. You can often compare prices online and so it is relatively easy to find out whether it is worth your while changing.


How to Keep a Budget

How to Keep a Budget

Keeping a budget is something which is often suggested as a way of managing money more easily. However, it is hard to find an explanation of what is actually meant by budgeting and even if you have it could sound complicated. It is easy to think that it will be really difficult and so it is not a solution available to everyone. However, it only takes very basic maths and is something that most people will not only be able to calculate but will be able to apply as well. You can use a spreadsheet or computer to help you, put some paper and a pen plus a calculator if you wish, should be enough to help you to find out the information that you need. There is a selection of steps that you can carry out, which will make setting yourself a budget really simple.

Add up your earnings

The first step is to add up everything that you earn. You need to include all income whether that is any money that you get from the state, from investments, family etc. So as well as the income you get, from employment and/or self-employment you need to include all money that you have coming in. If it is the same each week or month then this can be fairly straightforward as you should be able to either remember or look back to bank statements to find out.

If you do not have a regular income, in that the money you get changes, perhaps because you do not have regular hours for your job or you are self-employed then the best that you will be able to do is to work out an average. It may be best, as you are budgeting is to consider assuming that your income will be lowest that it is ever is but hoping that it will be higher than that. It is best to look on the negative side with regards to income as then you will budget for the worst case scenario but you could be better off than you imagined if you do get paid more.

Add up your essential expenses

Then you need to calculate your expenses. You should be able to look back through your bank account statements to work out everything that you pay out for. This should include all of the utilities, contracts/subscriptions, debt repayments, rent/mortgage, taxes, insurance, transport costs, food and anything else that you pay out for regularly that is necessary for you to have. There will be many more things that you pay for as well but these will not be counted at this stage. All you want are the things that you have to pay or else you get fined or jailed and the things you need for survival as well as for work.

The reason for only including these as everything else is not a necessary purchase and therefore can be eliminated if necessary. You will have to buy certain items but there will be things that you do not have to buy.

Calculate the difference

Once you have a figure for how much income you normally get in a month and one for the necessary items that you have to pay for, you can take one from the other. You will need to take the expenses away from the income and this figure will be how much you have left to spend on everything else.

This amount will obviously vary from person to person. You may be shocked as to how much it is or how little it is. Having not done this before, it is likely to be a surprise to you either way. It is actually an interesting exercise to do and will need to be redone every time you have a significant change in income or expenditure.

Allocate your money and set the budget

Once you know how much money is left, you will need to think about how to allocate it. Some people like to have a daily budget, some like to have a weekly budget and some like something different. You need to consider how often you spend money and therefore which length of budget will be most relevant to you.

You then need to make sure that you stick to the budget. This means that you will need to be really aware of everything that you are buying and how much it costs. Consider how much of your budget you are spending and whether you are happy to spend it on this item. Remember that you will not be able to spend more money than you have. You may decide you can go over your daily budget one day as long as you even it out and spend nothing the next. This can work for some people, but you have to be careful because there is no point in setting a budget if you spend it all within a few days and have nothing left. The idea is that it should help you to spend less money in big chunks and therefore you will be able to make your money last until you get your next pay check.

It can take some time to get used to doing this, but once you get used to it, you should find it to be a good way to make sure that you manage your money. It should allow you to always have enough money to keep you going until you next get paid without spending more than you realise. It will also make you more aware of everything that you buy and think about the prices. You may start to compare prices and buy cheaper items or buy less things that you do not need. This will enable you to spend less and you could find that you may even be happy to tighten your budget so that you have extra money which you can use to repay debts or put into a savings account. It can feel really good knowing that you are in control of your money and that you can even work on saving money or paying off debt.


How to Make Those Dollars Last a Bit Longer

How to Make Those Dollars Last a Bit Longer

It can often seem tricky to make your money last long enough. There always seems to be something that we need to spend money on and there just never seem to be enough dollars left to buy the things that we need. However, it can be possible to make the dollars last that little bit longer.

Only take the money that you need

When you go out to buy things, then it can be wise to only take the money that you need, assuming of course you are paying in bills rather than taking a credit card. This can limit the amount that you can buy and means that you will not be able to spend more than you can afford. If you are going out but do not need anything then leave your purse or change purse at home so that it is not possible for you to spend money, even if you pass a store where you would like to buy things. Of course, you may return later to buy the items that you saw, but having a delay between seeing the item and buying it, means that you have time to think about whether you really want to purchase the item or not. It can trickier when you are shopping online, but still try to delay buying things until you have had time to think about it and decide whether it really is what you want to buy.

Take a list

If you are going grocery shopping or anywhere when you will be purchasing more than a few items, then it can be wise to make a list. If you go to the store without one, you can end up buying more than you need and then you may waste items because you do not use them. Throwing away items that you have purchased because they have gone off before you had a chance to eat them is such a waste of money. Therefore planning when you will be consuming groceries and making sure that you only buy what you need is so important. Grocery stores have a habit of having great offers on food which look irresistible but mean that we end up buying more than we need and ether consuming too much or wasting items.

Plan budgets ahead of time

It is worth planning how much you will be spending before you make a purchase. This is especially important if you are going to spend a lot of money. Consider how much you can afford and be sure to stick to that amount of money. It can be difficult when you are actually at the store to keep in mind how much you should be spending.

This is because you can be tempted by things which seem and look better than what you wanted but are priced higher than you can afford. It is so difficult sometimes, to keep of hold of yourself and only spend what you have planned on spending. To help you, it can be useful to take someone with you that will help to steer you away from the things that you cannot afford or that are beyond your budget. It may be that you are confident that you can do this for yourself if you have enough self-discipline, but it is not always easy as stores want to tempt us to spend as much money with them as possible.

Save when you get paid

A good way to make sure that you have some dollars left before you next get paid is to save some when you receive your pay check. Put some spare money away, perhaps in a savings account or somewhere else where you know that it will be safe. Try to resist spending this money and manage without it and then it will be there if you need it. Only use it in an emergency and then it should be there for when you need it.

Compare prices

It is worth comparing prices when you are buying things. It is possible to find identical items in different stores for different prices. This means that you can just spend a little time looking at prices of different brands and you could find that you can save money. It is easy to get into the habit of just buying the same items that we are familiar with but we could easily save some money if we looked for alternatives that were a bit cheaper. Even with things like insurance or utilities, it could be possible to change suppliers and save money, so it well worth doing some investigations.

Think through purchases

It is good to take some time to consider each purchase that you make. Think about whether you really need the item to start with. Consider what you will use it for and if it is the best way to spend your money. Then look at similar items and at different stores to see whether you can get it or a similar item for less money. It can take a lot of time and it is worth spending more time on this process if the item that you are buying is expensive. The more dollars you are paying, the more you could potentially save by not buying it or buying a cheaper alternative.

Look for opportunities to earn more

It could be wise to see whether you can earn a bit more money. As well as doing a regular job, there are plenty of others way to earn some extra which could help to make your dollars go further. Perhaps you could sell items that you own but do not use. You could find a second job or look online for some extra work. You may be able to do extra hours in your current job or find a better paid job. There are lots of opportunities available and you should e able to find something that will suit you skills and fit into your lifestyle.


How to Buy Everything That You Need and Still save Money

How to Buy Everything That You Need and Still save Money

It can seem unrealistic to think that you could buy everything that you needed and still have money left over. Most of us find that we never seem to have enough money to buy everything and this can lead to unhappiness and debt. I could even mean that every month we are desperate for our pay check to arrive as we are not able to buy everything that we want. However, there are ways that you can manage so that you have everything that you need and still have money left, which you could put into a savings account or use to pay off debt.

Consider what you need

It is really easy to think that everything we buy are things that we need. We think that we need a cell phone, computer, Netflix, music downloads, cable TV, vacations, jewellery and things like this. However, these things will not keep us alive in the way that food, shelter and warmth will, but they are very much a part of daily life for most of us. Many of us could not contemplate life without certain things or would feel that we could not have a happy life without them.

It is an interesting exercise to just separate the items that we need from the items that we like to have but do not need. Do not be scared, I am not saying that you will have to go without all of these things, but you need to prioritise spending on the things that you need. Then you know where you can cut down on your spending. We also have different ideas about what we need and what for us, we could go without. Therefore it is a very personal choice. There may be things that you can manage without more easily than others.

Is it possible to cut down or reduce costs? This is the point where you can see whether you really want to buy everything that you spend money on. There may be subscriptions that you forgot you had, you could be paying for more cable channels than you watch, you may never have time to read the newspapers you buy, or things like that. Just think through all of the items and whether you really want them and what difference you think that it could make if you stop buying them. It can sometimes be difficult to stop buying certain items, particularly charity donations and gifts for family and friends, but it may be that if you cut them down rather than out or cut out other things instead.

It is also worth thinking about the items that you want to continue to buy and whether you can get them cheaper. There are many ways to save money on items, perhaps by switching to a different brand, a different retailer or provider, finding sales, cashback or other deals. It is worth keeping a look out for deals but also trying different brands and things to see whether you can still buy everything that you want without spending so much money.

It can actually get to be a lot of fun, hunting around for good prices and you may find that you discover new products, brands, retailers and suppliers that you were not aware of and suddenly find that they are really great and you wished you had come across them before. It is good to think of this as a challenge rather than a chore. Once you get used to comparing prices before you shop, it will be a habit and you will find it easy to do. You will also get to know where to find the best prices or value for money and so you may not need to always compare, but just change your shopping habits for good.

Focus on your goal

It is so important to make sure that you keep in mind why you are saving money. Think about all of the advantages that you will get as a result of it. Think about all of those dollars that you will gain and what you want to do with them It might just mean that you can manage more easily through the month or it might be that you will have some extra money that you can save and then as the months go by and you put more and more dollars into the account, you will be able to think about what you want to buy with it. It could be that you would like to save up towards a vacation, buy some new clothing, treat your family or put it towards gifts perhaps for the holiday season. Alternatively, it may be that you want to pay off a debt that you have, perhaps a credit card or a different loan and you could use all the spare money that you have to make overpayments on that so that you can eliminate that debt.

Having a goal is really important as it can help to keep you focussed on the task ahead. Writing it down has been shown to be a technique that leads to achieving a goal much more successfully and so this is something that you should consider doing as well. Reading that statement as often as possible, perhaps every day, will keep the idea fresh in your mind and mean that you will be more focussed on achieving that goal. You could stick it on a mirror or door that you look at daily so that you can have the opportunity to read it.

When you have to consider whether you really want something every time you spend money or spend time comparing prices, you may start to feel that you are not keen on doing this. However, if you keep reminding yourself of why it is so important and what a difference it really will make to your future, then this can keep you making the necessary effort and feeling happy about what you are doing at the same time.


Top Five Tips Manage Your Money

Top Five Tips Manage Your Money

There are many of us that would like to save more money, but just feel that we try everything but nothing seems to work. I think that a lot of us would agree that we can easily be a week before our next pay check and be struggling to manage the money that we have left. However, there are things that we can do which will make it much easier to manage and they can be very simple and not make a huge difference to our lifestyles. It is worth having a go at some of these or alternatively using them as inspiration to try some different ideas of your own. You know what your spending habits are like and may be able to think of something more appropriate that you would find relatively easy to do which will help you to manage your money better.

Compare prices

Comparing prices is a really simple thing that we can do which will help us to spend less money. It does sound really obvious but there are many of us that shop without looking at prices. Even if we do look at prices, it may be that we always shop at the same stores and so only compare prices within those stores rather than looking at prices in a selection of stores. It is easy these days to compare prices online before shopping and this can be a really helpful way to see which are the cheapest without actually having to visit lots of different stores.

It is also possible to compare prices for things that we buy that are not sold in stores. This is everything from insurance to TV channels, electricity to loans. By researching first to see what is available and how much it costs, it can be possible to save a significant amount of money. You may feel it is just a few dollars here and there but if you add it all up across everything that you buy, even if you only save a few cents on some items, it could make a big difference overall. It could make the difference between having enough money to last until the next pay day and not having enough.

Avoid impulse buying

We all buy things impulsively. It can be easy to deny that we do it, but how many of us can truthfully say we go to a store with a list and only buy what is on it, every time we shop? Most of us will not do this and it is so easy to wander into a store, see something you like and buy it, whether it is a one dollar chocolate bar or a fifty dollar dress.

Being more aware of our behaviour and how retailers manipulate us to buy things that we do not need, will help us to stop buying things without thinking. It can be so easy to be fooled into thinking that we need things, when actually we can do very well without them. So when you are shopping always think about whether you really need the items that you are buying or whether you should think about it a bit longer before buying or just avoid buying altogether.

Keep a check on the money you have and need

It is so important to make sure that you are aware of what money you will need, how much you have and therefore how much you can afford to spend. This makes it sound rather more complicated that it actually is.

You just need to start with making a note of all of the money that you would normally spend in a month on all of your essentials and then see how much is left for other spending. It is important to know when you have to pay different things so that you can make sure that you have enough money left to cover those. If you have an expense due to leave your checking account towards the end of the month, then you will need to make sure that there is enough to pay it. You should know how much money you have coming in and so you can take away the total of essential expenses and that will allow you to know what is left to spend on other things.

Set a budget

Once you know how much money you have left after paying for essentials you will know what you have left to spend on everything else. You can then decide whether you want to set yourself a weekly or daily spending budget. This will depend on how often you spend money and in what quantities. Decide what you think will be most useful to you.

If you go out daily and spend money, then a monthly target will be sensible. However, if you only do a weekly shop, then a weekly one will be better. However, you may prefer just to keep note of the total that you have to spend and keep subtracting items that you buy, so that you have an ongoing list which will show what you have left.

Get your family helping

It can be really useful to encourage your family to help out when you are budgeting. If they spend money out of the same pot that you are trying to keep track of then they will need to aware that you are keeping careful track of spending. They will also need to note what they are spending to make sure that they do not spend over the budget.

You may decide that it will be best to give each person in the family or household their own budget to stick to or that you will control the spending completely and not let them spend anything or do some compromise on one of these. It will all depend on how much the family normally spends, what sorts of things they buy and how old they are.

It can be hard if it seems that it is your partner or spouse that is responsible for the bad spending habits. Money can often be a cause of problems in relationships so try to talk about it calmly and reasonably without getting overly emotional.