Money Matters – Saving More: Fixed Expenses

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420x316-grad-lee Dee Lee
Dee Lee is a Certified Financial Planner who received a diploma in...
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BOSTON (CBS) – All week we have discussed ways to save on discretionary spending. But what about our fixed expenses. Let’s start with where we live.

If you’re paying rent, is your place big enough for you to take in a roommate? It could cut your expenses in half. If you are single and you own your home, do you want a roommate? The hassle of a roommate may be worth the extra income of a $1000 a month.

If you have a variable rate mortgage, you should consider refinancing to a fixed rate as soon as possible.

Insurance; Review your policies. Our producer saved $500 on his auto and renters insurance and got the same coverage he had. It is so easy to just renew. Make the effort to see what’s available.

Utilities are going to continue to increase because the price of oil is so unstable. I did find a source for cheaper fuel oil. Again it was actually our producer found it. There is an oil buying network, Heat USA. A $25 membership does get you cheaper oil.

To save on both AC and heat be sure your windows are tight and the house is well insulated. Insulate attics and basement ceilings. Get a programmable thermostat that turns down or off the AC or heat when you are not there. Keep the sun out of the house in the summer by closing blinds and curtains or planting shade trees and let it in in the winter.

Turn off lights when you are not using them. That’s a no brainer! Switch to fluorescent light bulbs. We did this last year after we had an energy audit and I can see the savings in our electric bill. When you first turn them on they are dim but quickly warm up.

Your computer monitor draws more energy than the hard drive. Make sure it turns itself off when you’re not using it. Unplug all of those chargers when not using them. Phones, toothbrushes, baby monitors all draw power when they are plugged in.

And when you buy any new appliances look for the Energy Star logo so you know you’ll be saving on energy costs.

Cable – do you need all that you have contracted for. How many movies a month can you watch? Saving $50 a month is $600 a year.

Phone bills – if you have a land line and a cell phone, consider using your cell phone for long distance calls. Some experts advise dropping your land line entirely. I’m not quite sure that’s the best advice. We were without power for over a week one winter but had telephone service. We were charging our cell phones at work or in the car.

According to J.D. Power & Associates on average we talk close to 10 hours a month on our cell phones. If you talk to your family and friends a lot be sure you look at the family plans or the Verizon plan where you can call other Verizon customers for free. Everyone in our family has a Verizon plan and we put in a lot of time talking to each other.

With the price of gas increasing you just may want to consider public transportation or carpooling, even if it’s only a couple of days a week at close to $4 a gallon it will save gas as well as wear and tear on your car.

There are not too many places around here to buy cheap gas. Some of the warehouse clubs do offer cheaper gas for their members. And it does not make any sense to drive around looking for a lower price.

One more thing:  My grandmother’s method for keeping her house cool was to keep the sun out of the house. Open the windows at night and let the cool air in and in the morning, close the windows and keep the shades or curtains closed wherever the sun is shining in. If you are off to work, close up the house before you leave. It does work!

Ideas from listeners:

  • Move furniture off of heating vents/registers
  • Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
  • Replace old appliances
  • Clean refrigerator coils are least once a year
  • Clean lint from the dryer vent at least once a year. This is lint in the duct work not the lint trap/screen
  • Switch to compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Set water temperature on water heaters lower to 120. Many dishwashers heat the water to a higher temperature for washing.
  • Install new shower heads. Low-flow which uses about half the water that a regular shower head uses
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