You’re on a fixed income, and you’re living paycheck to paycheck. You just can’t seem to get ahead and start saving. If only you could lower your payments, you might be able to get some traction. Sound familiar?
If it does, you’re not alone. A 2017 study by MarketWatch found that 50% of American households live paycheck to paycheck, and a staggering 19% have nothing saved for emergencies. It’s time to get out of that hole. Start lowering your monthly payments so you can budget in some savings.
- Decrease energy usage – Your power bill can take up a good chunk of your budget if you’re not careful. Find ways to lower your energy usage every day. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Turn down the water heater. Unplug appliances and chargers when they’re not in use.
- Check for leaks – Unknown leaks can increase your water bill, sometimes significantly. Pay attention to your water bill each month, and if you see the number climbing, it may be time to call in a plumber. Common slow leaks like running toilets can slide by unnoticed, but cause incremental increases in the bill. Larger leaks, if undetected, can really set you back.
- Use low-flush toilets – Current toilet standards call for 1.6 gallons per flush. If you have an older home, though, you may be using 3 to 6 gallons per flush. That’s almost 4x as much water! The short-term expense of installing new toilets will pay off in the long run.
- Choose showers over baths – The average bath takes 70 gallons of water, while a 5-10 min shower only uses 10-25 gallons. That’s a big difference. You can increase this even more by installing low flow shower heads. These are designed to give you the same quality shower with less water usage. Win win!
- Try Xeriscaping – What is xeriscaping? If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. Xeriscaping is the practice of creating a landscape needing little to no irrigation. Lawn maintenance can be costly, especially if you are in an arid or drought-prone area. The cost of watering a lawn can increase your bills significantly. With xeriscaping, you work with your climate to create a lower-maintenance lawn. Using drought tolerant succulents and gravel areas can create a beautiful lawn with much less maintenance (and P.S., you don’t need to mow either).
- Use reclaimed water – If xeriscaping just isn’t for you, you need to figure out a better way to water your lawn. For the most economical option, try to use reclaimed water. Install a rain barrel to catch the water and reuse for watering your lawn. You can manually water, or install irrigation lines to make your system more hands off. This will improve your water bill and reduce your environmental impact.
- Downgrade your cable – TV has become a staple in the American household, but don’t forget that it is still a luxury. Assess your needs and downgrade where you can. Maybe you don’t really need to Ultimate Deluxe package with 5,000 channels. Switching to a lower subscription can save you a bit of change. Or maybe you are ready to cut the cord entirely. More and more households are getting rid of traditional cable. With internet streaming services, they aren’t missing a thing.
- Check your insulation – Your AC/Heating unit uses a lot of power. If you live in an area with extreme temperatures, you may see most of our power usage going to this pivotal appliance. If this is you, have an inspector check your insulation levels. Increasing the insulation can help maintain a comfortable temperature so your AC doesn’t have to work as hard, and neither do you.