Home ownership can offer tax advantages, but it often feels like taking the financial plunge into owning your own home is like stepping into a bottomless cauldron of burning money. Spooky imagery aside, there are many ways to make the outflow of cash slow a bit, and every dollar counts.
1. Breathe in the Fresh Air
You see it at the top of every money saving list for a reason, a clogged air filter is inefficient and causes the furnace to work harder. Invest the money to change your filter every one to three months and save around $60 in electrical savings annually.
2. Be a Two-Timer With Mortgage Payments
This tip is more of a long-haul plan for savings. Contact your mortgage company and ask if you can set up your mortgage payments bi-monthly. Not all banks offer the option, but if they do you could average $30,000 savings over the life of the loan, or $1,000 annually.
3. Switch to Cold Rinse
Your washing machine is a blessing, but the convenience costs you in the form of electrical costs to run the machine. Plus, you’re paying to heat the water for each wash and rinse cycle. Cut back by only running full loads, and switch your machine to use a cold water rinse. This could net you $50-100 a year in savings.
4. DIY Decor and Gifts
Gift-giving is a rewarding experience, but your outpouring of love can quickly add up. Save a bundle by making your own gifts by baking goods, woodworking, sewing, or pottery. If you replace five $40 gifts throughout the year, you’re up $200.
5. Upgrade the Light Bulbs CFL
Light technology has come a long way, from offering more ranges of color and quality of light to significant energy savings. When you consider the cost of compact fluorescent bulbs has come down from their introduction. Replace all your bulbs and expect around $200 savings each year.
6. Buy Home Improvement Coupons
Wait, buy a coupon? Yep, eBay to the rescue here. Lowe’s and, more recently, Home Depot have started offering regular ‘total purchase’ discounts, typically 10% off, $5 off $50, or $20 off $200. However, while you may be able to automatically score one as a new homeowner, you can almost always find them on eBay for sale and they only cost a few bucks.
Plus, they're sent electronically and immediately. I’ve actually bought a coupon while standing in the checkout and saved $40. This can add up to huge savings if you’re in the market for appliances or new flooring, but 10% off that quick run to the home improvement store still saves you $10. Say annually you spend a conservative $500, we’ll put you down for a $50 savings.
7. Tool Rentals
You need it, but you don’t necessarily need to buy it. Borrow or rent tools to save yourself a ton of dough, unless you think the item is something you will use often. For a one time fence build or patio installation, rent the auger and tamper. An added bonus is not having to store them. Not buying a tool or two each year will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars. We’ll say $300.
8. Propagate Plants
Taking the extra step to make more plants out of existing plants is a big money saver. Save the seeds from those heirloom tomatoes, divide your day lilies, create five hostas out of one, and give spreaders like mint some room to expand. Not only does this give you a start for your vegetable garden, but provides more plants for your yard and creates gifts too. Even 20 $5 plants will save you $100 each year, and most plants run much higher than that.
9. DIY Cleaners and Household Products
Skip the cleaning aisle at the store. Baking soda, white vinegar, and citrus can tackle most of what needs cleaned in your home. From carpet stains to bathtubs, homemade cleaners are effective and cost pennies on the dollar. Plus produce a lot less packaging waste. You can easily whip up fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, and all-purpose cleaner that will tackle the task without the $4 per bottle fee, saving you $50 or more each year.
10. Install Water and Light Timers
Water inefficiency costs you big. Run sprinklers as necessary, but put them on a timer. One night of forgetting to turn it off will easily cost you $40 and smaller intervals add up on a day to day basis. The same goes for lights. Set them to be on from midnight to five a.m. for example, instead of leaving them on all the time.
11. Be Smart About Landscaping
Placing a shrub or tree strategically can offer protection for your home, cooling the space and offering cost savings. In addition, you can build shade trees into your backyard instead of forking out the money for a covered deck, umbrellas and canopies.
12. Organize, Organize, Organize
In short, being organized helps you know what you have so you don’t pass the expiration date on food and medicine or buy a duplicate item because you couldn’t find something such as a tool, travel supply, or beauty product. Keep it organized and save an easy $300 each year.
13. Drink Tap Water
Spend a few bucks on a quality refillable water bottle. Use the tap water in your home or office rather than buying bottled water. Not only is this a significant cost savings (at least around $200/year), but you’ll also be saving the planet from the wasteful and toxic single use plastic bottles. If you have concerns about the water quality, buy a filter. There are endless designs to choose from.
You'll save even more money if you expand this behavior to include carrying a water bottle so you never end up buying hydration on the go.
14. Meal Plan
The number one way to save money on your groceries is to make a meal plan along with a specific grocery list to go with it. This allows you to stay focused while at the store and keeps you from overspending. Practiced consistently, you’ll save $2,400 annually in unplanned purchases.
15. Be a Coffee Master
Sure the drive up is convenient, but it’s draining your pockets. Experiment with coffee makers such as ceramic drip, French press, electric drip, etc. Once you get into the habit, you’ll figure out the coffee is great and the $3-$5 you’re saving each morning can be put to better use. That’s over $700 a year to consider.
16. Plant a Garden
Finally, plant a garden. Not only will you have fresh and healthy food, but you will have less trips to the grocery store, many of which result in unnecessary purchases.