Have you ever created a comprehensive budget, started out following it religiously and then sort of let it slip away over time? No matter how good our intentions might be our willpower can sometimes just slowly fade away as we see that were not meeting our objectives. However, there are tools available that can make it infinitely easier for you to save money. Here are 13 items that can help you save money that you may already have around the house and, if not, many of them are very inexpensive.
#1. UV-blocking curtains
These curtains can dramatically reduce your heating and cooling bills. They are now available in a multitude of patterns and colors so you should be able to find ones at your local Lowe’s, Home Depot or even a hardware store that will match in your decor. If you live in particularly cold country put up liners in the winter to lock in heat even more effectively.
#2. Ceiling fans
Ceiling fans can help lower both your heating and cooling bills as they run counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. This diffuses cooled or heated air so less energy is needed to maintain whatever temperature you desire wherever they are mounted. During times when heat is only moderate the increased airflow created by a ceiling fan might mean you wouldn’t even need to run your air-conditioner.
Why spend $10 for trashcan liners for your laundry room, bathrooms and guest rooms when you can use grocery bags instead? They’re generally the perfect size and reusing them is also good for the environment. When you made your purchases you paid for them so they cost nothing extra. You can even use those bags to clean up after your pet in your yard or the park or keep several in your car for emergency spills.
#4. Toilets with options
Do you think it takes the same amount of water to flush both your number one and number two? If you don’t think so, you’re right. It doesn’t. And the amount of water your toilets use each year just increases your water bill. You could spend $100 and get toilets that have dual flush options, which would mean you wouldn’t have to use extra water unless you needed it.
#5. A clothes drying rack
The one appliance that can really run up your electric bill is your clothes dryer. You can reduce that bill by getting a clothes drying rack and drying your clothes on it. You’ll be doing something good for the environment as well as saving money. You should be able to find a folding drying rack at your nearest home goods or superstore.
#6. Rechargeable batteries
How many things do you have around your house that just eat batteries? If you’re typical the answer is probably at least a dozen. There are flashlights, appliances, smoke detectors, cameras, TV remotes, radios and, of course, your children’s’ toys. While rechargeable batteries cost more and generally mean frequent recharging, they will save you money over the long term. And there’s an nice bonus. You won’t get that feeling of frustration when you find you’re out of some type of battery you need to replace the two that just died. And do remember to unplug your battery chargers when you’re not using them as anything plugged in will require electricity you’ll be have to pay for.
#7. A cooler
Will you be meeting with friends soon? Think about picking up items from the store and stock them in a cooler. You could then meet your friends at a garden, beach or park instead of spending money to meet at a restaurant. Many parks, aquariums and zoos allow you to bring a cooler stocked with food from home, which can save you a lot of money versus buying stuff when you get there.
#8. Coffee pot
Stop those daily runs to Starbucks or your favorite neighborhood coffee bar and you’ll save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. You could also have friends over and serve them freshly brewed cups of coffee in place of going out for costly weekend brunches.
If you don’t believe you have time to cook and have been in the habit of picking up takeout meals on the way home, you could make that a thing of the past. Get a crockpot, toss in some meat and vegetables in the morning before you go to work, turn it on low and you’ll have a great meal waiting for you when you get home from work. If you have extra portions left over just freeze them for another day, which would mean yet another meal you wouldn’t have to cook.
#10. A blender
If you have or get a heavy-duty blender you can make your own juices, smoothies and if appropriate baby foods. You’ll both save money and get the flavor you like exactly right each time. You can lower your grocery bill even further by blending in-season vegetables and fruits.
#11. “Smart” power strips
If you run your computer and multiple devices such as a printer, a laptop and a stereo from your desk then a “smart” power strip is a must. It will focus power usage on the items that are in use and reduce the amount of energy it sends to the others, which means eliminating “ghost charges.” And while you might think that unplugging gadgets when you’re not using them to be a time waster you won’t think so when those charges aren’t so “ghost” and you see how much they increase your electric bill.
#12. Home entertainment subscriptions
Are you regularly spending anywhere from $15-$25 to see a movie on the big screen? A better alternative would be to have your entertainment at home through Netflix, Amazon Prime or some other entertainment subscription service. Plus, at-home entertainment can be a cool option for a fun evening with friends or a date night and will save all of you money.
#13. A library card
There is no reason these days to go to a Barnes & Noble and spend money buying books. And while it may be very easy and convenient to download e-books you can do without them as well by checking out books at your local library. Many of them maintain subscriptions to popular magazines and have DVDs available. You may not be able to check out the magazines but you should be able to take the DVDs home and enjoy a free movie with your friends or kids.
Use these to help you save more money so you can use it for something more important. For instance, the extra money to consolidate your debts into a single payment. Or you can use it to improve your current financial position.