Cost Cutters: Budgeting for a fresh start

New Year, new you – right? Okay, corny cliches aside… now is a great time to start redoing your budget and getting serious about cost cutters and budgeting! You see, life happens. Hence, you want to have some funds set aside for ‘unexpected circumstances’. Today, we’re going to discuss a few ways to improve your budget and develop some financial management skills.

A Few Cost Cutters That Help Your Budget Immediately

Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

Do you want to bank an extra 45 dollars a year? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, switching just 5 of your most frequently used bulbs to energy efficient bulbs make it possible! Also, it’s important to note that these bulbs cost a bit more upfront – but over time they save you money. Finally, be sure to look for the ‘Energy Star’ symbol to make sure you’re purchasing the right ones.

Smart Thermostats

Do you ever leave your home for hours, or even days and then come home to an empty, freezing-cold home? Yikes, what a poor use of your money! Fortunately, the latest technology in thermostats allows you to adjust your smart thermostat via Wifi.

Additionally, some of the more advanced models like the Nest thermostat use the Internet to check the local weather forecast and then adjust your HVAC accordingly. Nest’s manufacturer claims they can save homes between $130 to $145 dollars a year. Actually, if you save just half of that then you’re on the right track!

Energy Star Appliances

Just like your light bulbs, be sure to shop around for appliances with the Energy Star seal. Usually, you can find this seal on items like dishwashers, televisions, laundry machines, and dryers. This signifies that they are designed to be as energy-efficient as possible. Hence, managing your utility costs using these appliances is made easier.

One of the Cost Cutters Everyone Forgets – Protection Plans

Yep, we’re plugging protection plans. Why? Because if your home filled with smart gadgets and the latest technologies (especially higher-ticket items like laptops and televisions)  you’re looking at a small fortune to get them repaired or replaced if they ever malfunction. If you’re on a budget, you might even have to go without these until you can save up for that service call or replacement. Let’s face it, living without technology sucks! Ultimately, purchasing protection plans for your most valuable items is a great way to safeguard yourself from a financial meltdown. Bottom line, by spending just a few dollars each month on a protection plan – you’re saving a fortune when it comes time to repair your devices.

Expense Trackers aka Budgeting Apps

Thanks to the power of smartphones combined with expense-tracking apps, you basically carry a financial planner in your pocket with you at all times. Budgeting apps track your income and expenses and provide you with visual representations of the two. Actually, the power of this tool is in visualizing your expenditures against your income. There are tons of solid options out there, including some free ones! Download them and start using them right away.

A Few Other Tips

  • Unplug your electronics when not using them.
  • Use coupons. Also, most stores offer digital coupons nowadays – no clipping needed! Just access them from your smartphone or tablet and present them to the cashier while checking out.
  • Using your dishwasher! I mean…who has time to clean dishes anyway? Besides, using an Energy Star-certified dishwasher is estimated to save you about 5,000 gallons of water per year over handwashing your dishes. Ultimately, we’re sure you can find better things to do with your time than washing dishes.
  • Turning your TV off when nobody is watching it.

Budgeting comes down to discipline. You can purchase all of the cost cutters in the world but if you start bleeding money elsewhere – you’re never going to make any progress. Be smart, use smart tools to save money, and spend every penny carefully. Thanks for reading and good luck!