Friday, September 23 2011
By Alexa Von Tobel for Manilla
When it comes time to save up some money, your first instinct might be to cut spending by eating out less often, paring down your shopping budget or kicking your coffee habit. But cutting costs doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your favorite things. These tips will help you trim down your household bills without tightening your budget.
Keeping the electric appliances in your house plugged in when they’re not in use adds dollars to your energy bill. Unplug the toaster oven when you’re done heating up the pizza, and turn off computers instead of leaving them on sleep mode. Swap out your old light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs which use 25% less energy than regular bulbs. Use your air conditioner and heater sparingly, and always check to make sure the windows are closed before you turn on the air.
Cell Phone Bill
Take a look at last month’s cell phone bill. Did you have lots of leftover minutes? Did you have to pay overage fees for going over your text message limit? These are signs that your cell phone plan isn’t right for you, and you’re paying unnecessary charges. Figure out what your calling and texting needs are; then call up your phone company to find the right plan for you.
Premium cable services come with over 300 channels, but when packaged with Internet and phone services, this household bill can cost you $130 every month. Without premium cable, you’ll still be able to watch television shows on the major broadcasting networks like ABC and CBS. Ask your cable company to put your services on “vacation mode” to find out if you really need all of those extra channels.
Your cell phone and laptop didn’t come cheap, and they also cost a bundle to repair and replace. But taking proper care of your electronics can prolong their use and help you avoid necessary maintenance costs. Make sure your laptop has the latest anti-virus software, and clean it regularly with a soft cloth to remove dust that can clog up internal mechanisms. Turn off your cell phone when you’re not using it or when you’re in an out-of-service area in order to maximize its battery life. Setting your phone on vibrate, keeping your phone in a warm place like your pocket and having a bring backlight can also shorten battery life, so avoid these if possible.
Alexa Von Tobel is the founder and CEO of LearnVest, the leading personal finance site for women.