Whether you rent your home or have a mortgage, total monthly costs can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple and easy home projects you can do that will not only improve the value of your home, but that will also help you to save money over time. From making a few simple updates to your plumbing or growing a garden, it’s easy to tweak your lifestyle and home to put more cash in your pocket. Achieving financial well-being and getting closer to your retirement goals is easier than it may seem. Read on to discover how making a few strategic improvements around the house can benefit your bottom line.
Set up a household budget
The best way to save money is by drafting a budget to track your income and expenses and determine where you could save.
Determine your income. Every budget starts with determining how much money you bring home. You should use your net income when budgeting, including what you take home after income taxes, insurance, and other costs. This will give you a clear starting point to work from.
Determine your fixed monthly bills. The next step in making a budget is to figure out your monthly expenses. Be sure to write down everything you spend money on, from mortgage or rent to your monthly insurance costs, utilities, Internet, cell phone, and food. You should also include debt like credit card balances and payments as well as automobile payments.
Determine your needs. Think about what your household needs the most. From food costs to kitchen appliances, getting a clearer picture of what you use and need may make it easier to decide where and how to slash some costs. For example, if you order food or go out to dinner once a week, reducing it once per month can save a significant amount of money over time.
Re-evaluate your subscriptions. Take a look at all of your monthly subscription services and decide which ones you can cancel. Cable, streaming services, Internet service, and even monthly magazines are just a few examples. You can start a saving challenge that will cut down unnecessary expenses. Add these subscription costs to your monthly bills when you write down the budget.
Reduce Housing Costs
There are several ways you can reduce your housing costs to help you save money.
Options if you rent. If you’re a renter, consider getting a roommate to help you split the costs. You can also give up a paid parking space and either park on the street or sell your car and take public transportation if you live in a city. Consider doing some DIY repairs around your apartment in exchange for a discount on your rent if possible. You can also move to a cheaper city where the cost of living is lower or simply move into a more affordable building once your lease is up.
Options if you own your home. One great way to reduce your mortgage costs is to refinance your home to get a lower interest rate. Talk to your lender about possible refinancing options, which can save you a significant amount of money each month once the refinance is complete. You should only refinance your home if you plan to live there for several more years. Otherwise, you could sell your current house and downsize into a smaller one with a lower mortgage cost.
Improvements that Will Reduce Energy Costs
Another great way to save money is to reduce your household energy consumption for lower costs.
Easy savings on your energy bill. Open the windows and enjoy natural light during the day, so the lights stay off. Update your old light bulbs to LED lights, which use less energy and last longer. Use a ceiling fan to keep rooms cool whenever possible. Being aware of small changes will be a key factor to reduce your electricity bill.
Implement an energy-efficient system. While it will cost more upfront, a new and more energy-efficient HVAC system can save you a significant amount of money on your monthly energy bills and will pay for itself over time.
Install a programmable or smart thermostat. Programmable thermostats turn off your system at a set time to keep costs lower. Consider a smart thermostat that “learns” your family’s habits and adjusts the indoor temperature accordingly to help you save money and energy.
Insulating your home. A properly insulated home can save quite a bit of money on energy costs. Check your attic to ensure that the house is protected correctly. When the walls, floors, and attic are insulated, it will help your home’s indoor temperature stay comfortable and reduce the HVAC system’s need to run constantly.
Reduce appliance use. Turn off or unplug appliances like the TV and computers when they’re not in use. A digital detox has many benefits that include more money in your pockets. Try to use your devices less frequently whenever possible. For example, you can grill food outside instead of using the oven to save cash.
Furnace/HVAC Replacement. Make sure you change your HVAC every month. Not only will this keep the indoor air cleaner, but it will also protect your system and keep it from getting clogged and damaged. Determine what size filter you need, find its location, and remove the old one. Replace it with a new, clean filter every 30 days.
Home Upgrades that Lower Water and Sewer Expenses
Try these money-saving tips to help lower water usage and other expenses.
Inspect for leaks. Leaky plumbing can go undetected and cost you quite a bit of money in wasted water. Look carefully for signs of leaks and get them repaired as soon as possible.
Use less toilet water. Consider installing a low-flow toilet to use less water. You can also reconfigure your toilet settings so that it takes less water to flush. Add aerators on faucets to help save water, too.
Update your plumbing. If your plumbing is old and outdated, it could be wasting water. If you have the budget, consider upgrading your plumbing to a more efficient system that uses newer materials.
Caulk the tub and shower. Something as simple as caulking your tub and shower could reduce water usage to prevent leaks and seal the water inside.
Sump pump inspections. If you have a basement with a sump pump, have it inspected regularly to ensure that it’s working correctly.
Use the dishwasher to save money. Believe it or not, hand-washing your dishes wastes more water than using the dishwasher.
Other ways to save. Taking shorter showers and turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth can reduce water costs significantly if you make it a habit.
Vegetable Garden to Save Money
Growing your own vegetable garden can significantly reduce your monthly grocery bill.
Learn vegetable growing basics. Learn how to grow vegetables in your planting zone and determine what types of veggies can easily be stored or canned for future use. Grow vegetables that you enjoy eating and that your family will consume the most often so that nothing goes to waste.
Establish a plan. Come up with a garden plan and think about how you’ll water it, maintain it, and when you should harvest your crop. Determine where the garden will go and how large you want it to be. An irrigation system makes it easier to water everything more often and more efficiently than water it by hand.
The layout is key. Pick a small space in your yard for your vegetable garden. Make sure you place it in a location that gets plenty of sun so that your veggies and fruits grow healthy.
How to start. Start small when growing a vegetable garden so you can learn how to plant and cultivate. You can always increase the size later if you need to. Make sure you’re ready for pests, diseases, and inclement weather so you can protect your crop.
Composting food waste. Start composting food waste to create organic fertilizer. This is a great way to nourish your garden while you uniquely reuse table scraps.
Cut Down Your Bills
Here are some more money-saving tips to help you lower your household bills.
Cook instead of eating out or getting takeout. Cooking your own meals is not just healthier, but it will also save you tons of money. Have fun trying new recipes and keep your pantry stocked with essentials. Plan your meals so you won’t be tempted to buy fast food or order in. Avoid getting coffee to go, and instead, make your own at home and take it with you in a travel mug.
Self-care at home. Instead of heading to the salon, consider doing your nails and cutting your own hair at home. This can significantly cut costs, and you’ll learn a new skill while having fun, too.
Save money on laundry. Look for ways to dry clean your clothing at home. Try a non-electric washing machine and use your washer’s high-spin cycle to dry clothes faster. Only run the washer with a full load, and air dry your clothes to save energy whenever you can. Make sure you clean out your washer and dryer regularly to keep them sanitary and running smoothly.
Shop smart. Instead of buying all-new clothes, consider shopping for second-hand clothes at your local consignment or thrift store. Sell your unwanted clothing online to make extra cash and consider the actual value of your clothing to get the most money for your investment.
Saving on pantry expenses. Switch to drinking tap water instead of bottled water and take your reusable bottle wherever you go. There are plenty of stainless steel water bottles to choose from. Besides helping the earth, you will be saving big money. Avoid wasting food by eating more leftovers or making smaller meals. Write down a food inventory and use everything you have in your fridge and freezer before you restock. Consider having meatless meals once or twice a week to save, too.
Recycling to Save Money at Home
You can recycle, reuse, and reduce waste by following these tips.
Selling and trading. Browse buying and selling apps and websites to look for deep discounts on used clothing and furniture. You can also find great deals on electronic devices and games. Consider trading your items to save even more, or sell what you don’t want, then use the profits to buy something new.
Create your own products. Reuse old containers and use them as planters in your garden or as food storage instead of buying new containers. Make homemade soup that you can freeze, so it lasts throughout the week.
Be creative. Come up with other ways you can make new things from items you have lying around your home. It’s a great way to get creative, learn a new hobby, or try your hand at arts and crafts.
Repair instead of buying new. Learn how to sew ripped clothing or discover how you can make minor fixes around the home instead of buying new ones. For example, simple fixes to your fridge or garbage disposal can save a ton of money and extend the items’ lifespan in your home.
Share, borrow, or rent. Instead of buying things like tools, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, or carpet cleaning machines, rent or borrow them as needed instead. You’ll save a lot of money sharing or borrowing equipment and tools from your neighbors, and it will also save your storage space in the shed or garage.
DIY Home Improvement Project
Making your own home improvements can save quite a lot of money while improving your home.
Understand the basics of home improvement. Learn how to use tools and which standard household tools you should have handy at any given time. Discover how to get started on home improvement projects by watching how-to videos, asking a friend for advice, and reading home improvement books and blogs for guidance.
Establish a budget. Compare prices for your DIY project and use an online calculator to help you determine how much it will cost. Don’t skimp on materials since choosing low-quality materials could cost more in the long run. Always use quality materials so that your upgrade lasts a long time.
Top money-saving projects. Focus your time and energy on the home projects that will save you the most. Wrapping your water heater tank, checking for leaks, adding insulation, and changing your HVAC filter are just some examples that can help you save without spending a lot of cash.
Tips for taking correct measurements. Ensure you know how to use a tape measure correctly when making cuts or adding drywall and other materials to your home. Mark your measurements and make a template before you begin a project to ensure everything fits and you don’t waste materials.
Be realistic with your skill level. Some home projects are best left to the professionals. There are plenty of affordable professionals that can help you to renovate on a small budget. Know your skill limits and always consider hiring a contractor for more extensive projects or when working with things like electricity when a licensed professional is needed.
Keep all of these tips in mind to help you start saving money at home. Whether you grow a vegetable garden, pack your lunches, or learn how to limit your water use, everything you do can help you save money in the long run. You don’t have to be an expert to perform some simple home improvements. By checking plumbing and appliance use, you can easily update your home and make it work for you and your wallet in a more efficient way.
by Teresa Siqueira