It’s never too late to set new goals. Given that we’re past January, some people have already lost the eagerness that inspired many of their New Years’ resolutions and they’re back to the daily grind. But even if your goals were too lofty at first, lowering your expectations and still striving towards your goals is better than giving up on them completely. One goal every frugal person and family should have in 2014 is to lower bills from last year:
Unless you’re living in California or Florida at the moment, you’re probably heating your home quite often to avoid the chill of the ‘polar vortex’ sweeping across most of the country. Unfortunately, this comfort comes at a hefty price, especially when the kids were on winter break (and thus, home more often and needing a warm place to hang out). However, there are still ways to restrain your heating bills this year, such as lowering your thermostat by 6-10 degrees when nobody is home or you’re all asleep under warm comforters and blankets. Lowering the temperature of the water heater can also help you save some money each month without causing too noticeable a difference during shower time.
Speaking of showers, lowering your water bill is another great goal for 2014. You can start by asking family members to shower less (e.g., ten minutes instead of fifteen or five times per week instead of every day). For more extreme frugality, some families go as far as not flushing toilets that only have urine in them, but if the thought disgusts you, then perhaps installing low-flow toilets might be a better alternative. Although this requires an initial investment, it can lead to significant water savings, not only in 2014 but for many years to come.
As more and more families experiment with organic meat and produce, monthly grocery bill averages are on the rise. There are relatively few disadvantages to buying organic food, but if cost is one of the most important factors when it comes to buying food, you may want to scale back and buy conventionally-grown food instead of organic. Other ways to save on your monthly grocery bill include: buy more items in bulk, join store loyalty programs for exclusive member savings, find coupons and coupon codes, buy more generic products instead of name-brand, and perhaps try growing some of your own produce.
Why pay $50-70+ per month on basic cable when you could watch many of your favorite TV shows online thanks to subscription services like Netflix and Hulu? With these services, you could pay as little as $7.99 per month and get rid of your cable service altogether. Best of all, many televisions now allow you to watch streamed episodes right on your TV, so you don’t have to resort to watching shows on your desktop or laptop if you get rid of cable. If you do the math, this equates to about $96 per year(which costs less than a month’s worth of cable with premium channels).
If you have a smartphone and you’re paying extra for long-distance calling or international text fees, then stop and download simple apps that will let you do these things for free. Skype is one of the best calling apps out there, with free internet video calls and very low per-minute prices on phone-to-phone calls that might even beat out your current cell service provider’s rates. For free texting between smartphones, download Viber or What’sApp, which let you send text messages to people around the world as long as there’s an internet connection. For domestic cell phone usage, use wifi on your phone whenever possible to lower your data costs and ask your provider about rollover minutes if they’re not already offered because in 2014, consumers have more choices than ever and paying for minutes you don’t use is a thing of the past.
All images are courtesy of Stuart Miles of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.