5 Money-Saving Tips
During account reviews, I have shared with many of you that I am a fairly risk averse person when it comes to investing my own money, and many of you may also know that I am a frugal. I get a huge kick out of saving a dollar or two on items I purchase, or services that I pay for. I want to share with you five things I have personally done to save money. Some of them are simple and might be obvious, but there may be one or two you never thought of!
1) Use CFL or LED lights in your house. Replace those old style incandescent light bulbs with these more efficient ones. CFLs use a quarter of the energy that a standard light bulb does. They last for years not months. There are two or three drawbacks however to using CFLs. They are a bit more expensive than incandescent bulbs, the color can be a little different so you may need to experiment with different brands to find the right ones for your home (I recommend using a CFL bulb that is at least 2700K Lumens), and lastly, they can take a minute to heat up to full brightness.
LED lightbulbs use less energy than CFL bulbs and will operate at full brightness the moment you tune them on, but are they are considerably more expensive.
When my wife and I purchased our home in 2009, we spent nearly $700 and changed 77 light bulbs in our house from incandescent to CFLs. The result was an amazing drop in our overall utility bill of 40%. Yes 40%!!! The next step we took was to teach our 4 children to shut the lights off when they aren’t in use… we are still working on that one 7 years later.
2) This next idea has two parts and can save you $12-$95 a year. First purchase a water heater blanket to insulate your hot water tank. The blankets are about $20 at your local hardware store. Insulating the water tank helps keep heat in the tank longer and prevents the tank from constantly turning on to heat the stored water. The second part of this is to lower the temperature setting on the tank. The default setting on most water tanks is usually 140°. Most households only need the water to be set at 120°. This is an easy way to save on your utility bill. According to Energy.gov, having your hot water tank set to 140° or higher may result in $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses, and more than $400 in demand losses. I checked our water heater last summer and found it to be set at 150°. It took some time adjusting it back and forth but we finally settled on a temperature setting of 125°.
3) A few weeks ago I went to the hardware store to purchase a yard blower. I knew exactly which one I wanted and when I got there they had ten of them on the shelf. I grabbed the closest one and went to put it in the cart. As I was doing so, I noticed the box had been opened, almost like someone had bought it and returned it. I don’t know why but at that moment I was struck with an idea. I took the box up to the customer service counter and asked if I could pay for it there. The women behind the counter kindly said yes, and then I hit her with the real question.
I said “I noticed you had 10 or 11 of these on the shelf and this one appears to have been opened and repackaged. Is there any way you can give me a discount if I purchase this one?” and then I waited. I’ll admit I felt a bit silly asking, but I figured I had nothing to lose and if it worked it would be a great lesson for my 10yr old daughter who is also a penny pincher! There was a pause while she typed away on the computer. The answerer I received was not what I was expecting, I was hoping for $5-$10 off. When she was done on the computer she said, “Yes, I can do that for you, how does 15% off sound?” Wow! This was over $30 in savings! And as my 10yr old daughter said, “That was easy!”
4) This next idea also takes a bit of courage, but it never hurts to ask the question. I recently learned from my wife that there are several higher priced items in the grocery store where we shop that if you purchase in bulk (12 or more), they will give you a 10% discount. I have used this in more than one store, but you have to ask. We use this for items like Coconut milk and Almond milk that come in 32oz cartons. At roughly $2.89 a container when we buy twelve we save $3.47. This may not seem like much, but if you do that several times in a year it adds up, especially for a family like mine with 4 children.
5) The last money saving tip I want to share with you will take 10-20 minutes of your time but could save you $300-600 a year. Call your cable company and tell them you are thinking about canceling your service. Don’t beat around the bush; just tell the representative that you would like to “speak to someone about canceling your service.” They will immediately send your phone call to a Client Retention Representative, and this is where the magic happens.
I did this a year ago and the representative tried all kinds of tactics to keep me as a customer, including showering me with compliments for my long tenure. The end result of my phone call was a $49 drop in my monthly cable bill… For 24months!
This was a “promotional” rate that they were willing to offer that expires in two years. Once they set it all up they asked if there was anything else I needed. I took the opportunity to test my luck. I said, “Actually yes, I don’t understand…. If you can give me this discounted rate for two years, why can’t you just make my bill this amount indefinitely?” There was a long pause, but I held out, not saying anything and the representative finally said. “Well sir, the truth is… if you call back after this promo expires, they will most likely give you whatever promotion is available at that time. So if it were me, I‘d just call back in two years.” Believe me, I will be calling back. In the meantime I am all smiles knowing that over a 24 month period I will be saving $1,1176.
Hopefully you can take one or all of these ideas and put them to good use. These are all ideas that have worked for me and if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that it never hurts to ask. You may be surprised at the answer you get, and you might just save a few bucks. Have fun with it and let me know how it goes!