With the rising costs of gas and food, we all have to watch where we are spending!! Keeping a roof over your head, food on the table and everything else in between tends to eat up our hard earned paychecks! By no means am I an expert on finances but there are some things I have done that have saved our household money so we could afford to do some of the fun things we like to do while still paying down our debt and putting some money in the bank. We have adapted our lifestyle by saving on every item we have to purchase with coupons and SAVING ON EVERY HOUSEHOLD BILL WE HAVE TO HAVE rather than cutting out the fun stuff!!
The first place we started was our largest expense- MORTGAGE!!
The most important thing we have done was refinance our mortgage to lower our interest rate and incorporate our Home Equity loan into the payment. Mortgage Rates are very low right now and may even be the lowest ever. When we refinanced. our mortgage payment stayed the same but we lost the $300 Home Equity payment. That $300 month payed off one of our credit card bills last year. We refinanced the end of 2009 and it was a great feeling to pay off that credit card!! Like I said, I am not a financial expert so will not recommend where to go to get the best rates and service for your mortgage. We searched the internet so we knew where the rates should be, talked with our local bank and then ended up running into a long time friend we trusted but hadn’t seen in a while and he happened to be a mortgage specialist at a local bank!
Right now Mortgage Rates are anywhere from 3.92%-5.29% and of course will fluctuate with individual banks, location and credit scores. Here is what I was able to find in one google search:
Do some research and make some calls!! I bet you are surprised at how much you could be saving per month!!
The second place we started to reduce was- UTILITIES!
A few years back, states started to DEREGULATE natural gas supply and electric supply in order to give consumers like ourselves a CHOICE to where we wanted to purchase our natural gas and electric rather than being forced to pay one price that was managed by the government. Most of do not even pay attention to what we pay per watt for energy or what we pay per cubic foot or therm for natural gas. We look at the total bill and say we need to use less to reduce our bill. We do try to reduce our usage but we took one more step and changed our SUPPLY PORTION of our electric and gas bill. When you choose your own ESCO (Energy Service COmpany) supplier you usually still receive the bill from the same company you always have and you still call the same company if there is an outage or for line repairs.
Here is a map of which states are deregulated:
Our Choices Living in New York
To reduce our Gas bill, we did two things. Back in 2003, we invested in a $900 woodburner and then changed our gas supplier to Natural Fuel Resources. Back when we switched, we were guaranteed savings for the first 2 years with a $50 cancellation fee. We now only pay approx $1000 year to heat a 2700 sf house and we use gas to cook and dry our clothes for a family of 6!!
To reduce our Electric bill, we also did 2 things. We changed our light bulbs to ENERGY STAR Qualified Compact Fluorescent Light bulb (CFL) and we chose to switch to an ESCO company that a personal friend recommended. We were guaranteed to save money and gave us an option to earn FREE energy so we tried the service from Ambit Energy. Electricity rates are variable but you receive a written guarantee you will save money when compared to the incumbent provider in your area and in NY there is no contract to sign or cancellation fee. If you refer 15 customers to Ambit Energy, then you will receive a credit to your bill for the average of those 15 customers bills (supply portion) every month for as long as you have 15 referrals!!(referrals also must pay bill on time for you to receive credit) We are now only paying the delivery and tax portions which has been between $30-$40 month for our house compared to $110-$130!! I can’t wait to see the savings in the summer!!
For more info on saving on electric and gas, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The adjustments we have made on our mortgage and utilities is saving us more than $500 month!! As soon as Ambit Energy begins to supply gas to our area we will also be able to earn FREE GAS!!! I can’t wait to save more!!
Stay tuned for Part 2- How to Reduce your Phone, Cable & Internet bills
This post is a first in a 3 part series, How to Decrease Your “Must Have” Expenses.
Part 1- Intro , Mortgage & Utilities
Part 2- Phone, Cable & Internet
Part 3- Food – coupons, gardening, cooking