Category Archives: Lower Your Overhead

Every dollar you save in monthly bills can go into savings or to reduce your debt.

7 Tips to Save on Energy this Summer

As I write this it’s the middle of April. We’ve had a few warm days and others more on the cool side. Thankfully our home has required little heating or cooling.

However, with summer right around the corner, that will soon change. Here are seven tips to help you save on energy and lower your electricity costs this summer.

1. Enjoy lots of cookouts.

To cut your summertime electricity charges you need to do everything you can to keep your air conditioner from cycling on. Preparing meals on your kitchen stove raises the temperature inside your home. Make use of an outside grill as often as possible and become an expert with your toaster oven. If you absolutely must bake cookies, why not avoid using your oven and bake them inside your car?

2. Be sportin’ cool shades.

Shade trees are popular for good reason. Take the same principle and apply it to your home. Keep blinds closed in windows that allow direct sunlight to stream into your house. And, if you’re really serious about how to save energy in the long run, survey your home. Do you have any south-facing walls that are bathed in sunshine all day long? A retractable awning might be a good idea.

3. Find your biggest fan.

All winter long the TV weather guys report the “wind chill factor.” Take advantage of this phenomenon in the summer. When they are blowing down onto you, ceiling fans create a wind chill factor that allows you to set your thermostat at a higher temperature yet feel just as comfortable.

4. Who’s hiding in the attic?

If you don’t already have an attic fan, get one. These cycle on when the attic temperature gets higher than the outside ambient temperature. They can really help lower your electricity costs, especially if your home isn’t insulated very well.

5. Readjust your personal thermostat.

When Jimmy Carter was president, there was a big push for families to set their home thermostats to a lower temperature in the winter and compensate by wearing sweaters. Over the years, most of us have adjusted to a lower home temperature in the cold weather months. Do the same in the summer. Set your thermostat a couple of degrees higher. You’ll get used to it.

6. Change your filters.

Keep your air conditioner fitted with clean filters. Dirty filters make your unit work harder. Not only will this cause your electricity charges to go up, it will stress your air conditioner and lead to more repair bills. In the same way, always clean the air filter in your dryer. A dirty filter reduces the warm airflow through your dryer. This increases the amount of time your dryer has to run to do its job. It’s also harder on your dryer.

7. Hang ‘em out to dry.

A few generations ago people weren’t asking themselves the question, “How can we save energy?” because they had far fewer appliances that required electricity and electricity was relatively cheap. Outdoor clothes lines were a part of every home. Get a retractable clothes line and take advantage of solar power.

Finally, check your local utility, they often have programs that will help pay for energy saving improvements. My utility, Nashville Electric Service, has a whole webpage devoted to these deals.

Incorporate these tips into your summer lifestyle and you’ll find that the power savings will add up to a lower energy bill. Further, finding ways to save energy is great for the environment and even our national security.

Turn Small Savings Into Big Money

Money saved is like free moneyIf you do the math, you’ll discover that if you find many small ways to save money, over time it can add up to big bucks. Why then do most people, when they work to save money, never see the results of their thrift?

The answer is simple: they spend all the money they have saved, without even thinking about it. That alone is bad enough, but here’s what happens next.

After working hard to be thrifty for some weeks and never seeing the fruits of their efforts, they give up on the idea altogether, forget about trying to find ways to save money and return to their old habits. They’re really just throwing away what would be free money.

Have you found yourself in that situation? Do you think that saving a dollar or two here and there isn’t worth the bother?

What’s needed is a way to make these small savings become real in our lives, and here’s how to do it.

Keep an envelope in your car and a jar in your home to stash away the money you save by shopping for the lowest prices, using coupons or not buying something you’d like to have, but know that you don’t really need.

For example, when you use coupons or a grocery card your receipt will tell you how much you saved. Take that amount of money and tuck it away in an envelope or jar labelled “My Savings.”

I recently shared with you one of my favorite ways to save money: how to save about 25 cents on every serving of popcorn you eat at home. When you enjoy popcorn by popping it yourself, rather than tossing a bag in the microwave, drop 25 cents into a jar.

Within a couple of weeks you’ll have set aside a pretty good chunk of money. Now you’ll see that your thrifty discipline is paying off and you’ll be motivated to keep up or even increase your efforts.

What you do with the money you’ve saved is your choice. If you have credit card debt, use it to pay down your balance. If you don’t have a savings account, open one up. When you think about it, every deposit you make will be essentially free money.

Start using this trick and it will be one of the best tips on saving that you’ll ever receive.

5 Free Money Saving Apps for Everyone

Save money with these 5 free apps.Anyone who buys a lemon used car quickly learns the practical meaning of the famous Latin phrase “caveat emptor” or “let the buyer beware.”

Fortunately, it’s getting far easier for buyers to be aware today. Some of the most practical and best apps are those that price compare the products on your shopping list. With an up-to-the-minute price comparison in the palm of your hand, you can be a truly savvy shopper.

The next time someone asks you, “What are the best apps?” steer them to these five great money saving apps. Some you will want to have at the ready 24/7, others you’ll probably install just when you need them.

  1. Gas Buddy. This app uses your phone’s GPS to locate nearby gas stations and list their per gallon prices. With gas becoming so expensive, this free app is at the top of virtually every “best apps” list. Even when you only save a dime a gallon, if you do the math to work out the yearly savings, it’s likely to be $100 or more. Use their website if you don’t have a smartphone.
  2. Price Check By Amazon. This app allows you to compare the price of any product available on Amazon, including all the products sold by their thousands of associated merchants. You enter the price to compare either by scanning the bar code, typing it in, taking a photo of the item or speaking the name of the product. Competing merchants screamed when Amazon released this app, which lets users know if they’re getting the best prices from their local stores or other online retailers. Red Laser is another popular free app that lets shoppers compare the price of items across a wide range of vendors.
  3. Skype. If you’re bumping up against your monthly minutes ceiling on your cellphone, Skype might be the answer. You can make Skype-to-Skype calls for free whether you’re connected to the web via 3G or Wi-Fi. You can call phone numbers anywhere with Skype Credit; this is an especially good money-saving option for international calls.
  4. Repair Pal. Editors at the New York Times and Edmunds.com have called this one of the best apps. I agree and it’s one of those free apps that when you need it, you need it bad. You’ll never be caught totally ignorant and an easy mark at an auto repair shop counter again. Whether your repair is a small fix or a major overhaul this app tells you what’s the right price to pay. It will also steer you to a good shop.
  5. Hotel Tonight. Virtually every hotel chain has a free app today, but none of those allow you to do a price comparison to hotels outside of their brand. The goal of this free app is to give travelers huge last-minute discounts at great hotels in most major cities. Unlike online services such as Hotwire and Priceline, which give travelers a long list of unnamed hotels, Hotel Tonight offers deeply discounted rates on three hotels in a given city and lets users know exactly what hotels they are.

All of these free apps are available for both Android and iOS devices, but before I end this, I’d like give an honorable mention to another free money saving app that’s only available for the iPhone: iBooks. After installing this top app, fire up iTunes, go to the bookstore and scroll through the top free books. If you’ve been saying you want to catch up on some literary classics, here’s your chance to do it for free. No more excuses.

Here are a few books that will help you find the best apps: Best iPhone Apps (Best Apps)Best iPad Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders (Best Apps); and Five-Star Apps: The best iPhone and iPad apps for work and play.

When people ask your opinion about what are the best apps, how do you answer? I’d like to know.