Friday, March 4, 2016 / by Vanessa Saunders
It's always a good time for you to get ahead on the spending curve. Start with these nine tips to improve your financial life today.
1. Let's begin with home entertainment. Staying home will save money compared with going out for dinner and a movie, but taking that one step further, look into saving on staying home. Cable companies offer bundled services for TV programming and Internet services. Or bundle your services with your cellular provider. Investigate changing TV programming packages when your favorite show ends for the season.
2. Eliminate private mortgage insurance (if you pay it) from your mortgage payment. If you bought a house and put less than 20 percent down, your bank charges you for PMI, which lets the bank hedge its bet on your paying back the loan. Calculate a revised loan-to-value ratio for your house. If the ratio is less than 80 percent, contact your bank to begin the PMI cancellation process.
3. Use power strips to negate the "phantom" charge. Lamps, toasters and device chargers use a small amount of electricity when they are not in use. They are in "sleep" mode, waiting for you to flip the switch. Putting these on a power strip eliminates the sleep mode energy usage.
4. Buy yourself gift cards. Look for discounted gift cards at retailers; this is free money. Also, loyalty card programs are beneficial. Some grocery store offer double fuel perks with the purchase of its affiliated gas stations' gift cards. Buy the gift cards and get double the points toward fuel discounts. This means you have prepaid for your next tank.
5. Go green on lighting. Replace nightlights with motion-sensor versions or solar alternatives so they don't stay activated all night. Motion-sensor lights will reduce your carbon footprint, energy bill and need for replacement lightbulbs.
6. Recycle more so you pay less for trash can rental.
7. Use natural cleaning products such as vinegar, rubbing alcohol, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Baking soda and vinegar will form a froth that helps unclog drains. Rubbing alcohol cleans glass. Peroxide whitens teeth. See where I'm going with this?
8. Use rechargeable batteries for all those remote controls. The initial savings are small, but over time, these little guys will save you money and trips to the store.
9. Smarthome technology is a good investment. For example, programmable thermostats will help reduce energy bills by adjusting the temperature automatically according to your parameters.