Trimming Your Household Budget

There is never a bad time to take hold of your finances. Even if it feels like your budget is in good shape it still may be wise to review your expenses on at least a quarterly basis. Careful review can reveal the places you might look to manage expenses more closely and find a little extra for your retirement, vacation or education account. Take the following tips to heart. When you plug those money leaks, you may find that your targeted income increases more than you thought.

1. Conduct an energy audit on your home.
An energy audit can be conducted for about $500.00, depending upon where you live. The auditors will take a look at your home to gauge energy efficiency, identify any drafts and air leaks that make it difficult to heat or cool your home. They should also evaluate your insulation and other factors that can be improved to trim your energy costs.

2. Use energy wisely
Be sure that you keep your home thermostat on 68 in winter and 78 in summer. It might also be wise to invest in a programmable thermostat that adjusts your home temperature up or down a few degrees when you are going to be away for more than a couple of hours. If your water heater is set above 120 degrees adjust it to save a few bucks. More tips: Run your clothes and dishwasher only when you have a full load; change your air filters at least quarterly.

3. Buy energy wise
If you are in the market for a new appliance look for those that are energy efficient. You may even be eligible for rebates or discounts from your energy provider when you purchase such an appliance.

4. Shop smart
Never enter the grocery store without a list or a budget. Even if you only intend to run in for an item or two the store is arranged to foil your plan and you are likely to leave the store with full arms and empty pockets. Commit to your list and save every time you shop and don’t forget the coupons.

5. Cut back on all non-essential services
Cable service is a good example of a place to cut back. Of course, we all enjoy a good movie so why not order or rent one occasionally instead of paying for an entire month of service. Not only will you likely watch less television and have more time to pursue interests as individuals and as a family but you’ll also save some money. If it’s too difficult to think about giving up cable then just give up a premium channel or two. Another tip: no, dial-up isn’t chic, but it’s cheap. If you don’t use the Internet much, or only for email give dial-up a try to save.

6. Cut clothing costs
Trim your household budget by limiting clothing purchases and or including thrift and consignment stores. You can also save by purchasing items that are machine washable, rather than spending money on dry cleaning.

7. Consider every dollar.
It’s the dollars that you spend without thought that add up to budget gaps. Consider every dollar that you are spending – when you spend with a plan it is far easier to save.