Original publication: January 2020.
Any one of the ideas below, alone, may have little affect on your expenses. It’s the cumulative effect that matters.
They add up.
Here’s my list. I’d love to hear yours. Please share your ideas in the comments.
Gardening for food. Raised beds are easy. Even easier: Go to a Home Depot or a nursery and buy some potted, pre-grown plants that are either already producing food or will be soon. Note: Most plants purchased in that manner will be “addicted” to high doses of nutrients. Research what combination of nutrients each specific plant needs.
Turn off lights when you leave a room.
Buy strings of LED Christmas lights (make sure they are LED) and use them where you can in replacement of your typical lighting. Oh and be sure to get ones that are “soft” or “warm” because LED can be “sharp” in its brightness.
Clothes driers use a lot of energy. Every item you choose instead to hang-dry will reduce electricity costs. Re-wear clothing if and when you can.
Dishwashers use quite a bit of energy and water. Wash your dishes by hand. Turn off the tap when not using it.
Water use. Be conscious of the amount of water you use when showering. Can you turn off the water while you are lathering up? In what other ways can you be more efficient with your showering?
Air conditioning. Use open windows and fans when you can. Ceiling fans can be an energy-saving addition. If you have a different a/c unit in each room, close off rooms when not in use. If you are at work all day, close curtains to keep the house more cool. Even changing the temperature on your thermostat by 1 or 2 degrees can have a cumulative affect.
Your computer uses energy. Laptops tend to use less but still, there’s that cumulative thing again. Get familiar with the power settings of your computer.
Also, sometimes you may leave your computer on because you have a lot of programs running and don’t want to “lose your place”. If you have Windows: Try “hibernate” or “sleep”. Hibernate saves everything where it is and puts your computer in a zero energy consumption state that can be resumed quickly. From time to time do a full shut down to clear out memory. “Sleep” is even faster to recover than hibernate and uses a trickle of energy. If your machine is working on a torrent download or scene render, leave it on but turn off your monitor.
Stop paying for media. Get rid of cable TV, Netflix, HBO, Disney, etc. Keep your Internet. Use other methods to get your media fix. The cheapest route is get a VPN. Mullvad VPN is a great balance between privacy, price, and performance. Then get torrent software. QBitTorrent is my favorite primarily because it has a built in media search.
Switch cell phone providers. If you are with Verizon or AT&T, you are most likely paying too much. T-Mobile and Sprint usually have lower prices. Even lower, are some second tier providers like US Mobile where you can get good service for as low as $25/month. Be sure your phone works with them before jumping. Another goodoption is Ting.
Rethink your phone buying. Do you really need a new phone every year? Even staying one year “behind” can save you quite a bit of money. Watch Ebay to see when your favorite phone suddenly drops in price. Consider refurbished phones. Here’s a comparison list I made to help you choose a new or used phone. Note: Be careful when buying an older phone. You may want to be sure the battery has been replaced.
Save money on toilet paper. Get a bidet. You can find surprisingly high quality ones for as low as $35! This will reduce your use of toilet paper and provide a gentler, cleaner solution. Keep a pile of cloths near the toilet, which leads to…
Cotton trumps paper. Instead of – or in addition to – paper towels, buy a bunch of cotton kitchen hand towels. You can get bulk microfiber wash cloths for cheap. The cost to wash them should be less (and better for the environment) than the cost of buying paper towels. Yours and your guests’ hands, face, etc. will be happier, too. You will also gain thousands of Social Status Points because handing your guests cloths instead of paper is more classy. Tip: Many bulk packages of cloths will have multiple colors. Designate certain colors for kitchen and others for the bathroom.
Dish detergent is usually more concentrated than necessary. When you buy dish detergent, keep your old empty bottle, fill it 2/3 or 1/2 full of the new dish detergent, depending on your preference, and fill it the rest of the way with water.
Transportation. Look at your transportation needs and costs with the idea that bicycles, scooters, services like Car-2-Go, Arcade City, Uber, and public transportation may be able to replace some or all of those needs. Most scooters will get 70MPG and higher and cost very little in maintenance and insurance. Do you drive a bigger vehicle than you need?
Free water from the sky. Get rain barrel(s). Even better if your house already has rain gutters.
Free-ish eggs! Eggs are a super food. Chickens or ducks for eggs.
Cat milk. If your cats have boobs, you can milk them. And… I’m kidding.
Solar panels. If you live in an area that gets a lot of sun and you are okay with the up-front investment that may take some time to recoup, this might be a way to save on your electricity bill. Over the past ten years solar has gotten much more efficient. Figure in the cost of a battery or bank of batteries for storing the unused energy, as well as a controller and inverter. You may want to research Tesla’s “Powerwall” home battery built for this purpose.
Wind turbines. Again, be sure you get enough wind in your area. As with solar panels, you will want to get batteries, a controller, and an inverter. These items are easily found on Amazon.
Get a safe. Keep some emergency cash in it. Buy some gold and/or silver rounds to keep in there for when the economy collapses. How does owning a safe help you save money? On a psychological level, a safe is “gravity” for valuables. Knowing you have a safe place to keep valuables can help you want to accumulate those valuables. On the practical level, it helps you keep what you have, in case of burglary or even dishonest people attending events at your house.