My husband was losing his job (his employer cut his hours way down which is a way to get people to quit) and my husband did indeed quit yesterday. We are going to tough this out and work hard to get him going working for himself. He has the skills, and now he has the time to concentrate on making it happen. With him working at his old job, it was comfortable for us. It was time to rock the boat to make bigger and better things happen for us.
It will be rough. We likely will not have extra money to put towards our debt for a while. But – we will make it.
So…we will be taking a look at all of our spending and figuring out things we can do to cut our costs. First up, UTILITIES.
1.) CABLE – Our cable service runs $15/month for the basic channels. This is the lowest plan we can possibly get. With this plan we have the major networks as well as a few other channels we enjoy (Weather Channel, TBS, Lifetime) so we will be keeping our cable. Without it, we are unable to get any local channels using rabbit ears because our area is too remote. Worse comes to worse, we will cut the cable. But for now it will stay in place as our form of entertainment with our cold snowy winter. We will not be making a trip to the video store for quite a while.
2.) CELL PHONE – Our current phone is one of those Tracfones. We pay $20 every two months for 60 minutes of call time and that keeps our phone working. Total cost yearly = $120. We purchased it for emergency use only, and it basically has been for that purpose. We have, however, used some of our cell phone minutes (they roll over) when the balance is over 100. We call our parents with it. I’m not sure about cancelling it, though. I like having it for emergencies and I feel better having it in the car when we are driving around. I believe this is the lowest priced cell phone I can possibly have but I can lower the yearly cost by $21.00 by purchasing a yearly card with 500 minutes for $99.00. I would do that, but we don’t have the money at the moment. Perhaps soon we can. Worse case scenario, we will drop the plan.
3.) ELECTRIC – This is the one where I know we can cut costs. Our bills runs 60-85/month for our small home. I’m not sure what is eating up all of the power, but I have a feeling it has to do with our computers, electric dryer and lights.
We have an area in our bathroom where we can dry clothes. We rigged that when I was out of work in late 2005. Once I found a good job, we started using the dryer again all of the time because it was convenient and our clothes came out soft. We will be going back to hanging our clothes to air dry, except we will use the dryer to finish off drying socks, underware, jeans and towels. They are stiff as a rock when you air dry them completely. Come summer we will hang clothes outside.
On the note of laundry, we will keep washing all clothes in cold water and use less soap/fabric softener per load than we are using now. Time to make everything stretch a little longer.
As for the computers, there isn’t much we can do while we are working on them. BUT, when they are off we will turn off power strips OR unplug things. I may look into those Smart Strips that supposedly cut power to things when they are turned off. I’ve been reading a little bit on them, and it’s surprising to read how much power electronic equipment can draw even when turned off.
As for our lights, I have looked at those bulbs in the store that claim to use less energy and last for 5 years. As far as I know, they will help cut our energy costs, but those bulbs aren’t cheap. I’m still thinking about buying a few to try them out. In the meantime, I plan on using some candles we have at night in the kitchen at least. I don’t feel comfortable using them anywhere else in the house.
4.) GARBAGE – We pay $27 every three months for garbage pickup. That is the best price in the area. Any extra you see within this category when I post my monthly spending is for garbage bags. We will continue to purchase kitchen garbage bags, but we will purchase the cheapest we can. We will also reuse plastic bags from grocery shopping for other garbages in the house.
5.) GAS – We do keep our heat fairly low (around 65-66) but it’s time to drop it back down again. We have purchased a programmable thermostat and we will tier the heating so it will be around 58 at night and in the morning go to 62. When my son comes home from school we will have it go up to 65. That’s the plan for now, it probably will change a little once we see how it goes. I am hoping the programmable thermostat will help because sometimes I would forget to turn down the heat at night.
We will also turn down the termostat on our hot water heater since it is heated by our gas. Just a few degrees can save you money, but not be that noticeable when you are using the hot water.
6.) INTERNET – I work at home, and I have to have high speed internet. AT&T DSL in my area is the cheapest deal at $24.95/month. Unfortunately, that means I must have AT&T as my telephone provider to get a discount on the DSL. However, this is supposed to change in the future so I will be keeping an eye on things. It would be great if I could get the “naked” DSL deal and reduce my internet costs to $20/month.
7.) TELEPHONE – Our telephone charges run $29/month. We do not have anything fancy on our phone and I thought we had the lowest plan possible. I decided to call them last week and tell them specifically that I want the cheapest plan available. While the customer service gal was super friendly, somehow me asking for the cheapest plan available prompted her to plug three way calling. I don’t get it. Anyways, I was able to take long distance completely off of my phone (it will cost me $9 to do that – silly charge if you ask me!) but it will save me $2.00 a month in monthly charges. I also reduced the amount of local calls we have available. We use our phone to make approximately 15 calls/month, so we went with the lowest local call plan available. We will be saving another $2.00/month. So, overall we will be paying around $25/month for our telephone bill now.
Every now and then, you probably see our telephone bill higher than $29/month. That means we purchased minutes for our telephone card. We sometimes receive calling cards from Sam’s Club as presents. We’ve taken one and have adopted it as our permanent calling card for long distance calls. Whenever the minutes get low I recharge the minutes. That’s handy for us, because we do not have a Sam’s Club around us and the minutes run less than 4 cents each. That’s a pretty good price.
There is a site I found where they claim you can earn free calling card minutes and perhaps I will look into it. I am always super-cautious about things like that because I don’t want to get suckered into anything.
There are also VoiP plans (like Skype) that I plan on looking more into for our long distance calling. The only problem there is that we’d have to have our computer on to make calls. Anyone use Skype and care to share their experience? $14.95 for a year of long distance calling isn’t bad at all.
8.) WATER – We pay about $52 every two months for water. Since we have been living in our current home, we have never used over the minimum amount charged for water. We cannot lower our water bill at all since we already have it as low as we can go. We can only make sure we keep our water usage constant so we never go over the minimum.
I thought there would be more pennies to pinch from our utilities, but there really isn’t that much unless we spend money to save money. We are already spending the least amount possible on a few of them.Â I am hoping the changes we can make will save on average $30/month. If it saves $50/month I would be jumping off the walls