Audit your bills
Go through your bills for utilities and services and check the fine print. Are there fees or products on there you didn’t ask for or don’t use? Cut back things you don’t need and speak up about things you’re not sure about.
Don’t pay any more than you choose to. Challenge things that don’t seem right. And ask, firmly, about ways you could be better served. It’s a competitive market and companies will consider concessions and discounts to keep your loyalty.
Make a maintenance plan
Just like a home budget, a home maintenance plan helps you save serious money. Rather than waiting until things break and you’re held hostage on price because the need is urgent, regularly go around your home (including your car) and perform proverbial oil changes (or actual oil changes). You’ll be able to catch problems before they become a catastrophy, and regular attention from you can save a fortune in labour costs.
Ditch the disposables
Experts say not buying paper towels is a great way to save money at home. So if you’re a big paper towel user, see if you can reuse a cloth or old clothes instead, and put things like dryer sheets to work as dust cloths for the TV. Better for the wallet = better for the environment.
Keep updates cheap and cheerful
Instead of replacing furniture outright or spending heavily on high end decor overalls, try a simple face lift first. A few bright cushions on an older couch, a coat of paint on a dresser or bland wall, some nice frames with photos; these all give your space new energy without excessive expense.
If you make your own cleaning products, you can update wooden floors and spruce up to add to the shiny new feel. DIY cleaning supplies are becoming increasingly popular as a way to save a small fortune around the home.
Get some (air-filtering) houseplants
Not everyone has a green thumb, but if you can care for a plant or two they can actually help you save money around the home. As well as adding a bit of life to a space, houseplants can help remove toxins from your air and keep a place fresh.
Stop buying expensive air purifiers and fresheners and lean on nature to keep you breathing clear and clean. Do note: some plants might be harmful to pets, and make sure you buy suited to your environment so you don’t create excessive moisture issues.
Don’t overspend on books, movies, music or games that you’re only likely to enjoy once. If you’re going to buy, make sure you truly love that thing or you’re going to get long term enjoyment from it. Look online for free web series’ and other no or low cost ways to relax around the house.
You can still enjoy things as a once off, but look to rent or borrow, not buy. Consider creating a swap or trade group with your community or circle of friends so you can pass things around and vary your home entertainment at little or no cost. And remember that thing called a library?
Get smarter with energy
Get an energy audit performed on your home and identify specific improvements you can make around the house to save you money. This might include install energy saving appliances, smart meters or automated shut off switches, reusing water (i.e. shower water for plants), or line drying your laundry when the weather allows.
Look closely at insulation. It might not be cheap if your property desperately needs insulation, but there’s few better ways to save money in the long term. We often waste up to half our heating and cooling through poor insulation, and it only takes one poorly insulated spot to cause problems. Read up on why and how to get started here.
Clean up to stop doubling up
Have you ever bought something only to get home and find you already had one of them stashed away in a cupboard? It’s actually very common, especially with clothes, appliances and entertainment like DVDs or games.
Apart from making you feel better, cleaning and organising can help you avoid buying multiples of the same thing, or things you don’t really need because you’ve got something that can do the job instead.
Know what you’ve got, so you know what you need to spend on and you won’t be throwing money away.
Utilise online communities
Online communities like Freecycle, Open Shed and Clothing Exchange are just three of many that let you make money with items sitting unused around your house, and get a hold of things you need for cheap or free, like clothes, furniture, tools and more.
Lose the product snobbery
Don’t be fussy about buying name brands. If you can afford it and want to treat yourself, it’s no crime. But if you’re trying to save, buying for the label alone – whatever the product – won’t help.
Economise by buying generic versions of household goods, and think creatively about repurposing. For example, use carpet offcuts as rugs. Make friends with garage sales and op shops. Explore local providers and farmers markets who are keen to compete with bigger players and may offer incentives. Use the generic as an excuse to personalise and add a custom touch instead!
Start a veggie or herb garden
As we said, where you live and your gardening skills might make this more or less practical for your situation, but if you can get a garden – even a tiny or boxed one – up and running you can save plenty in the kitchen by growing essentials like tomatoes, carrots, basil, chives, broccoli and more.
If your resources are limited, consider pitching in with neighbours for a community garden that you can all share in.
Source : www.realestate.com.au (16 January 2013)