7 Steps to Savings from real world experience

  1. Change to CF (compact fluorescent) lights. Yes, it’s been a really popular subject over the past 2 years, but I am amazed by the number of people who haven’t switched. In our home we only have about 15 bulbs (small house), but we realized about a $20 savings monthly. That’s better than $1/bulb! Of course your mileage will vary according to usage and natural lighting. Even at just $1/bulb, these lights quickly pay for their higher price and begin saving you cash every month. “…But I don’t pay separate electricity…” – Then enjoy the fact that these lights will last much longer than standard bulbs.
  2. Ask your cable company for a discount. I have read about and spoken to many people about calling the cable company and threatening to leave to get cheaper rates. I did that once. Now I call every 6 months to a year and just tell them that my budget only allows $xx for cable/internet. Generally the service representative will take a minute, flip through promotions and come back under what I stated. The most recent go-round, I asked if there was anything to do to replace my online rental service since we don’t have time over the summer to plan out our movie viewing. The Rep came up with a combination of EVERY channel available and internet service for less than $90. That was a $30 savings from the ‘normal’ rate I was on when I called, plus I will also save $20/month by not having the rent-by-mail service.
  3. Wash your clothes on cold. Yes, there are exceptions to this, and every other rule. In general though, our family has not noticed any difference in the cleanliness of our laundry from the switch. No, you don’t need to buy the special cold water formula detergent to make the switch. This will save you by not having to heat water that you will shortly send down the drain with grass stains. Save the energy and let the stains flow down the drain cold.
  4. Close unused rooms and their vents. Common sense, but our electric bill has dropped ~$10/month from closing off our master bedroom, closet, and bath during the daytime hours. Yes, this isn’t a huge saver, but it is a little something to help. During the day (or perhaps night in your case) heating or cooling unused space is a waste of energy that only costs you money, and the power companies are more than happy to charge you for keeping carpet cool.
  5. Turn off lights. This is the second ‘duh’ on my list. Everyone knows to do it and has heard it a hundred times, but do you do it? I find myself constantly following my children and wife around switching off lights. I can’t track this to a specific savings, but our power bill stays under $130/month with me playing nanny to my family.
  6. Put a brick in your toilet. No, not like that. I’m talking about in the tank that holds your water before you flush. If you put a brick (or anything else that won’t float) in the there to take up space, you will save that volume of water every time you flush. Yes, this is a very low-tech solution. If you are a little more advanced you can opt for an adjustable kit that will garner the same result. Personally, our family of 4 saved ~$10 on our water billing monthly.
  7. Wait. Yes, just wait. That shiny new object that you plainly see a use and need for right now, is just another piece of clutter that will take up precious space in your home. At the same time you are plucking from money could be saved and used in other ways. I have learned to wait as long as a year or two before diving into a new technology. By then the price has dropped and technology improved, although I usually discover I just don’t want to buy it any longer.

There you go. 7 actions that save our family money and let us save for the future. I think all of them have been said by many people in many places, but they work by saving our family money. Hopefully these tips help you.
Let me know if you have more simple things I missed in the comments.