5 Ways to Save Money and Build Your Savings Account

For the longest time, my savings account looked bleak. I didn’t save the way people are supposed to – instead of setting aside a specific amount each month, I’d toss a small portion of my paycheck into savings, hope I didn’t need it, and then take most (or all) of it back out by the end of the month. To be honest, I’m still breaking this habit, but I’m definitely getting better.

Putting a coin in a pink piggy bank to save


My wake-up call came in the form of some serious bad luck – an emergency room visit that landed smack in the middle of an awkward time between health insurance plans. I was lucky, in that I had people in my life who were able to help me pay the bill for the x-ray, but I knew I’d have been in trouble if I hadn’t. The thought of having six months’ worth of income saved up had, up to that point, sounded like a ridiculous pipe dream. Now it’s my savings goal.

Here are, in my opinion, the five things I’ve done that have had the biggest impact on my ability to save money effectively. If you follow these tips, you should find it a lot easier to make your savings account something to be proud of.

1. Understand Your Habits

The first step toward figuring out what you can save is really understanding what you currently spend. It’s not just a matter of knowing the numbers; it’s important to actually recognize what kind of expenses you’re putting most of your money toward.

Try tracking your finances for at least a month and putting each of your purchases into categories. You can get specific, but if you’re looking for something simple, you can just label each purchase as a “want” or a “need.” Bills, groceries, transportation – these kinds of costs have to happen, and are fairly consistent each month. Eating out or drinks fall in to the “wants” category, and things like clothes could qualify for either.

Remember, the point is not to eliminate your “wants,” but it’s to recognize them. If you’re not saving enough, these are the areas where it’s possible to cut back. Something as simple as cutting back your coffee budget by $10 a week can make a significant impact on your savings.

2. Set a Strong Goal

Right now, your goal might just be to “save money.” While that is an admirable goal, it’s not nearly specific enough. People work best when they have very quantifiable achievements they can reach, so building a detailed objective will serve you better in the long run. Here are some questions you could ask yourself to create your goal:

What are you saving up for?

Maybe you’re like me, and you want to build up your emergency fund. You could also want to build a nest egg for the future or add more money to your retirement account. Decide what you’re saving up for, so you have that finish line in mind.

How much do you want to save?

The answer to this will largely depend on what you’re saving for. Some savings goals have concrete costs – for example, if you’re saving up to buy a high-ticket item, the total saved is going to be the price of the item. If you’re saving for your emergency fund, the rule of thumb is six to 12 months of income.

Some are more nebulous, however. Retirement goals, for example, can fluctuate as your lifestyle changes. That said, you can estimate a ballpark number by multiplying your current salary by 12.

What is your timeline/savings per month?

These questions are together because you’ll generally use one to find the other. You can do this in either direction: If your savings goal is something that will happen at a specific time in the future (for example, a vacation or a big move), then you’ll want to determine your savings per month by dividing the total amount by how many months you have to save up.

If you’re generally looking to build your savings, you can divide the total by how much you’re comfortable putting away each month. That will tell you how many months it will take to reach your goal.

Once you’ve answered all of these questions, you’ll have a far more tangible plan set. You might decide that you’re saving $2,000  by putting $100 away each month for a little over a year and a half. This is a much clearer goal than “saving money.”

3. Pay Yourself First

This is simple, but you’d be amazed by how well it works. Make a habit of putting money into your savings account before you spend on anything else. This means before you pay bills or buy groceries, you’ve already transferred your monthly savings amount into the appropriate account.

The reason this works so well is because if your money is in your checking account, the odds are good you’re going to spend it. By moving it to savings right away, you’ve mentally removed that money from your total to spend.

4. Get Creative

Try to think of ways to save a little extra throughout the month. One way you can do this is by rounding up your purchases. This means that if you spend, say, $4.50 at Starbucks, you round the purchase up to $5 in your head and put that .50 cents into savings. You can do this manually if you’re interested in putting in the time and effort, but there are bank accounts that will do this on your behalf.

If you have a profitable skill or hobby, try to make money off of it on the side. Sell scarves on Etsy or offer photography services for weddings: Tap into the things you’re already doing to find ways to make a little extra cash.

5. Make Transfers a Pain

Making it difficult to transfer money from your savings account is probably the most important thing you can do to achieve your goals. Open a savings account with a different bank than your checking account, and don’t get a debit card for it. Because of how bank-to-bank transfers work, it will take a few days for money to move between your accounts. This means you can’t impulsively transfer a few dollars when you’re running short to buy the new gadget you just heard about.

If you can, try to open an account with a bank that limits transfers out of savings accounts per month. This will help you treat the flow of money as a one-way process, meaning you’re actually putting away what you mean to. Since you won’t be able to take money out of it as easily, your savings account will grow way faster than it has before.

Top 7 Subscriptions That Will Save You Money

If you’re struggling to pay all of your varied expenses while still having some extra cash for decorating your space, you are most certainly not alone. A low salary and the basic costs of living make for a tight budget, with very little wiggle room.

Top 7 Subscriptions That Will Save You Money

One easy way to cut down on expenses, though, is to buy a few subscriptions. Almost anyone can find a subscription that would save them at least a few dollars in the long run. If you’re looking for new ways to save money, check out these 7 subscriptions and memberships that may help you pinch some pennies:

1. Amazon Subscriptions

If you’re an avid online shopper (as many budgeters are), you may find becoming an Amazon Prime member to be very worth the $99 per year membership fee. Amazon Prime offers a whole host of money-saving benefits, including free two-day shipping.

Top 7 Subscriptions That Will Save You Money - Amazon Prime

For those of us who buy enough online that shipping charges easily add up to more than $100 a year, that already makes Prime worth it. But the membership service also includes great perks like access to a number of free streaming movies and TV shows, unlimited music streaming, and free e​-books that you can borrow for as long as you want.

Amazon Prime isn’t the only great subscription from the online company– Amazon Subscribe and Save is another great service that can save members money. The service allows members to have everything from food items to toiletries to other home necessities (think toilet paper and toothpaste) delivered to their house on a set day each month.

The great part is, on top of Amazon’s already low prices, the service offers free delivery, extra discounts, and 15% more deducted from the delivery total if you’re getting more than five items delivered on one day.

2. Magazines

Magazines are probably the first thing you think of when you hear the word “subscriptions.” That’s because magazine subscriptions have been saving people money for years and years.

Top 7 Subscriptions That Will Save You Money - Magazines

If you find yourself picking up a couple magazines here and there throughout the month, you’re likely paying more than you would on a magazine subscription that will only cost you $15-30 a year. The caveat here is to only buy magazine subscriptions if you know you will actually have the time and energy to read them.

3. Netflix

Online TV streaming services are wildly popular for being inexpensive and convenient, with sites like Netflix and Hulu leading the way.

Top 7 Subscriptions That Will Save You Money - Netflix

Thousands of television shows and movies are available at the touch of a button, which means you can watch whatever you want, whenever you want. Streaming memberships can help save quite a bit of money, especially if they’re used to replace an expensive cable TV package.

4. Birchbox

For those who love new beauty products and trends, a Birchbox subscription is a good idea. If you’re already spending a lot of money each month at stores like Sephora and Ulta, a Birchbox subscription may be a good way to limit that expense.

Top 7 Subscriptions That Will Save You Money - Birchbox

For $10 per month, Birchbox sends a selection of exciting sample-sized beauty and lifestyle products, and gives you the chance to try each one out before deciding to purchase it.

5. Warehouse Clubs or Grocery Stores

Bulk-shopping warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club are a proven way to save money if you can afford to buy in bulk and you know how to shop smart.

Top 7 Subscriptions That Will Save You Money - Warehouse Sales or Grocery Stores

Because they offer bulk items, warehouse clubs are a little more cost-effective– if you have roommates, you may want to consider splitting a membership and buying items for everyone in the apartment.

If you don’t have roommates, even a membership card at your local grocery store will likely save you money. Most grocery store chains offer members-only deals or coupons that could end up saving you a lot in the long run.

6. Spotify

​Spotify is the music-lover’s answer to not wanting to buy every new song they like.

Top 7 Subscriptions That Will Save You Money - Spotify

For $9.99 per month, members of Spotify Premium can listen to any song they want at any time, even without access to internet. Members can also create playlists of their favorite songs and avoid advertisements and other restrictions.

7. American Automobile Association

Anyone with a car should consider becoming an AAA member because it’s a great way to save money. AAA memberships begin at $47 per year, which includes 24/7 roadside assistance for things like flat tires and breakdowns.

Top 7 Subscriptions That Will Save You Money - American Automobile Association

The membership is really worth it, for all of the amazing discounts members receive. Being an AAA member can get you exclusive deals on everything from car services to concert tickets, along with the thousands of restaurants, stores, and other companies that offer AAA members lower prices.

Almost all of these subscriptions are a great way to save money, but to limit your spending even more, consider asking for one of them as a gift!

Pin this post:7 Subscriptions That Will Save You MoneyPhoto Credit: JeffreyTerri Odadirtyblueshirt, Downloadsource.esTodd Lappin

How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can?

Everyone has one chore that they simply can’t stand to do. For my roommate, it’s loading the dishwasher. She would clean the toilet, mop the floors and massage my feet 10 times over before ever willingly loading all of our dirty dishes. For me, it’s taking out the garbage.

How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can? png

The bag tears when I take it out of the trashcan every single time, it always smells and there never fails to be some unknown juice leaking out, which drips all the way down our building’s hallway.

For years I simply accepted that taking out the garbage was the worst chore in the world, and it wasn’t until recently that I realized having a better trash can could actually alleviate some of the problems. Upon further investigation into better trash cans, I found something shocking: Some people are paying upward of $100 and sometimes much more for their receptacles.

As someone who’s only ever bought $15 bins at Target, I was immediately intrigued. Is that much of a splurge really worth it? And how much is just too expensive for a trash can?

Though the question is absolutely subjective – some people are content with cheap plastic trash cans, and that’s absolutely OK – I found that there are several reasons people will splurge on the more expensive ones. Here are some of the qualities that might make buying an expensive trash can worth it:

Easy Handless Opening

The most common quality of the very expensive trash cans seems to be a handless opening mechanism. While some cheaper garbage bins have foot pedals, they often don’t work well, especially after years of use.

How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can? Easy Handless Opening

The pricier options include those with motion-activated lids, and ones with more high-tech foot pedals that offer soft opens and closes, which won’t bang up your walls or hands. The motion-activated ones often require batteries to continue working well, which could be an extra expense down the road.


This isn’t as common a feature, but it’s one that many people will pay extra money for. One iTouchless design in particular, which runs anywhere from $70 to $100 depending on where you purchase it, has what’s called a carbon deodorizer that keeps the receptacle smelling nice no matter what garbage is in it.


For those in small apartments, there often isn’t room for trash cans in the kitchen cabinets or hall closets, which means the garbage will be sitting out in the open.

How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can - Style

For this reason, people spend a little more on the ones that look much nicer. The most popular trash cans tend to be silver and black with sleek lines.

Quality Material

Going along with style, many people splurge for trash cans made of quality material – most often stainless steel. Some of the most expensive trash cans from simplehuman and iTouchless are made from stainless steel that’s fingerprint-proof so that the can always looks pretty. Plus, stainless steel is sturdier and much more durable in the long run than plastic, and it won’t absorb odors.

Easy Trash Bag Removal

This is a big selling point for those who, like me, find the bag tears every time it’s removed from the trashcan. Many expensive designs keep the trash bag intact with various methods.

How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can? Easy Trash Bag Removal

One $140 simplehuman trashcan has an inner liner with an area to pull through any excess bag to keep it from getting snagged in the lid’s hinges. Plus the liner itself can be removed and carried to the garbage room, so you don’t have to lug around an awkward bag.

After my research, I made my own personal conclusion: I don’t think I would ever pay more than $50 for a garbage can, but a little bit of a splurge, say one that’s between $30 and $40, might be worth it to make my most detested chore a little bit easier.

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How Expensive is Too Expensive for a Trash Can- When is a trash can worth the splurge-

Photo Credit: Mark BultJeff FriendBrian J. MatisJacqs3280

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water?

From your cable and Internet bill to utilities like heat and electricity, there are a lot of costs that must be added into your monthly budget (as I discovered upon moving into my first apartment). There are always ways, however, of cutting back on those expenses. You can save water and lower your water heating costs by installing a low-flow showerhead.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water?What is a low-flow showerhead, you ask? Here’s everything you need to know about this green home fixture:

What is a Low-Flow Showerhead?

In short, a low-flow showerhead is one that comes with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or less. While this still seems like quite a bit of water, these showerheads can actually decrease your shower water usage by about half.

A regular showerhead has a water flow of about 3.8 gallons per minute, so if you took an eight minute shower, you would be using approximately 30 gallons of water. But with a low-flow showerhead, you would only use about 20 gallons.

With this fixture, you’ll also need less energy to heat your shower, reducing your power bills.

How do Low-Flow Showerheads Work?

With a low-flow showerhead, it may not feel like you’re using less water, but you are. The showerhead restricts water flow while still maintaining a strong pressure, giving you the experience of a normal shower.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water - How do Low-Flow Showerheads WorkThere are actually two different types of low-flow showerheads: aerating and non-aerating.

Aerating showerheads mix air in with the water stream. This maintains strong water pressure while still using less water than a traditional showerhead. However, because there is air combined with the water, the temperature may not stay as hot for as long as traditional showerheads.

A non-aerating showerhead doesn’t use air; instead, it pulses to keep the pressure strong. The water with a non-aerating showerhead tends to be hotter because there is no introduction of air.

How to Measure Your Current Flow Rate

In order to discover whether you would benefit from a low-flow showerhead, it’s important to figure out the flow rate of your current fixture. Turn on your shower and let the water run into a bucket for 10 seconds, then turn it off.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water? How to Measure Your Current Flow RateMeasure the amount of water that’s in your bucket, then multiply that figure by six. The number you end up with will be your water flow per minute, or gallons per minute. If your shower is releasing about 3.8 gallons or more per minute, think about replacing your current showerhead with a low-flow fixture.

Here’s another helpful rule of thumb: If it takes fewer than 20 seconds for your showerhead to fill up a 1-gallon bucket, you could benefit from installing a more environmentally friendly fixture.

Which Low-Flow Showerhead is Best for Your Bathroom?

If you’ve chosen to get a low-flow showerhead for your bathroom, then you must decide which type you would like. You could opt for the traditional stationary model or a handheld showerhead that’s attached to a flexible hose.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water? Which Low-Flow Showerhead is Best for Your Bathroom?

While handheld models may offer convenience, they’re typically a bit more expensive than the stationary fixtures. However, a handheld showerhead may be slightly more environmentally friendly than the traditional model because there is less distance between the showerhead and your body.

Other Green Bathroom Ideas

Installing a low-flow showerhead isn’t the only way you can go green. Here are a few other bathroom ideas that may lower your overall energy costs:

Use Green Cleaning Products: Some bathroom cleaners contain harsh chemicals, which is why it’s more environmentally friendly (and often cheaper) to just make your own.

Should I Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water? Other Green Bathroom Ideas

For instance, a tub cleaner can be made using 2/3 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup vegetable oil-based liquid soap, 1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons vinegar. Mildew can be removed by mixing 1/2 cup vinegar with 1/2 cup borax.

Rethink Your Towels: Think about swapping your current regular cotton towels for towels made from organic cotton. This material requires the use of fewer pesticides, natural dyes and softeners, making it better for your skin and for the environment.

Bamboo towels are another eco-friendly choice, as bamboo is a fast-growing sustainable alternative to cotton, not to mention it has antibacterial properties.

Fix Leaks: A simple leak in your tub or sink might not seem like a big deal, but you may actually be losing a lot of water. Talk to your landlord about the problem and get it fixed as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can put a bucket under the leak and use the collected water to hydrate your houseplants.

Replace Your Shower Curtain: Many shower curtains are made of polyvinyl chloride, otherwise known as PVC plastic. The material actually releases chemical gases, and it can’t be recycled. Instead, opt for a PVC-free shower curtain. Hemp shower curtains, for instance, are resistant to mold and mildew.

Take Shorter Showers: A low-flow showerhead can only do so much to save water when you’re taking extremely long showers. Do your best to cut back on your bathing time by creating a five-minute playlist of a song or two. This way, you’ll know exactly how long you have before you should turn off the water.

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Should You Install a Low-Flow Showerhead to Save Water- -If you do, you can save water, money, and help out the environment!Photo Credit: Andre ChinnPhotoAtelierMo ElnadiJohn RyanSquiggle

How to Save Money When You’re Short on Time

From cutting coupons to searching out the best deals online, getting creative allows you to save money in almost every area of your life—but when you’re busy juggling work, family and a social life, the task can seem daunting. Who has time to sift through newspapers to save a few cents on peanut butter?How to Save Money When You're Short on Time

Fortunately, there are ways to save money when you’re short on time. We’ve assembled some quick and easy tips for cutting costs that are simple to implement and won’t occupy much of your day.

Rewards Programs

Rewards programs are a treasure trove of savings, from grocery store rewards cards to frequent purchaser cards. When in doubt, if you are offered access to a free rewards program, agree to join. Among money-saving tips, this is about as easy as it gets.
Most rewards programs are tracked via a physical card or your phone number. Whether you save money immediately at the point of purchase or build up to a single reward, rewards programs are simple because the store does the tracking for you while you reap the benefits.

Automatic Bill Payments

Many people don’t realize that agreeing to automatic bill payments can amount to significant monthly savings. For starters, having funds automatically deducted from your checking account means you will never accrue late fees or additional interest because you forgot to initiate a payment. Some lenders or organizations also grant a discount to customers who are signed up for automatic payments.
From your student loans to your electric bill, you may be eligible for a percentage off of your interest rate or monthly dues simply by having your payments taken out on a regular schedule. That makes automatic bill payments a responsible way to keep on top of payments and one of our favorite money-saving tips.

Automatic Savings Transfers

Some banks make it easy to put money into a savings account by instituting “keep the change” programs. These initiatives work by rounding up every purchase to the next full dollar and putting the extra cash into your savings account.
For example, a purchase of $7.50 with your checking account would be rounded up to $8; the actual purchase price is deducted from your checking account to pay the vendor, and in this case, an additional 50 cents would be transferred from your checking account into a savings account.

An automatic transfer program is a reliable, slow-paced way to store away some money that will come in handy on a rainy day. Best of all, you don’t have to take even a moment from your day to manually transfer money into a savings account.

Buy in Bulk

Buying non-perishable items, such as canned goods or shampoo, in bulk stands to result in major savings. Generally speaking, items that are bundled into groups are sold at a cheaper price than those sold alone. If you have extra storage space, there is really no good reason to purchase items piecemeal that could be picked up in bulk.

Stores like Sam’s Club or Costco make it easy to buy items en masse, since they deal pretty much exclusively in bulk products. These stores, however, do charge a membership fee. To avoid the cost of membership and still save money, look to other major retailers for the “family size” of groceries and toiletries. If you don’t have a family to share with, consider splitting a bulk purchase with a friend or neighbor.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a time consuming endeavor. These tips can give your wallet a break without hindering your daily schedule. Always remember that saving just a few cents here and there can really add up over time. Even if the savings you’re offered seem insignificant, you will thank yourself later if you take advantage now.

What are your tips for saving money without spending a lot of time? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter!

Photo Credit: TaxCredits.net

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How to Save Money When You're Short on Time

Money-Saving Tips for Moving

By Brian Wilson

The cost of moving is often easily underestimated—the process involves many moving parts (no pun intended), and the rundown of expenses required to transition fully from Point A to Point B quickly adds up.

Money-Saving Tips for Moving

Going as cheap as possible with your moving expenses can certainly be a bad idea, but there are a multitude of smart ways for you to save on everything from packing to installation without cutting corners. 

Don’t Buy Boxes

While this bit of advice is the simplest (and arguably the most common tip you’ll hear when moving), the impact of grabbing your boxes and other moving materials for free can’t be overstated. Local retailers, online personal ads and many more avenues will often offer a virtually infinite amount of free cardboard boxes and other leftover shipping materials completely free of charge—the only prerequisite generally being that you come and get them yourself.

Opt for the Off Season

If you have any control over the time of year that you and your family move, it can be a surprisingly wise choice to move during the months that the moving industry refers to as “off season.” May 15 to September 15 mark the busiest time of year for movers, and this bustling season comes with larger moving quotes to accommodate the high demands and higher temperatures.

Scheduling your move during the off season outside this summer rush can prove financially advantageous (and not having to lug your boxes underneath a hot summer sun is certainly a nice bonus.)

Plan for Distance

Rates and billing methods across movers have the propensity to vary largely, and the potential expenses quoted for many can be a source of confusion. It’s important to factor details such as distance and proximity into your choice of mover—long distances can give rise to the greatest spikes in the cost of your moving quote if not accounted for properly.

If you’re set to move to a new city, state, or beyond, you may find it advantageous to consider movers that place an emphasis on long-distance travel. International movers can often offer better rates for cross-country moves, due to the fact that their infrastructure and business model are better equipped to handle large demands when it comes to gas, lodging and more.

Reach Out to Friends

It may surprise you how much it can ease the stress and financial strain of moving by simply reaching out to a handful of friends—even just one or two extra hands helping you pack can be the difference between a disaster and a great memory.

Having a few close friends help you through the DIY aspects like packing and setting up your new place will save you valuable time and resources, leaving you with more flexibility to move with. Just be sure to thank them with refreshments, impromptu housewarming parties, or other informal tips.

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Money-Saving Tips for Moving

Brian Wilson is a content writer representing North American Van Lines. North American Van Lines is a moving service that specializes in corporate relocation, long distance and residential moving.


Photo Credit:TaxCredits.net

Budget-Friendly Travel Tips

Whether going by air, land, or sea, the cost of traveling adds up quickly, and ticket prices can skyrocket around popular travel dates. Aiming to go home for Christmas or visiting friends for NYE can turn into an expensive experience if you want to pack two bags and fly into a major airport.

Budget-Friendly Travel Tips

If you’re struggling with how to make a trip happen without going bankrupt, you’re in luck. We’ve assembled some helpful travel tips for folks who are filled with the spirit of travel but lack disposable income.

Don’t Set Your Heart on One Travel Date

The holiday season is packed to the rafters with travelers, which often means competing with hundreds of other people hoping to book a similar flight or bus to your destination city. One of the best ways to save some money when you’re living on a budget is to keep your travel dates open.

If you can travel by December 21, for instance, you’ll likely pay less for a flight than those who fly on the more popular 23rd or 24th. If your schedule permits, you may even want to postpone your holiday trip until early January. Your travel will be much cheaper, and your gifts won’t go bad (assuming you’re not handing out fresh fruit this year).

Explore Regional Airports

If you’re flying to a major city, bear in mind that the main airport may also be the most expensive. For example, going to Washington, D.C. by way of Reagan National Airport is often cheaper than going directly to Dulles International Airport.

Most travel websites allow you to search for nearby airports, making it painless to expand your search to other airports in the area. You can often take a train or other public transportation into the city from these alternative airports.

Pack Light

Once upon a time, you could pack a suitcase full of goodies and carry only a handbag–or less–onto the plane. These days, nearly all airlines charge for checked baggage. Assuming your travel is round trip, you may save yourself a pretty penny by packing only a carry-on.

Rolling up shirts into the corners of your bag, wearing your largest jacket on the plane, and limiting yourself to two pairs of shoes all help you avoid the need for a checked bag on travel day.

Don’t Hoard Your Points

If you use a credit card, get one that offers travel points for dollars spent. You are often awarded a large number of points just for signing up, and they can quite literally pay off big time. While certain days around the holiday season are blacked out for travel on points, others are permitted.

If there was ever a good way to spend your frequent flyer or credit card points, it’s getting home for the holidays. In fact, while you may be responsible for some fees, you can often fly during the holidays for less than $100 when cashing in travel points.

Put Your Bartering Hat On

Before you book anything travel-related online, be it a flight or hotel stay, consider picking up the phone. If you’re a long-standing customer of a certain hotel, ask to speak to the manager. Quote a price you’ve paid in the past, and ask if they can match it.

Likewise, an airline representative may be able to search for a better fare or give you a heads-up about a discount you didn’t even realize you qualified for. One of the secrets to living on a budget is not being afraid to ask for a reduced fare or rate. You may just end up talking to a company representative with a heart of gold who gives you an awesome deal.

Holiday travel is notoriously expensive. While you can’t entirely get around this fact every year, there are ways to keep your holiday travel costs down. Not sure you can afford to travel at all? Keep your eyes peeled for last-minute fare deals. If an airline can’t get rid of seats on a flight, you may be able to afford the marked-down price that appears a day or two before take off.

How do you manage to score budget-friendly travel deals? Follow us on Twitter and tell us all your secrets!

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Budget-Friendly Travel Tips
Photo Credit: Andrew Malone

5 Ways to Reduce Your Electric Bill

Depending on the season, location and amount of usage, your electric bill can be an intimidating expense. After all, electricity powers nearly everything in a modern home–from the appliances and entertainment devices, to air conditioning and lights.

5 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill

Despite its importance, you don’t have to let your electric bill break the bank. There are some easy tips that renters can follow to make sure that electricity costs stay down and amount of money in your bank account stays up. Here are five easy ways to reduce your electric bill:

1. Unplug

It goes without saying that turning off the lights when you don’t need them can reduce the cost of your electric bill–but did you know that simply unplugging your appliances can help reduce costs, too? Of course, you don’t want to unplug things that need to stay plugged in like the refrigerator.

However, unplugging phone chargers, toasters, hair dryers, and other small appliances when they’re not in use can shave dollars off your electric bill every time. Consider getting timed surge protectors or outlet additions that can turn off and on things that you don’t need to use while you’re not home, like television cable boxes, modems, routers and the microwave.

2. Cool Naturally

One of the biggest uses of electricity in a home, particularly during the summer, is the air conditioning. Nearly all air conditioners–whether they are window units that can be turned on and off, or they are controlled centrally by a thermostat–use electric power to run.

While some hot days are unbearable and it’s impossible to go without a/c, on more temperate days, try to cool your home naturally. Open windows, block sun from streaming in windows, and use fans. Try opening two windows; then place a fan backward in one open window to draw hot air out. This will allow the cool air from the other open window to flow in freely.

3. Go Green

If you use a lot of lights in your apartment, one way to reduce your electric bill is to use eco-friendly light bulbs. There are lots of eco-friendly light bulbs available, and they’re much more durable, long lasting, and environmentally-conscious.

Fluorescent light bulbs are not only better for the environment, they’re also better for your bank account. Switch your regular bulbs out for fluorescent ones; then reduce their usage as much as possible. Consider trying different fluorescent bulbs to find just the right color for your home (some can be very bright).

4. Upgrade and Update

New appliances are much more energy efficient and responsible than older appliances. You may not be able to upgrade major appliances in an apartment, but that doesn’t you don’t have any control. Some minor appliances whose newer models tend to be much more eco-conscious include computers, televisions, hair dryers, hair straighteners, toasters and blenders.

5. Clean Your Filters

Your air conditioner has a filter in it that keeps things like dust and dirt from blowing into the air. However, it needs to be changed regularly, and some people try to save money by not replacing the filter. In reality, a dirty filter is not only bad for your lungs, but it can also drive your electricity bill way up.

Full filters make air conditioners inefficient, causing them to work harder (or you to turn them on a higher setting) in order to make your space cool. If your “change filter” light is on, or if you haven’t changed yours in a while, check with your landlord to see if he has a replacement filter for you (or, if the air conditioner belongs to you, head to a hardware store to get a new one). You’ll spend much more on cooling your space with a dirty filter than you will on the one time expense of buying a brand new one.

Do you have any great ideas about how to save money on your average monthly electric bill? If so, we want to hear them! Comment below or reach out on Twitter.

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5 Ways to Save on Your Electric Bills

Photo Source: alliecat1881

How to Vacuum Refrigerator Coils and Keep Your Cool

how to vacuum refrigerator coils

Vacuum your refrigerator coils twice a year to keep your fridge running efficiently.

Let’s face it: In the summertime, your refrigerator is your best friend. There’s nothing like the first sip of a cold beverage to cool you off when temperatures are sweltering, and you don’t even want to think about where you’d be without the freezer. A summer without ice is not a summer you’ll enjoy.

Since so much is riding on this relationship, this month’s green tip focuses on keeping your favorite appliance running smoothly. Regular refrigerator maintenance involves vacuuming the condenser coils on the back or the bottom to clear out the dust and gunk about twice a year. Removing this debris will ensure the fridge doesn’t have to work too hard to keep the insides cold.

Even better, the less the refrigerator has to work, the less energy it consumes – which translates to lower energy bills for you. Now that’s cool.

So how do you go about vacuuming those coils? We’ve got the process laid out for you, step by step.

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