7 Smart Reasons Why You Should Have 4 Bank Accounts

Smart Reasons Why You Should Have 4 Bank Accounts

This is a simple method designed to help people build their savings. Not only is it easy to follow, but it is also adaptable and applicable to all income levels. There are many reasons why you should have 4 bank accounts. However, the most obvious is that it is an easy way to help you gain control of your finances and your future.

What Is the 4 Bank Accounts System?

1. A Checking Account to Pay the Bills

Your first account should be a checking account to cover your basic living necessities. It is also the one that you should deposit your paycheck into if your employer cannot split it between multiple accounts.

The money that you put into this account should only be used to pay your recurring monthly bills. This includes housing fees (mortgage or rent), utilities, transportation, insurance, cell phone, groceries, etc. You should figure out the exact figure by tallying up your bills and ensuring you leave enough in the account to cover all your living expenses. Don’t forget to include payments that happen at less frequent intervals as well, such as property taxes.

Depositing your money in this account first guarantees that the money will be there, ready to use when bills come due. You can also automate payments to avoid late penalties as well. Since this checking account should only be used for bills, you won’t need a debit card for it. Not having one will help you avoid the temptation to use the funds for other things.

2. A Checking Account for All Your Other Expenses

Your second checking account will pay for everything else, like entertainment costs, shopping trips, gifts, and small splurges. Look at this account as spending for things you want, but don’t need. You’ll want a debit card for this account since this will be your primary expense account.

3. A Savings Account for Emergencies

Everyone needs a rainy day fund for life’s expenses that you can’t plan for such as car repairs, medical bills, or unemployment. Therefore, you should set aside money every month to create a safety net. This will help reduce the financial impact of large, unexpected expenses down the line. Experts suggest keeping a fund that could cover three to six months’ worth of expenses. However, this money is only intended for emergencies. So, you shouldn’t touch the account until you need it.

4. A Savings Account for Financial Goals

Your last bank account should be a savings account that is specifically dedicated for larger purchases like a car, a down payment on a house, or a vacation. You may view this as a savings account for your long-term desires. Or, you could use it as a retirement account. Either way, it helps you build savings for the future. Depending on how ambitious your savings goals are, you may want to create separate accounts for each one.

7 Reasons Why You Should Have 4 Bank Accounts

1. It forces you to look at your monthly expenses and create a budget.

Shockingly, many people have never learned how to create and live on a budget. However, setting up these different accounts forces you to categorize your expenses and calculate a figure of how much you spend each month. The 4 Bank Accounts System is an easy way to correct any imbalances and establish your financial goals.

2. The 4 Bank Accounts System prioritizes your expenses.

As you calculate your expenses, you must look at each one and decide which account it goes into. While you go through this process, you also qualify each item as a necessary or non-essential living expense. If you aren’t reaching your savings goals fast enough, it will also help you decide which ones you can do without to get there quicker.

3. Having a dedicated account ensures that your bills get paid first.

Since your account for living expenses is the first one to get funded, you never have to worry about running out of money at the end of the month. And, there is no risk of having your utilities turned off or not being able to afford groceries. If you set up automated payments, it helps you avoid late fees as well.

4. It will give you a clear picture of your spending habits.

One of the top reasons why you should have 4 bank accounts is because it highlights your spending habits. It neatly divides your finances into categories and allows you to see how much you spend each month on non-essential things. The process can also show you areas where you can reduce spending and help you live below your means.

5. Multiple bank accounts make it harder to spend money set aside for other goals.

You are less likely to make withdrawals or use an account that you don’t have a debit card for. So, it’s easier to resist temptation since the money is out of reach. Additionally, it makes you think about what you are spending your money on. The truth is that most people are unlikely to go to the trouble of transferring money for impulse buys. Therefore, it helps you spend money on things you don’t need.

6. You consistently work towards your financial goals without even thinking about it.

When you deposit the money directly into your accounts, you create the habit of putting your financial goals first. And, you don’t have the chance to spend it. Furthermore, compounding interest accelerates your savings goals even more.

You can simplify it even more if your employer can deposit your paycheck into multiple accounts. Then, your savings plan can become completely automated.

7. It teaches you how to manage your money.

The sad truth is that many of us never received a proper financial education. This is a contributing factor for why so many people struggle to save and get out of debt. One of the best reasons you should have 4 bank accounts is that it teaches you the fundamentals of saving money. Not only is the system is easy to understand, but it will also quickly establish good savings habits.

The Bottom Line

People have thought up tons of challenges and systems to help people save money. However, the 4 Bank Accounts System is one of the simplest and most straightforward that I have encountered. But, the system only works if you remain consistent. Whichever method you will stick with is the best one for you.

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The Ugly Side of Amazon Subscribe and Save

 Amazon Subscribe and Save is a great way to save money on items you buy regularly Not only does it help your budget, but you can cancel at any time However, there are drawbacks to consider While it may seem like a good budgeting tool, there is also an ugly side of Amazon Subscribe and Save What Is Amazon Subscribe and Save? Thousands of items are eligible for this discount, and you can view them in the Subscribe and Save Store Browse a range of categories from groceries and household items to personal care products Choose which items you need, add them to your cart, select how often you need them delivered, and see how much you can save Your items will automatically ship based on the schedule you set What Are the Benefits? The discount varies between 5% and 15% They have several delivery schedule options from monthly to every six months You can postpone, reschedule, or cancel deliveries if you don’t need the item Free shipping on these items so you can bypass one of the largest fees of shopping online What Is the Ugly Side of Amazon Subscribe and Save? You are unable to lock in the price, so they may change between shipments Prices fluctuate and you may not realize it if you have automated payments and shipments Price spikes are a budgeter’s nightmare and can sneakily eat away at your monthly budget If you don’t realize there has been a price increase, you could be paying more than you need to or want to for a particular item Check you Amazon notifications, they will send a confirmation with the details of your order, including any price changes When you stay with a single seller, you could miss out on other deals by comparison shopping Although it was the best price when you joined Amazon Subscribe and Save, it might not be the best deal out there, could save more money if you shop in person as well If you cancel or postpone an item and your package has fewer than five items, you won’t receive the full discount How to Make the Most of Amazon Subscribe and Save Figure out which items you order most frequently, how much you currently spend, and decide if it is worth the savings Although it may not be worth it for cheaper items, applying it to more expensive household and personal products could save you a significant amount of money Compare prices with local stores and other sellers The convenience of having the items delivered may be worth paying a little more each month Edit your list and remove items that you skip again and again Best for non-perishable items that you can store if you don’t use them right away Paper products, cleaning supplies, pet food, diapers, toiletries, health and beauty products If you have at least five items delivered, you will receive a maximum discount of 15% Don’t just add items to fill the quota If you don’t use the products, then you are just wasting your money Make sure to read your emails and review the prices Check if prices have changed since the last shipment so there won’t be any surprises Apply Amazon coupons to save even more when you check out Clip virtual coupons, several lists around the web that lists eligible items for more discounts Read More 10 Things You Shouldn’t Pay For Record Setting Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales 4 Qualities of a Good Online Store

People use Amazon to help them find the best deals and save money. Not only can you comparison shop between sellers, but you can also join Amazon Subscribe and Save. This is a great option for budgeters looking to save money on items they buy regularly. In addition to reducing your monthly expenses, you also have the flexibility to opt-out at any time. However, there are always drawbacks to any savings program. While it may seem like a good budgeting tool, there is also an ugly side of Amazon Subscribe and Save.

What Is Amazon Subscribe and Save?

Amazon Subscribe and Save is a service that offers bigger discounts when you agree to automatic deliveries from the same seller on a routine basis. Thousands of items are eligible for this discount through their marketplace. You can view them in the Subscribe and Save Store.

There are no fees to join. So, you can browse through offers in a range of categories from groceries and household items to personal care products. If you find a good deal, simply choose which items you need, add them to your cart, select how often you need them delivered, and see how much you can save. Then, your items will automatically ship based on the schedule you set.

What Are the Benefits?

The program has several benefits for frequent online shoppers. Depending on the size of your shipment, the discount varies between 5% and 15%. If you are ordering most of your groceries and health supplies online, this can save you a ton of money each month.

The Amazon Subscribe and Save program also has flexible delivery options. You can customize your schedule from monthly deliveries to every six months. If you don’t need the items, you can also postpone, reschedule, or cancel deliveries before shipment.

And, they offer free shipping on all eligible items. This allows you to bypass one of the largest fees and objections to shopping online.

What Is the Ugly Side of Amazon Subscribe and Save?

But, as with all things in life, there are two sides to every story. For every benefit, there are also drawbacks to consider.

You can’t lock in prices.

Even though you may agree to the price at the time you join, there is no way to guarantee you will get the same rate in the future. Prices fluctuate, and they may change between your deliveries. When prices decline, this is to your benefit. However, when they increase, you will be paying more for the same products. If you don’t realize there has been a price increase, you could be paying more than you think.

Although Amazon sends a confirmation email before shipment, you may miss price changes if you don’t read them. Most people would prefer to buy the same product from another seller who has a better price. But your delivery is on an automated shipping schedule, so Amazon will only cancel or edit orders when you intervene.

It doesn’t guarantee the lowest price.

Even though it may have been the best price available when you made the initial purchase, that doesn’t guarantee the lowest price on future shipments. Prices constantly fluctuate and new sellers are always looking for new customers. When you stay with a single seller, you could miss out on other deals by comparison shopping. Your regular order may not be the best deal out there.

Changing your order can affect your discount.

Although you may have received the largest possible discount on previous orders, canceling or postponing items could affect your savings. In order to receive the full 15% discount, you must have at least five items in the shipment. If you reduce your shipper and have less than five things in your cart, you will get a smaller discount.

How to Make the Most of Amazon Subscribe and Save

While you can’t deny the ugly side of Amazon Subscribe and Save, the trick is learning how to maximize its benefits to your advantage.

1. Review your budget to see if the savings make sense.

If you want to find out if the program is worth the time and trouble, you need to evaluate your expenses. Once you know which items you order most frequently, how much you currently spend for them, and compare prices, then you can decide if it is worth the savings.

Although it may not be worth it for cheaper items, applying it to more expensive household and personal products could save you a significant amount of money. However, you don’t want to pay more or receive items you don’t need. Therefore, you should review and edit your list before each shipment. Compare current prices and remove any items you don’t need.

2. It’s better for items that can be stored long-term.

The truth is that you will probably receive products more frequently than needed. Although this isn’t a huge deal for most items, it can equate to a lot of wasted money if you are ordering fresh produce.

So, Amazon Subscribe and Save is probably best used for non-perishable items such as paper products, cleaning supplies, pet food, diapers, toiletries, health and beauty products, and other things that will eventually be used.

3. Make sure you always have at least five items.

Another way to ensure you get the most out of the program is to ensure you meet the minimum standards. You need to have at least five items delivered to receive a maximum discount of 15%. But, you don’t want to simply add items to reach the quota. If you aren’t using the products, then you are just throwing your money away.

4. Review your shipment details.

Next time you get a shipment notification, don’t delete the email without reading it. Make sure you look at the details and review the prices. This is the time to make changes and ensure there won’t be any surprises.

5. Look for digital coupons.

If you love clipping coupons, then there is more good news for you. There are tons of sites and forums that share virtual coupons. You can apply Amazon coupons to save even more when you check out.

Although Amazon Subscribe and Save can help your budget, you need to know how to navigate the fine print to maximize your savings.

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Buy Once Cry Once Mentality in Budgeting

 

Buy Once Cry Once Mentality in Budgeting

Most people know that the purpose of budgeting is to help you take control of your finances. The first step in doing this is creating a monthly budget. First,  you figure out how much you make each month. From that, you monitor what you spend and deduct it from your total income. Many people look for ways to reduce their expenses as much as possible. But, is that the best approach to budgeting? Some say buying quality over quantity is more cost-effective. The ‘Buy Once, Cry Once’ mentality in budgeting may cost more upfront but can save you a ton in the long run.

What is the ‘Buy Once, Cry Once’ Mentality?

Buy Once, Cry Once is the idea that you value quality over price. It means that you can purchase something one time for a higher price, and it will withstand the test of time. Believe me, I understand the importance of cutting corners here and there to save a buck. I used to be the type of person who never paid full price for anything. But after seeing the bottom line of buying multiple cheap items, the ‘Buy Once, Cry Once’ mentality is now ingrained in me.

Invest in Quality Clothing

For example, I used to buy cheaply made clothing from the large box stores to save money. My closet was full of items from the bargain bins and discount racks. However, within a year, the new items started to look worn or would fall apart and need repairs. Instead of buying a cheap, poorly made winter jacket for $20, look at purchasing something from a quality brand.  Yes, it might cost five times as much. But, you get what you pay for. So, chances are it will last you five times longer than the more economical option. And honestly, you’ll be happier with it in the end.

Don’t Settle for Cheap Knock-Offs

Another example would be buying an expensive appliance. Many high-end appliances like air-fryers and insta-pots have flooded the market, but the appeal comes from their longevity. I use both these appliances several times a week, and they are still working as well as the day I bought them. Sure, you could spend less on a knock-off, generic product. But spending more on a quality appliance will save you money in repairs and replacement costs. You buy the appliance once (and cry because of the high price), but then you have a well-made product that will last you for years to come.

Cheap Vehicles Often Lead to Costly Repairs

However, the most obvious application of the Buy Once, Cry Once approach to budgeting was when I bought a used vehicle. Several years ago, I was looking for a new car. However, there was no way I could afford high monthly payments. So, I found a used vehicle from a private seller. On the surface, everything looked clean and functioned well. But, within a few months, I experienced one costly repair after another. In total, I spent nearly as much on repairs as I did on the vehicle. Had I increased my initial budget, I could have bought a more reliable car that didn’t require so much maintenance.

Buy Once, Cry Once Mentality in Budgeting

So now that we have wrapped our heads around the ‘Buy once, Cry once’ mentality, how does it fit into budgeting?

If you ascribe to this mantra, then you know your budget is going to take a substantial hit upfront. After all, paying for quality is not a new idea. In terms of budgeting, you should look at the expense as a one-time expenditure. When you plan for a large purchase, you can adjust your budget so you don’t overextend yourself. Going back to the example of buying a new winter coat, you would put aside extra money in the budget around November/December to accommodate the extra expense.

Think of it this way; a one-time expense for a quality item usually turns out to be a better value over time. Rather than having to budget to purchase lesser quality items more frequently, you invest in better-made items that you only have to buy once.

However, if you are making a larger purchase like a car that is bigger than your entire budget, it will probably require a loan. But the Buy Once, Cry Once theory still applies. Although you have larger monthly payments, buying a better quality vehicle will save you money in labor and repairs.

How to Get Quality at a Lower Cost

Even though you are going to spend more upfront with this approach, you can still find quality at a decent cost. Just because you want to buy quality products does not mean you have to buy the most expensive option. You can save a lot of money by doing some research before you spend anything. Compare product reviews and shop around for the best deals. Depending on what you are shopping for, you can likely find excellent deals with seasonal offers.

 

Another way you can stretch your budget is to find second-hand items. With online marketplaces and sales becoming more active than ever, there is a good chance you can find used products for a great price. If possible, take some time to explore used options before you blow your monthly budget.

Conclusion

Shifting your mindset to purchase something based on quality over price will reap many financial benefits over time.  The ‘Buy Once, Cry Once’ mentality in budgeting may be hard to grasp at first. But once you embrace it, I can assure you that you’ll ultimately be more satisfied.  By creating a free monthly budget, you too can be on your way to financial independence.  

Budget Smart, Invest Wise

If reading this blog post makes you want to try your hand at blogging, we have good news for you; you can do exactly that on Saving Advice. Just click here to get started.

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Keeping Your Utility Prices Low But Secure

Utility prices only seem to be on the rise. Sometimes it can feel like each year there is a new increase that bumps up the price. To put the price increase into perspective, in 2019, Americans were paying $104 a month for water and waste utilities, which was up 30% in less than a decade. That’s just for one part of the utility bills.

Yearly in the US, the average family spends $2,060 a year on utility bills. What we can say for sure is that household bills are expensive, and they won’t get cheaper anytime soon. Thanks to economical and trading factors, utility bills will continue to rise. Statista predicts electricity alone will go up by 1.3% by the end of 2022.

With every utility bill expected to go up over the years, we want to discuss how you can keep your utility prices low and secure. Secure meaning they’re ongoing utility bills that provide you with the utilities and coverage you need to live comfortably that’s impaired.

Protecting Your Supply

It’s easy to become accustomed to having instant access to any utility you need. Even simple things like turning on a light switch or running the faucet to wash the dishes are luxuries we take for granted. There are, sadly, multiple things that can happen to affect your supply.

One of the most obvious is problems with utility bill payments. When you take out a tariff with your utility provider, you’ll agree on a date that the bill has to be paid. Some are monthly, some are quarterly, and others can even be yearly. The minute you don’t pay, letters and emails will come your way. Most companies allow a grace period of a month or so before they cut the utility supply, especially for ones like gas and electric.

To prevent this, set up a direct debit with every utility provider. Direct debits are a great way of ensuring the bill is paid every month – although it’s not always secure. Sometimes utility providers can charge too much, which is easy to miss if you let the direct debit run without checking the statement first.

Top tip, always check the billing statement at least a week before the bill is due to come out to check for discrepancies.

You can protect your supply in other ways. Most homeowners don’t know that the supply lines that run under their homes are their responsibility. Some insurers offer service line coverage which protects you when damage occurs. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do in the way of maintaining these lines – you can only protect yourself if something were to go wrong.

Limiting Your Usage

Limiting your utility usage is an excellent way to keep your costs low without taking out a tariff that doesn’t suit your needs. Water usage is the perfect example. Most suppliers charge based on the size of the meter and how much you use – which is often based on submitted meter readings.

You can limit your usage by filling a bowl of water to wash up rather than leaving the faucet running, limiting the amount of laundry you do a week, and limiting your time in the shower. The same goes for electricity, which also typically runs on a meter. Out of all the household utility bills, electricity is perhaps the most wasteful bill.

From leaving lights on during the day to leaving the television on overnight, homeowners have some wasteful habits when it comes to utility bills. Simply being slightly more conscious about your usage can bring your monthly premiums down.

Getting The Best Tariffs

The tariff you’re on might not be the cheapest tariff available – especially with utility bills like the internet. Internet prices seem to be skyrocketing, with the average internet bill in the US currently costing around $64 a month. Still, that price is probably so high because the internet is running 24/7, and most people prefer to switch from their data to Wi-Fi when they get home.

Yet, most people also have unlimited data cell phone contracts, so why not consider cutting the cost of your internet price by reducing the agreed download and upload speeds and the total usage and rely on your cell phone more in the home. Similarly, you might find it beneficial to shop around and see if another provider has a better tariff- that applies to any utility bill.

Sometimes it’s better to shop around and get a better deal than to stay loyal to a provider that’s overcharging you.

Utility bills will always be expensive, yet they’re a necessity in life we can’t run away from. Although there are ways of reducing the cost slightly, it can still feel like utility bills take your hard-earned money quicker than it comes in. The tips above should help you to keep your utility bills low but secure.

Healthy Costco Foods on a Budget

healthy costco food

Many people questioned renewing their Costco membership when they announced that they were raising their membership fees.  Although it was only a 9% hike, Executive members now pay $120 a year, while Gold Star members pay $60 a year.  Despite the minimal increase in the annual fee,  Costco shoppers reap huge savings when they buy items in bulk.  It is great for large families and those looking to stretch their grocery budget.  While the savings are attractive, quality produce and products provide another significant benefit. Healthy Costco foods are good for both your well-being and your wallet.

Buying Costco Foods in Bulk

Getting  healthy Costco foods in bulk can help stretch your grocery budget when things get tight.  For example, I usually set aside $350 per month to spend on food.  This includes eating out in addition to weekly groceries from Costco and other supermarkets.  A family of four will likely have a monthly food budget closer to $1000.  The great part about buying food in bulk is that you get a better price than when you buy the same item individually.

Products with Long Shelf Lives

Many who purchase items in bulk from Costco stock up on paper products and food items with a long shelf life.  For example, paper products, dry goods, and condiments are a few items where you can receive huge savings by buying in bulk.  Even if you don’t use these items right away, they can always be used down the road when you need them.

Healthy Foods that Can Be Stored

Shopping for lean healthy meats at Costco can provide huge savings to a family of four as well.  Purchasing healthy Costco foods such as lean chicken breasts, ground beef, beans, and brown rice in bulk can provide healthy nutrition and savings.

Purchasing many pounds of meat at once can net you huge savings. Although they come in large packages, you can divide the meat into smaller Ziploc bags, and simply freeze them until a later date.  Even when shopping at grocery stores, one of the tricks I do is purchase items when they are on sale.  One week, chicken might be on sale for $1.99/lb while the next week it is $2.99/lb.  Organizing purchases so you take advantage of them during sales is the best way to optimize your monthly grocery budget.

Costco’s Reputation with Its Customers

Costco has a good reputation among shoppers. This is partly because of the quality of their products, but it is also due to their excellent customer service and robust returns policy.  So, if you’re shopping for organic food at Costco, there aren’t many downsides. Even if you come across a bad apple, chances are good they’ll accept returns.

While I’m raving about Costco, they also have good prices on tires and are open on most major holidays, so you can get your car serviced while you’re picking up your groceries.

Buying healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive, and buying healthy Costco foods doesn’t have to cost a lot either.  When shopping for groceries, the keys are to buy in bulk when available and stock up during sales.  Finally, by planning your purchases ahead of time with a list, you can avoid unneeded items.  Eating healthy and sticking to your budget doesn’t have to be hard.

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How to Reduce Pet Expenses and Care Costs

 

How to Reduce Pet Expenses

Owning a pet can be a very rewarding experience. Not only do they provide companionship, but studies also demonstrate how pets can benefit our mental health. However, caring for an animal is a serious responsibility. If you are worried about the additional costs, here are seven ways you can ease the burden and reduce pet expenses.

7 Ways to Reduce Pet Expenses

1. Choose a Pet to Suit Your Budget.

I know…it can be hard to resist those big, puppy-dog eyes. However, before you bring home a new pet, you must ask yourself if you are financially able to take care of one. Caring for an animal is a huge responsibility. Therefore, you should be aware just how much the annual costs can be.

If you are getting a pet, choose an animal that suits your budget. Since larger animals eat more, it may be better to consider a smaller animal with lower pet care costs. According to the ASPCA, the expenses for a large dog are about $875 every year. Opting for a smaller pet could be a smart way to reduce pet expenses. Annual costs are approximately $670 for cats, $200 for birds, and $35 for freshwater fish. Even looking at smaller breeds of dogs could save you a considerable amount of money on pet food and supplies.

2. Adopt Your Pets from a Shelter.

Adoption is another way to greatly reduce the initial costs of getting a pet. You save a ton in adoption and veterinary fees if you adopt through a local shelter. When you take your pet home, it has already received a check-up, vaccinations, and been micro-chipped. The small adoption fee is a bargain when compared to these savings alone. Not only are you supporting their rescue efforts, but adoption also eliminates breeder’s exorbitant prices.

You can also ask around or check local classified ads for animals in need of a good home. Often times, those placing the ads are giving the animals away, free of charge. Why pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for pure-bred pets when there are so many that you can choose from for free?

3. Compare Food and Pet Supply Brands.

There is no doubt that food will be your biggest expense as a pet owner. But, as with any purchase, it makes sense to look for the most economical brands and best deals. Avoid brand names with words like “premium,” which usually only mean a higher retail price. Store brands that say things like “total nutrition” or “balanced diet” will still provide your pet with proper nutrition.

Buying pet supplies in bulk from discount clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club is very cost effective. There are also many online stores like Chewy.com that regularly offer discounts and promotional codes to their customers. Any smart budgeter will tell you that every little bit counts, especially when trying to reduce pet expenses.

4. Get Vaccines from Low-Cost Clinics.

In order to protect the pet population, state and local governments require vaccinations for domesticated animals. Although these are required by law, you don’t need to spend crazy amounts of money for private consultations. Many shelters and local universities work with low-cost clinics to provide affordable treatments. Since vet students and interns administer the injections, they usually cost next to nothing.

If you have any questions about city ordinances concerning pet vaccinations, check with the local humane society. Not only can they give you the most current information, but they can also tell you more about these types of programs in your area.

5. Maintain Your Pet’s Health.

The best way to reduce your pet’s long term medical expenses is by maintaining good health and hygiene. Just as it is with humans, it requires time and effort to keep your pets healthy. You can ensure your pet maintains a healthy body weight with regular exercise and feeding schedules. Over-feeding your pet hurts both your pet’s well-being and your wallet.

Annual check-ups and regular visits to the vet are another costly responsibility of caring for animals. However, it is extremely important for preventative care.  This includes regular dental cleaning, booster shots, and treatments for common ailments like heartworm, fleas, tick, and other diseases. When you do need medication, you can save a bundle through websites like PetCareRX and 1-800-PetMeds as well.

Finally, do not forget your pet’s reproductive health as well. Although puppies and kittens are adorable, their upkeep costs are astronomical. As a responsible pet owner and financial planner, have your pets spayed and neutered. The initial investment in the procedure is well worth the long term savings.

6. Reduce Grooming Costs.

When choosing what kind of pet is right for you, grooming is another important consideration. Larger animals or breeds with long hair require a lot of maintenance. Some pet owners have professional groomers tend to their animals, but these services come at a high price. While these visits are necessary at times, regular combing, brushing, bathing and clipping at home prolong visits to the groomer.

If you do not feel confident to trim your pet’s fur or nails, there are many tutorial videos online to help you. You can purchase the tools online, and follow along with their instruction to reduce your pet care expenses. Furthermore, shaving pets during summer months will also save you time and energy cleaning. That alone is a huge value in and of itself.

7. Try Making Your Own Pet Toys.

One of the most frivolous ways we spoil our pets is with toys and treats. Although my pets enjoy them immensely, toys from the pet store are not cheap. While it is okay to splurge occasionally, don’t stuff your online shopping cart with things they don’t really need.

Instead, look for things around your house that many pets are perfectly content to play with. Every dog I have owned happily chased after tennis balls or dragged around their favorite stuffed toy to chew on. Cats often prefer the boxes their pet supplies and toys come in. Additionally, ribbons and strings can be just as entertaining as there are plenty of items around your home that your pets will find perfectly acceptable.

If you are the creative type, you can find endless ideas for homemade pet toys on Pinterest boards and other DIY websites. You can also consider growing your own herbs like catnap to further reduce pet expenses. When it comes to finding ways to keep your pet entertained, you are truly only limited by what keeps your and your pet’s interest.

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How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half

How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half

With more people working from home than ever before, it is even more important to find ways to reduce energy costs. If your children are also attending classes online, that means even more household energy consumption. Spending more time at home also means higher utility bills, especially during the extreme summer and winter months. However, there are several things you can do to cut your electric bill in half.

How to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half

Energy Audit to Save Time and Money

The first thing you should do is contact your energy supplier and request an energy audit. They provide this service to their customers for a small fee, averaging around $100. In addition, you may receive coupons and discounts for large ticket items or recommended upgrades.

During the energy audit, a technician will do a walk-through to spot issues. It takes about an hour depending on the condition of the house. In the end, the technician will hand you a checklist of items you can address to cut your electric bill in half.

Although there is a small fee, an energy audit can save you time and money in the long run. Rather than guessing at the problems of wasting time to find them, the technician pinpoints the issues. They can also offer professional advice about things that need to be immediately attended to and guide you towards the best solution.

Free Things You Can Do to Cut Your Electric Bill in Half

Even if you do not have the finances to replace and upgrade your home, there are still things you can do to reduce your energy bills.

Shop Around for Deals

As with any purchase, you should always shop around for the best deals. The same is true if your state allows deregulated electricity. You can use dedicated sites to shop around and compare prices between electric suppliers. You receive the same service but at more competitive rates. A little research can save you a bundle on your utility costs.

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Another easy way to reduce energy consumption is to identify which appliances pull the most electricity and use them less. These usually include your heating and cooling units, dryer, water heater, refrigerator, and electric stove. However, you can also use a Kill a Watt device to see what other electronics and appliances are the worst culprits.

Once you know what is causing the energy spikes, you can find ways to use these appliances less. Here are a few ideas that can reduce your monthly bills.

Heating and Cooling Costs

    • Use your windows to regulate the temperature in your home. Open them during the day to warm your home in the cold months. On the other hand, close them to block out the summer sun to stay cool.
    • Set the thermostat to a cooler temperature during the winter months. You can wear more clothing or use blankets while your body acclimates. After a few days, your body will adjust and your savings will increase.
    • There is no need to heat rooms you don’t use, so close doors and vents to conserve heat.
    • Be sure to seal up your home to make sure air does not escape. Use caulk or weather stripping around doors and windows to stop drafts.
    • Insulate your windows with plastic wrap or a plastic insulator kit to keep air from seeping out.

Cutting Costs with Laundry

    • Use cold water to wash clothes, especially if your home has an electric water heater.
    • Add dryer balls instead of sheets to help your laundry dry faster. They help separate the clothes resulting in less dryer time.
    • On sunny days, line dry clothing outside. During inclement weather, you can hang items inside or get a clothing rack to avoid the dryer completely.

Turning Off and Unplugging Appliances

  •  Turn off the lights when you leave a room. This also includes outdoor lights that are often left on overnight.
  • Use a power strip to help you remember to unplug electronics when not in use. Many devices still pull energy even when turned off.

Cutting Costs in the Kitchen

  • Try to use your electric oven less, especially during the summer months. Instead, grill or cook with other lower energy appliances.
  • Hand wash your dishes and save electricity by not running the dishwasher. Even a few loads less per week can save you money.

Energy-Efficient Products to Reduce Your Electric Bill

If you are ready to invest in upgrading your home, there are many energy-efficient products that will help you reduce your energy consumption.  Cleaning and regularly maintaining your home greatly impact the long-term energy costs. However, there are also smaller improvements you can make that will also help reduce your electric bill.

  • Change incandescent lighting to LED bulbs. Not only are they more energy-efficient, but they also last longer so you will not have to replace them as often.
  • Using a smart power strip will ensure you completely turn off all electronics. A smart device will automatically cut power so they are not left in standby or power-saving mode. Even if they appear to turn off, they may still be using electricity.
  • Install an energy-smart thermostat. You can program it around your schedule so you are not running the heating or cooling system when the house is empty. It automatically adjusts to set temperatures and makes it easier to control. Some even have apps you can use from your phone.
  • Install ceiling fans to circulate air. They are especially useful to cut air conditioning costs on hot summer days.

For those considering more expensive home upgrades, you may qualify for government tax credits and rebates. Although there are significant upfront costs to purchase energy-efficient appliances, these can make it more affordable. Furthermore, it increases the resale value of your home. Whatever your reasons for wanting to reduce energy costs, there are many options to get you there.

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