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Tips to Help Reduce Your Household Expenses

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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With increasing gas and food prices many families are looking for ways to cut expenses. It seems like housing, utility, telephone and other bills are going up faster than income. There are some ways families can cut expenses and help to make ends meet. Here are a few tips to help you get started cutting expenses.

Utilities:

* Reduce wattage of bulbs in house lights. Change to compact flourescent bulbs. Turn off lights where not in use.

* Change furnace filters every three to six months.

* Use weather stripping to seal door and window frames.

* Use fans rather than air conditioning. You might consider installing a whole house fan or ceiling fans.

* Wash clothes only when you have a full load or change the setting to fit the load size.

* Wash dishes in the dishwasher when you have full loads. Use “energy saver” cycles.

* Use an electric skillet, toaster oven or microwave whenever possible for food preparation. Stove burners use 3 1/2 times as much energy as an average electric skillet.

* Turn your water heater down to a lower setting (120 degrees F). Check hot water usage.

* Set your air conditioner at a higher temperature in the summer time and lower in the winter.

* Don’t let water faucets drip.

* Limit the amount of water used for outside watering, washing cars, etc.

* Shut off appliances and equipment when not in use. Turn computer off at the main switch.

Housing:

* Maintain your house. Make minor repairs so they don’t become major ones. Do repair work and other jobs around the house yourself or trade skills with someone else.

* If renting, work with your landlord, offer to do work in exchange for part of your rent payment when your budget is tight.

* Know your financial situation. Are you living beyond your means? Look at your total housing costs. Could you find a less costly place to live? If you have a budget crunch, contact your lender before you miss a payment to work out an alternative plan.

Home furnishings:

* Keep carpets and upholstered furniture vacuumed and clean to prevent wear of fibers by soil particles.

* Use a throw to cover furniture that appears worn but is still usable to give it a new look.

* Make do with what you already have. Purchase furniture inexpensively at auctions, discount stores, Goodwill, or yard sales, etc.

Telephone:

Do you need both a land line and a cell phone? Look at the plans for your phone—are you paying for unneeded or unused features?

Have a family discussion about how your money is being spent Cutting expenses can be a challenge. If all family members do their part to reduce unnecessary spending and energy and water usage around the home fitting costs into the budget will be easier.

Ask Lorene

(This resource was added July 2008 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
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