With age and maturity comes responsibility. And once you’re all grown up, possibly married with a couple of kiddos, that means becoming responsible for managing your family’s finances. Ensuring that the bills are paid and everyone is fed is par for the course of parenting. And when you’re working to provide for your family, you want to be sure that your hard earned dinero is going to the right places in your budget.
But as you may realize, there are some expenses that seem like a constant drain on your bank account. For instance, you may wonder why your electric or water bills are always so high, or gas is overpriced, or why your cell phone provider seems to charge an arm and a leg.
While we can’t eliminate these types of expenses (after all, cell phones are just a necessity in today’s society), there are some smart steps you can take to ensure that you’re not spending more than you should on these monthly expenses. Getting these in order will help to free up room in your budget for the things that your family enjoys.
Simple Ways to Cut Your Family’s Monthly Expenses
How to Lower Your Water Bill
You may not give much thought to your water bill but this is often an area where money is leaking from your family’s budget. A quick and easy way to cut your family’s monthly expenses is to cut out overuse of water. There are several things you can do to lower the family’s consumption of water and ultimately lower your water bill. Here are a few tips:
- Check all faucets and toilets to make sure they do not leak or drip. These types of leaks can waste hundreds of gallons per month sending your water bill skyrocketing if they go unrepaired. Fixing a faucet or toilet leak is a very inexpensive repair that you can DIY with a few tools and parts from your local hardware store.
- Make sure your meter is working correctly. I recently learned that leaks can also occur from the meter itself; not just from inside the home. There may be an “invisible” leak in a supply line running to your home. Test this by shutting off all your faucets and appliances that use water (refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, etc). Shut off all faucets and turn off all water-using appliances. Read your water meter and do not turn anything on inside the home. Wait a half hour to an hour and read the meter again. If the meter has moved, you may have an invisible leak. Contact your water company to get this repaired.
- Upgrade your toilet or install a toilet dam. Older toilets manufactured before 1994 may use thousands of gallons more per year than newer models. Consider either installing a new toilet that has the EPA WaterSense label which means it uses 20 percent less water than a standard toilet. Or place a “toilet dam” in the tank to help conserve on water usage. Doing either of these can save hundreds of gallons each year.
- Install flow restriction on all faucets.
- Practice and teach kids to turn the faucet while brushing teeth or washing dishes.
- Run the dishwasher only when you have a full load. Wipe dishes off before stacking them and use the economy setting.
- Consider an energy efficient dishwasher.
- Compost food or put it in the trash instead of using the disposal.
- Insulate your water heater and pipes to allow water to stay warmer so you don’t have to run as much water to get warm or hot water.
- Wash only full loads of clothing and be sure to use the proper size setting for your loads.
- Look for water efficient appliances when it’s time to upgrade your appliances.
- Know where your master shut-off valve is located in the event you have a burst pipe.
- Be sure to check your outdoor pipes for leaks.
- Water the yard only when necessary, and allowed by your county’s.
- Adjust your sprinklers to the season.
Saving on TV, Internet, and Data
Another major expense for many families is entertainment which includes your family’s TV, internet or data service. We all want to remain entertained and connected, but when the bill comes you may have a small heart attack each month. Save money on your tv and internet with these tips:
- Eliminate cable altogether. Okay, it was worth mentioning.
- Opt for a basic or flex cable package. Many people are moving away from these mega packages offered by cable or satellite tv providers. Who really needs or watches over 300 channels. If your package is being underused, consider downsizing to a smaller and more affordable package.
- Shop around for cheaper packages every year. Many plans will automatically renew you at a higher rate once your contract is up. Be sure to contact your provider to ask for the best and lowest cost plan, or shop around for another provider.
- Use local WiFi. Rather than drain your data plan – and possibly incur overage charges each month – log on to public WiFi. Many public places like businesses, restaurants, and libraries offer free WiFi to patrons. Just ask for the password so you can gain access. If you run a business from home, consider going to the library to work and log on to the free WiFi.
- Reduce the use of technology all around. We’ve become increasingly addicted to technology these days. Consider setting some parameters on how much technology your family members consume on a daily basis. Not only will this cut your usage, it may actually allow more time for family activities.
Cutting Your Electric Bill
Does your jaw drop every time you open your electric bill? There may be an easy fix for this. Oftentimes, we’re just not aware of the simple and easy ways that we can reduce spending, even a bill which is unavoidable like the electric bill. But this is one of the easiest ones to address. Cut your family’s monthly expenses by paying attention to your usage of electricity. Here are some ways to start tackling – and reducing – your electric bill.
- Switch to automated bulbs. Nowadays we like things to be automated. Automatic bill-pay. Automatic direct-deposit. And another place where we can benefit from automation is our home energy usage.
- Invest in a smart thermostat. Save on heating and cooling by automating your thermostat.
- Use energy saving settings.
- Use your microwave or grill out during the hottest times of the day.
- Unplug smaller appliances. Small appliances like toaster ovens, coffee makers, and blenders use energy even when not in use. So unplug them when they are not actively being used.
These are just a few ways to reduce your family’s monthly expenses. Looking for leaks and ways to cut back can take a little effort now, but can pay off in the long term.
Alicia Hyatte is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Family Wellness Expert, and Health Educator. She creates impactful, evidence-based health and wellness content and programs for individuals, families, and communities.