3 Frugal Things I Do Monthly

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I love saving money.  I just do, is that strange?  I prefer having the dollars in my hand to any sort of shopping.  I regularly work through self-imposed shopping bans and spending freezes, I find the challenge fun.  Currently, it's all about using up everything in my house before buying anything new, as far as personal products like makeup.  But I'm definitely considering going total shopping ban for the month of February, as in no dollars spent.

Not that I don't implement frugal things each month!  I do, I stay on top of my finances pretty well and I figured I could share some of those little tips with you today, in case savings is part of your 2017 goals list.  Now let's be real here - there's a lot of advice on the internet about what you should or should not be doing to save money.  Most of the time you hear about not buying coffee at Starbucks, getting rid of your cable, taking your lunch to work instead of eating out.  All of these things are well and good, I do all of them myself.  But occasionally, you need to go the extra mile when it comes to really being frugal.  Here are a couple of things I do every month to save money and stay on top of my finances.

1. Check Electric and Gas Bills

I get them online, as do many of you, but since they were always low while living in an apartment, I never actually opened them.  I just paid.  Now that we're in a house and have total control, I pay closer attention to the details, particularly when the price fluctuates.

So first of all, this means I closely control the heat and air, not just monthly but every day.  Turning the heat down even 1 degree saves you money in the long run, so suck it up and put a sweatshirt on.  John doesn't always love our house at 65 or lower, but he sure did love the gas company sending us a check for $20 last month because we had overpaid (we were on budget billing, where you get the same bill every month, based on the previous owners' usage.  Needless to say, we've significantly decreased that budget bill amount!)

Another thing I did was an 'energy audit.'  You can try to figure it out with math, but my friend got a Kill A Watt, which is SO fun - you plug your device in and it tells you how much energy it sucks and you can calculate just what that's costing you.  Okay, 'fun' if you're a money saving nerd.  I borrowed it and tested TVs, the projector, phone chargers, the fridge, all sorts of things.  It's helped me make a conscious effort to unplug things.  But if you still think your electric bill is outrageous, there could be a problem and it might be worth it to invest in a home energy monitor, which runs about $250.  Pricey, but saves you in the long run if it can help you figure out exactly what's costing you.  In some areas, your electric or gas company might do a home energy audit for free, so take advantage!  But always check the details on the bills.  If something spikes, you'll know right away there's a problem and fix it.

2. Confirm Unsubscribe

At least once a month, I go through recent deleted e-mails and ensure I'm not subscribed to something I don't want to be, particularly when they're trying to sell me something.  Nothing entices you to shop like getting a promotional e-mail about a sale or an item you recently searched for.  They're literally designed to suck you in and make you spend money.  If I need something, truly, I will hunt it out and find the best deal.  But a 'sale' on a sweater that makes it only $15, is still $15 I didn't intend on spending because prior to that e-mail, I didn't need any sweaters.  I think people (myself included!) don't always stay on top of this because they don't realize how often they get added to mailing lists, either because their address was sold or because they signed up for a coupon they used and then forgot about.  Do yourself a favor and get off the mailing list for anything that sucks you in when on sale.  For me, 3 wick candles comes to mind!  It's also important to do this with physical catalogs that get mailed to your home.  Save a tree, save money, and get yourself off the list.

3. Don't Replace Things

This is one I've only been working on recently but the results, financially and otherwise, are pretty large and immediate.  I just sort of made the rule of not running out to replace things I think I need.  Okay, obviously we replace toilet paper.  But there's so many things that I would just go buy when I was running low or something got used up - makeup, food (mostly pantry items), soap, clothes, etc.  Now, I wait a really long time, as long as possible, before making the decision to replace something.  Often, I find that I don't actually need a replacement, so I save money right away by not buying that item any more (soap! I don't use body wash, and I'm not the only 'crazy' who doesn't, google it.)  Other times I've realized I can make do with a less expensive option (like investing in towels and not buying paper towels, which is cheaper in the long run and better for the environment.)  It also allows me to replace things with greener DIY versions, makeup and skincare in particular, and buying the supplies for those things has proven much cheaper than buying the commercial products.  So do yourself a huge favor the next time you're running out of something - don't replace it!  See how long you can last without it.  It's like baby steps to a shopping ban or no spend month.

Is saving money on your 2017 goals lists?  Which one of these tips will you try?  (Or which ones do you already use?)

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