Money-Saving Tips Around the Home

With a few changes in your behavior in your life, you can reap big rewards. Here are a few housekeeping ideas to help boost your net worth.

  • Keep your thermostat turned down (or up in the summer) for when you’re not home.
    Insulate your water heater and turn its thermostat down for when you’re away.
    Consider using compact fluorescent light bulbs — they’re cheaper in the long run than ordinary light bulbs.
  • Install dimming switches. They allow you to use softer lighting when you don’t need full-power lighting, and they’ll save you money in the process.
  • Close the blinds. This will keep your home cooler during the day and might keep some heat in at night.
  • Turn off lights and appliances when they’re not in use.
  • When your liquid soaps are half-finished, add some water to make them last a little longer.
  • Consider using Procter & Gamble’s (NYSE: PG – News) Dryel or similar at-home dry-cleaning products for items that require dry-cleaning.
  • When using cleaning agents, try using less than you’re directed to. You’ll often get just-as-good results, and you’ll spend less. Also take a look at the ingredients in name-brand cleaning agents you use and consider making your own. A gallon of bleach costs just a few dollars and goes a long way. A little Clorox (NYSE: CLX – News) bleach mixed with water in a squirt bottle makes a great anti-bacterial cleaning spray for the kitchen and any hard, colorfast surfaces. (Just be careful and label the bottle clearly to avoid accidents with carpet and fabrics.) The bleach solution also kills mold and mildew on bathroom surfaces, just like the pricier Tilex-type products. (In fact, Clorox is the company that makes Tilex!) Likewise, white vinegar mixed with water makes a great glass cleaner, and it costs just pennies. Use it with old newspaper for streak- and lint-free sparkling windows and glass.
  • If you need a desk, you can make one with a door resting on a pair of two-drawer filing cabinets. Buy the door before the doorknob hole is cut, and stain it if you wish. Office-supply stores such as Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS – News) also carry sturdy folding tables meant for office environments that make great portable desks — usually for less than $50.
  • Don’t toss out that tube of toothpaste until it’s really empty. And know that you really only need about a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when you brush your fangs. Don’t overuse that paste, or you’ll end up buying more than you need to.
  • Measure things. If you’re supposed to use 2 tablespoons of dishwasher detergent, don’t guess at what that is — because you’ll very possibly use more than you need to.
  • Reuse your zip-seal bags. You can wash them and turn them inside out to help them dry.
  • Learn to do more of your home maintenance yourself.
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