How to Keep Your Money While Keeping Cool

Posted on Saturday 30 May 2009

There's always one...
Creative Commons License photo credit: DRB62

Spring is coming to an end and the weather is definitely getting warmer. If you’re like me, you try to resist turning on the AC as long as possible. However, that’s only delaying the inevitable. So here are some ways to keep cool AND save money.

  • Increase the temperature on your thermostat – There’s no need to keep your home like an icebox. Instead of cranking the AC down to 70 degrees, try 78 and see how you feel. I promise, unless you’re in direct sunlight, it’s not that bad
  • Install ceiling fans – Feeling a cool breeze across your skin makes you feel several degrees cooler than you are. The electricity used to power a ceiling fan in the room you’re in is much less than trying to cool your whole house.
  • Close vents in rooms you don’t use – Why pay to cool rooms that you’re not in. Close those vents and the doors to those rooms as well. Because you’re cooling a smaller portion of your home, your electricity bill will be smaller as well.
  • Get a programmable thermostat – This way you can regulate your AC use. There’s no point in running the AC when you aren’t home. That’s a pure waste of money. I set the AC to go off around 7am when I leave home in the morning and to come back on about an half hour before I get home. This way, the house is cool when I arrive but I haven’t wasted any power cooling an empty house.
  • Clean your air filters – Clean or replace your air filters once a month or whenever they look dirty. Your AC unit has to work harder to draw air through a dirty filter and this lessens its efficiency. Trust me, air filters cost much less than electricity.
  • Use curtains to block the sunlight – While I love natural sunlight, I keep my curtains drawn when I’m away from home. This lessens the amount of sunlight (meaning HEAT) that comes into my home, keeping it cooler overall.
  • Insulate your attic – If your attic doesn’t have the proper amount of insulation, you can lose a lot of your cooled air, forcing your air conditioner to work harder.  Increasing your insulation is not very expensive and an easy DIY project.  You’ll soon recoup the cost as you can save ~$100/yr on your energy bills.
  • Install an attic fan – This is something I’m considering doing.  To get even more bang for the buck, I’m looking at solar attic fans.  Attic fans draw hot air out of the attic which has a cooling effect on your home.  If you install a solar model, there is no added electricity cost.

What are ways you’re saving money and staying cool this year?

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: Frugality
DIY Success

Posted on Saturday 23 May 2009

time to make the bagels
Creative Commons License photo credit: wayneandwax

Unless the people in my previous post, Mr. Savvy and I generally have great success with our DIY projects.  Case in point, for the last few weeks, there has been a strong gas smell when we use the oven.  I finally decided to call the gas company, sooner rather than later, as I don’t want to blow up our house.

Friday, the gas company rep came out and said the issue was with the oven, most likely the ignitor.  So Monday, an appliance repairman came out.  He confirmed it was the ignitor and told me it would be $210 (parts and labor) to fix it.  He didn’t have the part with him but said he would return later.  I didn’t like the idea of paying that much for what looked like a simple fix (I could see the ignitor when he dismantled the oven to diagnose the problem).  So when he called back to reschedule, Mr. Savvy declined.

After locating an appliance parts store, we were able to purchase a new ignitor for $32.  After about an hour of Mr. Savvy’s time, the oven was fixed.  So instead of paying $49.95 for the service call and $210 for the repair, we paid $49.95 and $32.  We saved $178, almost 70%, by doing it ourselves.  How have you saved money by DIYing?

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: Deals andFrugality
DIY Madness

Posted on Thursday 21 May 2009

Creative Commons License photo credit: superk8nyc

In these tough economic times, many people are starting to DIY.  However, some things are best left to the professionals.  A recent NY Times article provides a humorous example –

“One of my clients decided to bleach her hair all over instead of coming in to get a full head of highlights,” said Sunny Brewer, a stylist in St. Clair, Mich. “She put bleach on her scalp and pulled it through to the ends and left it on for an hour. She had hair down past the middle of her back and now she’s sporting a chin-length bob because her hair broke off.”

Have you had any DIY disasters?  Thankfully I haven’t because Google is my friend.  Google twice, cut once.  LOL.

savvy @ 8:00 AM
Filed under: Frugality
Is the Free Ride Over?

Posted on Tuesday 19 May 2009

Cedar Point - Raptor
Creative Commons License photo credit: Andrew 94

Yesterday’s NY Times contained an article on how the credit card industry plans to make up for lost revenue.

Credit cards have long been a very good deal for people who pay their bills on time and in full. Even as card companies imposed punitive fees and penalties on those late with their payments, the best customers racked up cash-back rewards, frequent-flier miles and other perks in recent years.

Now Congress is moving to limit the penalties on riskier borrowers, who have become a prime source of billions of dollars in fee revenue for the industry. And to make up for lost income, the card companies are going after those people with sterling credit.

Banks are expected to look at reviving annual fees, curtailing cash-back and other rewards programs and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period of weeks, according to bank officials and trade groups.

I’m one of those people who pays my bill in full and I LOVE getting all those frequent flyer miles each month.  Getting miles or cash back is definitely a perk so while I would be disappointed if they went away, I would still use credit cards for the convenience factor.  However, I draw the line at paying interest and refuse to do so.  I suspect a lot of card companies will lose customers when/if they make that change.  How will these proposed changes affect your credit card usage?

savvy @ 10:14 AM
Filed under: Credit Cards
Summer Spending

Posted on Friday 8 May 2009

Summer is right around the corner and with it comes my annual quest for summer clothes/shoes.  I have yet to figure out why I never seem to have enough summer clothes.   I haven’t done much shopping yet.  The little I did do was compliments of a Macy’s one day sale + coupon + gift card left over from Christmas and multiple NY&Co coupons.  I got summer tops appropriate for work and play as well as a really cute maxi dress.

The other thing summer means is going to the beach. Mr. Savvy and I always spend a week at the beach at some point during the summer.  Last month, I was dismayed to discover that one of my favorite swimsuits doesn’t fit anymore.  I mean, I could still get in it but all body parts are supposed to stay IN the suit, not creep out.  LOL.  So I’m on a quest for a new swimsuit.  I refuse to wait until the last minute.

As I’m typing this, I’m starting to think that I could probaby use another beach hat, a pair of beach-appropriate sandals, a cuter beach purse and on and on.  I guess I’ve got my work cut out for me.  Where do you find summer deals?

savvy @ 3:55 PM
Filed under: Coupons andDeals andFrugality andGeneral Finances andTravel
Money Down the Toilet

Posted on Monday 4 May 2009

Don't forget to flush
Creative Commons License photo credit: Mark Sardella

It seems that we need new toilets.  I know it’s a necessity but I’ve been putting it off because I don’t like spending money on things that aren’t ‘fun’.  What’s more, we really need to replace all four toilets.  I’m thinking of  replacing two now (the most used) and the other two later.

In other financial news, I received an e-mail from my company last week stating that they’re discontinuing one of the fund options in our 401k plan.  Of course, I have holdings in the fund and of course, the fund is down about 20%.  I have until May 29th to make a decision but I don’t know what I want to do.  If I sell, I will have locked in those losses.  If I do nothing, it will automatically roll to the replacement fund (still locking in the losses but taking a gamble with the new fund).  Guess I need to start doing some research.  Bleh.

savvy @ 11:06 AM
Filed under: 401(k) andGeneral Finances