Archive for the ‘Finance’ Category

Stop covering your vents!

 

With reports of a cold winter, and rising heat costs, a few tips to keep your heating bill down never hurt anyone. Turning down the thermostat and water heater a few degrees is a good start, but there are other tips that can really help save you money in the long haul.

  • Cover your feet. Cold feet are a good way to make your whole body feel cold. Invest in a good pair of socks or slippers to make it through the winter.
  • Keep blankets around. Whether watching TV, reading a book, etc., keep a blanket around for quick heat instead of turning up your thermostat.
  • Turn it down when you aren’t there. You can save a lot of money by turning down your thermostat when you aren’t home.
  • Check for leaks. A major way that people end up losing heat is from cracks around their windows or doors, or from an inefficient heater. Have someone come out and check your device before winter gets really underway, and light a candle and move towards windows and doors. If the smoke moves horizontal, you have spotted an air leak.
  • Drapes and blinds. If it’s sunny outside, leave them open, and if it’s cloudy and/or dark, leave them closed. Sunlight is your friend, but if there is no sun, you are probably just going to lose the heat out the window.
  • Close the vents. Make sure you close the vents in the rooms you don’t use, and then close the door to seal off those rooms so heat isn’t escaping into them.
  • Use fans sparingly. A kitchen and/or bathroom fan can dispel heat pretty quickly. Either don’t use them at all or turn them off as soon as the job is done.
  • Check your vents. Make sure a rug or desk isn’t covering the vent and keeping valuable warm air from spreading throughout the house. Make sure the vents are completely unobstructed.

Those are free fixes, but there are some low-cost fixes that will help in the long run to save you money as well:

  • Buy a smart thermostat. Say you forget to turn down your thermostat when you leave; well, you can program this thermostat to turn down at certain times of the day when no one is ever there. They cost anywhere from $40 to $100, but you will make that money back, and more.
  • Buy a low-flow shower head. These use 25-50% less hot water, which will save money on BOTH your water and electricity bill.
  • Replace the air filter. At a cost of $3-$15, this is such a common problem that people don’t fix, and it can cost them up to $400 by having clogged air ducts. They should be changed monthly.
  • Insulation. By putting insulation in important places (e.g. the attic), you can keep heat from escaping and it will help recirculate the warm air.

And finally, if you haven’t bought high-efficiency light bulbs, do it ASAP! They save you A LOT on your power bill, and they are better for the environment!

 

Replace all your old light bulbs with these, and just see what happens to your electricity bill. I dare you.

So, you are in your twenties or early thirties, and you are starting to get a handle on your finances. You may already own a home, and you may already have some savings, or you may not. Regardless of what you have or don’t have, there are some financial tips that pertain to anyone, regardless of your credit score or the amount of money you make. Here are some tips from some of the top financial advisors in the city (who I happen to work with!), free of charge!

· Establish Credit. Do this by taking out necessary loans (for example, a car loan) or getting a low-credit limit credit card that you pay off every month. No credit is just as bad, if not worse, than bad credit, and will result in you paying higher interest rates when you make a big purchase, like a house.
· Pay Down Debt. Whether it’s private loans or student loans or credit cards, work on paying more than the minimum every month. You will end up saving a lot in interest. Start with whatever has the highest interest rates (mostly likely credit cards, especially store ones), and save the lowest interest loans for last (most likely student loans).
· Save for Retirement. You know that 401k you decided not to sign up for because you were broke? It’s not too late to do it now. If your place of employment offers one, they are offering you free money. You don’t want to work in your golden age; you want to relax! A little bit goes a long way when it comes to saving for retirement. Even if it is just $20 a month, it’s a start.
· Work Two Jobs While You Are Young. This way, you can save more money and it won’t take as much out of you as it will while you are older. There are a lot of work-from-home ideas that you can do in your pajamas and not spend gas money doing!
· Budget. A lot of people have no idea where their money is going. Sign up for Mint.com and sync all your accounts through it. You will be amazed at where your money goes and what you could be saving every month if you don’t, for example, buy Starbucks three times a week.
· Get Health Insurance. If you don’t have it, get it. I know, it seems like an added expense. But if something serious happens to you and you don’t have health insurance, you will not recover from it. It will haunt you for the rest of your life, and it isn’t worth it.
· Shop Around. A lot of people don’t know that they could be saving a lot of money with their monthly bills. Car insurance, cell phone service, and many other bills could be lowered by going elsewhere. You could also threaten to go elsewhere. I had a client that told her credit card company she was going to transfer her balance to another card because the new company had a lower APR. The original company asked what it was, and went even lower than that. If they want to keep your business, they will listen to what you have to say. If not, go elsewhere. Simple as that. Even my mom got her cable bill lowered because she told them she wanted to switch to dish! It doesn’t hurt to try.

These are basics, but more in-depth advice is yet to come, if you are so inclined. Just remember- if you take care of your money, your money will take care of you!

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