Save Money: Home

The long list of ways to save money at home. Included are ideas for around the house, home projects, home gardening, and home renovation.

Around the house

Seasonal items are ideally purchased at the end of their season. The best time to buy:

  • Linens - January
  • Kitchen items - April, November
  • Winter coats - March
  • Tires - July
  • Swimsuits - July, August

Keep the dryer vents clean. Prevent a fire by keeping the dryer vent clean. Over 15,000 fires a year start because of clogged dryer vents. Clogged vents also increase the drying time, often dramatically.

Refill print cartridges. Instead of buying new black and color ink cartridges when your computer printer runs low, just get them refilled at your local drug store or shopping mall.

Buy generics. If there's no innovation happening with the product, the private label can be just as good, or better. We estimate you can save up to $15 a month by going with the store-brand or little-known brand for batteries and these other products: pain relievers, canned fruits & vegetables, pantry staples and basic beauty products.

Eight out of 10 U.S. families pay too much for phone service, reports billshrink.com. Use one or more of these strategies to ensure yours isn't among them.

Take a message. Teens who live at home average over 1,700 texts a month. Switch to a family cell plan with unlimited texting.

Get smart. College students text less than high school kids. Spring for a smartphone (like an iPhone) with unlimited data if your child agrees to a limited text and calling plan.

Drop the landline. Some 20% of homes have only cellphones. Maybe yours should be one.

Add Mom and Dad to your family plan instead of having them keep an emergency phone. Typically it costs $10/month for an additional phone.

Home Projects

Clean the carpet. No need to hire a pro every time you get a spot on the rug. Rent a carpet cleaner for $20 and save the $200 or more a cleaning service charges to render five rooms spotless.

Check for silently leaky toilets. This can happen in new toilets, too. I checked our toilets after 6 months in our new house and both had silent leaks in them - the flappers were bad. Buy good replacement parts and check to see they do not leak. Flappers are easy to replace. A good flapper is around $4. A good plumber is around $70.

Test #1

  1.  Turn off the water supply to the toilet
  2. Mark the water level. After an hour, check to see if it has decreased. If so, the flapper needs replacing

Test #2

  1. Put food coloring in the water closet (not the bowl).
  2. After an hour see if the water in the bowl is colored. If so, then the flapper probably needs replacing.

Instead of buying a specialty tool that you may need once every couple of years, rent it at a national chain such as Home Depot or Sunbelt Rentals, or at an independent retailer (find one at ararental.org). Prices typically range from $20 to $100.

Borrow the tool you need, often for free, from a tool-lending library. Wikipedia has a list of major cities that offer this service; to find one near you, just type "tool lending library" into the search engine. Savings: $27 a month, if you rent six common tools (average price to buy: $300) twice over a four-year period.

Home Renovation

Renovating a home doesn't have to blow a hole in your pocket. Just follow these savings strategies.

Keep plumbing and gas lines in the current location.

Refinish cabinets rather than replace them. New hardware can make a big difference in looks.

Buy appliances with slight dents or scratches, or last year's model.

Consider doing some of the work yourself (get savings estimates at diyornot.com)

Consider reglazing an old bathtub. It is cheaper to reglaze an old tub and it does not have to be ripped out for a new one.

Clean and seal your deck once a year. Powerwash the deck at the end of the season then seal it. Keep debris out of the cracks since they trap in moisture and cause wood rot.

Home Insurance

Slash home insurance premiums by making these adjustments:

  • Raise your deductible to $1,000
  • Ask for loyalty discounts
  • Use the same insurer for your auto coverage
  • Install dead bolts or a security system

Home Gardening

Don't buy mature plants when you can grow them from seed or buy small ones. Smaller plants tend to adapt better to a new environment.

Make compost from rotting leaves in your yard and grass clippings rather than buying it.

Free mulch. You may be able to pick up free mulch from your town or local utility. Just call and ask.

Water the garden and grass in the early morning. Watering during the day causes the water to evaporate quickly while watering at night invites fungus.

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