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DIY & Save: Cut $500 a Month Painlessly

Filed Under: money

Closeup of hand holding American $1 and $5 cash bills, source:
Strapped for cash? Let DIY Life help. Each week we'll be taking a look at savvy -- and sometimes surprising -- ways to cut personal spending and slash household expenses.

Don't worry. Although we love the do-it-yourself angle, we're NOT going to advise you do your own tire balancing or room add-ons. We also promise no lectures on brown bagging your lunch and avoiding Starbucks. You've heard it all before a zillion times, right?

On the other hand, it's worth reviewing the basics. Here's my short list of easy and painless ways to cut $500 a month from your budget!

1. Unplug and save. Even when electronic devices are turned off, they continue to guzzle power. Unplug whatever you use least. For starters, attach your iPod and cell chargers to one power strip and keep it unplugged when not in use. Consider unplugging your computer and printer when you head to bed at night.

2. Keep thermostats turned way down. This applies to both your hot water heater and your AC. Believe me, you will adjust to a warm, not scalding, shower in the morning. (It helps to visualize liquid cash running down the drain.) Also, wash your laundry in cold or tepid water. Your clothes will come just as clean.

3. Draft-proof your home. Use caulk and weather-stripping to seal up cracks around windows and doors. Consider closing (or partially closing) air vents in unused rooms.

4. Stop paying for basic services. We're talking lawn mowing, dry cleaning, manicures, hair treatments, house cleaning and car washing. Do it yourself instead. You may be surprised at how speedily you can accomplish these tasks with your own hands – and for pennies!

5. Attempt simple household repairs or improvements yourself. OK, this is not for everyone. Home repairs do take patience, care and time ... and screw-ups can be incredibly frustrating. But this is a fabulous way to save. Fixing a running toilet or installing a new light switch is actually not rocket science.

6. Check for adequate insulation. All that lovely AC-warmed or -cooled air? It's costing big bucks. Don't let it sail right out through the roof. Check that there's plenty of insulation inside your ceiling.

7. Consider cutting your land line OR cell phone OR cable OR (gulp) broadband. Are you really getting your money's worth from these services? If not, choose the least essential one and cut it. If you only use basic cell phone services, consider switching to a pay-as-you-go phone. They're cheap!

8. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs. Yes, I'm tired of hearing about this, too. But CFLs last 10 times as long as incandescents and use a ton less energy. Buy them in bulk at Sam's or Costco if you can, and change out all the bulbs in your home in one fell swoop. Over time, the savings will add up big time.

Need more money management tips? Skip over to our fabulous sister site, WalletPop!


  • Jim K

    It seems like every CFL bulb I've tried over the last couple of years lasts less than 12 months. I can't afford to save that much money

  • 1 Comments / 1 Pages

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