You’ve just gone from renting to home ownership, but your house is sucking all the money out of your budget. It’s worrisome for sure, but with a few simple changes—from landscaping to insulation—you can stop the constant flow of money out of your wallet and put it towards something more fun (like new furniture!). Here are seven common money pits—and tips on how to fix them.
1. Water-Efficient Landscaping
When it comes time to give your lawn a drink, you might be tired of making it rain with your wallet. During the summer months especially, that water bill can skyrocket quickly. Cut down your water budget by replanting part of your yard to take full advantage of run-off from rainstorms. It might take a lot of effort at the beginning to plant a rain garden, but after the initial effort, maintenance is easier. Be sure to choose the right plants and spot for your garden.
2. Replacing Insulation
Remember your mom telling you to close the door, because she’s not paying to heat the whole neighborhood? If your insulation isn’t up to snuff, it’s like leaving your front door open (albeit, a slower leak). Start with the attic so the rising hot air can’t escape as easily. Then reverse your thinking and keep your feet warm this winter by taking a look at the floor. Looking to insulate from all sides? You can tackle many walls by blowing in insulation rather than opening up the whole wall.
3. Cut Down On Lawn Maintenance
Another way the great outdoors can cost a bundle is through other maintenance—mowing the yard, raking leaves and shoveling snow are just a few of the many outdoor chores that come with home ownership. If you don’t have time or are physically unable to complete these tasks yourself, a lawn service can add up fast. Instead, stimulate the local economy—the really local economy. Hiring neighborhood teenagers to do yard work has the double advantage of helping kids earn money and learn responsibility. It’s also cheaper for your budget.
4. Check Your Mortgage
An adjustable-rate mortgage sounds good when it’s low, but it can swing higher, too, and end up costing a lot more than you thought in interest. Investigate how you might be able to improve your interest payments by refinancing, and think about a fixed-rate mortgage to prevent future market forces from sending your rate up again.
5. Go Green With Appliances
Though it’s not as visible as a leaky tap sending water down the drain, an old appliance could be doing the same thing with energy. From the refrigerator to the washer and dryer, your appliances use a lot of electricity. Look for an Energy Star rating as a guideline to what machines might be the best choice for a swap. Check your local municipality to see if you could get a tax credit for your efforts.
6. Warm Up And Cool Down
When the summer heat hits, it’s tempting to make the indoors icy cold, but if you settle for cool over cold, your budget will thank you. Changing the temperature by just a few degrees can make a difference in your bill. It works the same way for winter: Put on a sweater, and set the thermostat a few degrees cooler.
7. Unplug Your Electricity Bill
It’s easy to leave the toaster plugged in all day, and who unplugs the DVD player after movie night? However, these items can continue to siphon energy from your outlets even when you’re not making toast or having a movie marathon. Unplug them when you’re finished using them, and the savings will add up over time.