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Saving Money Around the House: When to Spend, When to Cut

Here’s the truth: why you need to save money and cut expenses doesn’t really matter. Sure it matters to you, on a personal level, but it probably won’t change how you look at your home and your budget when it comes to figuring out what to cut and what to change. The bottom line will still be the bottom line and, with any luck, it will be a smaller bottom line than you currently have.

By now you’re likely already familiar with the basic ways of saving money at home: stop buying books and physical media and use the library; turn off the lights when you leave a room; open a window instead of running the AC; use a clothesline instead of a dryer. You’ve even likely already done all of this and it probably hasn’t made that much of a difference. If you want to really save money, believe it or not, sometimes you have to spend a little money first. Here are just a few ways that spending money now will save you a lot of money later.

Buy a Bicycle

You don’t necessarily have to sell your car, though if you can’t afford your monthly car and insurance payments and you need a quick influx of a lot of cash, that’s one way to accomplish that goal without having to take out a loan or max out your credit cards. If you’re just looking to save, though, park your car in your garage and ride a bike instead. Invest in a good one. Like cars, if you dumpster dive, you’ll spend more on repairs and replacements than you would if you had just purchased something good outright.

Riding a bike instead of driving accomplishes two goals: it reduces the amount of money you spend on gas every week or month and it allows you to cancel your gym membership. Why would you spend money on the gym when you’re riding a bike on a daily basis? You might also be able to negotiate a lower car insurance price. That’s a lot of savings!

Get a Great TV Package

It’s true: you could cancel the TV service altogether and just go with a solid internet connection. With streaming media being what it is now, you likely won’t miss anything if you go that route. Sometimes, though, one of the best ways to spend a Sunday is on the couch and surfing through the channels. Stumbling on a Restaurant Impossible marathon on the Food Network doesn’t happen when you access the channel online!

Typically, satellite deals are cheaper than cable or fiber-optic deals. Cable companies often monopolize towns and satellite connections are a way to thwart a cable company’s price gouging. For example, if you shop around for DirecTV in your area, you’ll see almost across the board that even extensive programming packages cost less than the companies using cable connections.

Having access to all of that TV will allow you to cancel at least a couple of your streaming services. It will also reduce your dependence on movie rentals and purchases. Those things seem small when you buy them one at a time, but they add up over time!

Upgrade Your House

Energy efficient appliances will cost you less money over time than simply using your current power guzzling machines less. They will also save you money in some surprising ways. A high efficiency washer, for example, requires less detergent to get your clothing clean. LED lights cost more outright (roughly $20 a bulb) but they will save you more on energy and bulb replacements over their lifetime than incandescents, fluorescents and CFLs (sometimes combined). Installing a solar panel reduces your dependence on the municipal power supply. Setting up a rain collector reduces your dependence on the municipal water supply. Both of these things will drastically reduce utility costs.

Plus, when you upgrade your house, you’ll want to start having people over more often, which reduces the number of times you’ll go out to find entertainment.

It’s true: sometimes you really do have to spend money to save money. These are just a few of those times. There are lots of ways to employ this logic. And, if you work hard to save money while also spending some time taking on extra work to bring in more money, you’ll be surprised at how things even out.


  1. I think the TV issue depends on what you watch. We kept our TV package for years, sure that we couldn’t do without it. But it got to the point that during the days, my husband couldn’t find anything on. And there’s a certain stopping point to watching the same reruns over and over. Even my beloved Law & Order.

    Now we use Hulu and Netflix, and we’ve actually discovered quite a bit of stuff through them. The best thing is that if you find a show that’s been around for awhile, it’s instant marathon material. So we’ve actually been really happy with just those two things. And when it starts getting slow, there are Netflix DVDs.

    • Yes, I do agree with you…your preferred content has a lot to do with whether or not you can do without some sort of cable tv package. My weakness is sports! Sure, you can download an app for each individual sport and stream just about every game for a flat annual fee…but doing that times 4 or 5 different sports can cost more than just having cable to begin with.

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