Thrift: Cut your bills

1. Cut your bills.

For most people, their monthly bills are a steady, predictable, and large drain on their available funds. Take the axe to these. I've listed some common ones below - you may have others that will need personal evaluation. 

TV - I've never been a TV watcher, but a cable or satellite subscription is what,$50 a month? $600 per year? Or more? That's a used Glock and a thousand rounds of 9mm every year (pick a physical metric when thinking about money - it helps visualize the savings)! And what does it give you? An easy way to waste hundreds (or thousands) of hours a year? And in exchange you are indoctrinated in whatever morality is acceptable with the Hollywood crowd? As Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 15:33  Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals."

If you spend hundreds of hours with Hollywood producers via their productions you are going to take damage. Don't deceive yourself on this point. Get your life and money back - stop watching large amounts of TV.

A Kill-a-watt meter showing how much my chest freezer has used.

Electric Bill - for most people there's no good way to replace their electric bill or really effectively produce their own power. So all you can do here is consume less energy. This is worth a whole page (or site), but get a Kill-a-watt watt meter and start finding out what devices in your home are energy hogs. This isn't about being green and saving the planet - this is about saving money to put into needed preparedness.

Example: my desktop computer draws about 300 watts. I used to leave it running 24/7. Well, at 300 watts it's using 7.2 Kwh per day, or 216 Kwh per month. That's about $20 per month. So, I now always put it to sleep when leaving it for extended periods: this saves me about $120 per year.  

Your HVAC is probably your biggest energy dump. There may not be a lot you can do in the summer (for mold control purposes you need to keep humidity below 60%) but in the winter you may be able to use a more cost effective heating method. $150 gets me enough wood to heat most of my house for more than a whole winter; this probably saves me $1,000 over the winter.

Phone Bill - If you are still on AT&T or Verizon for your cell phone it's probably time to bail. We keep switching around, but between Cricket and Airvoice you can probably chop your cell phone bill in half - $30-40 per phone is the normal rate. No, they don't give you "free" phones every couple years. But they aren't free actually - you will pay for them eventually. Oh, and keeping your lines to a minimum is also a sure-fire money saver. Maybe I'm just feeling old and crotchety, but when I was a kid we didn't have cell phones - kids these days don't need a parent-subsidized smart phone (unless they really need it - i.e. for business). 

I'll talk about "luxury/consumer" spending next.