June 11th, 2017 8:34 AM by Jackie A. Graves, President
When people refer to their homes as "money
pits," it generally conjures up stark and terrifying images of a
huge chasm in the floor, sucking down dollars (thanks, Tom
the reality is that the classic big-ticket home problems, such as a
faulty foundation or flooding basement, can indeed sweep through bank
accounts like financial tsunamis. But just because your home isn't plagued
by these traumas doesn't mean you're in the clear.
fact is, many homes have mini money
pits that, over time and put together, siphon off thousands of
dollars. Here's where they're hiding, and what you can
do to keep the financial hemorrhaging in check.
you have regular incandescent lightbulbs in your home, they're burning
through your heating bill. Only 10% of the energy they consume goes to light;
the rest is given off as heat (resulting in a higher AC bill to boot!). That's
why the U.S. government encourages all homeowners to switch to energy-efficient bulbs such
LEDs might be more expensive at the outset, but they'll save you
cash over time: According to Energy.gov, if you replace just five of your
most frequently used lights with energy-friendly models, you'll save $75
a year. In fact, if every household replaced just one incandescent bulb with an LED,
Americans would save more than $460 million in annual energy costs.
homeowners spend $11 billion on cooling costs every year, according
to the Department of Energy," explains financial expert Andrea
Woroch. So once summer comes around, it's important
to make sure to replace filters (at least once a year) to keep your
air-conditioning unit in tiptop shape.
don't forget about the area outside your AC as well—meaning the vents.
units need free, unconstricted airflow to operate efficiently," says John
Bodrozic, co-founder of energy-saving home
improvement site HomeZada. "Oftentimes shrubs grow around these
units, blocking airflow, causing the units to work harder, longer, and using
more energy. They will also burn out quicker, requiring an expensive
Eric C. Wentworth,
author of "A Plan for Life: The 21st Century Guide to Success," notes that your fridge is a
financial black hole in more ways than one.
starters, "it's easy to spend too much on food," he notes.
"What makes it worse is when food gets 'lost' in the refrigerator and
eventually loses its safe shelf life and gets discarded. Nearly everyone has
food in the back of the fridge or buried in a produce bin that escapes notice
and isn't eaten. It's part of the reason why 40% of all food in America goes to
waste. Per household, that adds up to about $2,000 a year." Yikes!
solution? Keep perishables or other items you should use at eye level to stay
on your radar.
way your fridge eats up money is the electricity this
appliance consumes. But there's a way to curb this waste, too: Just clean your refrigerator coils—those
long tubes snaking along the bottom or back of your fridge. Over time, these
coils collect dust, which hinders how well they cool your perishables.
a refrigerator well-ventilated and free of dust can knock 6% off its
power consumption," says Mike Catania,
co-founder of PromotionCode.org.
know you're out there—you people who can't quite quit your landline phone.
proliferation of cellphones has rendered landlines nearly obsolete, though many
consumers still like having one for emergencies," Woroch says. "At an
average of $40 per month, it’s a lot of money to dish out on a phone you don’t
you don’t have to sacrifice your sense security for the sake of saving. Switch
to a free internet home phone provider like Ooma.
there’s an upfront cost to cover the device, it pays for itself in just two
months," says Woroch. "Connect the gadget to your high-speed internet
and regular home phone, and pay only applicable taxes. Opting for this free
service will save you about $480 annually."
heard of an energy vampire?" asks Woroch. "Gadgets and appliances
like TVs, laptops, coffee makers, printers, space heaters, and cable boxes
continue to suck energy even when turned off."
solution? Get in the habit of unplugging these electronics and appliances when
you aren’t using them, and you'll save big.
strips are an easier and less timely alternative—some even come with a remote
control for easier use," says Woroch. "This will save you 5% on your
energy bill. Considering that the average American home electricity costs are
$1,300 a year, 5% savings can keep an extra $65 in your pocket."
but true: Wentworth says your
pet might be at the top of list when it comes to money-sucking family
often underestimate the cost of a dog or cat. In our case, our dog eats about $80
a month worth of food, nearly a thousand dollars a year," Wentworth points
out. "Add to that another $1,000 a year for pet accessories, veterinarian
costs, boarding, pet sitting/walking, and grooming, and the total is about
$2,000 a year. The dog will likely live about 12 years—our last dog lived to be
15—and you are looking at $24,000+ in expenditures over the life of the pet—or
the cost of a new car, year's tuition at college, or luxury round-the-world
vacation. If that money had been invested in the stock market
10 years ago, it would likely have doubled to almost $50,000."
Yes, our pets might be
well worth every cent, but just know what you're getting into before you
bring some cute fur ball home.
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