This time of year can be difficult on bank accounts and wallets. You may have spent more than you meant to on holiday gifts, parties, and outfits, not to mention the extra costs associated with keeping warm in Chicagoland. You can start by taking easy steps to be more energy efficient and save some money on utility bills that way. Meanwhile, you can also start making some habit and lifestyle changes, or some quick fixes that will add up in the long run.
Cancel Unused Memberships
Take a look at your monthly statements and make note of recurring charges and subscriptions. Now think about what monthly items can be downgraded or cut completely. Do you pay for the highest level of Netflix and Hulu? What if you downgraded one or both a level or two? Other memberships you might consider getting rid of are warehouse clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club, monthly subscription boxes, and gym memberships (especially if your apartment community already has a nice fitness center!).
Use Online Bill Pay
Many times you can get discounts or other incentives for going paperless. Even if you don’t get a percentage back or avoid a paper bill fee, there are many benefits in switching all your billing to online. For example, you’re much more likely to read an email alert from your bank or a mobile notification from a credit card than to open up every piece of mail you get, so you’re less likely to forget to pay a bill. Also if you do tend to be a bit forgetful, it’s a great idea to set up automatic payments when you can so you don’t have to worry about late fees ever!
Invest in a “Smart Strip”
We mentioned vampire devices in our previous blog about energy efficiency, but it’s worth mentioning again, especially if you still have holiday lights up and running. Vampire devices are electronics like smart TVs, gaming consoles, and cable boxes that never fully turn off. They do this by design to make sure they’re ready to go at a moment’s notice, but in doing so they’re constantly draining power and using energy. To avoid that you could use a power strip or invest in a Smart Strip. For a power strip, make sure to shut off the devices through that instead of just powering down from the device itself. A Smart Strip will do that for you, cutting off electricity from the devices after a certain period of not being in use.
Cut Down on Meat
Meatless Monday is a growing trend that is a win/win/win. Going meat-free for just one day a week can significantly reduce your carbon footprint, since it takes fewer resources to grow plants than raise animals. Produce also tends to be a lot cheaper than meat, so your wallet will thank you as much as the Earth will! Studies have also shown that by regularly swapping meat for plant-based protein helps you get more nutrients, minerals, and fiber in your diet (especially if you’re struggling to eat a balanced diet on your own). You don’t have to go completely vegetarian if you don’t want, just consider swapping that carnitas taco for a bean burrito every now and then.