≡ Menu

Since I want to build this site on trust and honesty, blog posts and podcast show notes may contain affiliate links to various products and/or services I put the Smart FI seal of approval on. They are a way for me to make some earnings on the content I generate here and are entirely voluntary. Thank you all for being awesome!

seven ways to lower your expenses
in Blog, Health, Personal Finance, Spending


Are you tired of being told to coupon? Sick of herculean efforts to save money–like gardening–taking time out of your busy schedule of sitting on the couch and staring at the TV screen like a zombie? Well, I’ve got good news for you!

You Can Save Money By Making Minor Changes

Number 1 – Turn Off the Lights and Other Electronics When You Leave the Room

I know, I know. When you read that phrase you probably harken back to the days of yor when your parents or grandparents would shout at you to turn the light off because you’re wasting electricity. Well, you’re not just increasing your carbon footprint, you’re draining your wallet too!

There is a simple equation to figure out your daily energy cost.

Daily Energy Cost = ((Watt-hours x Hours per day of use)/1000) x Cost per Kilowatt-hour

For example, if my TV uses an average 200 watt-hours per hour, I use it for 3 hours per day, and the average kWh price is $0.12:

Daily Energy Cost = ((200 x 3)/1000) x 0.12 = $0.072, or 7.2 cents per day.

That would be $2.16 per month or $25.92 per year. Got it?

Now, let’s apply that to things you leave on for extra time with some assumptions.

Leaving six incandescent bulbs (sixty watts) on for an unnecessary 4 hours total per day would be $0.173 per day, $5.27 per month, and $63.25 per year. Obviously the more bulbs you shut off and for the longer they are off, the more you save.

Life Pro Tip: You can use CFLs to further destroy that cost to 1/6th of what incandescent bulbs use, so your power usage would cut down to $10.54, and they are great for the environment!

At this point, you’re waving your hand at me saying, “Don, that’s peanuts compared to what I make a year. That’s not worth it.”

My first retort would be, a penny saved is a penny earned, just like Ole Ben Franklin said.

Before you start harassing me, let’s go a little further and consider some of your other appliances that you are able to shut off (all below stats are in Watt-hours and are averaged assumptions)

Gaming Console – 95

Television – 240

Desktop Computer with LCD Screen – 255

48′ Ceiling Fan (on high speed) – 75

Now, let’s consider if you’re someone who will leave appliances on while you go get groceries, come back, take a shower,  then cook, and finally eat. Let’s again say this takes a total of 4 hours. So, including incandescent light bulbs and the above items, you will be paying almost $0.50 per day if you left these five appliances on for 4 hours a day. This would translate into $15.00 per month and $180.00 per year. Over ten years? That comes to a grand total of $1800!


“I told yer ta turn awf that there light, you young whipper-snapper!”

Now, these are all just examples. There will be waaaay more variation in your power use. This model could be more conservative, or more liberal depending on your habits, the model of the item you use, how often that item cycles (e.g. when a computer runs the fan or when a fridge motor kicks in), what tier of your power provider’s plan you are on, and so on. Spread this to other appliances that could be left on, and you have a whole lot of moolah you could be saving just by flipping a switch or pressing a button.

2. Keep Your Air Conditioning 2-3 Degrees Warmer

Out of all the things in this article, this may be the most impactful of them all!

According to achrnews.com, just shifting your air conditioning up by a few degrees during warmer months can make a significant difference.

An example they use is the Summer in Indianapolis. You could save up to 25% off of a $200 cooling bill in the summer, totaling $50. You do this by moving the thermostat up two degrees from 75 to 77.

The inverse is also true though. Moving down from 75 to 73 would increase your cooling bill by twice that amount, $100.

There are obviously a number of other things which can have a significant effect on the cooling bill, such as how much sunlight the house is getting, etc., etc.

Based on the above example, just performing this minuscule task of moving the dial or digital readout up by two degrees could save you $500 over ten years! That’s just a simple calculation. If you did more to insulate your home, change the temperature more drastically and do it multiple times throughout the year, your savings could drastically increase.

3. Use Your Loyalty Points

Alright, all of you loyal consumers out there. If you’ve been around the block even once or twice, then you know about loyalty points. Those sweet, delicious, intangible points that equal free stuff!

And for frugal-minded people, free is always a great word. However, people fail to cash in on these points all the time. In 2010, almost $16 billion worth of rewards miles went to waste because people didn’t cash in on the prize. Those miles average about 1.49 cents per mile. I don’t even want to do the math because that is just an insane amount of airline miles that didn’t get used! It’s a sad thought.

The same goes for point on hotels, dining, credit cards, etc. When it comes to loyalty points, you could be saving yourself up to $200 per year just by using those points. Pharmacies, the movies, gas stations, your bank and more! So many companies have rewards points, it just doesn’t make sense not to cash in on it.

4. Don’t Use As Much Data (Or Really, Switch Your Cellular Service Provider)

This one is probably pretty obvious, and depending on your provider and plan, it might be more difficult to save money this way. First off, I recommend switching to a service wehre you only pay for the data you use and/or get refunded for data that isn’t used. This idea is much better than a majority of the plans from the Big 4 servicers today (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint).

From smaller companies, you will typically pay a base rate for your unlimited talk and text, and then pick a plan for data or pay as you go, then get reimbursed for what you didn’t use the next month. It’s pretty solid! For the past three billing cycles, I’ve paid $44, $30, and $31 respectively for my cell phone plan. This is less than half of the average cell phone bill is in the U.S., and less than a quarter of what the average bill is for a customer of the Big 4!

If you don’t want to switch providers, change your plan to be allotted less data. For example, if you’re with Verizon and you don’t use 4GB of data per month at a total of $70 per month, you can drop to 2 GB of data for $55 per month. That is still an astounding savings of $180 per year for just cruising Reddit less or watching less hours of YouTube/Netflix.

If there is anything in this list that is going to have the most immediate and visible impact on your expenses, it is using less data and/or switching your provider.

As another life pro tip, connect to WiFi whenever and wherever you can. With my Project Fi plan, I have averaged less than $31/month with unlimited talk, unlimited text, and a 2 GB plan of data. I usually use less than 0.7 gigs a month

5. Go For a Walk

Alright, I know this is the lazy man’s list and I put a physical activity in here. Surprise! I’m sorry for pulling a fast one on you (but not really). Although, if you truly are too lazy to get up and walk around, then feel free to skip this little routine change (and the potential yuge savings!).

According to the American Heart Association, walking for just 30 minutes a day can make an enormous difference in your health! Research has shown that walking for half an hour every day can help with:

  • Reducing your risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Improve blood pressure, sugar, and fat levels
  • Lower your risk for obesity
  • Enhance your mental well-being
  • Reduce your risk of osteoporosis (weakening of your bones)
  • And the list goes on!

By association, walking can benefit your wallet just as much as your health!


I mean you don’t have to be this dramatic when you walk, but that would be pretty cool.

Along with a decent diet, walking can help keep excess weight off. According to research by the STOP Obesity Alliance, the overall (tangible), average annual costs of being obese are $3762.50 and $478 for being overweight.

If you were to remain obese for twenty years, that would come to a staggering $75,250! If you could have been overweight instead, it would have cost $9560 over that same twenty year time span, a difference of $65,690.

Imagine if you weren’t obese and you invest that money ever year instead. At a 7% return over twenty years, that would have netted you $173,794.14

A half hour of walking a day alone might not keep you from being obese (*puts down Big Mac and starts eating salad*), but it can definitely help with the diseases associated with being overweight. So, it might not have as immediate an impact on your wallet as changing your cell phone service/using less data, but walking could keep your wallet much, much fatter over the long run.

6. Floss Your Teeth

We’ve all been there. When that dentist puts that awful string between your teeth and rubs it up and down. Your gums bleed and then they’re sore for a long time…no fun at all. You feel violated, but friends, that floss is a piece of magic.

It can help keep those very necessary and important teeth inside your head for much longer, and by doing that, it can reduce your risk for various diseases and dental operations.

As I like to say, healthy teeth equal a healthy wallet! As you can see, there are dozens of operations that could be needed if you neglect your mastication (I said masticating, geesh) mechanisms, then you could be in for some financial frustration!

Flossing once a day can prevent gum disease, which can lead to periodontitis, which can then lead to teeth falling out! 75% of adults are affected by some severity of gum disease. If you lose a tooth due to gum disease, one implant could cost you upwards of $4250!

That is if you lose one tooth…you can have up to thirty-two of those bad boys. Like walking, the effect in the immediate future may not be noticeable (or maybe it is…), but you’ll gain benefits like:

  • No more bad breath
  • No inflammation or pain around the teeth and gums
  • Reduction in sensitivity
  • A better smile

But the long term financial gains are just as important. You’ll be saving your future-self a load of pain–both physical and financial–if you floss just once a day.

If you have to have ten teeth replaced over your lifetime, that could be $42,500! I don’t think I have to tell you that being able to invest that money instead could lead to a much happier outcome. Do yourself a favor. You’ll be much closer to Financial Independence with healthy teeth.

7. Unplug Stuff When You’re Not Using It

Remember number one? This is for the same reasons you read there. The savings you get from unplugging chargers and appliances when not in use varies. Depending on the device, you could possibly reap some decent benefits. This “Standby” energy usage can make up 5%-10% of residential power usage every year! Although, obviously it can be a huge pain to go around plugging things in and unplugging them all the time. For some appliances, it’s probably not even a good idea to plug and unplug constantly, like a cable box that has to reprogram every time.

However, if you really want to try and save a few extra dollars and reduce the carbon footprint a little more, try plugging multiple items you want to “unplug” when not in use into a power strip and turning that off instead. Will definitely make your life much easier.

If You’re Too Lazy Even For This Stuff?

Well, friend, if that’s your modus operandi, then I am extremely surprised you’ve made it to this website in the first place. You know what though? Maybe that’s perfect because every journey of a million dollars starts with the single flip of a switch.

-That Learning Guy

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Warning: Missing argument 2 for Jetpack_Subscriptions::comment_subscribe_init() in /home/doncapou/public_html/smartfisprint.com/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/modules/subscriptions.php on line 602