Money Leaks Are Costing You Hundreds Every Year (This is How to Plug Them)

by Vincent King · 13 comments

You work hard every day, doing everything you can to bring more bacon home, and trim the fat from your spending.

But it still isn’t enough.

If you’re still wondering what you can do, consider looking behind the walls of your own home for the biggest leaks in your bottom line.

When totaled, there are literally hundreds of dollars per year in potential savings locked inside your home, waiting to be freed. If you know how to take care of these hidden money wasters, you can stuff more cash in your pocket today.

Let’s start from the bottom:

Basements


If you have a basement, you could literally be leaking money through the walls. Basements are often drafty and damp, letting just as much air out as in. This culprit is guilty of making your furnace or air conditioner work harder than it needs to.

The fix:

Make sure that your walls are well insulated and spend the initial investment to moisture proof it as well.

If appliances such as your water heater are located in your basement, they might be bleeding your bank balance. Water heaters expend tremendous energy heating the water inside, and far more if done inside a drafty basement.

The fix:

Spend $20 and wrap your water heater in a thermal blanket to trap the generated heat, and keep it from overworking.

Bathrooms

You’d be surprised at the amount of wasted money in bathrooms. A study ran last year discovered that Americans spend an average of $577 on grooming products per year. Total unused toiletry and cosmetics, then combine that with inefficient shower heads and toilet tank to make a massive gain in savings.

The fix:

Cut down on the amount of toiletries and cosmetics you use. How many different kinds of shampoo do you really need? Strip your collection to the essentials and only buy what you must have. Replace old shower heads with new, more efficient ones that aerate the water. For $20 per head, you can save up to $60 per year. And that old toilet tank that takes for-ev-er to fill, chuck it and invest in a new one that flushes and refills with less water.

Buy generic medicines instead of name brand to top off your savings off at a healthy 25%,if not more.

The Kitchen

Your kitchen can be a saving queen or a wasteful peasant. An efficient kitchen can increase your savings triple fold, yet the kitchen is a wallet’s worst nightmare for many families.

The fix:

Skip junk food. Processed foods hold, literally, zero nutritional value and don’t give the body a value bang for your buck. Empty calories leave you consuming more than you should, which means you are buying more than you need to.

Cook at home. Use your kitchen to make weekly planned meals and you can save an average of $900 per year.

Use what you have. Before shopping, always check the pantry to make sure you don’t already have the items you’re planning to buy. In addition, organize your meals around what you do have. Shop the perimeter of the store. This is where you’ll find the quality foods that are nutritionally packed and will help you get more for your money.

Make homemade freezer foods. Rather than buying more expensive, factory made freezer meals, prepare your own. They taste better, cost less, and be more nutritionally sound.

The Den/Family Room

Americans spend an average of $775 per year on TV, much of it wasted on channels not watched. TV is important to some, but is it a necessity? And with the dawn of Netflix and Blockbuster, it’s fair to ask yourself if TV is even worth it anymore.

The fix:

Call your cable company. See if you can make a deal. If you’re really considering leaving the TV or their service altogether, they will often offer some amazing discounts. Check into the online services, if your laptop has HDMI or you run your internet via wireless router, you could sign up for a movie service and cut the extra channels you don’t need.

Here are more suggestions on how to reduce your cable TV bill.

The Utilities

Studies have shown that standby power on items like TVs, laptops, lamps, etc drain money even if your units are turned off – up to 5%. Compounded, that’s not a small amount.

The fix:

Rather than having to unplug everything that’s not in use, only to plug it in again when you’re ready, plug your units into switched power strips that sever the flow of electricity when not in use.

If you’re not taking care of the money “leaks” in your home, you’re throwing away hundreds of dollars each year.

What leaks can you patch today?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Lulu May 14, 2012 at 6:18 am

One leak you can plug is the interest you pay by not fully paying off your credit card balance every month. Some people pay only the minimum even when they can afford to pay more…and this ends up in higher interest charges as time passes by. Pay off the card in full when you can, and pay more than the minimum if you cannot pay off the card in full. This will reduce the interest and fees you get charged and will plug one tiny leak!!

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Scott M May 17, 2012 at 10:24 pm

ANother idea to help reduce your credit card interest expenses: Most cards calculate your monthly interest fees using an “average daily balance” method. So, even if you’re only making a minimum payment, try to make the payment as soon after receiving the statement as possible, don’t wait until the “due date”. This will reduce your average daily balance for that billing period and therefore the amount of interest you are charged. Another small monthly savings that adds up over time. Paying off cards with the highest interest rates first can also help.

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Justin @ The Family Finances May 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Another one is to install a programmable thermostat. These aren’t very expensive and can really save money over time by better regulating the temperature in your home.

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Marbella May 15, 2012 at 1:32 am

Heating costs are often a major cost of a house. Rent a thermal imaging camera for a day, costs about $ 20 per day. You will find so many rat-holes as the heat goes out through that you can easily dense, often the round doors and windows as most of it is.

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Scott M May 17, 2012 at 10:31 pm

If you do rent a thermal imaging camera, here’s another great thing to use it for: With many of your house’s lights and appliances operating use the camera to ‘scan’ the fuse or breaker panel as well as the electric outlets and switches throughout your home. Any ‘hotspots’ you find could be faulty components, wiring or connections which are beginning to overheat. Contact a licensed electrician to repair any hotspots. You may identify and resolve a serious issue before any damage is done to your home or family!

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JC October 9, 2012 at 11:30 am

where did you find one that cheap? The cheapest I could find was more like $100/day.

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Jean May 15, 2012 at 5:44 am

Great pointers. I bet a lot of people don’t realize about all possible leaks in their house, especially in the basement.

Also a good point about toiletries. While staying over at a cousin’s place for holidays, I noticed there had to be atleast six different brands of shampoo and conditioners. Like you said, that is very wasteful and pointless really.

-Jean

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terry @ insurance content May 15, 2012 at 9:14 am

Very informative article thank you. I think I know the main culprit that applies to me and that’s the bathroom and the £££s spent on cosmetics but you try telling my wife we need to cut down ;). Will take on board the other suggestions though.

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Carl Lassegue May 15, 2012 at 9:49 am

Great article! We often focus on plugging the bigger and more obvious leaks and they look daunting. But plugging these smaller leaks can be a starting point to frugal living.

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Daisy @ Add Vodka May 15, 2012 at 5:44 pm

This is a great post! I don’t own my own home just yet, but recently my landlord did a big renovation to the basement because it was super moist in the laundry room causing mold. She did a whole bunch of stuff but bypassed the actual problem, which was just a little ventilation from the dryers. It was simple; she just had to replace the vent that goes outside because it was super clogged. She didn’t though so she’ll continue having that problem.

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Hugh May 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I am a licensed master plumber, after being in the plumbing mechanical business for 50 years I can tell you that wrapping your water heater will only rust the jacket of the heater. The tank is already insulated and doesn’t need the extra insulation. Save your money!

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money mentor May 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Great idea on covering the water heater, I’ve forgotten to do this. Will try and do it this weekend, maybe this would help me to lower the gauge to warm instead of hot and save even further energy costs?

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Ron June 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I’ve never been a fan of extra insulation over a hot water heater. I prefer to lower the operating temperature to 120F for gas water heaters and 125F for electric water heaters. Use a thermometer to measure your water temperature and change the water heater setting a step at a time to get to these temperatures.

I initially did this as a safety issue when I first had children. I later realized the money I’d saved.

One caveat, some older dishwashers require 140F water. If you have one of these you need a new dishwasher.

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