How are you doing on the top ten list? If you're not doing at least six of the ten, resolve to make improvements. Choose one area at a time and set a goal for incorporating all ten into your lifestyle.


Save Money on Your Home Expenses

You can easily save thousands of dollars a year with very little effort by following even a few of the cost-saving measures in the "Save Money" series. The more money-saving measures you adopt, the more money you'll save. Potential savings will vary, depending on your personal situation. See the links to the right for more money-saving ideas.

Consider refinancing your mortgage. For every $10,000 of your mortgage loan, 1/2 % difference in the interest rate saves you over $40/year or $3.40/month in interest expense. A $100,000 loan at 9 1/2% refinanced at 7 1/2% saves $142/month or $1,704/year, for a total of $50,991 over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Potential Money Savings: $1,700/yr. For even more dramatic long-term savings, consider a 15-year mortgage rather than a 30-year mortgage. $1,000 - $7,000 Per

A $100,000 mortgage at 9 1/2% over 15 years saves $114,747 over the life of the loan compared to a 30-year mortgage at the same interest rate. At 7 1/2%, the savings between a 30-year and 15-year mortgage of $100,000 would be $84,854. A 9% loan of $100,000, refinanced for 15 years at 7 1/2% would add $86/month to your payment but would save you a whopping $135,845 over the life of the loan. Potential Money Savings: $84,000-136,000

You can achieve similar results by paying an extra principal payment on your 30-year loan each month. (In the early years of a loan, the principal portion of your payment is very small. On a 30-year $100,000 loan at 7 1/2%, the monthly principal payment in the first several years is approximately $75 to $85/month).Potential Money Savings: $85,000-136,000.

Still another way to achieve these results is to pay one half of your monthly mortgage every two weeks. Potential Money Savings: $85,000-136,000.


Install the new type of fluorescent bulbs in lights you leave on for long periods. They provide four times as much light and last ten times longer than incandescent bulbs. Potential Money Savings: $10-$50/yr.

Lower the temperature on your hot water heater to between 110 and 120 degrees. It's not necessary to have it any hotter and wastes energy. Potential Money Savings: $20-40/yr.

Find out if your utility company offers free energy audits, where they inspect your home for energy effectiveness and recommend inexpensive ways to cut energy costs, such as insulating hot water heaters, weather-stripping, etc. Just insulating your hot water heater could save you $25 a year. Potential Money Savings: $50/yr.

Set thermostats no higher than 68 degrees in winter and no lower than 78 degrees in summer. Turn your heat down even further at night or when you're not home (unless you have a heat pump, which operates more efficiently at one consistent setting). Each extra degree in winter can increase heating costs by 3%. In summer, each degree can raise cooling costs by 6%. Potential Money Savings: $325 to $500/yr.

Cut back on the use of your clothes dryer. Not only is it a big energy drain, it can also suck heated air out of your house very quickly in winter. Hang clothes on a clothes rack to dry and use the dryer for towels and other heavy items. Potential Money Savings: $25-50/yr.

Use your microwave instead of your oven whenever possible and save up to 50% in energy costs for cooking. Potential Savings: $50/yr.