How to Save Money on Your Electric Bill – 11 Tips

At some point, you have probably wondered how to save money on your electric bill. Saving money often means cutting back on usage, but there are plenty of ways to save without living a minimalist lifestyle. Electricity savings translate into lower bills, but they are also great for the environment. The tips below for how to save money on your electric bill are a combination of usage habits, clever tricks and up-front investments that pay off in the long run.

an electric bill with a LED bulb and a regular bulb and a pen

1: Reduce Heat, Turn Air Down

In colder months where you would typically have the heat turned up, try turning it down a few degrees. Keeping temperatures at 70 degrees instead of 72 can make a big difference in the amount of energy used to keep your home warm. In the summer, keep the air conditioning at 75 degrees to reduce cooling costs.

These numbers should be adjusted based on where you live and your local climate. If there are times during the year where you can forgo heating and cooling, utilize open windows and ceiling fans instead. These options use less power and cost less.

2: Switch to LED Bulbs

LED bulbs are better than CFL bulbs. They use pennies per year, and they can drastically reduce your energy use and costs associated. If you have wondered how to save money on your electric bill by reducing lighting costs, LED bulbs are the secret. Technology advancements have made them cheaper to purchase from mass retailers, and they are no longer a specialty bulb that costs a fortune to invest in.

a large white economic LED bulb

3: Replace Old Appliances

Old appliances are a drain on electric costs. An old refrigerator can use double or triple the power of an energy-star certified model. It will cost more money to upgrade appliances, but you will be saving money long term.

4: Unplug Everything

This tip can be tedious to keep up with, but unplugging things that are not in use can save you money. When you listen to people talk about how to save money on your electric bill, they will often cite unplugging power strips and computers when not in use.

This may seem difficult, but you would be surprised by the amount of energy that is slowly drained by lamps, computers, and appliances that are not even turned on. Connecting cables to a power-saving strip makes it easier to implement this habit. You simply unplug the power strip instead of each individual cord.

unplugged appliances and some dollar bills and coins on a table

5: Take Shorter Showers

Cutting back on your showering and morning routine can save you a bundle. Look no further than your grooming habits to learn how to save money on your electric bill. Showers have to be heated, and water heaters are often powered by electricity.

If yours is powered by gas, you will still be saving money from one of those two bills. Forgoing usage of grooming appliances like blow dryers, flat irons, and similar gadgets also conserves and saves you money. You will even shave time off of getting ready.

6: Go to Bed Earlier

It sounds silly, but turning lights off even two hours earlier will show you that learning how to save money on your electric bill can be as easy as not using it. If you are up late frequently, you are likely using things that require electricity. Turning them off and getting into bed will help you get more sleep and save money.

a tall electric power high voltage pillar in a field

7: Switch Power Companies

People wrongfully assume that you have to stick with the power company that the majority uses. Cities typically have multiple power companies, and those companies may be cheaper. If switching is an option for you, research other companies in the area to determine how to save money on your electric bill.

8: Switch to Partial Green Energy

Speaking of power companies, many now offer wind power, solar, geothermal and other alternatives to electricity. These choices can temporarily raise your electric costs, but they will tell you how to save money on your electric bill over the course of a year or two without installing your own solar panels or wind turbines.

a green light bulb surrounded by green thick arrows symbolizing green energy

9: Install Solar Panels

If you are interested in installing your own solar panels, then you will have a higher up-front cost but lower bills over the lifetime of the panels. Green-energy installations often come with tax credits or similar incentives. Power companies sometimes pay people for the energy they use with solar panels if they produce more than they need.

some solar panels installed on a house roof

10: Keep Vents Open and Clean

Open and clean vents lead to more efficient heating and cooling. It’s a simple and effortless tip that will save you a lot of money. Making sure the filters for your heating and cooling system are replaced monthly also goes a long way in saving you money. Do not listen to the myth that says to close vents off. This just makes your system work harder and use more energy.

11: Watch Your Laundry

If you aren’t already washing most loads in cold water, switch to cold water immediately. This is a quick energy saving tip, but it doesn’t stop there. Use line drying whenever possible to reducing drying costs. Use the right balance of laundry in a load to prevent the machine from working too hard or wasting a wash load on just a few items. These little tweaks to your usage go a long way.

Putting It All Together

Whether you have a 100 percent electricity-powered home, or a combination of electric and gas, you will be saving money and energy with the tips above. Drastic changes aren’t required, but if you have outdated appliances that are not efficient, you will need to spend some money upfront to reduce your overall electric bill costs.

Remember that these tips will need to be adjusted depending on where you live. Urban or rural living can make a difference in costs as well as the options available to you, but figuring out what your home requires is easy and worth the cost savings.

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11 Great Gifts for Kids Under $10

In a world full of expensive gadgets and increasingly more costly toys, buying affordable gifts for kids seems impossible. Kids are getting tablets and smartphones at younger ages, and they are losing interest in traditional toys. Despite the increase in expensive toys for kids, there are more ways than ever to give fun and exciting gifts that your kids will remember and be entertained by. These gifts for kids under $10 are sure to be enjoyed and appreciated without costing a small fortune.

a large pile of Lego pieces

#1. App Store Gifts

Since purchasing apps that cost to download is a privilege, giving an app as a gift is a perfect and affordable idea. You can gift an app directly to them, and they can download it upon receipt of an email or notification. If you know of a cool app they have been dying to download, then even better.

The best part of giving gifts for kids under $10 through an app download is that you don’t have to go to the store to pick it out.

#2. Kahootz Toys Spirograph Design Tin

The Spirograph design toy for kids

The Kahootz Spirograph design tin is a classic toy that has come back with a surge of popularity. This toy inspires creativity and relaxation. It is easy to take anywhere, and it doesn’t leave a mess. It is considered an Amazon Choice product as well. This means it has high reviews and positive feedback from users.

#3. Tsum Tsum Bubble Fever Card Game

a box of Tsum Tsum bubble fever toy

This cute Tsum Tsum card game is one of the funniest gifts for kids under $10 that you can find. It is also an Amazon Choice product. This card game is inspired by the popular Disney app called Tsum Tsum. It features cute Disney characters that you collect and pop with bubble cards.

The mechanics are simple, and it supports multiple players. It encourages strategic thinking and quick reflexes in younger kids, and it’s pure fun for older kids.

#4. Fidget Spinner

a colorful fidget spinner toy

It’s true that fidget spinners are being banned in schools across the country, but they are still effective for focus and fun to play with. This is one of those gifts for kids under $10 that will be sure to thrill. Fidget spinners are wildly popular, and they come in dozens of styles, colors, and features. They are a quiet toy that can keep a child occupied and serve a therapeutic purpose as well.

#5. Kinetic Sand

a shimmering kinetic sand box for kids

If you are looking for more stimulating gifts for kids under $10, kinetic sand is a great option. This magical sand is made of silicone. Therefore, each grain of sand slides off of the other in a way that feels unique, smooth and stimulating. Kinetic sand comes in tons of colors and can be molded, cut and played with in a number of ways.

It doesn’t dry out unless it is left in an open container, but it is easy to fix when it does. It is a great gift to help explore creativity and stimulation.

#6. A Book

You can’t go wrong by gifting a book. The possibilities are endless with this, and gifts for kids under $10 cannot get any easier than a classic. If your child prefers a digital format, that is possible too.

#7. A Subscription Box

A one-month shipment of a subscription box is a perfect gift idea that can be tailored to the child’s interests. Loot Crate makes a great choice for older kids, but other options might include a snack box or something similar. Trial offers for these box subscriptions are often 10 dollars and under.

#8. 10 Dollars in Credits to an Arcade

Dave and Buster’s is a popular family spot where gifts for kids under $10 is quite doable. Arcades that are similar are also an option to consider if the kid you are gifting to enjoys video games. Ten dollars in credits can go a long way for entertainment, and they get the satisfaction of collecting tickets earned with their credits.

Credits are typically card loaded, and coin-drop tokens are increasingly rare. Some arcades even use an app instead of a card load.

#9. Downloadable Content

This is a gift idea for kids who are a little older. Video games often have extra content that is downloadable for an additional cost. Since kids do not have credit cards of their own, they rely on people to buy this content for them.

Gift ideas for kids under $10 that involve downloadable content are not only easy, but they are super exciting for the kid receiving the content to download. Downloadable parts of a game can give hours of entertainment as well. It is money well spent.

#10. Gemstone Dig Kit by National Geographic

a Gemstone dig toy kit by National Geographic

The scientifically minded kid will love this gemstone dig kit is inspiring and educational. Kids will find tigers eye, quartz, and amethyst in a brick that is designed to teach children about gemstones. National Geographic includes a beautiful guidebook that gives clear instructions and information about each type of gemstone.

This one of the best educational gifts for kids under 10 dollars that you can buy, and it will inspire a lifetime of curiosity for that child. National Geographic also has a guarantee on all products, and you can get your money back if something is wrong with the product.

#11. Bath Bombs

blue and pink bath bombs

Bath bombs are a special gift for any kid who enjoys fun bath time. Some brands provide bath bombs that have cool effects, turning water different colors and contain small surprises or glitter. Most of them are safe, non-staining and non-irritating products that smell amazing. They are one of the most well-loved gifts, and you can typically get two for under 10.

Bottom Line

Gifts for kids under $10 are not hard to come by, but they do require some creativity to ensure you are choosing something that will be enjoyed. The above gifts are flexible and engaging for a variety of ages and all genders.

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8 Valentine Date Ideas for Couples on a Budget

Going on a Valentine’s Day date can quickly add up to a pricey celebration. Every couple wants to use this romantic holiday to go the extra mile. Being a mom should not stop you and your significant other from celebrating this special day. But what if you are on a tight budget? What Valentine date ideas should you consider giving the fact that most of your budget focuses on your kids lately?

Gifts, dinner, drinks and special events are the norm when you want to spoil each other and have fun, but it doesn’t have to break the bank in the process. You can have a wonderful time and save money too. These Valentine date ideas will help you put together your own special date for under 100 dollars per couple, but this number is only an estimated guide.

red hearts made of wood on sticks

#1. For the Outdoorsy Couple: Visit a Botanical Garden

Botanical gardens are indoor wonderlands. Instead of gifting flowers, go see hundreds of species of exotic plants and flowers at your local botanical garden. The beauties in a botanical garden will be memorable and won’t wilt on your desk. An extra perk is that two tickets to enter are likely to cost less than delivering a professional bouquet.

#2. For the Artsy Couple: Go on an Art Gallery Tour

Most art galleries in cities are free to enter and visit, but touring several in a night is one of the more enriching and exciting Valentine date ideas. Busy schedules often prohibit visiting local art galleries, but making it part of your Valentine date ideas is a fun way to spend an evening.

You can peruse inspiring art and engage in conversation about it. Ending the evening with dessert instead of dinner is just the right amount of sweet.

#3. For the Adventurous Couple: Take a Bike Trail Ride

a young couple on bikes holding hands

If there are known bike trails in your area, rent a bike with your sweetie and take an adventurous trip. Let the path lead you to a new part of town or to different sights. Challenging yourselves in this way is excellent for couples to be adventurous and bond at the same time.

You will have to rely on each other for guidance and navigation. This date is practically free. That means it leaves plenty of budget room for a hearty dinner to refuel. Valentine date ideas can still be full of new things while putting money toward what you know you will need to spend it on. In this particular case, a big dinner might be an example.

#4. For the Hipster Couple: Craft Beer Brewing Class

Going to a craft-beer brewing class can be done on the cheap. As far as Valentine date ideas go, this one gives you something exciting to bond over while learning to brew something that will not only be your unique brew, but it will save you money in the long run.

Brewing classes are typically under 100 dollars, but you will need to buy your own set-up for brewing if you intend to put those new skills to use. Start-up kits are also pretty affordable.

#5. For the Musical Couple: A Chamber Music Date

Valentine date ideas involving musical performances can certainly cost hundreds of dollars. Orchestra tickets are pricey, but a chamber-music performance will cost less because they are smaller scale. Chamber music is romantic and intimate. It focuses on a smaller selection of instruments, but the musical talent is just as impressive as a full orchestra.

You will have a fantastic opportunity to dress up in your best clothes and feel like you are attending a star-studded event. Chamber music is a little-known secret, and it is highly recommended for couples who love live music but are also on a budget.

#6. For the Stressed Couple: Go to Your Local Lush

a couple getting a massage at a spa

If you are really on a tight budget, go to your local Lush store. They are a cosmetics store that provides in-shop demonstrations of products that feel like mini-spa treatments. It’s free, but it’s only polite to buy a few items they try on you.

They will do a few small treatments per person such as testing a face mask on you, scrubbing your hands and applying lotion with a gentle massage and even wash your hair. You can take the spa treatments home with you by purchasing a massage bar and taking turns massaging each other. You might also consider bubble bars or bath bombs for a luxurious and fragrant soak.

#7. For the Animal Loving Couple: Visit a Sanctuary

Instead of captured and bred animals, sanctuaries are places where animals often go when they are rescued, discarded by zoos or circuses and otherwise need a place to live the rest of their lives in peace. All kinds of sanctuaries exist for different animals and mixed-animal populations. They are typically free to visit, but donations are suggested.

You can have a blast with all kinds of animals and learn new things. Sanctuaries need volunteers, and Valentine date ideas involving volunteering are a great way to give something back while getting unforgettable memories with your loved one.

#8. For the Geeky Couple: A Boardgame Night

Tabletop boardgames are increasing in popularity around the globe. With tons of themes, mechanics, and styles of games, the possibilities are endless. Boardgame nights are being hosted at cafes and bars everywhere, and it’s possible your city has one on a regular basis.

This makes a great and affordable date, but it will probably involve other people. This works well if you’re both interested in being social and learning something new on your date.

Drawing to a Close

Valentine date ideas are not one-size-fits-all. There are dozens of options based on your preferences as a couple. Small meals instead of full dinners can help you cut on costs. You can also choose to go for a frozen yogurt or ice cream instead of dinner or lunch.

These little adventures are often the best, and you’re likely to have the time of your life with your partner by your side on this romantic holiday when you take these ideas and create your own Valentine’s Day date.

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Top 11 Home Based Business Ideas to Consider

Start a home based business to control your career destiny. According to researchers, more and more people like the flexibility of managing and operating a business from home. Women are especially attracted to self-employment in a home based business because they want independence, escape from employment or equal pay barriers. Some women want to avoid a future downsizing or layoff at a traditional employer. They don’t see employment as a long-term growth opportunity.

Select a time-tested home based business idea or start something new. Consider how much time and effort you want to put into a home business. Know how much capital you can commit. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), most small businesses fail because the owner doesn’t plan ahead. Write a business plan, then consider at least eight home based business ideas you can start with little or no capital.

the words home business written with chalk

1. Financial Aid Planner

Help parents identify financial resources and compare costs. If you have experience in college admissions and financial aid planning, your services are in demand. Advertise your services in area high schools, private tutor centers, libraries, colleges, and universities. Know the different types of federal and private student loan programs, including college savings plans.

2. Freelance Writer

Start a home based freelance writing business if you’re an experienced writer or communicator. Start with a copy of the “Writer’s Market” to contact publications and sites in search of writing services. Write query letters to pitch your writing ideas.

Ghostwriting is another option if you don’t mind writing for others. Start a website for your freelance writing company. Use social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and more to promote this home based business online.

3. Graphic Designer

Design communications materials, flyers, catalogs, advertisements, and web pages for others. Upgrade your skills to include digital design. Market services to entrepreneurs, professionals, digital agencies, manufacturers, or publications. If you have good connections in a certain industry, reach out to contacts to jump start the new home based business.

4. Grant Writer

A grant writer is an intermediary between funders and grant seekers. Some work in an independent contractor capacity. If you previously worked in a development office at a college or nonprofit organization (NPO), it may be relatively simple to start a grant writing business.

Use your knowledge of funding to help those in search of project grants, startup funding, challenge grants, matching grants, endowment grants, and so on. Many NPOs rely on the grant writer’s prior experience. Few ask for certified grant writers.

an illustration of a house drawing with the dollar sign on its roof

5. Consignment Proprietor

Use your love of antiques, jewelry, vintage clothing, furnishings, art, etc., to start a home based business. To test your concept, liquidate items for others online or broker items between buyer and seller. You won’t need a retail location if you consign items online. Earn money by charging a percentage of the sales price or flat fees. Auction sites are a good place to start. Create a business website to give your business instant stature.

6. Homemaker Agency

Serve new mothers and seniors who need help with meal preparation or light housekeeping. Not every client needs a certified nurse’s aid (CNA) to perform these tasks. If you’re already certified, use your experience to market homemaker services. Find clients by advertising your business at the local community center, senior center, rehab center, hospital, or physician’s office. When business demand grows, you’ll need to hire employees.

7. Recruiter/Recruiting Agency

Open a home based brain hunting firm if you have human resources, staffing experience, or research qualifications. To increase your chances of success, consider offering retained instead of contingency services. A retained recruiter is paid during the search process. Contingency recruiters are paid only when the client hires his or her candidates. Check on your state requirements for this home based business idea.

8. Medical Biller

Physicians and hospitals need help with medical billing. Most health care providers accept private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid from their patients. To get paid, the provider must submit claims in the proper format. Knowledgeable medical billers are in demand. Start this home based business with little or no capital.

a young smiling woman holding a board with the word open

9. Private Tutor

If you are good at a certain subject, you should definitely offer private lessons to kids and scholars. From mathematics to music, there are plenty of potential clients out there. It all depends on your skills. Start with your friends to promote your business. Another way to raise awareness is by distributing flyers in schools and kindergartens.

10. Recycling Business

Nowadays, people throw a lot of trash that contains plenty of items that could be recycled. You can maintain a general approach and offer recycling services for several materials such as plastic. Or, you could target a certain niche market. For example, you could offer to shred and recycle old documents and papers from businesses. This is a good way to make money, protect the planet, and helps companies protect their confidential data.

11. Sewing Business

Custom curtain or other clothing or home décor items making is a popular and profitable business nowadays. If you have interest and skills in interior design or fashion, you could consider this home based business. Again, you can create several items from different categories, or you could focus on one niche. For example, you could design handmade curtains. Another fun and profitable idea is to create customized bridal veils.

Putting It All Together

Start your home based business now after taking the time to write a business plan. Some home based business ideas grow fast. For instance, a growing consignment shop might benefit from a retail location. A growing homemaker service might need office space. Have you started a home based business? What kind did you start? Was it a great decision for you? Share your experience and insight now.

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