For the last 2 years, I’ve been keeping a list of all the things we have implemented in our house that has helped us save money. These are not just “once in a while” things. They are habits that we have completely changed and never looked back. And we have no regrets and see no less happiness or enjoyment in our lives because of them.
This list really amazes me because just when I think we can’t possibly find more ways to save money, we do. One of the biggest fears or issues people have with the whole FI or early retirement concept is the idea of “what if your lifestyle starts costing more money” or “what if inflation causes prices and the cost of daily life to go up”? I honestly think that we can immune ourselves from inflation. Just as prices go up every year, as humans we can find ways to do things more efficiently every year. And I am always on the lookout for alternative products or ways of doing things.
Today, I’ll discuss 5 small (in my mind) changes implemented in the SAVINGFORALIVING household:
1. Stopped using the dryer: We bought a nice clothes drying rack on kijiji and always dry our clothes on it along with hangers on the shower rod in the bathroom. This will only get easier once we move to our house with a larger yard and an actual clothes line which we will be able to use for at least half the year.
Savings: Based on my (very simple and not 100% accurate) research, a dryer cycle costs about $0.50 of electricity for an hour. Plus the wear and tear to the actual dryer. Consider a dryer of $500-$1,000 lasting 10 to 15 years. According to P&G the average American family does 300-400 loads of laundry per year (CRAZY!). So I’m estimated the average wear and tear on a dryer is $0.20 per load. Lastly, you need to consider that a dryer does wear out clothes slightly faster.
2. Stopped using the dishwasher: About a year ago we started hand washing out dishes. We bought a good quality drying rack for about $15 at Walmart which can hold a days worth of dishes. I find we probably spend just as much time rinsing, placing and then removing all the dishes from the dishwasher as we do actually cleaning them ourselves.
Savings: From a usage stand point, there really isn’t any savings in my mind. Some studies have shown that hand washing could use more energy than a really efficient dishwasher. We however are pretty efficient using only minimal water and only rinsing in cold water. But I’ll call it a break even. Where we do see some savings is in the actual purchase and maintenance of a dishwasher. A good quality, high efficient unit can cost about $1,000 and they are expected to last (without repairs) for about 10 years. So I see our savings here being $100 a year.
3. No more TV: We cut our cable subscription about 4 years ago. We still had an HD 55″ TV mounted in our living room where we would sometimes put music on it or watch movies or shows at night.
Savings: We were getting a good deal on a cable at $30/month but the average in Canada is closer to $60/month and I know many people that over $100 with premium channels. The average TV is on for 200 hours per month and costs approx. $2.15/month (according to Toronto Hydro). Plus the cost of a TV is probably close to $1,000 or more and you probably want to upgrade that TV every 5 years to keep up with the latest technology so let’s put the depreciation cost of having a TV at $200/year.
4. No data on cell phones: D. and I both switched to Petro-Canada Mobile and text and talk only phone plans. There are other really cheap providers such as Public Mobile but you can get a pretty good plan for under $20 (all in)/month. We don’t really miss the data. We just have to figure out driving directions before we go somewhere and can’t 100% rely on google maps anymore. Our parents and grandparents did it all the time.
Savings: We used to pay $60 each/month so our savings here is $40 each/month or $960/year.
5. Limited use of AC: Last summer we really cut down on our AC use. We only put it on starting at 7PM to help us sleep. It was never unbearable in the house and it just motivated us to go outside more In our new house we are actually not even installing an AC unit.
Savings: Depending on the size of your house, efficiency of your unit and how cool you keep the house, it can cost between $100-$200/month during the peak summer months to run it. Also, consider the cost ($3,000-$5,000) to install one and amortize that over 15-20 years.
Just these 5 things are saving us almost $5,000 a year. I have 10 other items on my list and it keeps growing so stay tuned for the next top 5 list.