I liked these tips for cutting housing expenses from Consumer Credit Counseling Service www.cccsinc.org or www.cccsenespanol.org:
"Look for savings inside and outside your home – Start by evaluating some of your monthly services and determine which are absolutely necessary. Do you really need 250 channels, or could you live with basic cable or without cable at all?
- If you use your cell phone as your primary phone, consider disconnecting your land line. If you can’t bear to part with your phone, cable and internet access, shop around. Many companies offer options to “bundle” these services together at a significant discount.
- Turn down the thermostat. According to a recent report by Consumer Reports, lowering the temperature by 5 or 10 degrees at night and when no one is at home can slash your energy bills by up to 20 percent per year. If you can’t remember to change your thermostat, consider installing the programmable kind—they are available for as little as $30 and can add up to big savings.
- Reduce your grocery bill. By planning your meals, making a list before you shop and avoiding shopping while hungry, you can save substantially on your grocery bill. Compare prices on your staple items, buy in bulk when it is more cost effective, and avoid making more than weekly trips to the store. Watching for specials, such as “buy one, get one free” offers and using coupons can also maximize savings. Consider bringing your lunch to work—you can save $5 to $15 per day.
- Skyrocketing gas prices have taken a toll on everyone’s wallet. Planning your trips to minimize driving times, carpooling, and using alternative modes of transportation when possible can all add up to savings at the pump.
Reduce Homeowners Insurance costs – Consider increasing your deductible, which can reduce your premiums, but will require you to pay more out of pocket if you make a claim. If you have more than one policy with the same insurance carrier, such as home and auto, you can typically get a 5 to 15 percent savings on your premium. You might also qualify for a discount if your home has smoke alarms, a monitored security system, or hurricane shutters.
Florida homeowners may also receive significant discounts in their insurance premiums by having a wind mitigation report. For about $150, homeowners can have a certified inspector evaluate their home’s ability to withstand wind. In addition to receiving recommendations on how to better secure your home, you may be eligible for savings of hundreds of dollars or more per year. Visit www.mysafefloridahome.com for more information.
Evaluate your property taxes and explore homestead exemption – As the housing market boomed, so did the appraised value of many houses. If you think your property values are overestimated, you can request that they be reevaluated. If your appraised value is lowered, your taxes will also be reduced. Check your state’s homestead exemption policy. In many states, filing for homestead exemption will reduce the taxable value of your home and may also limit your annual increases in property tax."
--source: from Consumer Credit Counseling Service www.cccsinc.org or ww.cccsenespanol.org:
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