How To Save Money When You Least Expect It

by Tim on February 2, 2011

Phantom energy can be stealing your dollars

One of the best ways to increase your cash flow is to decrease your spending.   Yes, you could cut out cable TV,  drive an older vehicle,  or find the cheapest IPhone plan, but I want to show you a few ways to save money where you least expect it. The savings may not be monumental, but every little bit can help and it’s always good to be a better steward of the resources we’re given.

Phantom Energy

Did you know that your TV, DVD player, phone chargers, computer chargers, and many other devices in your home drain power even when they’re not in use? According to the Energy Center of Wisconsin, phantom energy can account for 5% – 10% or more of your total energy bill. This can add up quickly and if you’re at the upper end of the range, you’re wasting a whole month or more of electricity each year!

Ways to Change – Start using a power strip for items like those listed above. When you’re not using the items, turn off the power strip to keep the items from draining your electricity.

Driving Fast

Not only is speeding dangerous (speaking in terms of your LIFE) it can be harmful to your wallet too. According to, for every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph, it’s like paying an extra $0.24 per gallon for gas. At prices hovering around $3.00, that’s nearly an 8% increase to your gas budget that really isn’t necessary!

Solution – Save money by watching your speedometer and being cautious about how fast you accelerate, especially from a complete stop.

Buying Water

Ok, you’ve probably heard about this before, but I want to really put it into perspective. If you buy a bottle of water four times a week at $1.00 a bottle, you’re spending over $200 each year on something you can get for free. Continue this for 10 years and the total cost can add up to thousands of dollars.

Instead – Buy a water filter for $20 and refill cartridges for about $4 each. This brings your total cost for pure water to a whopping $12 per year (excluding the one time cost of the filter). That’s a 94% savings compared to the example of buying water from a machine.

Grow Your Own Herbs

You don’t need to have a green thumb to grow your own herbs and save money. It’s not uncommon to go to a store and pay $4-$6 for a small amount of an herb you can grow yourself.

Give it a try – Start small and try a few herbs like basil, dill, and parsley. You’ll be surprised how easy it can be and what a difference in flavor it makes for your food. If you’re savvy, try drying out the herbs and saving them for the winter.

Check Your Water Heater

Most water heaters can be adjusted with a thermostat. By turning down the thermostat to 120 degrees (F), you can save 3-5% in operating costs. You can also save money by insulating the pipes as well as the water heater itself. Many hardware stores sell ‘blankets’ for water heaters that keep them insulated from losing heat. The savings from insulation can be upwards of 10%, so in combination with the change in temperature, you might be able to save 15% on the cost of using your water heater!

Which of these do you think you can implement this year? Have you tried any of these before?  If so, how did it go?

Tim is a personal finance writer at Faith and Finance a Christian financial help blog that provides financial insights for individuals, businesses, and churches. Outside of finance, Tim enjoys spending time with his wife, playing the saxophone, reading economics books, and a good game of RISK or Catan. Find him on Twitter and Facebook and subscribe to the Faith and Finance RSS feed.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave@50plusfinance February 2, 2011 at 7:57 am

These are some great ideas. Only be careful with turning off the printer. A complete restart of the printer consists of repriming the print heads which consumes more ink. It’s better to just let it go into sleep mode where the extra priming would not occur thus saving ink. YMMV.


krantcents February 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Great ideas! I would add a cold water wash for your clothes.


Tim @ Faith and Finance February 2, 2011 at 9:51 pm

@ Dave and krantcents – Thanks for your tips! I didn’t think about the printer thing…good to know. As for the cold water – that’s another good example of something you can just overlook or forget!



Everyday Tips February 2, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Darn it, I need to start that herb garden. Not only do you save money, but I bet you get more creative cooking when you have fresh herbs readily available.

I also use a little less soap in both the washing machine and dishwasher. Also, I rip a Bounce sheet in half for the dryer and it works just fine. (Unless I am washing sheets or blankets. Then I gotta splurge and use a whole sheet.)


retireby40 February 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Great tips! We do a little of everything you mentioned. I guess we could be better about the power strip. I like growing our own herbs. They are so expensive at the grocery store.


Andrea February 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Great tips about saving money, One thing new I learned is growing my own herbs. I definitely don’t have a green thumb, but I’m going to give it a try this summer.


Lisa @ VA Home Loan February 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Those are some really good tips. I don’t know how many people can religiously do some of those things. The hardest for me would probably be the Phantom Energy and Growing my own herbs. It would be tough for me to remember to turn off the powerstrip and water the plants.


Hubert Lawrence February 7, 2011 at 11:59 am

Pure rain collected from your rooftop has relatively few contaminants and is perfect for a variety of outdoor uses..The idea of harnessing rainwater has intrigued me for years now but Ive never gotten around to implementing it. This is especially true in areas where storm sewers and sanitary sewers are still combined by collecting rainwater you can reduce the load on your local water treatment facilities..In addition 40 of the water that people use during the spring summer and fall goes into such outdoor applications as washing cars and watering lawns and gardens.


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