You might want to investigate which insurance companies have the best ratings from their customers. J.D. Power, a nationally recognized ratings company, gathers this information in an annual survey. Here is their website:
If your homeowners insurance premiums are included with your monthly mortgage payments, you may not realize how much they are. In any case you should go over your insurance policy and see if the coverage is too high. This is especially important during this period of declining home values.
Increasing your deductible amount will lower the premiums. In effect you are self insuring to a certain extent. So you should have sufficient resources to pay this deductible amount if required.
Take advantage of all the discounts that are available to you. Talk to your insurance agent or insurance company about this.
It costs more money to pay your insurance premiums in installments. So pay your insurance on an annual or semiannual basis if possible.
You can usually save money by having all or most of your different insurance policies with the same company.
If you are single with no dependents or pets you probably can save a lot of money by finding house sitting opportunities. This is where people are going to be gone from home for several weeks or months at a time. They want someone to stay in their home and feed the pets, mow the grass, and do some other simple chores. But you get to live in their home rent free. (The question of who pays the utilities is up for negotiation.)
The various household purchases can be either a one-time expense or a recurring expense. You may need to purchase bedding, cooking and eating utensils, furniture, linen, and so on. Then there is a constant need for bathroom supplies, laundry supplies, paper products, and so on. You may be able to save money by going to discount stores, estate auctions, secondhand stores, thrift shops, unfinished furniture stores, and yard sales. One of my favorite ways to save on household purchases is the liquidation sale or "going out of business" sale.
Any required household maintenance should be taken care of right away. These are things like broken windows, damaged doors, leaks in the roof or rain gutter, and plumbing leaks. The longer these problems continue the more damage they can do to your house. You might be able to fix the problem yourself if you take care of it right away. But if the problem keeps getting worse, you may have to hire a contractor to fix things.
If you are paying other people for cleaning your house, cleaning your swimming pool, mowing the lawn, and other tasks -- why not try doing these things yourself? You might learn to like it and it would save you money.
When buying a house or refinancing a mortgage it's usually better to get a mortgage with a fixed interest rate rather than one with a variable interest rate. This is true even though the variable interest rate is lower than the fixed interest rate when you get the loan. (An exception would be when the interest rates are at a historical high and have started coming down.)
When you have an existing mortgage there are several potential ways to reduce the burden of high mortgage payments. However, you would have to determine if these steps are worth the effort and risk:
You might be able to refinance your mortgage at a cheaper interest rate.
Talk to your landlord about ways to reduce your monthly rental payments. Perhaps you can do some painting, repairs, or maintenance work around the house. Perhaps you can manage some of the landlord's other rental properties.
If you rent from month to month perhaps the landlord would give you a lower monthly rate if you sign a year's lease.
Move to a home with lower rent payments.
Turn off lights when not in use.
Start using the new fluorescent light bulbs. They have a long life and use much less electricity.
Turn off the television and any computer equipment when not in use. You may want to plug your computer equipment into a power strip. Then you can just turn off the switch on the power strip.
Make sure that all electrical appliances are properly maintained.
Don't leave the refrigerator door open for no reason. Put the food away or take the food out and then close the door.
You can save money on heating and cooling by lowering your desired comfort level, reducing the energy needed to maintain your comfort level, changing your habits, or all three methods.
If you decide to reduce the energy needed, you will have an initial pay-out, but this will be recovered in a few months or years by the savings in operating expenses.
Lowering your desired comfort level:
Lower your thermostat several degrees in the winter and raise it several degrees in the summer (if you have air conditioning). If this makes you too cold in the winter you could start wearing sweaters.
Reducing the energy needed:
Relatively inexpensive methods -- Apply caulking and weather stripping around your home's exterior to minimize air infiltration from the outside. Note that caulking and weather stripping eventually deteriorates. So even if you already have this protection, you should see if it needs to be replaced or upgraded.
Changing your habits
On the days that you use your clothes dryer run all the batches of clothes one after the other. This way your clothes dryer does not have to warm up several times during the day. But clean out the lint filter between loads.
Besides maintaining the desired room temperature, a healthful indoor environment includes adequate air ventilation to expel excessive moisture and any pollutants. Discussion of these matters is beyond the scope of this website. You should consult with an experienced contractor or consultant if you have any questions about these matters.
Wrap your hot water tank with the special blanket insulation made for this purpose. But don't block any access panels or combustion air inlets.
Showers use less hot water than taking a bath. But they can get you just as clean if not cleaner.
Use a flow restrictor on your shower nozzle to reduce the amount of hot water used.
Use full loads in your clothes washer and dishwasher. This is the most efficient way to use these appliances. Use cold water to wash and rinse your clothes when ever practical.
Lower the temperature control on your hot water tank. (Scalding hot water can be dangerous and there usually is no need for it.)
See if you can find a cheaper telephone provider for the type and frequency of the services you need. (With the deregulation of the telephone industry in the United States there are many competitors offering telephone service. Competition brings lower prices.)
Only pay for the services that you really need. Carefully consider if you can do without any services that are billed separately. Thus if you are being charged for directory assistance you might want to use a phone book and keep track of all out of town numbers you use.
If you are charged more for certain telephone services during peak hours, try to use these services during off-peak hours instead.
Investigate whether using a cell phone will lower your overall telephone expense. On the other hand you may save money by dropping your cell phone and using only a land line telephone. (This presumes you don't really need to use a phone while away from home.)
Most cities base your sewer charges on your water consumption. So by reducing water usage you are saving on both water and sewer charges.
If you have a septic tank or cesspool, it will require periodic removal of the sludge. Otherwise, you might be forced to replace your drain lines or cesspool. Here is some useful maintenance information from the University of Arizona:
Fix any leaking water pipes and dripping faucets. This constant flow of water increases your water and sewer bill with no benefit to you.
Some people recommend putting a brick or other large object in the toilet tank to reduce water consumption. But if this requires you to flush twice (to make the stuff all go down) on a frequent basis, this may not be a good idea for you.
Reducing water usage is another reason to use a flow restrictor in your shower nozzle.
Don't let the water run while brushing your teeth or washing your face and hands. Use a glass of water to brush your teeth. Fill a stoppered wash basin to wash yourself.