For the past few months we’ve been preparing ourselves for the exciting event of becoming parents for the second time. We’ve been having baby showers, buying all the baby related items we needed and just stocking up.
Through all this we realized that even before we started buying all of this baby stuff that we were starting to run out of room, and we really had a lot of stuff in the house that we no longer needed.
While we certainly aren’t hoarders (1.4 million Americans DO suffer from chronic hoarding & clutter.), and we weren’t trapped and killed by our piles of stuff like this unfortunate fellow, we didn’t want to have our home stuffed to the gills with things we didn’t want or need.
We decided to simplify, and to declutter.
10 Reasons To Get Rid Of Your Stuff“.
Our Criteria For Getting Rid Of Stuff
- Are we currently using this item?
- Are we likely to use it in the future?
- Is it sentimental?
- Even if we’re using it, does it take up more space than it is worth?
More often than not we’re not really using the item anymore, and in many cases we’re not even sure why we saved it. Old shoes, old magazines and CDs we hadn’t listened to in years went out the door. Old computer motherboards and computer cables? Gone.
Of course there are the exceptions – things that I will always refuse to get rid of – like my guitars and my old baseball card collection.
How To Get Rid Of Things When You Declutter
There are a lot of ways to get rid of things when you declutter your house. You can sell it, donate it, give it away or junk it.
Sell The Item
When we’re deciding what we’re going to do with an item we go through a mental inventory to decide on if the item is actually worth anything. If it is, we try to sell the item. Our favorite places to sell things are online. They include:
We recently sold a couple of old rugs, and some old electronics we had in storage on Craigslist. In the end we made a couple of hundred dollars on the items. Money for baby stuff!
My wife has found she has a knack for selling things like old baby clothes and accessories on Facebook via mommy pages and garage sale groups for our local area. Usually she’ll list more popular items on there and we can have the items sold within a few days. We sold our son’s old baby clothes that we had been saving for several hundred dollars that way.
We’ve also sold old technology items using electronics buying sites. We recently had an old Samsung Galaxy phone to get rid of. We checked prices at a variety of sites, including the ones listed above, and ended up finding the best price with Decluttr.com. We were able to make some money on a phone we weren’t using, and someone else will get a like new Galaxy phone for a low price.
If selling our stuff online doesn’t work, and if we have enough items, we will sometimes have a garage sale.
The problem with garage sales is that far too often you put in more effort to have the garage sale than you actually make in selling the items. Another alternative is to ask family or friends if they’re having a garage sale anytime soon. If they are, ask them if you can bring your items over to sell. We did this last year and sold several larger ticket items – and had fun hanging out with friends all day!
Donate The Item
If we don’t believe we’ll get enough money for the item to make selling it worth our while, quite often we’ll donate the item to a local charity. We have a goodwill store pretty close to our house, and quite often we end up donating the items there. Remember, you can often get a tax deduction if you donate items!
Some options for donating items:
For some more options on places to donate your things, check out this great post: Where To Donate All Your Unwanted Stuff.
Give The Item Away
If you can’t sell the item, and charities don’t take your item as a donation, you can always give the item away for free. Place a free ad on Craigslist offering the item for free – or leave a post on a site like Freecycle.org. Usually you can find a taker for just about any item you’re getting rid of.
Junk The Item
If no one will take your items, even for free, you can always just dump them. If the items are too big to throw in your own garbage receptacle, you can use one of these options:
- Your local dump
- Some communities have a “large trash item” day once a year where they’ll pick up your larger items.
Get Rid Of Your Excess Items – You’ll Be Glad You Did
When we started getting rid of things from our house, at first it was a bit painful. We were both coming up with excuses about how we would use items in the future, about how certain items meant so much to us, and how we could continue to store items because we wouldn’t want to re-buy them again in the future.
In the end we realized that we were making a lot of rationalizations, and that things we weren’t currently using were probably going to remain unused for the foreseeable future. It just made sense to get rid of all these things that were weighing us down.
After we started getting rid of things it felt really good to be rid of all the excess baggage. It was a like a weight lifted off of our shoulders, and we felt so much more free! We have free space in the house!
So if you’re thinking about getting rid of your things – just do it! It may be hard at first, but it will get easier, and the freedom you’ll feel by having de-clutterfied will be priceless!
Have you recently tried decluttering your house? Was it hard to get rid of things – even the things you weren’t using anymore? Why do you think that “things” are able to get such a hold on our lives?
Have you heard of Swagbucks?
Many people have, but don’t know exactly what it is or how it works.
Now that Swagbucks just celebrated their tenth birthday, more and more people are learning about this reputable company (which has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau) that helps you earn free gift cards, cash and prizes.
Chances are, when you learn more about this company, you’ll become a Swagbucks enthusiast like me!
Open Your FREE Swagbucks Account Now!
Use our link to get a $5 signup bonus, and use promo code “BMONEYMATTERS” when you register you’ll get an extra 70 points called SB
If you do nothing more than search the Internet a few times a day (and don’t we all do that?), you could easily earn 7 to 10 points called SB a day.
Earn 300 SB (which is possible in 3 to 5 weeks with minimal effort), and you could redeem your points for a $3 Amazon gift card.
In general, every 100 SB earns you a $1 toward an Amazon gift card. 300 SB for $3 Amazon gift card, or 500 SB for a $5 Amazon gift card. However, you can earn a $25 Amazon gift card for just 2,200 SB points!
How To Sign Up For Swagbucks
Signing up for Swagbucks is simple.
Simply go to the Swagbuck’s page and either sign in with Facebook, or fill out a simple form with your e-mail address and a password that you choose for your Swagbucks account.
Open Your FREE Swagbucks Account Now!
Registration is free, and right now you’ll eligible to get a $5 bonus for signing up!
Once you are signed up, make sure you stay signed in so you can use Swagbucks to search the Internet and earn points.
How To Earn SB
There are many ways to earn SB. If you use it to search the Internet, you will randomly earn points. I have earned anywhere from 7 to 79 points at one time. Those points continue to accrue until you redeem them for your rewards.
In addition to searching the Internet, there are many other ways to earn points:
- Watch television programming. Like to find new recipes? Watch the Food Network videos. Or watch videos streamed right from Hulu as well as clips on news (regular and celebrity), tech, etc. on Swagbucks and earn SB points. (They have many quick two to three minute shows that you can watch to earn points.)
- Encourage your friends to join. If your friends sign up for Swagbucks with your referral link, you will get 10% of their Swagbucks earning for life! This can be a great way to watch your balance grow with minimal effort on your part, especially if you have several friends join.
- Use coupons. If you routinely print coupons off the Internet, print them from Swagbucks. For every coupon you redeem at the grocery store, you earn 10 SB
- Take a poll. There are usually short, one question polls that you can answer. This takes less than 10 seconds, and you can earn a SB point.
- Meet your daily Swagbucks goal. Every day, Swagbucks sets an earning goal for you. For instance, they may set a goal of earning 30 SB. If you’re able to do that, say for 7 days in a row, you’ll earn an additional 25 SB.
- Play games. You can play a variety of games in the games section to earn SB.
- Use the special offers section. This section isn’t something I’d use just to get SB (though some people do), but it can be a great way to earn SB points on something you were already going to do. For instance, if you were going to sign up for a Target Red Debit or Credit Card anyway, why not do it through Swagbucks and earn 215 SB points?
This section is Swagbucks highest earning vertical. There are plenty of special offers to choose from.
These are just a few ways to earn rewards; there are many more, some more labor intensive than others.
I usually just have time for the polls and searching the Internet, and I still earned enough in a year to redeem for Amazon gift cards and get a few presents for my kids at Christmas.
Swagbucks Browser Extension
Swagbucks has a browser extension that you can install in your browser as well.
In my Chrome browser I have it installed and it will notify you when there is cash back available for a store you’re shopping at. Just click on the button that pops up to activate the cash back, and a short while after you complete your purchase the SB will be added to your account.
It also will tell you when there are coupon codes available at a certain store and apply them for you, saving you additional money!
What it comes down to is adding the extension will likely save you quite a bit of money! It takes the work out of remembering to go to a cash back site – it does it for you automatically.
Swagbucks Hack To Triple Your Savings
Her’s a hack that I have started using in order to triple my savings when shopping online. I use Swagbucks in conjunction with two other providers, Honey and Gift Card Granny.
Here’s how it works.
- Activate Swagbucks cash back: First, go to the shopping site where you want to save money. Activate your Swabgucks cash back via your browser extension. It should pop up automatically if you have it installed and ask you to “activate cash back”.
- Use Honey to get a coupon code: After you find the item you wanted to buy, add it to your cart and begin the checkout process. On the checkout page where they have a space for coupon codes, use the Honey browser extension to search for available coupon codes, to save you more money!
- Buy a discounted gift card from Gift Card Granny: Figure out your order’s total, and then buy a gift card at Gift Card Granny to cover the cost. You can often find gift cards for popular retailers at a big discount. For example, a $100 gift card for $85. Purchase the gift card and use it when checking out.
When you do these three things, you’ll save using Swagbucks cash back, by using a Honey coupon code, and by getting a discount on a gift card to pay for your order. Triple the savings!
How Much Can You Earn With Swagbucks?
Once you’ve earned enough points you can redeem your SB for an Amazon gift card, but there are hundreds of other ways to also redeem your points. Choose from a wide range of retailers—Amazon, Target, Lands End, Chili’s, Starbucks, Whole Foods, Walmart, Sears, and many more.
There are hundreds of prizes to choose from, and if you want to make your SB points stretch further, look for the sale category where they temporarily discount how many SB certain items can be redeemed for.
They say that nothing in life is free, but if you search the Internet using Swagbucks, utilize the cash back tools and engage on their site you will earn enough SB points to redeem for some nice free gifts.
Have you used Swagbucks? If so, what have you earned?
If you use promo code “BMONEYMATTERS” when you register you’ll get an extra 70 SB.
Get Your Free 70 SB When You Open Swagbucks Account Now!
- Lots of reward options including PayPal
- Great cash back options
- Browser extension works great
- In store cash back
- Lots of ways to earn points
- Some offers require a lot to get SB
This post originally appeared in the Financially Independent Millennial.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and are not endorsed by Credit.com.
Table of contents
Do you want to save $5,000 this year? If so, look no further. In this article, I go over my 52-week money challenge that you can start today. Then, at the end of each tip, I’ll give you the potential savings (a year) where applicable.
No one likes to throw money away, and you and I know that saving isn’t an easy task! You might know when your paycheck will hit your bank account. And that’s a great start! But, if you don’t know where your money gets spent, there are likely places you can save. Indeed, you’re more than likely to have spent on unnecessary items. And sometimes, you may not even realize you’re spending so much. For example, when buying “stuff” cheap items and paying for subscriptions, the costs add up.
Related Read: How to Avoid Emotional Spending
2021 is another year, and it’s time to start a new challenge. Take the 52-week money challenge, and I bet you can save $5,000 before the end of the year. What would saving $5,000 mean to you? Would you use it to pay off a credit card, your car, or how about a vacation?
There are many things you can do with $5,000. Saving is not an easy task, but with these tips, it’s possible. So, let’s dig in and explore how to save $5,000 this year with my 52-week money challenge:
Planning to Save $5,000 In A Year
In this section, we’ll look at all the ways you can plan your $5,000 savings this year. Further, there’ll be ways you can save on your monthly expenses.
Create a Budget
If you’re going to save any money this year, the first thing you’ll need is a budget. If you have one, that’s great. But if not, you need it now! A budget helps you spend your money and live within your means. It allows you to create a monthly income surplus and deposit them in your savings account.
Let’s face it, saving $5,000 in 52 weeks isn’t easy. But, a budget will help separate your cash flow into categories. Then, you’ll build a monthly income surplus. And in no time, you’ll achieve your goal. Creating a budget is a simple task. But it’s essential to stick to your budget.
I recommend starting by going back three months and recording those daily expenses. When you look at your spending, you can locate the areas you spend too much. If you identify such areas you spend much, you can adjust your spending. That’s one way to achieve your $5,000 savings goal.
Additionally, tracking your spending is beneficial. It helps you be more careful about the amount you spend, knowing that you have to record all the details.
Related Read: How to Make a Budget
Increase Your Insurance Deductible
One way to save money is to lower your spending. An easy way to save $5000 this year is to increase your insurance deductibles. For example, consider your home and auto insurance deductibles.
A recent study reported that homeowner’s insurance premiums hover around $1,200 a year. If you bump up your deductible, for example, from $500 to $1,000, you could save as much as 25% on your premiums. Remember, a higher deductible means the insurer will have a lower risk, and as a result, offer you a lower premium.
If you consider this strategy, speak with your insurance agent. They will tell you how much you’ll save after increasing the deductible.
Indeed, you can also use this option for auto insurance. A study reported that you could save up to $30 per month after increasing the deductibles, from $250 to $1,000.
Potential Savings: $600 a year.
Cancel Your Unused Gym Membership
A gym is one place that you have to pay for membership. But, after you’ve committed yourself for some time, you now realize your visits are slowing. If so, it’s time to cancel the membership. Why pay membership fees for something you don’t use. So, canceling an unused membership is a useful option to add more money to your savings basket.
For example, depending on your location, a gym membership’s monthly cost could be as high as $50/mo. Various studies report that as much as 70% of the members don’t use their membership. Indeed, paying for unused memberships drains your budget.
Now, you might feel that canceling the gym membership means that you are giving up on your body. If so, consider various other ways to get fit: you can run, walk or ride a bicycle. Besides, there are many YouTube Exercise Videos that you can follow along. Additionally, if you prefer strengthening training, free fitness apps like Fitbod can help.
Potential savings: $500 a year
Cancel Unnecessary Subscription Services
A study reported that you might spend $200+ on monthly subscriptions. Think video streaming, photo editing apps, and more.
The money you pay for these subscriptions may seem minimal, but it adds up. $20/mo for one, $50/mo for a subscription box, and so on. Spend the time and review all your subscriptions and identify those you will cut.
Some subscriptions have alternatives, which are free or low cost. For example, you may subscribe to Audible for $20/mo, an audiobook service. Audible may be popular, but there are free alternatives.
Potential Savings: $2400 a year.
Reduce Your Food Waste
Food waste costs money and negatively impacts the environment. On average, US households throw away as much as $1,800 a year worth of food. Indeed, food waste is terrible for your budget.
Related Read: Grocery Shopping On a Budget
Reducing food waste isn’t something that will happen overnight. There are a few proven tricks that may help you with your journey. If you need to reduce food waste, consider using a shopping list, and start planning your weekly meals.
Potential savings: $1,800 a year.
Cut Commuting Costs
Another easy way to save $5000 this year is to cut commuting costs. If you go to work for five days a week, commuting by car adds up.
A recent study by Citi suggested daily commuting can cost you $10/day and over $2,600 in a year. For example, you can carpool with one person, which helps you split the cost in half.
It may be a hassle to find a person you can carpool with. You can start by asking your neighbors traveling to a similar route or co-workers. But using this method could help get you to your $5,000 savings goal.
Potential Savings: $1,300 a year.
Related Read: 14 Frugal Living Tips You Can Implement Today
Save on Bank Account Fees
A recent study by the CFPB indicated that Americans spend, on average, $250 a year on banking fees. And 75% of it is NSF charges! Indeed, this is a completely unnecessary waste of money.
Switch to a free checking account, and keep at least 2-3 months of your monthly expenses to void NSF fees.
Potential Savings: $250 a year.
Signup for Credit Card Bonuses and Rewards
Finding extra money helps you save. One creative way to save $5,000 this year is to consider credit card offers. There are many options for credit cards with the best rewards programs. You could earn rewards like cash back on certain purchases, airline miles, hotel and loyalty points, etc. Browse through these offers to find which one works best for you.
Lastly, remember to never carry a high balance on a credit card and pay it off in full each month
Potential Savings: $1,000 a year.
Sell Items You No Longer Use
No doubt, you have stuff you don’t need to use at home or the office anymore. So, such things might seem like junk, but I bet some will have value among them.
The quickest way you can make extra money is to gather up all the items you no longer need and sell them. And, if you have enough stuff, you can host a yard sale and get rid of them fast.
A yard sale is an excellent way to get rid of your items within a day or two. If you have more valuable items, they will likely fetch more money online. For example, you might consider Facebook marketplace or Craigslist. I like Craigslist due to its wider audience.
Potential savings: $1,000
Save Money on Entertainment
If there’s one thing many people spend a lot of money on, it’s entertainment. That said, cutting back on entertainment expenses is an excellent option to save $5,000 this year.
Look at your budget and see the amount you spend on entertainment. It includes sporting events, movies, concerts, meals with friends, and trips to the bar. All these expenses can add up fast.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend on entertainment. Doing the things you love helps you live a balanced lifestyle. There are easy ways to cut back on entertainment expenses without sacrificing your fun.
Look for cheap or free things to do. Another option is looking for a new hobby that you know will not cost you much money. Give yourself a fair limit on the amount you can use for entertainment.
Potential Savings: $2,000 a year.
Start a Side Hustle
As you reduce expenses, it’s also essential to look at other ways to make money. Consider one of many side-hustles out there, and I’m sure you’ll find a good fit.
Here are a few side-hustles you can choose from to get to your $5,000 savings goal.
- Taking online surveys – This is among the best options to make extra money across the world. It isn’t a lucrative option, but the best thing is that it is flexible. You don’t sacrifice most of your time because even while watching TV, you can take surveys. Many survey sites offer you signup bonuses. These include Survey Junkie, Inbox Dollars, Swagbucks, MyPoints, among others.
- Flea Market Flipping – Selling things you don’t like may become your side hustle. It can help to earn money through buying and reselling. The best place to purchase items is at thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales and resell them at higher prices. Some of the things you can buy include wood furniture and paint them to get a new look. Such furniture you can sell at a nice profit on Craigslist.
- Freelancing – There are various professional services you can offer. For example, you could become someone’s virtual assistant. Or, even write content for websites and blogs like The Financially Independent Millennial! Other freelancing options include web development, web design, graphic design, social media marketing, photography, and more.
- Dog Walking And Pet Sitting – Dog walking or pet sitting are among the easiest side hustles you can do. And you’ll earn extra income, and make a lot of money. Indeed, pet owners do love their pets and spend a lot of money on them. And, this side hustle does not need you to have special skills.
- Drive for DoorDash – Doordash offers an excellent way to make good money. Offering delivery services is a great chance to earn extra money with flexibility. This option allows you to set your free hours and make money fast.
Related Read: Best Side Hustles To Start in 2021
Final Thoughts on How to Save $5,000 This Year
In this article, we covered some different ways to boost your savings. Ask yourself, “is today the right time to start your 52-week money challenge?” Indeed, if you were to follow each of these tips, you could save yourself over $10,000 a year. Go ahead and reduce spending with these tips. And at the end of the challenge, I have no doubt you’ll save $5,000 this year. But remember, you don’t have to deprive yourself! Cut your spending from various activities, and your savings will add up with time.
By properly maintaining your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, you can improve its efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs dramatically.
reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 20 percent.
2. Consider a Home Warranty
If you’ve ever wondered how to compare home warranty vs. home insurance, now is your chance to learn. Home warranties guarantee the systems of your home, like your HVAC, against the ravages of time. If your HVAC breaks down for any reason, you can contact your home warranty provider, who will send an HVAC specialist to diagnose and fix the problem for a low, flat fee around $70. Though a home warranty won’t keep your HVAC in tip-top shape, it will secure you against total HVAC failure.
3. Calibrate Your Thermostat
You shouldn’t just trust that your thermostat knows what temperature it is in your home. It is easy for thermostats to be anywhere from a percent of a degree to five whole degrees off from the true temperature, and that seemingly small difference will cost you over time. To be certain your thermostat is reading true, you need to purchase a trustworthy thermometer and keep it on the wall a few inches from your thermostat. Then, using that tool, you can calibrate your thermostat appropriately.
4. Check Your Economizer
Economizers are machines attached to your HVAC to ensure high efficiency, but they don’t always work as expected. Often, economizers slip their links or contain faulty controls—or else someone in the past tinkered with them improperly. You should pay a visit to your HVAC economizer and give it a once-over; look specifically for open dampers (which should be kept closed) and any signs of quick fixes, like string or unfinished wood, that could indicate issues.
5. Control Your VFD
A variable frequency drive (VFD) controls the speed of the motor in your HVAC unit, providing energy savings proportional to the rotations per minute. However, like economizers, VFDs can malfunction and/or can be interfered with, causing efficiency-related problems. You should peer into your VFD and ensure that it isn’t running on bypass mode, so you can reap appropriate energy savings.
6. Cut out Your BAS
A building automation system (BAS) provides centralized control of HVAC as well as lighting and other systems. Such systems usually only exist in larger structures with more complex energy and control needs, but if your home is in an apartment or condo building, you might be subject to a BAS. You should either try to remove a BAS that is impeding the proper use of your HVAC or else contact your building manager to express concern over the BAS functionality.
7. Clean Your Coils
On the same day you clean your refrigerator coils, you should also clean your HVAC coils. Because HVAC units are typically placed in out-of-the-way areas that are rarely cleaned – like your roof, your basement, your attic or a corner of your yard – it doesn’t take long for them to accumulate dirt and grime. Debris on your HVAC coils forces the machine to work harder to produce the same effects, and it can reduce indoor air quality. Thus, you should schedule a coil cleaning at least once per year.
8. Connect Timers
There is no sense in heating or cooling an empty home. When you are away – at work or on vacation – you should consider setting a more lenient temperature on your thermostat, so it doesn’t need to work so hard for no benefit. You can also connect timer switches to your most energy-hungry devices, like gaming consoles, desktop computers and appliances, for a similar effect.
Over time, your HVAC will become less efficient—unless you do something about it. By participating in preventative maintenance, you can reduce your home energy costs and avoid the high expense of repairing or replacing your equipment.