There are lots of housing options out there for people who are low income or economically challenged. But what if you can’t afford to simply move and start over in a new home that was designed to meet your economic needs? What if you’re stuck in the home you have–at least for the time being?
Here are the things that you can do to make your home more affordable right now.
Scrutinize Your Bills
Utility companies are notorious for gouging customers who are too trusting or who simply don’t pay attention. Make sure that every single charge on your power, water, etc. bills is warranted and legal! If you think that a portion of your bill is bogus, you can dispute the charges. The best way to do this is in writing, with a copy that you keep for yourself. You can find a sample letter that you can copy at the FTC’s website. Your local state or city website might also have samples that you can use.
Shop Around if You Are Able
If you are lucky enough to live in a state that has deregulated its energy industry like Illinois or Massachusetts, you can shop around for a better deal. This is particularly great for people who want to get their energy from renewable resources but don’t want to pay the exorbitant fees that many utility providers tack on to their bills for the service.
Monitor Your Usage and Make Cuts
Start tracking your usage of power, water, gas, etc. Don’t just write down what time you used it. Write down how long you used it. For example, if you run the water to wash dishes and let it run even as you’re drying things, note that and write it down. Write down when you turn lights off as well as on. Pay attention to when you leave lights on after you leave a room (even the most vigilant among us do this).
A lot of utility companies, like Commonwealth Edison in Illinois and PG&E in Oregon, will track your power usage by the hour and report it to your account. Look at the times of day when usage is the heaviest. Is there anything you can do to cut back? Use your own data tracking to identify bad habits and work to correct them.
Go Beyond Your Utilities
When people try to make their homes more affordable, they often look at their utility bills and energy costs. There are lots of ways to reduce these that don’t require you to fork over a bunch of your take home pay. It is also important, however, to look past your power and utility consumption and identify other areas in which you can save money at home. From how and what you cook to how often you simply leave the house and go outside–there are lots of ways to save money at home.
Turn Your House Into Money
There are lots of ways that you can turn your home into a revenue source–without your having to do a bunch of extra or side work. For example, you can rent out your driveway. You can rent storage space in garages, basements, attics and sheds. Offer to allow people to hold yard sales in your yard for a percentage of their profits. Instead of hacking away those blackberry brambles every year, harvest the berries and sell them! Start your own worm bin in the corner of your backyard and then sell the organic fertilizer it produces. Rent out spare rooms through AirBnB and other sites. There are a lot of ways to turn your house into a money maker that won’t require you to fully start a second business there.
If You Can Afford Small Upgrades, Make Them!
There are lots of improvements you can make to your home that will allow you to save money and raise your property values without costing you a small fortune. For example, installing new energy efficient appliances (one at a time, of course, to offset costs) adds value and reduces costs. Stripping out old flooring for newer eco-friendly bamboo or cork is a project that, if you are handy, you can even do yourself! Maintaining your landscaping, adding a security system, painting–these are all things that boost value (which helps come selling time if you ever decide to sell) and satisfaction without requiring you to take out a second mortgage.
The point is this: you can do a lot to reduce your home’s overhead while simultaneously increasing it’s value and your bank account. These are just a few ideas to help you get started!
Article Submitted By Community Writer