Solar Panels Is a Money-Saving Investment

The reasons to go solar are plenty. For one, the environment. Another reason would be to power your EV vehicle. Maybe you want to be self-sufficient and live off the grid? Or, perhaps you simply want to avoid the electric company’s price hikes. Remember January 2023? Oof! Those are all great reasons. But my favorite reason is that solar saves money. The savings can be immense, especially over time. Yes, installing them is an initial investment, but solar panels are what a call a money-saving investment.

Solar Is Affordable

Before I go into how much money installing solar panels saves, let’s talk about the initial investment. I want to debunk the myth that solar is too expensive. In fact, solar panels are very affordable. We shopped around for the cheapest option and chose a solar panel company, Sunlux, who installed our panels for less than $20k. $20k is AFFORDABLE. $20k is less than a brand new car. Heck, it’s less than many used cars, too.

If you don’t have $20K to pay off the solar upfront, you can finance it. A 10-year loan with Sunlux runs about $115 per month. That payment is covered by the savings from not paying the electric company! Below, I share with you our electricity bills after solar was installed mid-March. You can see that our savings run anywhere from $94-$150!

Related Posts:

Federal Tax Rebate Reimburses 30% of Total Cost of Solar

We were ecstatic to learn that they extended the federal tax rebate in 2023. This reimburses 30% of the total cost of solar panel installation. Since our solar cost $20k to install, we would get $6k back on our return next year. This makes the true cost of installing the solar panel $14k.

Solar Can Reduce Taxes on Your Real Estate’s Capital Gains

When you sell a property, you are taxed on long-term capital gains. However, you can subtract improvements you made to the home while living there. Solar panels count! Subtracting $20k from a properties capital gains saves someone $4k in taxes assuming they are in the 20% tax bracket!

It Takes 7.2 Years of Solar To Come Out Ahead

So assuming you save $6 k from the tax rebate and $4 K from the capital gains tax, the solar really only costs $10K. Financed at $115 / month (which is what you would pay anyway to the electric company if you didn’t have solar), you come out even at 7.2 years. However, the solar you just installed should continue to give returns after 7.2 years. This means every year after that, you are saving $115 / month. Meanwhile, the electric companies likely hiked the price of electricity due to rising demand coming from an increase in popularity of electric vehicles, electric stoves, and electric dryers. Factor in inflation, and you can quickly see why solar panels are a money-saving investment!

In conclusion, installing solar isn’t any different from paying the electric company when financed. Your monthly bills isn’t going to change much. For many, it would save you money actually. In the end, it would lead to savings in the future! Install it today, and your future self will thank you.

*If you are local to Orange County and wish to use Sunlux, would you do me a favor and mention my name as Sunlux offers a referral reward for previous clients. Thank you!

Photo by Vivint Solar on Unsplash

How I Saved Enough to Pay Off $575k of Student Debt in Under 7 Years

Finally! It has been a little over six years and we now have enough money to pay off my $575,000 in student debt! Although we haven’t paid it off because of the student aid deferment since the pandemic, it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I don’t know how it happened, or when really. Which goes to show that little wins add up to big gains. It’s the everyday decisions you make that, in the end, pay out. Success isn’t so much the achievement. The achievement is the public recognition of that success. But success is made long before that achievement is earned. Every time you choose to take a step towards your vision, that is success right there. The crazy part is, we are considering not paying it off! But before I get into why, let’s look at the how.

How We Earned Enough $ to Pay Off $575,000 in Student Debt in Under 7 Years

I will start off by saying, I have never worked full-time in any one job. EVER. And when the pandemic hit, I actually quit my job with the thought of taking a break from dentistry. Alas, I soon found myself back in the office covering for a colleague 2-3 days a week. After her return, I ended up staying on part-time and have been part-time since.

All of this to say, we did not have to bend over backwards slaving away in the work force in order to earn this. Paying off debt doesn’t require deprivation. I didn’t accept a corporate job that might have given me benefits but would have wrecked my soul. I didn’t work over-time sacrificing family time. I lived my life exactly how I wanted to, worked the hours that felt comfortable to me, and prioritized my passions and personal life.

So how did I earn enough?

First, I made my vision and I always kept it in the forefront of everything I did. Second, we lived within our means. We were frugal, but not in the depriving sense of the word. We made good decisions, spending our hard-earned dollars on only the things that brought us joy. Third, we were valuists. We bought things based off of value, not price. I turned passions that I valued into money-making side-hustles. And fourth, we were true to ourselves. We did not compete with the Joneses, but rather, competed with ourselves. We spent energy trying to become better versions of us, rather than trying to one-up our neighbors and friends.

The main point is this: We created a plan to hit our goal and we stuck to it. It’s as simple as that. At the beginning of the pandemic, I had paid down my student debt to $425k. Today, it is at $400k and we have the money to pay it all off!

Where Did We Hold Our Assets?

Our assets are diversified and in multiple accounts. I never planned for it to be this way. When the pandemic hit, we didn’t really know what to do with left-over dollars that we saved. We wanted to be conservative, so we held most of it in cash in a High Yield Savings Account with Marcus. Currently, it is earning 4.65% in return. If you sign up with my referral link, your savings could earn up to 5.15% APY, which is 1% higher than the current Marcus rate. Over the past few years, we have saved $260k in a HYSA. By keeping our dollars in a HYSA, we are earning over $1,000 in free money every month!

We also have equity in our home. We started out by buying the best house we could find in the worst neighborhood in 2018. We had a roommate. Our down-payment was $25k. We sold that home and rolled the equity into buying a more expensive property in 2021. Currently, we have $150k in equity. Real estate has done well the last three years, and continues to do well. We listed our home on the market last Friday, on my 34th birthday.

Adding those two assets together, we are already at $400k! In addition to that, however, we have about $30k in cryptocurrency and $30k in stocks. We actually lost money by investing in stocks and crypto, but as long as we hold and don’t sell, we won’t realize those losses just yet. On top of this, we have $6k in an HSA account and $250k combined in our retirement accounts.

Therefore, if we rent a place to live or if we sold our investments, we would be free of student debt. So why are we not doing that just yet?

Why Have We Not Paid off the Debt Yet?

The politics around student debt have been shaky these past few years. Talk of student loan forgiveness during this prolonged deferment has kept everybody at the edge of their seats. Continued extensions of the 0% interest rate had us rolling our eyes. I thought it would be silly to pay the debt off while we were being charged 0% interest anyway. It was better to invest that money and realize the growth potential of those dollars. We benefited greatly from not refinancing out of the student loan repayment program that we are in (REPAYE). And now that student loan repayments are set to resume in September (????), I am not sure we will pay off the debt right away. Why??

As you may know, our first born son, Casey, was born in April. We decided to stray a bit from our frugal lifestyle in order to give him the best life possible. We want to roll the equity we’ve gained thus far to provide him a big home – one wherein he could have his own room. Our tiny home won’t allow for that. At the same time, real estate has been good to us. My husband, especially, likes being invested in it. And selling our current home in order to pay off debt without a foot in the real-estate game isn’t an idea we like.

What the deferment has taught me these past three years is that staying enrolled in the government’s loan repayment program afforded us more freedom than paying off the debt would have. Call it luck or chance, but I enjoyed that freedom and I think we could benefit from that one last time before the student debt repayment resumes. Which is why we are in the process of buying a $1M+ dream home in our beloved community before the first payment is due in October.

I Changed My Mind.

I changed my mind about what I thought it meant to give the world to Casey. I originally thought it meant choosing a smaller house in order to work less, so that I can be around him more. I originally planned to work 2-3 days total. During my maternity leave, while we were home every day, I realized that we had a lot of family members who could love and care for him as well as we can. In some ways, they can do it even better.

Meanwhile, we struggled to maneuver our tiny space. We were drowning in stuff he needed. We limited the toys that could help him thrive. It also became clear that our small space couldn’t house the people who came over because they wanted to love him and care for him. So I changed my mind.

I’m going to work four days a week in order to provide him and our extended family a bigger space. A place wherein we can all grow, thrive, and share memories in comfort. This provides opportunity for Mike and I to grow our careers, for me to regain a bit of my previous self, and for our family to spend quality time taking care of our son. I am trading my timeline of paying off student debt in under 7 years for something that I prioritize more: family.

For a moment, I considered the alternative. I quickly realized that if I chose to pay off the debt, it would be for self-fulfilling and vain reasons. Mainly, to show the world that I could. But in reality, I’ve proven it to myself, and that’s all that mattered. It will be repaid eventually, but not at the cost of what this journey was all about – to live the life we dream of without money dictating how we live it.

The New Plan

  • Roll $150k from equity plus $75k from HYSA to cover our 20% down payment and closing costs.
  • Keep the remaining $175k in HYSA for my student loans.
  • Leave crypto and stocks where they are so as not to realize losses.
  • Continue contributing to 401k and retirement accounts.
  • When loans resume, start over and aggressively pay off debt.

Essential Finance Moves Parents Can Make For A Newborn Baby

Well, here’s the fun stuff about becoming parents. There are plenty of things you can do to set your kid up for financial success! YAY! This is the stuff that excites me to my bones. Of course, finance isn’t for everyone. That’s why I wanted to share a few actionable tips for people who love a set-it-and-forget-it type of financial life. By doing these few finance moves early on, you are making your family’s life a lot easier. Even before they can even babble, you can already do so much! Here is a list of finance moves we are going to make for our newborn in the first few months after birth.

Set Up your Baby for Financial Success with these easy finance moves

  1. Add baby as an authorized user to your credit card. You can do this once they are born, which allows them to start building credit. Of course, you want to make sure you yourself are paying back those credit cards every month. We don’t want you to ruin their credit scores by racking up a terrible history. But as long as you do, this is a sure-fire way to give them a good score! If you have trouble paying off your credit card debts, you can always try The Credit Pros. They will help identify the most damaging and most helpful credit items, as well as provide advice and educationalools.
  2. Start a 529 plan. You can open this through a brokerage account such as Fidelity or Vanguard. A 529 plan allows you to save up for educational expenses for your child. It is a tax-advantaged savings account. As long as money stays in the account, there are no taxes on earnings. As long as the money is used to pay for qualifying educational expenses, there are no federal taxes. And most of the time, there are no state taxes either! If your child doesn’t end up going needing educational expenses, you can rename the beneficiary to someone else. A grandchild, for example. Or you can transfer funds to an IRA.
  3. Add them to the HSA plan. Having a child is a qualifying life event that allows you to add them to your HSA plan mid-year. Make sure to claim them as a dependent under the person who owns the HSA plan.
  4. Claim child as a dependent with your employer.
  5. Take care of health insurance, life insurance, and disability insurance. Adding your newborn to existing insurance plans is a must!
  6. Create a budget category for your new family member. We budget every dollar, and now that we have an additional person, we need to financially account for them. We added a specific spending bucket for our baby’s additional monthly expenses. We’ve actually tried to not increase our spending by much even though we have a new family member. Check out the list of baby stuff we did not buy if you also want to limit spending. As for our budgeting tool, we have used YNAB for years and I recommend it to everyone. It is a tool that gave us the lifestyle we wanted. You can try it for free for 34 days using my referral link here. Personally, we find so much value in YNAB that we pay a yearly subscription.
  7. Add them to your living trust and will. I wrote our living trust on my own with Legal Zoom. By doing so, I saved thousands of dollars on lawyer fees. It was super easy to do on my own, too. All we had to pay for were notary fees. I talked a lot about the importance of living trusts in this post. The living trust is crucial in avoiding state interferences that usually occur prior to the will being carried out.
  8. Add child as beneficiary to accounts. Do this as a safety measure to the living trust and will.
  9. Take advantage of tax breaks. Did you know that there is the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit? It allows you to get 20-35% of tax credit for up to $3000 (one dependent) or $6000 (two or more qualifying dependents). The percent depends on your adjusted gross income. There is also the option of opening an FSA account with your employer and funding up to $5000 tax-free in an FSA account. This money can be used to pay for pre-K programs such as nursery school or pre-school. Higher income earners may benefit more from an FSA account than the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (you can’t use both!). However, FSA money must be spent within the same year. So use it or lose it! Plus, check to see if you qualify for the Child Tax Credit (CTC) which gives up to $2k per child, or the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  10. Sign them up for a frequent flyer account with an airline so they can accumulate miles for award flights simultaneously. Most of the time, we travel hack our trips so that we use points to book flights and hotels instead of our hard-earned dollars. We actually did this for our upcoming trip to Japan in October. We paid for our hotels 100% with points (that means we spent $0 for 11 days of stay in Japan!), and 50% of our flights using a credit card sign up bonus cash redemption with this credit card (this referral link of ours will give you an additional $200 cash back if you sign up by 6/7/23). You can read how we travel hacked our Japan trip in this post. But for the times such as this when we can’t cover the flights solely through credit card rewards, it is very important to collect the frequent flyer miles. I think it will be harder to travel hack for a family of three than it was when it was just us two. So I would love for them to earn the points so they can accrue enough to cover their future trips.

Of course, this probably isn’t everything, but it’s a good place to start when you don’t want to do much work. If there are other intricacies that I come across, I will try to let the community know. I would love to know any hacks you may have too, so do leave a comment below!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

Travel Hacking Japan

Well, we’ve gone and booked our delayed trip to Japan! When Japan reopened Fall of 2022, we were already expecting our first baby and felt we hadn’t planned enough to travel-hack our way there before the stork arrived. For those who don’t know, we have travel-hacked our way to almost ten countries and all around the USA. We open credit cards in a strategic manner in order to earn points that give us free flights and hotel stays. In this blog post, I share how we are travel-hacking our way to Japan this year, with a 6-month old baby in tow.

The Biggest Regret Was Not Getting On That Plane

We were set to leave for Japan with a group of friends in March 2020. Due to pandemic precautions, we never got on the plane, not realizing how long the shut-down would stay in effect. Two days after our departure flight, the world shut-down. Not getting on that plane was probably one of the biggest regrets we had for years, as we had acquaintances who took the trip anyway and had no problems returning a few weeks later.

Japan was Mike’s dream destination and we felt like we missed out on a huge opportunity. We had made a goal of seeing the world before starting family growth and we felt the pandemic definitely changed all of that. Now that we’ve entered the family growth stage of our lives, we don’t want travel to be affected. So we decided to travel-hack our way to Japan and jet-set right when baby would be approved for travel. We’re set to take off in October 2023! We couldn’t be happier for Japan to be open again.

Travel Hacking the Flights: Total Cost $250 per person

Since the reopening of the countries borders, the cost of flights to Japan are at an all-time high. I have seen so many friends take their delayed dream Japan trips in the last few months. I have also seen some of them shell out over $1000 per person to get there. Mike and I are pretty frugal about flights, having used credit card points for almost all of them since our marriage. So we wanted a way to get to Japan, but lessen the cost. Unfortunately, even if you paid with points, getting to Japan is impossibly expensive and opening credit cards will not cover the full cost for two people. Thankfully, our 6-month-old infant will get to fly for free.

So we chose to open an American Express Gold card to book our flights to Japan. The flights themselves helped us to hit the minimum spend. The total cost of the flights were about $1,400 for both of us plus our free infant bassinet. With American Express Gold, once you hit the bonus rewards points, you can opt to get $900 back in cash refund which we used to offset the flight costs. This means that it cost us $250 per person to fly to Japan. Considering it would cost us the same amount of money to fly from the West Coast to the East Coast on the same exact dates, I would consider this an absolute win! If you wish to open an American Express Gold card, you can use Mike’s referral link here.

Photo by Manuel Cosentino on Unsplash

Travel Hacking the Hotels: Total Cost FREE!!

I opened one of my favorite cards ever, IHG Rewards Premier (this is my referral code). People don’t typically look at IHG, but we have been loyal to the brand since Mike’s dad worked for Crowne Plaza for over 20 years until 2020. This was the credit card we used to travel-hack part of our honeymoon to New Zealand in 2017!

The IHG Rewards Premier earned me 140k bonus points after hitting the minimum spend of $3,000 in 3 mos. I used these points to book 4 nights at InterContinental Hotel in Tokyo Bay. I love IHG because the 4th night is always FREE. Meaning, I only spent 3 nights worth of points in order to book a 4 night stay.

Mike then opened the IHG Rewards Premier card after me, and received his bonus points. We used his points to book 4 nights at the Crowne Plaza in Kyoto. Together, we had enough left-over points to cover the rest of the single-night stays during our trip. Essentially, opening the IHG Rewards Premier allowed us to stay in Japan for ten days for FREE. If you find value in this, please use my referral link to sign up for an IHG Rewards Premier card. They are currently giving away the most points I have ever seen. By using our referrals, you are also helping this space and us spread the word about travel-hacking. Thank you.

Things to Know About Booking with Infants

Wow. I can’t believe I am now writing about this. But I think it is worth mentioning that there were a few considerations this time around, as we are taking a 6-month old with us. The best advice we ever got from fellow travelers was that the easiest time to travel with a wee one is between 6 months old and 1 years old. Especially on long flights! At this time in their life, they are still mostly sleeping. They haven’t learned how to walk (or run) away from you, or babble all day. They may cry occasionally, but nothing a bit of milk and swaying can’t solve.

When it comes to flights, you should inquire about bassinets. Our flight to Japan is quite long, so we wanted to book a seat with a bassinet in front. There are only two sections of the plane that has this. However, in order to book it, they asked for our newborn’s passport information. But he is yet to be born. So we called the flight company and talked to an attendant who helped us book the seats with a placeholder name for our child. Since we didn’t know his name at the time, we arbitrarily picked one.

There is no charge for his bassinet. It is completely free. But we will apply for his passport once he is born. We can them call the flight company and update his information.

As for hotels, typically when booking with IHG, no rooms are bookable via the website with points if it exceeds 2 people. But if you call in to the hotel, they will typically make an exception for an infant. Many hotels do not count the infant as a third person and will thereby allow you to book the room on their end using points. Especially if you are a card-holder or loyal rewards member! Hotels are great because unlike AirBNBs, they typically have bassinets available for their guests.

In Conclusion…

As a caveat, this is by no means the only way to travel-hack to Japan. This is simply the way we ended up doing it. A lot of factors go into it, including where we are at with the frequency of opening certain cards, as well as what airlines we want to use. Going to Japan means limited flight options, so definitely consider that first. Public transportation in Japan is great, especially if you are going to the touristy areas, so there is no need to worry about booking cars. Just make sure you order your Japan Rail Passes at least a month before departure. You activate the pass once you are in the country.

A great alternative to hotels in Japan would be Marriot, which Mike’s dad currently works for. Our friends are going to be in Japan the same week we are, and as Marriot members, they decided to book their hotel rooms with Marriot. I am also a Marriot fan since family works for them, but we benefit more from friends and family perks rather than rewards points. Either way, I am a proud holder of their Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card (this is my referral link) which I would highly recommend signing up for in order to book a few nights for FREE!

Photo by Redd F on Unsplash

Earn Money: EV Tax Rebate of $7,500

Last year, we upgraded my reliable Scion XB of 15 years to an electric vehicle. It was during a time when my wallet was taking a hit from insanely rising gas prices. The six months since then has made many of us forget the outrage, but there it sits on the wings. I am glad to have made the change, as we have community charging stations in our neighborhood that fills up my batt for free. It also helps that my husband works at an EV car company and can charge for free at work. Of course, he opts to stay at home and not drive at all whenever possible. But most pleasantly, there is an EV tax rebate for purchased new EV vehicles in 2022 by way of $7,500. If you think the gas I saved was chump-change, this may have you considering EV options for 2023.

A word on saving gas money:

I have always been one to temper our budget around gas. I have written about nixing my commute, and choosing to live where you can walk to work, school, or the supermarket. Our first home had a walk score of 98. I walked to the restaurants and coffee shops that I delivered bread to for my bakery, to the dental office I worked at, as well as the post-office, library, courthouse, and super market.

I dislike wasting gas money so much that we moved homes when I switched jobs that included a 30-mile commute. It’s not something regular people do. But with my husband working from home, we traded our first home for one two miles away from work. Of course, we also traded away the supermarket and the post-office. But with this post-pandemic way of life, we opted for a farm, citrus groves, swimming pools, and hiking trails. Don’t be fooled, as we also have a coffee shop and a brewery/winery less than half-a-mile from our front door. Instead of baking bread for restaurants and coffee shops, I started a dog-walking business that has become a reliable side hustle.

Now with an EV, we primarily use the one vehicle and pay $0 for gas. For reference, prior to making the move, we were spending almost $500 a month on gas. That arguably is the equivalent of a car payment.

I do miss my Scion though. It was a reliable fellow, and we had tons of memories from my formative twenties. I ended up selling my Scion to a dental assistant’s in-laws for a great deal. Whenever I wonder if it was a mistake, I think of the savings we made switching to an EV, and the hassle of storing an extra car outdoors where it will surely depreciate in value. I was lucky to have sold it when used vehicles were scarce, and the market for them at an all-time high. When in doubt, decluttering has been a standard I go by, one that has served me well.

How to Get the EV Tax Rebate

So on to the important information about getting this tax rebate. It’s as simple as filling out a form. First, you need to check out the qualifications for receiving credit if you purchased a vehicle in 2022. If you do qualify, head to this page and print out Form 8936. If you wish to consider buying a used EV vehicle in 2023, there is still a chance that you can receive credit. However the qualification requirements are more difficult to achieve and the rebate is less. You can check out information on used clean vehicle credit here.

As I said in the beginning, $7,500 is a huge incentive. We also installed solar panels on the roof of our new home at the beginning of the year which comes with its own 30% incentive (for the next tax year). However, it is nowhere near the price of the EV Tax rebate. The solar panel refund we expect to receive is around $4-5k. Now I understand that not everyone lives in a neighborhood with free EV chargers, or has a family member working for an EV company. In which case, I do highly recommend installing solar panels. I acknowledge that our particular circumstances are optimized for owning an EV, but even if yours are not, there are savings to be had!

Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

The Ever-Growing List of Baby Stuff We Did Not Buy

I think I was destined to be a list-maker. It gives me so much joy to write down a massive slew of words on paper. My brain feels lighter and my life more organized after I make lists. Plus, I get more things done by simply writing tasks down. As in, physically writing with pen in hand. (That’s the therapeutic part.) Today, I am starting The Ever Growing List of Baby Stuff We Did Not Buy.

While not everyone feels euphoria from list-making, I hope my audience has found some use from lists I have published. In 2017, I made The Ever Growing List of Things I’ve Given Up in the Name of Frugality. That was followed by The Ever-Growing List of Things I’ve Done to Get Out of Student Debt, The Ever-Growing List of Ways to Earn Extra Income, and The Ever-Growing List of Things I Have Given Up in the Name of Creating Less Waste.

Today’s list entails everything from hand-me-downs, gifts, and acquisitions to our Buy Nothing Group. I am also keeping track of products I have reviewed for this space, which I hope benefits all parents, but that we’ve been gifted for free. And most importantly, the list ends with things we chose to go without … at least for now.

Buy Nothing Group:

  • Crib
  • Nursing Pillows
  • Clothes
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Graco Baby Swing
  • High Chair
  • Swaddles, sleep sacks


Through the blog:

Doing Without (for now):

  • Recliner for mama
  • Changing table or pad
  • Dresser for the nursery
  • A designated nursery, so to speak
  • Air purifier

As parents, we have the daunting task of providing for our children. And sometimes, companies use that to their advantage. The commercial market for baby stuff has really gone down the deep end. They have redefined the term “newborn essentials” to include everything that would grow the economy. Everything has become essential – or so they make it seem. Where has our discernment gone?

My own mum scoffs at changing tables and changing pads, especially those connected to large dressers that increase the price. Back in the day, our loin-cloth nappies would be swiftly changed on the bed. If you’re worried about your changing skills, placing another square cloth underneath the booty catches any accidents. I take my mom’s disdain as a sign that perhaps we can survive the first year of parenthood without a changing table. At the very least, we can wait and see how things go.

I also had a friend communicate with me her dissatisfaction with an expensive stroller she purchased for her first child. It was big, bulky, heavy, had useless functions, and was expensive. I took her advice and accepted a hand-me-down jogging stroller to start. My aunt offered it up to me even though its years old. I figured it’d be useful for our active lifestyle. These are the types of money saving tips that families need. Not only will it help families stay within budget, but it will also help allocate dollars to the REALLY important stuff.

If you are keen on family budget tips such as this, feel free to subscribe to my email list!

If you’d really like to go on a deep dive, I highly recommend reading the book Not Buying It. Luckily, I found mine at our public library. I devoured its contents in one day, as I sat painfully awaiting my 3 hour glucose test to end. The joys of motherhood!

TheDebtist partners with affiliate platforms where commission may be earned based on clicks and or purchases, and I would love it if you decided to use the links in my posts! Affiliate links help bloggers like me to fund the free content that we provide on our blogs.

Photo by Jenna Duxbury on Unsplash

How to Lower Gas Bill and Save Money

I just received an email from my gas company regarding the increase in home gas prices for January 2023. The cause was attributed to a nationally unprecedented cold snap. The effect? An expectation for this month’s gas bill to double in price. During a time of inflation, this isn’t necessarily the news home owners want to receive for the new year. Here, I wish to share a few thoughts on how to lower the gas bill in your household.

First and foremost, I should acknowledge that not all these tips might apply to your particular situation. Take what you wish and leave the rest behind. We are lucky enough to live in Southern California, which avoids the frigid temps of winter. Ignore my call to keep the heat off. I don’t mean harm to anyone’s health! But perhaps alter the thermostat. Lowering a thermostat setting by 2 degrees will do wonders for your bill. This is because your home will lose heat at a slower rate when set to a lower temperature. If you continually heat your home to a higher temperature, it will lose heat at a faster rate due to a higher difference between interior and exterior temperature. Enjoy these simple savings tips!

How to Lower Gas Bill

  • Turn the thermostat down. Lower the heat setting to the lowest temperature you can tolerate. Heaters are the biggest gas guzzlers in the winter. Opt to cuddle under blankets for warmth. Bundle up in sweaters and fuzzy socks. Sidle next to cats, dogs, kids, or significant others. In a similar vein, hang out with all your family members in one room. The more body heat in a closed environment, the lower you can keep your thermostat. When I was young, my siblings and parents always spent evenings in the living room together – playing games, solving puzzles, reading books, or even watching a movie. It’s easier to warm a small space rather than a large one.
  • Turn the thermostat off when you are away. Of course this doesn’t apply if you have pets that need to stay warm. But if your thermostat is pre-set for a certain temperature and you don’t have pets, do not forget to turn it off when you step out, go to work, or go on vacation. A really easy way to do this is to get a thermostat that you can control with an app on your phone! We’ve owned the Google Nest and loved it!
  • Be mindful of the laundry. Only wash clothes when they really need washing. I am not embarrassed to share that I reuse pajama pants and sweaters throughout the week. Actually, I literally own one pair of pajama pants, which I wear only to bed, for the entirety of a week. It’s a habit my mom created and one that works well for my minimal lifestyle. And when you do run the washer, opt for the cold cycle when possible.
  • Hang dry clothes instead of using the dryer. Or at least do a combination. I get that clothes don’t feel the same when hang-dried. For people who aren’t used to the starchier feel of the fabric, I recommend half-drying clothes to save on gas. Set the timer for 15 minutes of drying time, to soften up the clothes, and then hang up to dry completely. This will save you so much money, as the dryer is probably the second source of gas usage in the home.
  • Skip the dryer setting on the dishwasher. We run our dishwasher every night, but open the door and pull out the racks to allow the dishes to air-dry. This saves electricity as well as gas! And in case you missed it, I have a long list of ways to save electricity here!
  • Utilize window treatments. Opening the blinds and drawing back the curtains during the day allows maximum sunlight to naturally heat up our homes. Likewise, in the evenings we draw in the curtains to reduce the amount of heat escaping our home. It also helps block out the chill from cold window panes.
  • Improve sealing around doors and windows. Making sure all doors and windows are properly treated with caulk will help to keep temperatures stable within a home. Caulking is an easy sealing process that you can do on your own! We just recently caulked a shower faucet after replacing it. The tube of sealer cost us less than $10!
  • Turn off kitchen and bath exhaust fans within 10 minutes of cooking or bathing. This will reduce the amount of warm air sucked out of your home.
  • Upgrade to an electric water heater. We have a tankless, electric water heater in the garage. Combined with the installation of solar panels, this can lead to huge savings!
  • Track your usage. Last but not least, track your gas usage. Log into your account and view how much you’ve used in the billing cycle thus far. Set a budget for gas usage and try to hit that goal! Be creative in how you do it, too.

I hope this list was useful to you. If saving money is one of your New Year’s Resolutions, sign up to learn how to set up a budgeting tool that works! My readers have found great success in reaching their savings goals by setting up a budget. This could be your year to do the same!

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

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Buy Nothing

My sister and I grew up resourceful. Having less means than those around us, we’ve mastered the art of getting things for free. Not in any sort of illegal sense, but by inheriting from others who are better off and less grateful for what they own. I remember the joy we used to get collecting freebies from school events. I ended up marrying someone obsessed with optimizing freebies on his birthday. And in our friend group, I am known to accept hand-me-down clothes. Currently, fifty percent of my minimalist closet is made up of second-hand items gifted by gal pals. Truth be told, I once dug out perfectly good food (still packaged in plastic!) from the trash when my roommate threw out unwanted pantry items. Needless to say, scrappy sis and I try our best to buy nothing.

But the phrase “Buy Nothing” is not just an act of non-doing. It is a group title as well. And one I am proud to be part of. Joining a local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook is worth a try. A community formed around the act of giving is rare but lovely. To be on the receiving end inspires one to donate items in return. Having trust that the community will provide in the future is refreshing. Respite from the individualism we’ve cultivated in our modern world.

Prior to this year, we only had enough holiday ornaments to count on our fingers. They fit nicely into a child’s shoe box. However, two days ago, a kind neighbor donated 90% of our current ornaments via our Buy Nothing Group. I was so grateful to unveil the goods I stowed away in my frunk. Red and gold globes glittered back at me, as if to say Hullo. I didn’t mind that a few were missing hanging clips, as I have twine in the kitchen cupboard to makeshift a dangle out of.

The best thing about Buy Nothing is that it goes in-hand with waste nothing. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Well I’ve always treasured the unwanted and unpopular. Depending on your local Buy Nothing group, you may find a plethora of well-to-do items. We are lucky to live in such a neighborhood. I joke that it’s a way to off-set our HOA fees.

Equally as useful, it’s a place to give to others. Rehoming things is quite the task, especially if you have a penchant for reducing waste. I’ve sold items on Poshmark and Craiglist, but there are some things not worth selling. I refer to the time it takes to post, the gas it takes to pick up, and the hassle of arranging a meet-up. But the Buy Nothing Project gives me a space to give guilt-free. I just set it out on my porch for pick-up at whatever time is convenient for the receiver.

And for those who are in a pinch, throw a call out to the universe. Post with the title ISO (“in search of”) and hope that a friendly neighbor would answer back. I’ve seen moms ask for costume props or event decor with the promises of returning if the borrower so wishes. Ripe bananas for the taking have been snatched up by someone hoping to make bread. Left-over zucchini avoids meeting the garbage man. Used baby items and dog beds run amok.

Anywho, for someone who writes about saving money this holiday season, I thought this was worth a mention. By now, Buy Nothing has taken off and become popularized by many financial independents. Perhaps you’ll find a gently used toy for gifting to a child to a need. Or a new duvet cover to replace a tattered one for a college student. I just snagged some puzzles for the winter season, with the hopes of slowing it down. It’s on the advent calendar somewhere. For those looking for a frugal life hack, this is certainly one of the best.