Saving money on small items that I once would have never considered, has made a difference.  I can say that the real estate boom caused me to be somewhat wasteful. 

In this issue, there are some tips to consider in saving a few dollars here and there. These few dollars have a tendency to add up over time.  If nothing else, it helps you with your business mindset in avoiding making wasteful decisions on the bigger decisions where more money is as stake.

I challenge you to watch your pennies for a whole month and see the difference it makes with your thinking on the big decisions!  And as always, if you are facing a leasing or purchasing decision, please call me.  I may be able to help you avoid costly mistakes!

I hope you enjoy this issue of the Tenant-Buyers Bottom Line Secret!

Best regards

Rob Cassam

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Remember when the electric bill was referred to as the light bill? Those were the days when electricity was used mainly for lighting. There were few appliances to guzzle energy. You could say those were the good old days but few of us would want to do without the luxury and convenience of the appliances we rely on today.

The price we pay for this luxury comes high in the form of an electric bill that seems to get higher each month. Just look around and you’ll quickly see why. The number one energy user is the central air conditioning unit, especially if it handles the double duty of both cooling and heating. In warm regions, the AC accounts for more than half of the electric bill.

You could install window units and cool only the used areas of your home, and this is not a bad idea. But, if you’re determined to keep the central unit there are things you can do. If your unit is over 15 years old, consider getting a new one. Today’s models use up to 50% less energy.

If a new model is in your future, make sure it’s sized properly. Consult an air conditioning expert because a unit that’s too big or too small can continue to work inefficiently. Check the energy ratings – the higher the better.

Buy a unit with a programmable thermostat that has a built-in timer. With the timer, you can turn off the AC when you’re gone and set it to restart just before you return. Studies have revealed that it’s cheaper to do this than to have it recycle on and off while you’re not even at home.

Another electric guzzler is the electric water heater tank. Tanks keep heating water 24/7/365 whether you use the water or not. Tankless water heaters are available for both electric and gas homes but do your homework before installing.

You could install a solar water heater but the expensive system may take a while to recover your investment. If you stay with the tank, turn down the temperature and wrap it in a thermal blanket. Also, turn off the tank when you’re out of town and save.

Refrigerator/freezers are both guilty of guzzling electricity, but who wants to return to the old ice box. If yours was made after 2001 it’s probably more energy efficient. If you replace an old one, buy the Energy Star label.

An appliance must exceed federal energy standards by 15% to qualify. Top freezers use less energy than the side-by-side or bottom models. Save even more energy if you can skip the ice maker and dispenser.

We can’t forget the electric dryer which uses about 15% more energy than a gas model. If gas is not an option, buy an electric dryer with a moisture sensor to avoid over drying. When clothes are dry it cuts off.

Don’t forget to clean your lint filter too. Concentrate on these biggest electric guzzlers and you’ll see a dramatic difference in your electric bill. Conservation sure beats doing without.  If your landlord owns these appliances, ask of you can make the modifications or changes first! Of course, it is always best to get it in writing!

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Slash Your Phone Bill And Save

On August 14, 2010, in Newsletter, Tenant Tips, by Rob

Telephones are no longer considered a luxury but a necessity. People of all ages usually have a land fixed telephone line plus a cell phone. Kids can’t imagine not having a cell phone to chat with their friends. Some even use their phone to keep in touch with parents. At least we’re communicating more with each other but it’s become a monthly expense that can get out of control.

Some are afraid to open their phone bill each month and discover how much they went over budget. If you’re spending more than you should, then it’s time to take a good close look at your bill and determine if you really need all those extra bells and whistles.

For instance, ring tones are fun, but do you really need them. Can you do without call forwarding and call waiting? How often do you text message? If you don’t regularly use these extras that you pay for cancel them and save.

It may be time to go totally cellular. More than 15% of households have done just that. Before you take the total cell plunge, analyze your phone bill to see how much you use your landline and then add about 20%. Most people tend to talk more on their cell than the landline. It just seems to be cool and convenient.

Comparison shop. Some providers are not opposed to negotiating for free minutes, lower rates and even free services. There is lots of competition out there but be sure you have the plan that’s right for you even if you pay more. Ask about combining services and a family plan if several phones are needed.

Read the contract carefully including the fine print. Ask questions, but ultimately making the right decisions will be up to you. Make sure the provider rounds to the nearest second, not minute.

If you’ll be talking more in the evening hours make sure you get their definition of night hours. Roaming charges can take a big bite out of your pocketbook and vary with the provider.

Take advantage of the trial period. This can vary from 2 days to 30 days and may be negotiable. This will give you a chance to use the cell phone in your home and see if there are any areas of poor reception. Find out if you can access 911 with your cell.

VOIP (voice over internet Protocol) comes from your Internet provider and transmits calls over the internet. If you make many long distance calls this can be a good choice because it usually provides unlimited local and long distance calls. But, if you have a power failure, most broadband cell phones won’t work.

Another option is the pre-paid phone cards where you pay for minutes in advance. The price range is about $15 to $25. This is good for chatty children with a limited amount of minutes teaching them discipline and budgeting. If you lose the card you lose the minutes and many have an expiration date.

Going totally cellular is an important decision. Be honest with yourself on how much you use the phone. Over estimate rather than under estimate. Avoid long term contracts. Keep an eye out for special limited offers. Good phone service can keep you in touch. But, don’t lose touch with your budget.

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