$$ How Supermarkets trick you into spending more money $$

Apr 22, 2020
supermarket customer manipulation tricks

How supermarkets manipulate you into buying more food

Supermarkets are probably the best psychologists in the market.

They have their consumers and buyers so well figured out, they know what they are going to do before even they do it.

The psychological tricks that supermarkets pull on customers are quite clever, just like Walmart knows your sixteen-year-old daughter is pregnant, they know what day you like to shop and what specials you like to buy.

It's because of that loyalty card you have.

They can now dissect your buying habits into ones and zeros.

After implementing some great marketing to you, they know you'll be into the store so you'll get that 30 pack of diet coke that's on special (perhaps even at a loss-leading price) and whatever else takes your fancy. 

And once they have you in-store, that's when supermarkets unleash a suite of tricks and psychological ploys to get you buying more and spending more money. 

Which can be really tough when you are trying to save money on the food bill.

Supermarkets are living laboratories that study human buying behavior.

Have you ever noticed all those cameras in the modern shopping complex and asked yourself, why so many cameras?

They are not for catching shoplifters (a money-saving measure we do not recommend you try!) - the majority of them placed down the aisle are there to monitor and observe consumer traffic patterns. No doubt they will also be monitoring psychical appearance too. What body shapes are customers? What sex? Do different sexes and body shapes behave differently? When and Why? You can bet they are using this data to sell more to you. 

This is because supermarkets that understand how their customers think and make purchasing decisions are able to plan the shopfloor layout more efficiently.

The classic example of this is supermarkets know that people will often tend to enter the store with a set mental list of what they want and it's usually the basics like bread and milk.

And that's exactly why eggs, dairy & milk, and bread are often positioned farthest from the store's entrance as possible so you walk all the way past other attractive food items. Indeed, eggs can be placed in random places to encourage you to walk around looking for them!

Vegetables and fruit are placed at the entrance as your first port of call - because you're more inclined to pick more items at the start of your shopping experience. And you're buying 'healthy'. Which transfixes your state of mind.

You are also being brutally bombarded with colors and smells. 

The bakery is usually right next to the vegetable section because the bread smells nice. Fruit displays are often backed against mirrors to add volume and light vibrancy to the fruit. The supermarket is said to you, hey, this is a great place to shop!

Note when we say bakery, this does not include loaves of bread, other than specialty items. No, your standard sliced loaf of bread will be far away from the vegetables.

The supermarkets are hoping that you will feel a little bit smug about all the healthy food that you put in your shopping trolley that'll you'll consider that enough of a reason to buy some biscuits or other junk type food.

So how does this affect you, the dollar saver? 

Forget the shop layout, you're already a modest mouse caught in that well-planned wheel, look at the shelf layout (whilst staying true to your shopping list of course).

Your eyes will naturally gravitate to the product that's in your eye line at face level and that's where the priciest groceries are positioned.

Would it surprise you to learn that some brands will often pay for the privilege of having their goods and wares placed directly in the customer's eye line.

It is often described as a 'slotting fee'.

Supermarkets will also put kid-friendly things at their eye level.

That's some real cunning right there.

So, using this knowledge, if you, the earnest shopper are seeking out cheaper brands or generic items to save money, look on the bottom or lower shelves and the top!

Another classic trick is to put goods that could be bought as 'impulse purchases' by the checkout lanes.

Lollies, magazines, hand size deodorant, magazines, chocolate and the classic 'chewing gum' - these impulse items are placed there so you will add a couple of extra bucks to your shopping bill. Now if even one in ten or twenty customers does this, those sales will add up for the Supermarket Owners.

To be fair some product placements will benefit the customer, such as peanut butter next to the jelly. and beer next to crisps and chips ...

Watch out for pricing specials scams

Ever seen a supermarket market pricing sticker with the words 'best buy' or 'great deal'? Is it? How do you know it's a great deal? Is there actually a price saving on offer or has the item simply had some puffery on the sticker placed next to it?

Three for a dollar each when the single item is also a dollar?

How could you live with yourself for falling for such a deal?

Well, people do and that's why supermarkets will keep advertising this way in-store.

Other tricks supermarkets do:

  • Larger shopping trolleys tend to be filled up more
  • They play slow music so your walking around speed matches the music and you spend more time in the building which increases the odds of you adding that one extra thing to your basket. 
  • The most profitable products are set at the end of the aisle. People often notice them....
  • Some products are sold at a loss to the store. This is so you recognize the price as being really good and it gets you into the store.  Meat is a classic loss leader. 

Now you've learned about this, you know it's a shopping trap. The best advice is always to stick to buying what you need (write a list out on your cell phone!) and not what you want!

Now you've got your saving on groceries sorted, perhaps it's time to think about how to teach your kids to save money too!

Play off banks to get a better interest rate deal

Jan 7, 2020
play banks against each other

How to get a really good interest rate from banks

A few years ago one of the great banking wars happened. Banks were aggressively trying to pick up new customers at great rates.

In the wasteland of slashed interest rates on mortgages, I came out the victor!

I had a vastly lower than market rate and $1000 bucks free cash in my account.

All I had to do was move banks.

Banks make billions of bucks all year, every year of the backs of hard-working moms and dads everywhere.

Over the lifetime of a mortgage, you and I will each pay thousands and thousands of dollars of interest.

In most cases, well over double what we paid for the house. Triple even!

And it's no secret if you want to pay less interestest off the life of that mortage you need to pay it off quicker.

But how?

The most obvious thing to do is pay more money each week or month to the bank.

Simple eh?

Pay more money to the bank.
Simple as.

Who am I kidding? I've got two kids and a cat that eats like a horse to feed and most of us know how hard it is to save, let alone give more money to the bank.

No, the best way to save money on the mortgage is to change banks.

And the truth is, you often don't have to change banks.

It's a slightly ballsy move, but you need to play your current bank off against other banks who want your interest payments.

Here's how moving banks to get a better interest rate works

You can tell your current bank that you intended to go to the competition. In a world where consumers are actually quite mobile (and perhaps not as loyal to corporations and companies as boomers once were) - consumers can take their 'debt money' out the door very quickly and often at little cost.

In my experience, I didn't even need to meet a bank manager in person. I spoke to them on the phone with a pencil and paper in hand. Maybe I sent the odd email.

So, here's the deal.

Ring or check the interest rates on your bank's competitor web sites. Find the one that is closest to your current rate and preferrable one below.

Give them a call and ask what they can do for you.

Because when they see you coming, they see money coming in the door for the next twenty years and will want a piece of that action.

Especially if you have some capital in your family home! Banks love lending to people who have equity. It makes their risk equation go down.

In my case, that number was 15 percent.

Say to them, you are unhappy with the rate offered by your current bank and you are looking for a better deal and can they better it?

Chances are they will and they will often throw in some sweeteners such as paying legal for you or offering cash to pay such fees.

Win-win for you.

So, at that point, you can choose to move over - which is easy enough to do if your mortgage is on floating interest. You'll likely have to do your general banking with the new bank, but that's the price of changing banks eh?

But, if you actually like your bank (they may have excellent customer service or sensible fees for example) then here's the part where you play them off.

Take the quoted rate of the competitor.

Tell them you want better else you are taking your huge ass mortgage with you. Here's what will happen:

At worst they will say no, we can't (or won't) match it.

They could match it which means you've just got yourself a better mortgage rate.

Or they could beat it. Even if it a quarter of a percent, you've probably saved yourself a few twenty dollar notes coming out of your paycheck each month.

In the modern banking realm, the confirmation can be done by email with your bank.

Watch out for break fees

If your mortgage is fixed then it's likely there will be what's called a 'break fee'. This is a fee the bank will charge you for 'breaking' the fixed rate. The charge is designed to allow the bank to recover their own financing cost of your loan.

So, depending on the charge, you need to consider if any short-term gain from interest savings will be offset or even outweighed by the break fee. Thus you need to carefully consider whether breaking your fixed-rate home loan the best financial result for you.

If the math works out, you're in a better place - not just fortnightly or monthly when that mortgage payment goes out but in the longer term - over 20 or 25 years, over the lifetime of your mortgage you will be paying less in the long term as that mountain of debt will be paid off quicker.

A mortgage paid off quickly will be one of the greatest monkeys you can ever take off your back. You may not have to keep working into your retirement years to pay it off. You'll be able to focus on the things that mean more to you than anything. And that's usually time with family and loved ones.
So, do not delay, start looking up those interest rates and move banks.
What ever you do, do not get a pay day loan. They are evil tools of the finance industry. 

Taking control of your finances when you turn 18

Dec 5, 2019
take control of finances As an adult

Taking over your finances when you turn 18 years old

In many countries turning 18 is when the Government treats you like an adult. Your parents may think you're still you're still a kid but being 18 suddenly means you can do lots of things.

Like drink a pint of homebrew.

Vote in an election.

Join the army.

You can watch Pulp Fiction

Be on a jury or be tried as an adult. 

You can also tell your parents to fuck off and create your own bank account. 

We get it, personal finance can be a tough ride and your individual circumstances may vary but the event of your 18th birthday signals the time you need to start becoming less beholden to your parents and more responsible for yourself. 

Or maybe you are sick of having parents take money from YOUR bank account because their name is on it too. 

Yep, parents spending the kid's college fund is almost a cliched story but stories of parents or step-parents (no surprise there) taking money from their children's bank accounts are all too frequently shared online. 

Here's a story I found on Reddit:

I experienced the old fashioned greed while I was still in highschool where my stepfather stole $1,800 I had saved to go to Europe with friends. He told my mother that I had spent it all on frivolous things even though I was saving for over two years for this trip. A week and half later he had a $2,200 set of brand new golf irons. Got a new account the day I turned 18.

If that's not a call for action for any 18 year old to get their own bank account that their primary caregiver or parents can't touch, I do not know what is in one. 

Sure, the vast majority of us have decent parents who want nothing for the best of us and would never steal our hard earned money from after school jobs or that small inheritance we got when our beloved Nana died. 

But for those that don't, or for those with good parents but who have bad problems such as drug and alcohol dependencies, then you need to get your finances squared away.

Take your two forms of identification into your local bank and open a new account. The bank should be delighted to have a new customer (they'll, of course, try and issue you a credit card which is probably not a good idea at your age but that's a story for another day).

You've now got a bank account which only you control, your financial destiny is now in your hands!

If you have funds in another account that you think your parents may try and dip into, then now's the time to quickly transfer those funds into your new account. Sure your parents may be pissy with you but what are they going to do? 

Buy some golf clubs? 

Now you have started your path to financial independence, you'll have to have a conversation with your parents about the change. You are now officially an adult under the eyes of the law and you get to decide how you manage, save and spend your money.

You'll also want to start to think about starting a retirement or superannuation fund...

Avoid the Pay Day Lending trap at all costs (because it will cost you dearly)

Dec 2, 2019
the cons of pay day lendingPay Day Lending sounds like a fine solution to a short term money need. The idea, is you take out a small loan with the agreement to pay it back on 'payday'.

But like Admiral Ackbar exclaimed in Jedi, 'Pay Day Lending is a Trap'.

This trap goes by the name of 'cash advance', 'paycheck advice' and the classic 'short term loan'. The companies themselves have names like Quick Kash, Advance Cash, Ezy Cash or some other 'wordplay' type variant. 

Whatever form they take, payday loans are not there for the consumer's benefit. 

They are often deliberately marketed at those with little financial literacy or those with bad credit reports and definitely at those need cash desperately.

It's a trap because it becomes a cyclical (cynical?) exercise of repayments that seem never-ending. These so-called 'salary loans' are nothing but a trap to gouge profits from people who probably can't even afford a standard bank loan.

Watch how people will turn to Pay Day Lending as the recession hits America because of the impacts of the Coronavirus. Covid-19 is going to cause people to go into debt as the work slows and people get laid off.

These kinds of loans are much easier to get than personal or bank loans. They have fewer hurdles to jump through as well. Usually, you just need some ID, be over 18 years old and have a regular form of income (job or benefit) and a bank account.

The basic loan process involves a lender providing a short-term unsecured loan to be repaid at the borrower's next payday. In the online realm, where a loan is not paid back on payday (with the finance charge on top of it) the loan is rolled over.

If the loan repayment bounces, the bank then causes a default charge to occur.

When the debt is not repaid back quickly, the debt builds up fast thus capturing the original borrower to a long term repayment plan.

What was a small loan suddenly becomes an expensive one for the borrower and it can be a slippery slope towards personal bankruptcy. In the US, it's considered that the use of the services of a payday lender can double your odds of entering into bankruptcy factor of two.

It's no real surprise then that many governments around the world have come down hard on payday lenders - it's now heavily regulated in many markets and in America alone, the practice is banned in 14 states and the District of Columbia. 

One of the tricks of payday lending is the marketing around them. Touted online and in newspapers as quick and easy finance, the effective interest rate is seldom mentioned. Instead 'fees' are used or merchant charges made - these will disguise the true cost of the loan which means the effective annual percentage rate (APR) of interest. APRS can reach over 300 percent to even 800 percent. 

These numbers are mirrored all around the world.  

No wonder then that many governments believe that interest rate caps are the answer. The actual merits of such a policy intervention are dubious - experience has shown that when a rate is set - lenders move to that rate, thus increase overall indebtedness of the community that the law change was trying to reduce. 

Go figure. 

Here's the loan trap in a worked example. 

Say it's Christmas time and you want to get the grandkids some decent Christmas presents. They are good kids but times are hard allround for the family. Or you are simply desperate after the effect of Coronavirus on the economy.

Enticed by some handy advertising that pulls at the heartstrings, grandma enters into a payday loan of 400 bucks, thinking she can pay it back by picking up some seasonal work after Christmas or she expects things will 'pick up' somehow. 

Maybe the economy will kick back into life. 


As she enters the loan, she knows she will basically pay double what she borrowed back. 

Grandma misses that first payment after Christmas and now the repeat charges and fees that occur every 'payday' mean that she cannot get on top of the loan. With a limited means of income, she gets stuck paying the fees and not the loan meaning she's paying hundreds of percent of interest. Each week the debt gets rolled over. 

And rolled over. 

And rolled over. 

I've read that in the United States, one in four payday loans is rolled over 9 times. Three-quarters of the loan volume of the pay day lending industry was built up by borrowers who re-borrow before their next payment. 

And that comes at the expense of herself. Maybe she doesn't pay the power bill that month. Maybe she skips out on a visit to the doctor. Maybe she has to give up eating meat. 

If she's on this path it's because the predatory nature of payday lending led her here. 

That 400 buck loan has become a two thousand dollar nightmare. 

You might say, well it's simple to fix that. Get a credit card that will cover the debt owing at a vastly reduced interest rate. 

You tell me which bank will issue a credit card to a person in such a position. Especially a responsible bank operating under a code of social responsibility...

So our advice is to avoid getting a payday loan. And we know that's easier said than done. Especially if you need a quick loan to pay the mechanic so they'll release the car so you can get to work so you can earn money to pay the rent (Pro-tip - befriend your local mechanic. In my personal experience, an honest relationship with good rapport will often lead to a lot of wiggle room on car bill repayment times). 

If you do need to enter into this trap, the smartest thing to do is shop around and compare rates and fees across providers.  

Your local budgeting organizations will know which are the 'best' payday lenders to use. Some lenders have 'socially responsible practices'  (ha!) which limit the original loan's effective repayments at double the original loan value. 

If you already have a credit card and you are not maxed out, it's literally in your interest to use the card over getting the payday loan. 

The only benefit of a payday loan is that they are generally unsecured. That means if you default, the repo man can't come and take away and sell your possessions to repay the debt. That doesn't mean the debt collectors won't come knocking. The original lender will happily sell your debt to an agency that thinks they will be able to collect from you. 

If you are thinking of a longer-term game in terms of your personal finance strategies - building up a good credit history that demonstrates an ability to replay back debt will go a long way to convincing a regular bank to grant you a personal loan.

Still not convinced?

Perhaps this savage critique of the payday lending industry by John Oliver:

How to get out of a payday loan debt cycle

Good on you for realizing the trap you are in and deciding to do something about your debt.

Here are some tips on how to free yourself from these debts. It won't be easy and you'll need to work at it over time. 

  • Pay off the loans with the highest debt first. This reduces the total amount you'll end up paying over time. 
  • Refinance - it's sometimes possible to take out a cheaper line that pays off the more expensive one. Personal loans and credit cards have vastly lower rates - yes, we appreciate this won't be an option for everyone. If you have a local Credit Union - check them out, you may be surprised what services they can actually offer you. Many unions have products designed to be used instead of PDL - these are called PALS - PayDay Alternative Loans. 
  • You may have to bit the bullet and seek help from friends or family. 
  • Go to a budgeting service for advice, work with them to set a budget and damn well stick to it. 

Best foods for living on a budget

foods for living on a budget

If you're trying to find some budget food ideas, you've come to the right plus. If you are sticking to a budget to get ahead with your savings goals, then good for you.

There are some amazing budget meals that offer good value, keep your tummy feeling full and the best bit is they taste great too.

In our view, one of the most simple and versatile meals on a budget is the stir fry.

If you've got a few veggies on hand, chop em up and fry in a pan. And some oil and soy sauce and you're on your way to a tasty and healthy meal.

If you're lucky enough to have some chicken thighs (cheaper than legs), cut them up quite small and add to your fry.

Cook some rice and you have a simple yet enjoyable meal - and when you have a large family, you can take the opportunity to fill any teenage boys you have around the home up on rice!

So what are the best foods for living on a budget?

At the most basic starting point of building a meal, look to the staples:

  • Flour
  • Beans such as pinto
  • Long grain rice
  • Russet potatoes (buy bagged in bulk, not loose)
  • Onions
  • Garlic

Any protein can be cheaply bought such as:
  • Bag of bacon ends and pieces
  • Cans of tuna
  • Chicken thighs or leg quarters
  • Fish (look for the supermarket special of the day)

Those ingredients will form the basis of many a meal. If you can source cheap vegetables from a market garden rather than a supermarket, you'll be away laughing.

For example, you can make a baked potato meal:

Take a baked potato, scooped out, mash the middle, mix in a little sour creme (a small tub is .88), some shredded cheddar, and some chopped & cooked broccoli or capsicum (maybe a lil onion and garlic). Add some chopped up and cooked bacon bits. Add the mash back in the potatoes. Boom, you got yummy meal.

Another good base for an easy meal is ground beef and rice. Fry the meat with some onions and garlic. Throw in some mushrooms and other veggies. When nicely done, mix with cooked rice and you've got a filling dish.

Life isn't perfect, and neither is this diet.

It's a short term measure, that can help you save money. It's not intended to be a way of life - your body needs all kinds of vitamins and minerals that you will not necessarily get from eating potatoes and bacon. Bear that in mind and if you are able to, eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. One way to keep prices down in that regard is by shopping 'seasonally' that is to say if corn is 'on special', that's what you eat and include in your meals for the week.

If you think your meals could be a bit too bland, then like the Spice Girls sang, it's time to spice up your life!

One way to add a new taste dimension to meals is to follow the Asian cuisine route.

Using soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce and curry pastes and powders that are found in any good Asian supermarket can breathe fresh life into tired meals.

red lentil for cheap daal dish

Cook with lentils to make great daal dishes

It may be cliched, but cooking with lentils (legumes) is a great idea for eating on a budget. Lentils are damn cheap and when cooked well are actually a genuinely tasty meal.

If you want to jazz lentils up a bit, then consider yourself as making a nice Indian daal meal:

  • Masoor daal which is commonly known red lentils
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Jalapeños and or green chilies
  • cumin seeds but of course ground cumin sweet as
  • red chili powder

Here's how you cook the daal:

  • Slice and dice the tomatoes if they need it. 
  • Chop up the jalapenos. 
  • If you're making a meal for one, then fill half to a full cup of lentils. 
  • Add some oil to the hot pan. 
  • Add some cumin. You'll love the smell! 
  • Add the vegetables and then the lentils. Add a ratio of a minimum of two cups of water to one cup of lentils.  
  • Stir your ingredients together and then place the lid over the pan. Leave your dish for 15 - 20 minutes with some brief stirring in between.
  • Don't let it overcook! 

When ready for serving sprinkle with a touch of salt and a little chili powder.

How to help your kids save money

Dec 1, 2019

Teaching children about saving money

When I was a kid my Dad would put all his spare coins into a giant tin money box.

To us as kids it, it seemed massive - it was probably about 4 litres in size. He'd fill that tin with all his silver. It took him at least I year I imagine.

When it was full, he'd open it up with a tin opener and us kids would get to count it up.

If we were lucky, we'd get to put a few coins in our own money boxes too - the banks used to hand them out like candy - we definitely had the classic piggy bank but I also remember a rugby ball shaped one and a house.

Anyways, that's probably how I learned about saving as a kid.

Times have changed in many ways we are a cashless society. I can pay for my groceries with my cell phone now!

So, responsible parents, you're here to learn of the ways you can help teach your kids how to save money.

If your child understands money, chances are they know about saving. But do they know why?

The first step is to teach your child why they should save money.  The age group we are covering here is around the 4 - 6 year old mark.

Do they have a specific goal in mind?

Do they want a new skateboard, or Frozen doll?

Or do they need to learn about rainy days?

So, step one. Just like my dad did in my family - start with a piggy bank.

It's easy to save money and they will be able to visibly see how that money grows over time.

You can take this opportunity to create a timeline that your child can follow. If they are saving their 5 dollars a week pocket money to buy a $50 item, you can plot out 10 weeks of savings - teaching them how savings add up by crossing off goals (such as quarter, half and three-quarters of the way there) will help them learn that savings is a time progression.

The next step works if the above has been a success.

The next step you can do is to open a bank account WITH your child. Don't just open one for them. Make the opening of the account part of the experience?

Have your child count the money and be the one to hand it over to the bank teller.

Most modern banks have accounts tailored for child use, such as accounts that do not have a debit card.

You can also connect them to your online banking so you can help keep tabs and transfer money over and the like.

For this way to save money to work, your child now needs to be invested in the concept. They have to want to physically hand over the money. So, it's up to you as a parent to teach them how banks work. Explain to them it will always be their money and the bank is simply looking after it.

Explain to them they will always be able to get the money out. And no, the bank cannot give it way.

This is perhaps even a chance to explain how interest works...

It's not just about helping kids learn to save by getting them in the habit. It's also about helping them realize opportunities to earn money.

For example, on what basis do they get pocket money? Do they have to do chores and jobs around the house?

Have a discussion with your child about how other people earn and use money.

  • What's the difference between a wage and a salary?  
  • How do retired people get money? 
  • Why do banks lend money?

It's really important that if you have money stresses in your life, that you do not transpose these to your child. Don't make them feel that they have any ownership of a lack of money in the family home. It's an unfair burden on a young child. While you are possibly doing this unconsciously, being mindful of such matters will make for a healthier money mindset.

A classic example I once heard was the story of a young girl who broke her glasses and was terrified to tell her dad because she knew how much they cost and was worried more about her Dad's reaction than getting new glasses. 

Kids will learn this stuff over time, no need to put pressure on them. 

How to save money on the electric bill

How to save money on the electric bill

Ideas so save money on the power bill

There's nothing like a high cost power bill to make you feel good in winter.

Electricity prices are always on the rise and the kids are always using the heat pump and that means a big winter power bill.

And that's why you are here, looking for ways to save money on the electricity bill during winter.

Heck, try and save on the power bill in summer too!

The most basic idea behind saving money on the power bill is that if you are not using it, turn it off. Makes sense and you cents!

  • Is your power rate too high? There are many power switching sites out there that can help tell you if you are using an expensive utility provider. And they will often help you easily change providers at no cost to you. 
  • If your supplier offers an hour of free power each day, use it! Ours is 9pm. That's when the dishwasher, dryer and washing machine goes on. Also, in winter we also turn on the fan oven for an extra bit of free heating. You just have to remember to turn things on and off - I use an alarm on my phone for this - it quickly enough became a habit to turn the washing machine on at the right time. In some places, this is called 'ripple power'. Off-peak user times are great.
  • Turn the lights off if you are not in the room!
  • Do you really need to run the fan or air conditioner all day? Not home? Turn it off. 
  • Replace cheap light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. A small price outlay will save you money on the power bill long term. 
  • Switch to lower wattage bulbs. LED bulbs are an amazing innovation. 
  • Mirrors also reflect light - so instead of having three lamps on to brighten a dark room, try positioning a mirror next to a lamp?
  • Have shorter showers if your water is heated by electricity
  • Need to heat a pie? Use the microwave rather than the convection oven. The time and power used are far less than the electricity consumed by an electric oven. If you are really smart and organized, cook a few meals in a slow cooker!
  • Does the pool pump need to run all the time? Can it have a day off?
  • When using the drier, don't overstuff it with clothes. Even better, do not dry towels in the dry as they take forever. If you can, let the sunshine take care of that for you. 
  • A second tip about using the dryer - it doesn't need to run the full time to dry your clothes - check to see if it's done before it stops. 20 minus less dryer time is money left in your pocket. 
  • Another dryer tip - clean the lint trap often. 
  • If it's Christmas time, do your lights and decorations need to be on during the day? Do they even need to be on after bedtime? 
  • You may want to consider insulating your water heater with a proper foil wrap. It will help reduce the amount of power needed to heat your water. Consider lowering the temperature of the water too!
  • Unplug items that you are not using. Many items on 'stand by' such as televisions are using power while doing nothing. If you are not actively using your Xbox console or gaming devices, turn them off at the wall. A computer left in an 'idle' state will still consume electricity. Turn your printer off unless you use it every day. 
  • Unplug all the phone chargers in your apartment. This includes those for all iPods, iPads, tablets and similar devices. A charger left plugged into the wall is using up electron after electron slowly but surely. 
  • Only run the dishwasher when you have a full load. If you do need to do a smaller load, perhaps run a 'fast wash' rather than the 'heavy duty' mode. Heavy duty modes run at a higher temperature than standard wash modes and thus use more power. The same goes for the washing machine - use quick wash if you have a couple of items. And for goodness safe, don't wash a single tea towel - save up your washing pile and run a full load. One less load may be 30 cents saved but that's 9 bucks saved a month. Which is one hundred bucks a year off your power bill by doing once less wash cycle a day!
  • Does your fridge need to be set at such a cold level? Turn the thermostat up a little bit.
  • Replace your furnace filters often.
  • Keep your home dry as you can. The more moisture around, the more heat is needed to heat a room. We use a dehumidifier for this reason. 
  • Check for draughts around windows and block them up with an insulation kit.
  • Use draft stoppers on doors so you need to heat rooms less. 
  • Dry firewood gives more heat than wet wood. If you use firewood, get your wood in early well before the winter seasons starts - if stored in a dry shed or undercover, it will be ready to blaze some good heat into your living room. 
  • Try and source as much as free firewood as you can. Don't burn untreated wood but building cut-offs can be great, old pallets too. Collect some pine cones in the forest with the kids. A big bag of them can last the whole night, 
  • When dusk falls, it's time to draw the curtains. They will retain the heat by preventing it from escaping via the windows. 
  • Two words when building your house use: double glazing
  • If you're not in the same room as the heater, turn it off. Only heat the room you need to heat. 
  • Make sure your dryer is vented to reduce moisture being released into the home. 
  • During they day crack open a window so the natural air can dry away moisture that builds overnight and everyday use - showers, pots of boiling water, human breathing  - all release moisture into the home which causes more heat to be needed. 
  • Unflued cabinet heaters also release water into the home. The water forms as a result of the gas mixing with the oxygen when it burns. So, if you are using a cabinet heater, keep a window open. This may seem like counter-intuitive advice but that's how they are recommended to be used. 
  • Consider using cold washes in the laundry. Most modern washing machines will do an incredibly effective job with cold water. A hot water load can use 10 times more power than a cold wash. If you have kids the odds are high that you do a load a day at least - cold power washing might be the way you can save money. 
  • Do you need the heated towel rail on all day? Ours is set to cycle on and off over an eight hour period.
  • Only use your heat pump when you actually need it and never leave it switched on when you leave the house. Why would you do that? It also helps to regularly clean the filters. The dust that collects can affect their efficiency. 
  • On that note, clear out the lint from your clothes drier as well! The filter helps to promote the flow of air - if it is blocked up to capacity, there will be less airflow meaning the machine will need to consume more electricity as the drying time is lengthened. If there are material marks left on your clothes, it's time to replace the filter catcher
  • If your home or apartment uses vented heating, make sure the vents are actually open and not blocked by boxes or furniture etc. Good airflow in the home will ensure heat moves where it's supposed to and also help keep things dry. 
The way we see it, no one change is going to save you a lot of money on your power bill.

Utilizing many of these tips will give you an accumulative effect. Saving 20 bucks off your bill a week is 1000 bucks saved on power in a year.

What you will do with that extra money? 
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