1) Strategically reduce energy used to heat the house in the winter. I set my thermostat at 68 degrees during the day and 61 at night. We had a record winter this year in Michigan and my heating bills were around 200 bucks a month. This one is hard to compare since the last few years have been mild when I set the house temp at 70. I think we can safely assume I saved 150 dollars doing this.
2) Reduced speed on my drive to work from 78 mph to 70. My trial that I did showed that by reducing my speed to 70 from 78 my car gets 30 mpg vs 27. That doesn't seem like much but I drive 30 miles one way so if I work 270 days per year X 60 miles per round trip I now burn appx 540 gallons of gas in a year vs 600. This is around 250 dollars in savings plus a more relaxing ride. This is my work commute only so I actually save more.
3) Cut cable. I cut my cable television but kept cable internet. My bill went from 120 bucks to 45. This is a savings of 75 bucks a month or 900 dollars a year.
4) Reduce electricity usage. An added benefit of cutting cable is no more cable boxes and less TV. My family also is now in the habit of turning any light off we are not using and making sure all "vampire" sources are unplugged. My electricity company averages my rate per month and it is now at 90 dollars. Before I concentrated on reducing electricity, my bill was 180. This is a 90 dollar a month gain or 1,080.
5) Reduce food bill. We eat venison that I processed myself for meat or turkey burger about once every two weeks. Other than that, we have been eating dried beans, produce from the garden, fresh veggies from the store when the garden isn't currently producing.
Over the winter we ate spaghetti squash, butternut squash, beets, carrots, potatoes from the garden that we overwintered. After that, we had about a month and a half break from garden produce that we had to fill in with store bought fresh veggies. We did have canned pears, frozen apples from my dad's garden here and there though.
Once my garden started producing again in the spring, we started eating kale, spinach, salads, peas, strawberries. We are now eating salad, peas, turnips with tomatoes, cucumbers, blackberries, green beans waiting in the on-deck circle. These guys should be ready any day now.
I also have been keeping up with baking bread once or twice a week. I don't have records of what we spent on our grocery bill but I have to imagine we are saving at least 100 bucks a month or 1,200 a year. I will have to do an update once I look in to these numbers.
These are the major changes that I have made so far this year. Most of the changes that I have been made more than a few people have cracked jokes about. Oh well... if you add up all my improvements, my life is just as entertaining and comfortable as before but now I saved 3,600 after tax dollars.
Investing that type of money over a ten year period using 5 percent as your return will give you over 40,000 bucks easily. I cannot wait to find some more opportunities to have people laugh at!