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Winterize Your Finances

We all know that winter can be an expensive time of year.  The following are some money-saving tips that will let you see for yourself what a difference small savings can make.

Home:

  1. Use an Energy Star® qualified programmable thermostat.  By automatically turning down the heat when you're asleep or away, you can reduce your heating bill by up to 1% for each degree the temperature is set back over an eight hour period.
  2. Maintain your heating system by replacing filters according to the manufacturer's instructions and schedule yearly maintenance with a qualified contractor to ensure everything is running efficiently.  Make sure the contractor checks your duct work for any potentially expensive leaks.
  3. Seal air leaks.  Hidden leaks through cracks, gaps and holes can add up to the equivalent of an open window.  Use silicone caulk to fill any cracks; weather stripping and plastic sheeting around and over windows and unused doors; install storm windows and make sure they're closed; insulate outlets on outside walls; use lined curtains or insulated blinds/shades or weatherize your home with new insulation, windows and doors.  It's important to remember to close the chimney damper when not in use and consider replacing your fireplace screen with glass doors.
  4. Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use.  Many use energy even when they're turned off to power features such as clock displays and remote controls.  For convenience, plus multiple devices into a power strip, then turn the strip off when they're not in use.
  5. Conserve water by checking for any leaky faucets and installing low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators.  In addition, lowering your water heater's thermostat to 120°F can save from 6-10% on your water heating costs.  If your house is going to be empty for an extended length of time, you can turn your water heater off.  Wash your clothes in cold water, and don't run your washing machine or dishwasher unless you have a full load.

Automobile:

  1. If you want to get better gas mileage, make sure your tires are properly inflated, install a clean air filter, change your oil regularly and remove any unnecessary weight from the vehicle.  Also don't forget that the faster you drive, the more gas you'll use.
  2. Don't forget basic vehicle maintenance.  Rotate your tires; regularly monitor your vehicle's fluid levels and change them as recommended; ensure there are no loose wires or leaks; check your batter and brakes/brake pads; replace your distributor cap and rotor.  These simple maintenance issues will lengthen the life of your car, help you avoid unexpected maintenance expenses and make your car safer to drive.
  3. Save even more by checking into carpooling, taking public transportation, riding a bike or walking.

General Financial Tips:

  1. This is the perfect time to review your financial goals to make sure you're on track to meet them.  Use a budget worksheet to see where you can make adjustments.
  2. Schedule a meeting with a financial planner.  You don't have to be wealthy to do this - financial planners have information that applies to all income levels.
  3. Review your insurance coverage, deductibles and costs.  Reviewing your policies together can help identify overlooked discounts or cost-saving opportunities.
  4. Sit down with a Personal Banker to evaluate your accounts.  Perhaps there's a checking account that better fits your needs, or a way to consolidate outstanding loans that would save you money.

 

 

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