Save Money on Your Heating Bill This Season

Every fall, I hope for a gradual transition from warm to cool weather. And every year, I'm rudely surprised as we go immediately from the last Indian summer night to a chilly, frost-covered morning. As if being robbed of balmy fall temperatures weren't enough, I get that first big heating bill. Not a good start to the holiday season.

But unlike fixed costs such as your mortgage or car loan, you have the power to lower your winter heat bill. It just takes a little self-discipline - and sometimes a new financial strategy.

Let's talk about the discipline part first. Don't worry, I'm not asking you to freeze. I'm merely suggesting that you turn down the thermostat a few degrees during the day and program it so it doesn't fall below 55 degrees at night, when you're bundled up in bed anyway. Then, when your body adjusts, you can try lowering it a few more degrees during the day if you choose. I used to keep my thermostat at 70 degrees no matter what. When I dropped it to 64, I shaved 20 percent off my heating bill. And I got more use out of all those cute sweaters I've been collecting over the years.

Another wallet killer is hot water, which can make up two-thirds of your bill. If you can cut a few minutes off your showers each morning, you'll not only help conserve H2O, but you'll lower your monthly payment. Then there are the little fixes, like making sure to shut the fireplace damper, keep the curtains drawn and gaps in doors and windows blocked and turning off the heat completely when you're at work or otherwise away from home.

Of course, these all take sacrifice. Maybe the easiest to make your utility bills more affordable is to make more money. No, you don't need to get a raise. You just need to find a way to stop living paycheck to paycheck so you can handle comforts like a warm house, electricity and running water without scrambling to make ends meet. Wondering what that magic method is? It's right in front of your nose. You know those checks you're writing to your credit card company every month? You're throwing away your hard-earned dollars. If you had paid cash for those purchases, you'd be through, but instead you keep shelling out interest and, when you pay just the minimum each month, you keep watching your debt grow.

Bankruptcy can bring the cycle to a gradual, if not screeching, halt. To find a bankruptcy plan that will protect you from creditors and lenders, eliminate your debt affordably and put you on the path to financial independence, consider scheduling a free one-on-one debt analysis with one of our Chicago bankruptcy lawyers. You've got nothing to lose but a cold house.

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