Cash Back Bonus?

content ballThere have been a lot of credit card offers lately offering cash back on certain purchases. For example, 5% cash back when the card is used at a restaurant or 3% cash back at the grocery store. I started thinking about this concept and realized that if I did some digging, I might be able to muster up 5% cash back on the home front without signing up for one of these special credit cards.

Now is a really good time to look at last year’s numbers to see what shaving 5% off each category might look like. I personally wasn’t able to take 5% off of every category because some bills are at a fixed rate, but I am challenging myself to try to take 5% off where I can in some of the variable categories, such as the water/garbage bill, the electric bill, and the gas (for our heating and cooking). Since I have gotten our grocery bill down pretty low and it’s fairly consistent, I’d like to leave that category alone if possible. I am also not tackling the gas for our cars since we don’t have much control over gasoline prices or the amount of driving that we do.

When I looked at the billing history on our water/garbage bill, I noticed it didn’t fluctuate much. I suppose that is a good thing, but I wanted to see if it would be possible to cut it back by 5%. It turns out that the only area we can cut back on is our water usage. This makes sense, and is a wise thing to do, given that we live in a desert, but it will be difficult to cut it back enough to impact the bill by 5%. Nonetheless, I will make every effort to reduce this bill.

The gas bill for our home is another variable where we can make some changes. Our furnace typically uses the most gas. However, since we live in Arizona, we don’t actually use the heat that often. Even so, I have taken some measures to contain the heat in our home such as rolling up beach towels to lie across the thresholds of our doors and windows. Typically in the summer months, I am able to turn off the water heater altogether between May and October. This does save quite a bit. I am also going to try washing the clothes in cold water as often as possible and put larger loads in the dryer. I should also be more conscientious when cooking. I typically preheat the oven before I put anything in, but, depending on what I am cooking, I may be able to start with a cold oven. We shall see if this bill can be reduced by 5%!

In the area of electricity, I’m not sure if we have much hope. As I was pondering the 5% cutbacks, we received a nice letter from our friendly neighborhood electric company indicating that they will be increasing our rates by 3% in the new year. Now, it is more important than ever to make sure we are conservative with our electricity use.

Another idea I had was simply to reduce our incoming pay amount by 5% and pretend we had 5% less to work with. This would force me to spend less in all areas!

I will keep you posted on my progress and I hope you are able to tuck away an extra 5% here or there using some of these ideas. If you have some ideas for a 5% reduction in your budget, send them to and we’ll share them. If we can do it, I think we’ll start to see the savings really add up!

“Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise, but the fool consumes it.” – Proverbs 21:20

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