Author Topic: Things that pay for themselves?  (Read 18529 times)

Frugal Ninja

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Things that pay for themselves?
« on: March 05, 2014, 09:24:31 PM »
What are some  things you can buy that will pay for themselves in the long run.

Examples:  a programmable thermostat will pay for itself with reduced heating costs.  Hair clippers will pay for themselves in haircut expenses.  An iron and board will pay for themselves in dry cleaning.  Energy efficient lighting will pay for themselves in reduced energy.

I know spending is not the goal...but sometimes I am short sighted on when an expense can actually lead to future savings.

Jamesqf

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2014, 09:33:38 PM »
Some of those don't really work for everyone.  Programmable thermostats only work if you have a regular daily schedule, ironing boards are irrelevant if you can just overcome your desire for flat clothes,  And I'm not sure it saves on dry cleaning costs, since I've chosen never to own anything that needs dry cleaning.

dragoncar

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2014, 09:44:43 PM »
Some of those don't really work for everyone.  Programmable thermostats only work if you have a regular daily schedule, ironing boards are irrelevant if you can just overcome your desire for flat clothes,  And I'm not sure it saves on dry cleaning costs, since I've chosen never to own anything that needs dry cleaning.

Yep, and I don't use lights, so energy efficient lighting is just a waste for me!

Seriously, though I think knowledge is the #1 thing -- learn to do the things you would normally pay someone else for.  #2 would be the tools required for #1.

GuitarStv

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2014, 06:22:20 AM »
I have purchased two bikes, one for winter commuting in the salt and freezing rain, one for summer riding.  Both are nice.  Last that I checked, I've paid them off after two years of use and many thousands of kilometers.  They also double as stress relief and exercise machine.

ketchup

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2014, 06:24:39 AM »
The hand tools I've amassed maintaining my vehicle.  They tend to pay for themselves multiple times over with one use.

Frugal Ninja

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2014, 07:53:04 AM »
The hand tools I've amassed maintaining my vehicle.  They tend to pay for themselves multiple times over with one use.


I too find tools pay for themselves rather quickly....if you use them!

PajamaMama

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #6 on: March 06, 2014, 07:58:46 AM »
Carpet Shampooer

jpo

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #7 on: March 06, 2014, 08:12:11 AM »
Cable modem, instead of renting from the cable company.

GuitarStv

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #8 on: March 06, 2014, 08:17:09 AM »
Cable modem, instead of renting from the cable company.

I think we can extend this to just about any ongoing, long term rental.  Around here it's very popular to rent your furnace and water heater, but is always a bad financial decision to do so.

Will

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #9 on: March 06, 2014, 08:21:36 AM »
Some of those don't really work for everyone.  Programmable thermostats only work if you have a regular daily schedule

My programmable thermostat learned my irregular daily schedule and adjusted itself accordingly.

ketchup

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2014, 08:26:23 AM »
My kombucha scoby cost me $8 and brewing my own kombucha has saved me about $35 so far over store-bought kombucha.  But that's almost fake savings, as I drink a lot more kombucha when it costs me pennies and lives in my fridge than when it costs $3.69 for one little bottle at Whole Paycheck.

Rural

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2014, 08:38:08 AM »
A 1982 Toyota Tercel we bought three years ago for $800 paid for itself in less than four months of commuting (in place of the Jeep at ~14 mpg). Took another month to pay for its own insurance for the year.

Currently still going to work (on a much shorter commute) with my husband every day. Still pays for its own insurance, though, and has kept us from having to buy a vehicle in a hurry once this year already. We did have to buy it a voltage regulator, but that was under $10.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #12 on: March 06, 2014, 12:29:25 PM »
Cloth diapers and cloth "lady things," as my father used to refer to them (if he had to).

payitoff

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #13 on: March 06, 2014, 12:31:25 PM »
Nutribullet, in replacement for Jamba Juice cravings

jrhampt

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #14 on: March 06, 2014, 01:09:32 PM »
ironing boards are irrelevant if you can just overcome your desire for flat clothes, 

<3 !!!

GuitarStv

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #15 on: March 06, 2014, 01:19:18 PM »
ironing boards are irrelevant if you can just overcome your desire for flat clothes, 

<3 !!!

If you just wear the wrinkly cloths for a couple of days most of the wrinkles work their way out.

zachd

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #16 on: March 06, 2014, 01:36:04 PM »

We used to buy canned carbonated water.. $4 a case, about $20 a month.
Got a sodastream on craigslist for $20 + $12 for the air tank, so far it's been two months so it's paid for itself.  No I can't just drink water I need the fizzy, I need some things in my life.

I estimated it will conserve 700 cans a year coming in to our house also.

Insulation and other home energy related upgrades should pay for themselves over time.

4alpacas

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #17 on: March 06, 2014, 02:17:39 PM »

We used to buy canned carbonated water.. $4 a case, about $20 a month.
Got a sodastream on craigslist for $20 + $12 for the air tank, so far it's been two months so it's paid for itself.  No I can't just drink water I need the fizzy, I need some things in my life.

I estimated it will conserve 700 cans a year coming in to our house also.


I've been thinking about making a "soda stream" for my DH. 

http://www.popsci.com/diy/article/2012-06/how-make-your-own-home-carbonation-system

zachd

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #18 on: March 06, 2014, 03:23:42 PM »

There are ways to refill your own sodastream tank or hook the sodastream to a larger tank.. might be easier than starting from scratch, but I guess some people like building stuff like that.  The air is costing me about $5 a month so I'm OK with paying for it.

Zaga

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #19 on: March 06, 2014, 03:24:22 PM »
Diva cup plus cloth for lady needs.

Cloth napkins, rags, etc.

Rural

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #20 on: March 06, 2014, 03:32:14 PM »
Bread machine, assuming you can't or won't do it from scratch.  (I'm a "won't") And that you will actually use the bread machine instead of buying bread!

Food processor. Depends on the situation again, but if you produce a lot of your own food, then absolutely it pays off.

Meat grinder, while we're on the subject. Mine is a handcrank, which seems to do the job just fine.


warfreak2

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #21 on: March 06, 2014, 03:39:45 PM »
I'm led to believe a breadmaker is more efficient than an oven, because an oven requires heating a much larger space than just the tin the loaf is in. It may be that the breadmaker uses electricity and the oven uses cheaper gas, but some mental arithmetic suggests a breadmaker is still a lot more energy-efficient. So, breadmaker even ought to beat doing it "from scratch". I'm sure there's a thread about this which I haven't read.

Spork

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #22 on: March 06, 2014, 03:46:13 PM »

Wood stove.  (The stainless steel chimney was more expensive than the stove... but let's just call that one price).

loki

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #23 on: March 06, 2014, 04:00:38 PM »
Definitely cloth diapers.

crumbcatcher

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2014, 04:40:44 PM »
Cloth napkins.  I still buy paper towels for the occasional messy spill (I hate picking up raw eggs with cloth  - gross), but don't go through them very fast at all.  Over the three years I've owned the cloth napkins I've saved a lot.

Along those same lines, buying those 1/2 cup sized plastic ware containers has saved me a lot in jello expenses. I'm not buying a 4-pack of pre-made jello for my son's lunchbox because I can make my own and send them in these.  Total expense:  $.99 for jello, $2.50 for containers (once) compared to $2.50+ for a 4-pack of premade.

These might be no-brainers, but still.

Jamesqf

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2014, 04:46:26 PM »
Some of those don't really work for everyone.  Programmable thermostats only work if you have a regular daily schedule

My programmable thermostat learned my irregular daily schedule and adjusted itself accordingly.

If your thermostat could learn your schedule, then obviously it's not really irregular :-)

Another thing I've noticed is that my body's idea of a comfortable temperature can vary up to ten degrees (F) or so.  As for instance my desk thermometer says 63 right now (a warm day, so I have heat off & windows opened) and I'm quite comfortable.  Last night it was about 70, and I felt chilly.

Greg

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2014, 10:23:28 PM »
Birth control.   Worth its weight (and then some) in gold.

ThermionicScott

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #27 on: March 06, 2014, 10:46:36 PM »
A bicycle definitely can pay for itself, if bike miles replace car miles.

Once started on that path, though, it takes vigilance to avoid accumulating more and more bikes, and upgrading the parts every year, spoiling the economic benefit.  ;^)
« Last Edit: March 06, 2014, 10:48:44 PM by ThermionicScott »

Rural

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2014, 03:47:53 AM »
Birth control.   Worth its weight (and then some) in gold.

+1

Plus now it's "free."

Frugal Ninja

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2014, 12:28:45 PM »
A bicycle definitely can pay for itself, if bike miles replace car miles.

Once started on that path, though, it takes vigilance to avoid accumulating more and more bikes, and upgrading the parts every year, spoiling the economic benefit.  ;^)

My father had a "system" to negate this same trend in himself.  He decided on an allowable "cost per mile" for his bike habit, which for him was ten cents a mile....and then simply added this amount to a jar in our garage for every mile he rode.  Any bike related expense came out of this fund, new tires, new bikes, new batteries for his cyclo computer, etc. 

He said this really made him carefully consider the cost/benifit of each purchase and each extra part...and made the eventual upgrade from his "mountain bike from grade school, to my sweet ass speed machine" racing bike, that much more of an accomplishment in baddassity.

On a personal note.  One of the greatest moments of my young adult life was when I brought my own bike to dads place for a repair that was beyond my skill level, and he informed me with sadness in his eyes that there was nothing he could do, and that my bike was now not even worth scrapping for parts.  Strapped for cash at the time, it was tough to hear that I would now buy a have to buy a new bike....However, my dad simply took his jar off the shelf and without a seconds hesitation, he took me out and bought me a much, much, much nicer bike than he has ever owned himself.   He even splurged for an extra water bottle cage and a few fancy water bottles to fill them.  I will always remember the look in the cashiers eye as he paid for my shiny new "sweet ass speed machine" with a mountain of change, a bunch of 1$ bills, a handful of 5$ bills, and even a few crisp 10$ bills (earned from the 100 mile plus rides he had taken over the years.)  Only he and I knew that each dime on the table was a mile he had spent on the road.



We still ride together regularly, but his jar is filling up a lot more slowly these days.  However, by his math, even after accounting for expected replacment parts, maintance costs, ect on his now 25 year old bike....he is only about 3000 road miles away from a "real deluxe tandem set up with a baby trailer and a few helmets" hes been eyeing for me and my family.  From his track record, I think the only real question is....why does he think I will be able to get married and start a family before he fills that jar. 

Zaga

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2014, 12:38:41 PM »
Frugal Ninja, that made me tear up a bit.  What a dad!

zachd

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2014, 12:54:51 PM »

Great story.

Thinking about how tracking miles would encourage more bike riding...


Tai

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2014, 04:45:27 PM »
I bought a used portable washing machine at a thrift store for 50$ about 10 years ago, I made a mark with a marker every time I did a load using it instead of the building's machines until I was past 100, it took about 2 months I think. I still am using it.

Zaga

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2014, 06:19:15 PM »
http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=678513011

An oil sprayer.  I got one several months ago, and now I don't buy those disposable cans anymore.  I think this $10 paid for itself in a few months, I love it!

jba302

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #34 on: March 07, 2014, 06:45:32 PM »
Birth control.   Worth its weight (and then some) in gold.

In the same line as this, a vasectomy.

Exflyboy

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #35 on: March 07, 2014, 07:05:17 PM »
Birth control.   Worth its weight (and then some) in gold.

When My Wife and I decided to get married she looked at me and said.."one of us is going up the clinic"...:)

Frank

4alpacas

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #36 on: March 07, 2014, 07:06:16 PM »
http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=678513011

An oil sprayer.  I got one several months ago, and now I don't buy those disposable cans anymore.  I think this $10 paid for itself in a few months, I love it!
I've had one for years, and I love it!

Milspecstache

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #37 on: March 07, 2014, 07:12:10 PM »
Safety gear for tools:

Eye/ear protection
Chainsaw pants
Steel-toed boots

Spork

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #38 on: March 07, 2014, 07:40:38 PM »
Birth control.   Worth its weight (and then some) in gold.

In the same line as this, a vasectomy.

That's an easy one though.  Even in the wayback days of the 80s my insurance that normally paid 80% paid 100% for the big V.  It's easy to pay back $0.

windawake

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2014, 07:54:39 PM »
Birth control.   Worth its weight (and then some) in gold.

An IUD. Incredibly effective birth control for way less over time.

bogart

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #40 on: March 07, 2014, 08:01:29 PM »
Programmable thermostats only work if you have a regular daily schedule

I'm not sure this is true -- worst-case scenario, I suppose I'd have to set the thermostat down to 52 every night when I went to bed at some random time and then set it to kick up to 64 at about 7 hours later, but even just with that, I suspect it would pay for itself reasonably promptly.  As is, I have it set to 52 at 10 p.m. (I rarely go to bed that early, but of course the temperature doesn't immediately drop that low, either.  In fact, it rarely drops that low), and to 64 at 6:30, 60 at 7:30, and if I do hang around the house -- I can always bump it up.  It's not that difficult...

Other items I'd add to the list:  clothes line (or drying rack).  Pan to catch the engine oil when I change it.  Slow cooker.  OXO vegetable peeler. 

Owning a Nexus 7 with a Kindle app has dramatically increased my willingness to ride the bus (and I get the books free from my public library, or put them on my wishlist for bday/Christmas). 

My husband's vasectomy, undertaken in his prior marriage, cost us ~$60K and uncountable emotional strain -- $8K for the failed reversal and an additional ~$32K doing the IVFs that led to our son's birth, plus another $20K for cycles that didn't lead to a sibling. 

Kriegsspiel

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #41 on: March 07, 2014, 10:07:24 PM »
If you get a larger dog, you can offer rides to toddlers. I'm not sure if you'll be able to float the food bill, you may have to run the numbers.

RobertBirnie

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #42 on: March 07, 2014, 10:32:47 PM »
ironing boards are irrelevant if you can just overcome your desire for flat clothes, 

<3 !!!

If you just wear the wrinkly cloths for a couple of days most of the wrinkles work their way out.

I also don't regularly wash jeans, I got the idea from how I was reading people wore "shrink to fit" Levis. For the last few years I've only been washing my jeans once every 3-6 months, and I wash them in the bath rather than machine. Since I started this I haven't had to buy jeans at all and they all still look brand new.

The one pair that did wear out was a dark wash, its still a dark wash, hasn't faded at all. But I wore holes in the pockets where my keys and wallet sit, if it wasn't for that they'd still be like new. I still wear them but now they are specifically for outdoor work and intended to get dirty. During regular days though I don't get jeans dirty enough to ever justify the wash.

ThermionicScott

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #43 on: March 08, 2014, 01:50:05 PM »

My father had a "system" to negate this same trend in himself...

Wow, that was a wonderful story!  I'm definitely going to steal that system.  :^)

Rural

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #44 on: March 08, 2014, 02:04:25 PM »
New one today. Invisible thread, which is basically just very thin fishing line when you get right down to it. Costs considerably more than cotton thread, but when you don't have the color that you need, you can use it anyway. Saved me a trip today even if it is a total pain to use, plus  it saved me the cost of yet another spool of thread.

totoro

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #45 on: March 08, 2014, 03:08:51 PM »
1.  Owning a fuel efficient used car and your own company.  Use for business travel - pays for itself in less than a year and then pays for your leisure use as well.  The permitted mileage rates are set for the average car, not a fuel efficient used car like an older tercel.

2.  Vacation home that is used as a vacation rental provided you make sure it is cash flow positive.  This pays for all expenses in our case.  Even better if you can do business in this place (see above) and claim paid travel when you visit.

3.  Primary residence with rental suite or multi-family that you live in.   Ours pays our entire mortgage.  End result is that your mortgage is paid by someone else.

4.  Woodstove.  Especially if you purchase used.

5. Combining holidays with work travel.  See #1 above.

OnTheMoney

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #46 on: March 08, 2014, 11:03:07 PM »
Rechargable batteries.

+1 on the OXO kitchen tools. We resisted initially but after we paid for our third garlic press and second potato masher within two years we started buying quality and never looked back.

Slow cooker / crock pot makes tougher, cheaper cuts of meat tender and tasty. Quick and easy prep too.

We also see nutritionally dense food and high quality supplements as things that pay for themselves, i.e. either pay now or pay more later in medical bills, pharmacy costs, misery, missed work, etc. Can't even remember the last time we needed to buy cough syrup or anything like that.

Our shower head filter paid for itself - very hard water left mineral deposits on the skin which made us insanely itchy and required tons of moisturizer, not to mention the ridiculous amount of shampoo required for an effective wash.

Mesh lingerie bag for the washing machine makes delicate or stretchy clothes last longer.

Mason jars to make our own sauerkraut - way healthier than what's available in stores and cheaper too.

Waterflosser probably saves money on toothfloss in the long run.

Badass by 41

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #47 on: March 09, 2014, 12:07:07 AM »
There are ways to refill your own sodastream tank or hook the sodastream to a larger tank.. might be easier than starting from scratch, but I guess some people like building stuff like that.  The air is costing me about $5 a month so I'm OK with paying for it.

Another trick is to get refill canisters at Bed Bath & Beyond.  They are typically very lax in this coupon policies, so I've stacked $5 off with 20% off coupons many times.  At a regular price of $13 per refill canister, that's down $8.22 with coupons applied (just make sure it's in the right order. 9)

Babymoustache

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #48 on: March 09, 2014, 01:39:42 AM »
CFC bulbs (if you can't afford LEDs)

I had no idea my 6 100w lights left on 8 hrs a day were using $37 of electricity a month. I knew that led and cfc bulbs were better, but I honestly thought it only made the difference of a few dollars! I calculated by replacing all my bulbs to cfc it will bring the cost down to $7 a month. Needless to say I've already done this! I love quick wins. The cost of the bulbs was $40 but that will pay for itself in a month and a bit.  What an eye opener!  I considered led bulbs, but they are quite an expensive outlay, so I will save that upgrade for when I'm earning again.

I got my electricity bill yesterday, I hadn't changed anything except for those cfc bulbs. Guess wot!?! My electricity bill was down by exactly $31!!!! I was super stoked! Replacing those bulbs will save me $360 over the course of a year! How fabulous is that?

Babymoustache

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Re: Things that pay for themselves?
« Reply #49 on: March 09, 2014, 01:59:32 AM »
An electricity meter

I just paid out last month $20-25 for one and I figure it will pay for itself in a few bills. Not only was it a huge education on where the electricity was going, it helped me focused on high return items to cut down my electricity, so I wasn't wasting my time turning everything off standby thinking that's where the savings were to be made...

Ps: my hot water cylinder was guzzling through the electricity... Not my heaters like I first thought.