Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Looking for ways to reduce your water usage and waste, while saving yourself some green? Here are some helpful hints and tips for that money-wise and eco-friendly homeowner.  Undoubtedly, the toilet is the biggest water hog in the bathroom. Those made prior to 1993 use up to 8 gallons per flush, which is approximately 5 times the current toilet use.  If you’re unsure of the age of your toilet, check under the lid. According to the “National Geographic’s Green Guide,” the toilet’s manufacture date is usually stamped under the lid. Plumbing leaks account for 14 percent of total water usage in the average American home. Toilets are the main source of this leak. An inexpensive but effective test to check for a toilet leak is to use 5-10 drops of food coloring in the tank. Do not flush. Check the toilet 15 minutes later for colored water leakage into the tank.

Another source for water waste is the shower. Older shower heads were not low flow rated. You can test your shower head efficiency with this simple test. Turn the shower and catch the water in a bucket for 2 minutes. If the bucket overflows, your shower head is a wasteful model. Consider replacing it with a low flow shower head. It’ll save you money and reduce water waste. You can find shower heads for as little as $15 at any hardware store. That’s a great return on your investment because you’ll save money and water with every shower. If you really want to be frugal and eco-friendly, turn the shower off while soaping up. EarthEasy.com reminds us that even with a new shower head, a moderately short shower uses between 20 to 40 gallons of water, while a bath can use 50 to 60 gallons of water. When checking for leaks, be sure to inspect your pipes and faucets. Although these may require a professional to assist in the inspection or repair, the long-term benefits will save you money.

These hints for saving water are courtesy of Julia Frazier Yank/Nebraska Home Sales Realtor

Friday, February 28, 2014

This America Saves Week: Take Action to Improve Your Financial Situation

By Katie Bryan, America Saves Communications Director.

America Saves Week, February 24 – March 1, 2014, is a time to review your finances, decide what you want to save for, and set up a system that will allow you to save automatically. That’s why the America Saves Week theme is Set a Goal. Make a Plan. Save Automatically. Did you know that only half of Americans report having good savings habits? Even if you are already saving, it’s good to take a look at your goals and decide if you can save more or start a new savings goal. Join thousands of others who are pledging to pay down debt, save money, and take financial action during America Saves Week.

Not sure what to save for or what to save for next? Here are the most popular saving goals of those who have pledged to save through America Saves:
  • Save for Emergencies - Only 37 percent of low-to-moderate income households have a savings or money market account at a bank or credit union and nearly a quarter of savers who have pledged to save have chosen “emergency savings” as their first wealth-building goal. Learn more.
  • Save for Education - Saving for education is the second most popular goal savers select when they pledge to save with America Saves. There are many different things to factor in when saving and paying for college. Learn more.
  • Pay Down Debt - Getting out of debt is the #3 goal Savers select when they pledge to save. That does not come as a surprise since a 2012 survey found that 45% of families with annual incomes under $50,000 rely on credit cards to pay for basic needs such as rent, utilities, insurance and food. Learn more.
  • Save for a Home - For decades, home ownership has been the main path to wealth for most Americans. Today, home equity - the market value of a home minus the balance on any home loans - represents more than four-fifths of the typical family's wealth. Learn more.
  • Save for Retirement - Retirement savings is a top priority for many Savers. Saving for retirement now will ensure that you have enough money to maintain a comfortable standard of living when you stop or reduce the amount of hours you work. Learn more.
Not sure how to save for your goals? Here are some saving strategies to help:

  • Save Automatically - The easiest and most effective way to save is automatically. This is how millions of Americans save at their bank or credit union, and how millions of employees save through 401(k) and other retirement programs at work. Learn more.
  • Save at Tax Time - Do you spend weeks eagerly anticipating your tax refund? When the money finally comes in, is it gone tomorrow? Many people view tax refunds as unplanned bonuses. They see the money as a gift from the government, to use for splurges or treats. But a tax refund provides the opportunity to improve your financial situation.  Learn more.
Take the America Saves Pledge (or re-pledge) today to set your savings goal and make a plan to save. When you take the pledge you can also choose to receive text message tips and reminders to help you save for your goal. And don’t forget to follow America Saves on Facebook and Twitter.

America Saves Week is coordinated by America Saves and the American Savings Education Council. Started in 2007, the Week is an annual opportunity for organizations to promote good savings behavior and a chance for individuals to assess their own saving status