Pinching pennies is all the rage.
With the economy in a tailspin, consumers are looking everywhere for ways to save money. The trick is to cut back without putting a significant crimp in your lifestyle. So before downsizing into a smaller house, selling your car or cutting up your last credit card, consider these five money-saving do-it-yourself projects.
Install a programmable thermostat: The average household can save about 10% a year on heating bills by switching to a programmable thermostat, according to the federal Energy Star program. Here's why: You set the thermostat to turn up the heat when it's needed and drop it when it's not, saving heating dollars from being spent when no one's home or everyone's asleep. A typical installation is simple and requires only a few tools and a couple of minutes. For step-by-step instructions, check out this video from ThisOldHouse.com.
Change your own oil: Embrace your inner grease monkey and save $30 every few months by changing your car's oil. Here's the drill: Set your car on jackstands or ramps, climb underneath and unscrew the drain plug from the oil pan, remembering, of course, to position a pan underneath the drain plug to catch the old oil. Then, use a filter wrench to unscrew the oil filter and drain the used oil. Finish by putting on a new filter (about $5 to $10), replacing the drain plug and pouring new oil (usually about five quarts, but check your car's manual) into the oil fill cap on the engine. The whole process should take less than an hour. (For more detailed instructions, click here.) Once your oil is changed, start your car and drive to a place where that old oil can be recycled. Many of the oil-change chains will take your used oil, or you can check Earth911.com for a local recycling center.