The Affordable Care Act and Retirement

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Our school district had a retirement incentive of 85% of our final salary spread over five years, so 17% of our salary per year.  This  can be used to pay health insurance premium or put in a 403b retirement plan.  While we were working, I had family coverage and my wife didn’t take health insurance benefits.  When we retired, we dropped family coverage and my wife and I each took individual policies.  If we hadn’t, my wife would have had to withdraw money from her 403b and then pay taxes on it before using it to pay for our family health insurance premium.  Our older daughter graduated from college and is no longer on our health insurance policy.  We took out a private individual health insurance policy for our daughter who just started college. Continue reading The Affordable Care Act and Retirement

Is Home Brewing Cost Beneficial?

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I decided to brew an Oktoberfest today because the forecast high temperature for the foreseeable future here has dropped to below 60 degrees.  I can lager the beer in the garage.  The ideal temperature for a primary fermentation for a lager is between 53 and 59 degrees.  The ideal temperature for a secondary fermentation is 35 to 42 degrees.  I want to do a lager without buying additional brewing equipment. Continue reading Is Home Brewing Cost Beneficial?

How to Fight the High Utility Costs of Retirement

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We have gone through all our utilities looking for ways to cut costs.  I have some concern that are utility bills will rise this year, despite our cost cutting, just because we are at home more of the time.  Our younger daughter did go off to college this fall, which will have the affect of reducing our utility bills.  More time at home could offset the effects of our cutting utility costs and our daughter being gone. Continue reading How to Fight the High Utility Costs of Retirement

Reducing “Vampire” Power Usage

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TV and Related Electronics

The biggest user of vampire power is cable, satellite, and DVRs.  We have two TVs left in the house.  In our basement recreation room we have a TV with a cable box, DVR, and Wii gaming system.  We don’t use it frequently, and I try to remember to turn the power cord off when I do. Continue reading Reducing “Vampire” Power Usage

Reducing Laundry Costs

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I addressed this subject in my post How to Reduce the Cost of Water Heating, Water Softening, Water, and Sewage.  You can reduce washing costs by using cold water.  It is more efficient to do full loads of laundry.  You may be able to use a shorter wash cycle.  You may be able to use less soap than what you are using.  If you are really ambitious, you can make your own laundry soap.  You can at least look for sales on detergent or buy house brands. Continue reading Reducing Laundry Costs

Reducing the Cost of Lighting

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Lighting costs are 5% of home energy usage.  Like most other people, we have made the transition from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs.  We haven’t started transitioning to LED bulbs.  After some serious consideration, I think we should.  I have been hesitant to, because the initial costs of the bulbs are much higher than what we are used to paying.  However, with a pay back period of 5.6 years,  it would make sense to do so.  That was calculated more than a year ago and assumed a price of $30 a bulb.  Last February, Consumer Reports determined that it was time to make the switch.  The price of LED bulbs is $10 or less. Continue reading Reducing the Cost of Lighting

Reducing the Cost of Cooking

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We have an electric stove, a microwave, a crock pot, and a gas grill.  I tend to grill and microwave in the summer more to avoid heating up the house and increasing air conditioning costs. Continue reading Reducing the Cost of Cooking

Reducing Refrigeration Costs

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Refrigeration costs are 5% of home energy usage. A few years ago, we quit using our chest freezer.  We were down to three people at home, and we weren’t using the space.  This fall, my daughter borrowed my mini fridge, which I used for beer, for her dorm room.  The only refrigerator we have left is the one in the kitchen. Continue reading Reducing Refrigeration Costs

How to Reduce the Cost of Water Heating, Water Softening, Water, and Sewage

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Water Heating

Water heating makes up 18% of home energy costs. Continue reading How to Reduce the Cost of Water Heating, Water Softening, Water, and Sewage

Reducing Heating Costs

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The average monthly electricity and natural gas bill combined in our state is $155.  Our average is $140.  As recent empty nesters, we could probably do better. Heating is 41.5% of average home energy consumption, so I figure that is a good place to start. Continue reading Reducing Heating Costs