The oil bill.

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  Ah, the dreaded oil bill.

For the last five plus years I admit to being reactive, not proactive about the ever increasing oil bill. Oh, how I have PAID (literally thousands) for my error. The first year in our home our oil bill averaged $400/month, last year it topped out at $749/month on our budget plan. I know, not very “mommysaveologist” of me!

So, I finally reacted… why, didn’t I react sooner? Hmmm, because I was not thinking straight!! Clearly, I was dillusional.

I finally got my act together by doing the following: 1) getting rid of my high price oil company- research pays! I am paying  90 cents/gallon lower. 2) getting a comprehensive energy audit of our home.

To get a lower oil rate, you truly need to know everything about your heating needs- we needed a service contract, auto delivery and the budget plan. After that, it is all about negotiation. For this, I can take no personal credit, all I can say is that if you can’t negotiate, maybe your spouse can. My husband did the negotiations for us; he is in sales- need I say more? You can also look into oil cooperatives that will negotiate a rate for you. Just google, oil co-ops and you will have a plethora of choices to consider.

As for the energy audit, we went with a private auditor. The cost for our entire  house was $200 dollars. The auditor spent 7 hours in our house and examined truly every nook and cranny. In the end, we received a 32 page report that detailed everything you would want to know to make a house energy efficient. It even included a cost analysis of when we would break-even on certain recommended improvements. We are currently in the process of adding much need attic and garage wall insulation (due to improper replacement after we had some work completed). The piece on mind provided by knowing WHY our oil bill skyrocketed is truly empowering. Also, since we plan on staying in our home for a very long time, we know have a list of realistic recommendations that will only increase the equity in our home. After all, energy cost will continue to rise in the long term, so keeping them down is truly an important goal for any homeowner/mommysaveologist. I only wish I would have gotten to this saving sooner….and I know you all can relate to that! To this end, I hope my fellow saveologist don’t take five years to reap the savings…like I did!

Quickie Tip: Track your Medical Spending

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If your insurance provider is one of these three: CIGNA, United Healthcare or Medical Mutual of Ohio, consider using the Quicken HealthTracker program. It is FREE. You can track every expense: copayments, deductibles and the dreaded coinsurance. I used it for the first time in the year 2010 when my son, Michael had 3 surgeries and my other son broke his arm, and I gave birth to my fourth child… needless to say, we had a lot of claims, over 200 to be exact! The Healthtracker was God sent when tax time came and dreaded EOB’s arrived; it allowed me to see what I WAS REALLY ACCOUNTABLE for and to find medical billing errors. There are always many billing errors, but that is another, not “quickie” blog.  Considering that Medical Expenses  are one of the top three reasons Americans file for bankruptcy- best to get on this saving tip right away!

Taking the Jolt out of Paying for the Bolt: Electric Deregulation

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Hope you don’t mind the rhyming in this post, as a mother of five-year old twin boys, who are preparing for kindergarten this fall, there is a lot of rhyming words around our  house. Until recently, there was also A LOT of other words (let’s say not appropriate)  going around the house:  each time the  electric bill showed up in the mailbox!  Our electric bill use to average $360/month, now it is averaging $191/month for the last 6 months.  Let me tell you how it changed..

Twelve years ago , my state (NJ)  passed electric deregulation. Basically, deregulation means that you and I have a choice when it comes to our energy supplier. Up until the 1990’s only one company ( for me it was JCP&L) was in charge of our energy service; today we have choice. Choice means competition. And, we all know, that competition is good when it comes to price. Not, only can we pick our price now due to electric deregulation, but we can also pick a company that supports green energy. A win-win, with oil over $100 a barrel lately, and all of the oil rich areas in the world in such political turmoil!

Now, not all states have passed deregulation. So you must research your state first! Check  out ,http://www.electricitybid.com/electricity/index.php/2008/05/05/list-of-electricity-deregulated-states-in-the-usa/, page to the bottom and you will see a list of states with gas and electricity deregulation.  After you find out that your state does participate in electric deregulation, DO YOUR HOMEWORK to pick the right company for you. There are many choices and as a Mommy Saveologist, you know to RESEARCH what is best for your family. We are present customers of Viridian. Thus far, we are happy with our choice. But, there are many options. Our supplier’s rate is variable, which means it can change. Other suppliers offer a fixed rate. Our company offers two products, other companies may offer more or less. You need to really read the fine print and decide what is best for your family. It is no different from other big decisions you make,whether it is buying a car or deciding on life insurance. Take the time, and I am sure you will remember to “study the science of saving”, the Mommy Saveologist way!  Good Luck; hopefully you will be successful taking the “Jolt out of Paying for the Bolt” too. I found our provider by googling: electric deregulation nj. A plethora of choices comes up!

If you would like any information on our experience with Viridian, please let me know. Check out www.viridian.com .If anyone finds other useful information on electric deregulation, please share in the comments section.

If you do decide to go with Viridian, contact me at ssochacummings@gmail.com as I can earn money for signing up new families. You can too;  if you decide to go with the Viridian company. However, as I said, RESEARCH! Because, there are many options! And, thus many offers. Competition is good!

NOTE: For those viewing this  on FB, I am not  “on” Facebook as I gave it up for LENT. This will automatically post to my FB page, without me logging on to FB. If you need to contact me in reference to this post pls comment through email or the comments section. I will return to Facebook after Easter. Thank you!

A Quickie Saveologist Tip!

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If you are not into the couponsense.com site, a wonderful alternative is www.couponmom.com I have actually been “dabbling” in both to decide which is my favorite. I plan to discuss the pros and cons of each program in the future. If anyone already uses the sites and would like to comment, please do! I love the idea of fellow Mommy Savelogists sharing their ideas! Happy “couponing”!

Let’s see if Stop and Shop will no longer be Stop and Rob!

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Within a week of living in Sparta, NJ,  other SAHMs had quickly informed/warned me about grocery shopping at our town grocery store: the name is really “Stop and Shop”, however, the local name was “Stop and Rob”! I laughed, shopped at the store, and decided they were RIGHT! I quickly became a regular (5 years now!) of ShopRite (located in a neighboring town). I detested having to travel out of town for groceries!

Recently, I am noticing a change in marketing by the Stop and Shop “bigwigs.” My  first clue was when I became a member of www.couponsense.com and I noticed that Stop and Shop participated in this site, but not ShopRite! And, yesterday, another clue of changing signs…. Stop and Shop has an promising rewards program listed in this week’s circular! Not, that they didn’t have a savings card/rewards program before, they did. It was just pathetic for our region! I am going to try this new program and see if they still rob me. My understanding, is  1. Spend $300 using your Stop and Shop card between NOW and March 31, 2011. 2. Earn your 5% coupon by spending the $300 3. Save 5% up to five times.

There are some exclusions, ie MILK. However, I am thinking that if I combine this newest savings program offered by Stop and Shop with my already seasoned couponsense.com strategies, this could mean huge savings. After all, since I started saving on groceries last month I have saved $413.81; Mommy Saveologist all the way!

Source: Stop and Shop http://stopandshop.shoplocal.com/stopandshop/Default.aspx?action=browsepageflash&storeid=2599149&rapid=1112510&pagenumber=1&prvid=Stopandshop-110225&promotioncode=Stopandshop-110225

No Need to Deal with this Rain!- FREE SHIPPING

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Do you need to stock up for gifts for Spring parties and/or Easter?  There is NO need to load up the kids in this horrible New Jersey weather- for a Limited Time www.toyrus.com has FREE SHIPPING. This could be handy for those big items that you just can’t juggle carrying out of the store with all the kids (ie. big baby gear boxes!). Also, this offer is valid for www.babiesrus.com. Just don’t use your   rewards card…it is a waste! Another blog, another time. When will this company get a real rewards program? They are missing the boat on the profits they could make! For now, I will take the free shipping! Enjoy!

Saveologists: Save 80% at restaurant.com

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Busy week, since my oldest is sick but didn’t want anyone to miss this one… Today is the final day to Save 80% and get $25 Gift Certificates for only $2. Enter Promo Code: DINE at checkout and hit “Apply” to take advantage of this www.restaurant.com offer. Now you do not have any excuse;  go out for St. Patrick’s Day!

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