While the term “investment” is often used in tandem with buzzwords such as “stocks” and “bonds,” allocating resources with the expectation of a positive return is far from a portfolio-exclusive. From energy-efficient showerheads to LED light bulbs, these simple (and low-cost) product investments grease the economic engine of your everyday life.
These kinds of product investments are practical because they’re set-it-forget-it improvements. Think of something in your life that’s a significant money drain right now. Is it your electric bill? Your takeout tally? Now imagine that you could make back your initial investment and save every month going forward with a bit of money upfront.
Ready to invest in your financial know-how? Here are seven frugal-friendly products that pay for themselves.
1. Solar Panels
Solar panels boast a two-fold ROI for your home energy bill. First of all, there’s the environmental investment. Solar panels have a much lower carbon footprint than fossil fuels, and they’re much more sustainable because sunlight is a renewable resource. Secondly, clean energy is much cheaper than coal and gas.
Solar power is a diamond amongst stones when it comes to renewable energy investments. Even though solar, hydroelectric, and wind power are leagues above fossil fuels, solar power has the most efficient return on investment over the shortest time. Installing solar power can slash your monthly energy bill, and, as icing on the cake, there are also different tax incentives and solar rebates depending on your state of residence.
2. Reusable Dryer Balls
Though this tip may sound like household micromanagement, the yearly cost of dryer sheets adds up when you consider there’s a cleaner, greener solution. Reusable dryer balls cost about $5-$10 a pop and last for two years. Most dryer balls are also textured to separate wet clothing and speed up drying time, saving you on your energy or laundromat bill. It’s a small, cheap change that can save you hundreds over the years–who doesn’t love that?
3. High-Efficiency Showerheads And Faucets
High-efficiency showerheads work by lowering the flow rate of water. Though the change won’t be noticeable to you while taking your morning shower, it will be apparent when you’re paying off your quarterly water bill. As a bonus, less water used means less hot water needed, so this quick switch also saves you on your electric bill.
4. Coffee Maker
You probably love your morning Starbucks and bagel as much as the next person. But if you knew how much it cost you in a year, you might be less keen on that skim-milk double-foam vanilla latte. Investing in a home coffee machine can save you time in the morning and money in the long run. If coffee shops are a guilty pleasure of yours, fear not. Even hybridizing between homemade and store-bought coffees can tamp down your monthly expenditures.
5. Crockpot Or Slow Cooker
You’re probably busy. Most people are. When you’re trudging inside from a long day of work to look at your fridge full of raw ingredients, resisting the urge to order takeout can be Herculean. Ordering out every night will sink your savings ship faster than a hole in the hull. To save yourself the effort and the cash, buy a slow cooker so that you can make dump dinners while you’re at work and enjoy when you get home.
6. Streaming Services
If you find you’re not the type to flick through cable channels at the end of the day, consider nixing your cable bill entirely in favor of streaming services. Though services like Netflix, Hulu, and HBO can add up quickly, they still come out to a fraction of the cost of a traditional cable bill. What’s more, some services, like Hulu, offer a live TV option, making your old cable box obsolete.
7. Led Light Bulbs
Though you might balk at the idea of paying $8 for a single lightbulb, consider that LED bulbs can last up to twenty times longer than incandescent bulbs, easily saving you twenty bucks a pop over time. Multiply that by every light in your house, and you’re looking at serious savings.
Increasing your household’s return on investment is all about improving the efficiency of the products you use every day. With these seven product recommendations, you’ll be switching your way to savings hand-over-fist.