Inflation may have reached its peak for the foreseeable future, but the cost of goods and services is still increasing, albeit slower than it was just a few years ago. Americans are still sour on the state of the economy even as the threat of a recession diminishes, thanks to consistent consumer spending. Prices won’t get any cheaper in 2024, at least when it comes to essentials like food, housing, transportation and utilities. Thankfully, most of us are making more money than we were before the COVID-19 pandemic threw the global economy out of whack. So, how can you drastically reduce expenses in the new year? Think outside the box with these DIY cost-saving projects.
Follow a Strict Vehicle Maintenance Schedule
The price of fuel is one of the leading drivers of inflation because virtually every business uses fuel to transport workers and goods. Prices have cooled somewhat recently, but every few cents saved at the pump can save you hundreds of dollars in fuel costs, especially if you haul or drive for a living. Today’s engines use sensors and sophisticated emissions reduction systems to squeeze the most power out of every drop of fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy says fixing a serious issue can improve the MPG rating by as much as 40%.
The stakes are even higher on a diesel engine. Diesel fuel is more efficient than gas, but you will only reap these benefits if you maintain the various systems that interact with the fuel. Learning about the components and how they affect fuel efficiency will help you avoid letting issues go unaddressed. You will save even more money if you order the parts online ahead of time. Shop for diesel truck parts by make and model to assemble everything you need to make the repairs.
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Diesels use direct injection to burn compressed fuel at low speeds, which helps them tow heavy loads from rest. The injectors need oil to compress the fuel, so it enters the combustion chamber as a fine mist for a thorough, efficient burn. The high-pressure oil pump (HPOP) lubricates the engine while allowing the injectors to fire. Find replacement HPOPs if the oil pressure remains low.
A malfunctioning coolant system can cause lasting structural damage, putting excess pressure on the engine. Most diesels recycle the exhaust gas through the engine to reduce harmful emissions. The EGR cooler lowers the temperature of the recycled gas before it reenters the combustion chamber. Replace cracked or leaking diesel coolant systems to get the MPG rating you paid for.
Reinsulate Your Home
Running a home is only getting more expensive as electricity prices fluctuate. Utility companies are spending billions to upgrade transmission systems to prevent wildfires, with many passing the added expense onto their customers. Winters are warming, but summer 2024 will likely be hotter than ever. Start prepping your home for the changing weather now to prevent hot/cold air from escaping.
Repair/Replace Your Aging Appliances
Speaking of electricity, your old, outdated appliances will only increase your utility bill. If you are holding out on buying a new furnace, water heater, refrigerator or stove, calculate the potential cost savings of switching to a more energy-efficient model.
Convert Your Garage into an Apartment
Housing is the biggest expense for most consumers. Rents have skyrocketed, with many homeowners waiting to sell until the Federal Reserve lowers interest rates. Homeowners’ insurance will only increase in the years ahead to cover the risk of major storms, fires and floods caused by climate change.
If you’re waiting to downsize your living arrangement and want to reduce your housing costs, consider turning your garage into an apartment or renting out a portion of your home. A full remodel can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000. To legally rent out an apartment in many states, the accessory dwelling unit must contain a bathroom, kitchen and living space and a separate entrance.
Build a Garden to Grow Vegetables
The price of food has forced many shoppers to change what they eat. Eggs and meat have zigzagged wildly over the past 12 months, even as more Americans go vegan or plant-based. You can season up virtually anything if you grow your own spices at home. Herbs like thyme, basil, sage, rosemary, mint and dill tend to be the easiest to grow. You can also harvest squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans and roots like beets and turnips for a delicious stew or salad. It’s the cheapest way to get your greens without breaking the bank at the grocery store, by growing kale, collards and broccoli.
Factor in the cost of materials, including seeds, soil, fertilizer, water and gardening tools. The more you grow, the more you stand to save. One four-by-four-foot bed can produce as much as $160 worth of food each year. You can always freeze what you can’t eat or sell it at a local farmer’s market.
Saving money in the new year means thinking ahead and rolling up your sleeves to fix potential issues before they turn into major headaches. There’s not much you can do about inflation except avoid buying things you don’t need. Use these DIY tips to make the most of your existing equipment, space or home in 2024 and beyond.