It's Summertime and the Livin' Ain't Easy

The recession has personally touched most Americans in one way or another. According to the Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends survey, 8 in 10 adults have taken specific steps of one kind or another to economize during these bad times. However, in our fast-paced society, technology has become essential to how we live, work, and play.

With a little planning, you can enjoy those gadgets and technology while still cutting down on costs.

1. Bundle your services: Tired of three monthly bills for Internet, phone, and cable service? Bundling could save $20 or more per month. Check with your current service provider as well as other local providers for the best deal and make sure to comparison shop. Or better yet, connect to your Internet for a digital telephone connection and buy an antenna for digital TV.

2. Cut the cord: Use your cell phone for all of your calls, and cancel your traditional phone service. A cell phone signal booster can help make that cut a smooth transition, preventing signal service problems.

3. Go fluorescent: An Energy Star-qualified compact fluorescent light bulb will save about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months.

4. Check your appliances' energy IQ: The average home spends about $2,000 on energy bills every year and by changing to appliances that have earned the Energy Star, you can save $75 a year in energy costs.

5. Get unplugged: U.S. households spend $100 per year to power devices while they are in "standby" power mode. The worst offenders of "off" powered energy users are televisions, game consoles (Wii, PS3, Xbox 360), DSL or Cable modems, computers (laptop or pc), printers, microwave ovens, sound systems, cable or satellite receivers, DVD players, VCRs, and routers.

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