Dan Catlin, 61, and his wife, Carol, have focused on reducing energy costs.
Location: Mesa, Ariz.
Profession: Air-quality specialist
Tip: Invest in lowering your energy dependency.
I am optimistic because: "Right now I feel comfortable in my job and my family is making it work on one salary. I have pensions that will help if my job disappears, so I'm not worried about that.
I think the new administration is going to be successful. President Obama has been pushing for renewable energy, and that's great from both a financial and environmental standpoint. As a nation, we've got to become energy independent.
I've worked in the renewable energy sector for a long time, and I've added energy efficiency to our existing home for the past few years. We installed a solar water heater and photovoltaic solar panels to our small four-bedroom home.
The house is all electric, and our last bill was $46 - $12 of that was the meter-reading charge. One month last fall, I generated 100 kilowatts more than I used. Our goal is to be rid of utility bills. The tax credits provided in our area also make solar energy a very good investment.
We plan to install more solar panels in the coming months. Our goal is to be able to generate as much energy as we use during our hot Arizona summers. We've used the federal and state tax credits as well as utility rebates to help pay for this project. It's part of our preparation for retirement security when we expect energy prices to increase.
I'm not rich by any means, but if your expenses are super low, that income goes a lot further. If I save $200 a month on electricity, that's money I can spend elsewhere. It's important to economize. Don't waste your money on football games, big TVs, or anything else you don't really need."
NEXT: Robert Crumpler