Time To Save Money On Your Monthly Bills
The last year has certainly not been an easy one for most people. Although things are getting better, the economy is just not bouncing back at a record pace.
That makes now the perfect time to start thinking about cutting back on those monthly bills.
Think you can’t make any cuts? You might be surprised. Take a look at some ways that you can start saving money every month.
Save On Housing Costs
This is likely your largest expense every month, so why not start here.
If you own a home, you have a lot of options as far as cost-cutting goes. One way to save money is to shop for your homeowner’s insurance. You might be surprised at just how many premiums can vary from company to company. Call at least three companies for quotes, and you could easily save $100 a month or more.
Another option is to refinance your home. Interest rates right now are at historic lows, and you can take advantage of this fact to save hundreds of dollars every month. Even better, if you are currently paying mortgage insurance and have 20 percent equity, refinancing could get rid of this costly expense. It might seem like a hassle, but refinancing is rather easy to do these days. If you make this move, try to go with a credit union like Navy Credit Union for the best rates.
If you want to get serious about saving money, you can consider taking the step of selling your home. Now is the perfect time to cash out on your home and find something a bit smaller or more affordable. Being a sellers’ market, you can get top dollar.
Do you rent? If so, you have one option to save money on housing, but luckily it is an easy one. Simply move to a cheaper home. If you are at the end of your lease, this is as easy as shopping for a new place to rent. If you are at the beginning or middle of a lease, it is not as simple. You will need to weigh the cost of breaking your lease against the potential rent savings. Most leases will have cancellation clauses, so get out the lease and look.
Cut Your Credit Card Debt
Debt, especially high-interest credit card debt, can be crippling. Most Americans pay nearly 20 percent in interest, and you may even be paying close to 30 percent. If you are carrying $5000 in debt, that is as much as $1500 a year going towards interest alone.
You need to address this debt problem and the easiest way to do that is with consolidation. Luckily, it is easier than ever to get a debt consolidation loan. Simply visit one of the many personal loan websites such as Loan Monkey and get a quote. Even with less than stellar credit, you can likely secure a loan that will reduce the money you are wasting each month on credit card interest.
If you decide not to pursue consolidation, make a plan to pay down your debt. Stop using your cards and then organize them by interest rate. Then, pay the minimums on all accounts except the one with the highest interest. Pay as much as you can on that card until it is paid off. Then, simply rinse and repeat.
Reduce Your Phone Bill
This is another big monthly expense for most people, but it does not have to be.
If you have a landline, the first thing that you need to do is get rid of it. You have a cellular phone, so really, what is the point. All that a landline does is give telemarketers a convenient way to reach you.
As for that cell phone, now is the time to look at that plan. If you are using one of the three major carriers, consider switching to a pre-paid service. The only real difference with these plans is that you pay upfront, at the beginning of the month. They use the same towers as the major providers, and many are even owned by the bigger cellular services.
Simply switching to a pre-paid plan can cut your bill in half with no real reduction in service quality.
Manage Your Utility Usage
Electricity, gas, and water bills can add up to hundreds of dollars a month and are ripe with savings opportunities.
Electricity & Gas
The easiest way to save here is with a programmable thermostat. No need to buy the expensive learning thermostats, just go with a simple $30 model that will allow you to program run times. No need to heat or cool the house when you are not home.
Next, look at that water heater thermostat. It should be set at 130 degrees for maximum efficiency. Any higher than that and you are wasting money and potentially causing a safety hazard, especially if you have small kids at home.
Finally, get a free energy audit from your electric company. Most utilities offer this free service to cut down usage, so take full advantage. You might be surprised at where you are wasting money on gas and electricity.
Water is one of the most heavily government-subsidized services, but it is still not free. Between water and sewage, many people still find themselves paying over $200 a month.
Luckily, you can save on both services by reducing your water consumption. Utility companies generally base your sewage usage on your water use, so reduce consumption, and you will save on both.
To do this, start with simple things like fixing leaky faucets and toilets. Also, water your lawn responsibly. One deep watering a week is all that you need to maintain a healthy lawn. Finally, do all the little things like taking shorter showers and turning the water off while you brush your teeth. A few gallons here and a few gallons there can add up over the course of a month.
Everything Is Fair Game
Although the examples above are your most likely places to find big money savings, everything in your budget should be fair game. Give the rest of your budget an audit and look for saving opportunities like the ones below.
People become complacent with auto insurance and ignore the small but steady premium increases placed on them by their carriers. If you have not shopped for a new policy within the last few years, you need to do so.
Internet service is another expense that can creep up on you and an area where you can save big. The industry is competitive, and you are probably getting offers in your mail for cheaper service every day. Take advantage of these deals and cut your monthly expenses. Just make sure that the low rate is guaranteed for the length of your contract.
In this day and age, I shouldn’t have to tell you to cut the cable. Unfortunately, so many people are still sticking with their expensive cable or satellite plans. This might be just because of habit or due to a need for sports and local news. Whatever the case, cut the subscription TV in favor of a much cheaper or even free streaming service. Need sports? Do not worry, you can stream those too for much less money and without a contract.
As you can see, there are so many ways to save money on monthly bills. All that you need to do is take action, and you can greatly improve your financial picture.