We may think of our monthly bills, such as mortgage/rent, electricity, telephone, transportation, etc. as fixed costs that we must endure. However, by employing a number of easy strategies, we can reduce our monthly bills so that we have more cash in our pocket at the end of the month. A savings of a few hundred dollars each month adds up to quite a bit at the end of the year, giving you more money to put toward debt reduction, savings or going on that much-needed vacation.
Here are 7 ways you can lower your monthly bills.
- Check your bills. First of all, get into the habit of opening your mail on time, and carefully examining your statements. If you have opted for electronic delivery, open your email when it arrives. Check your statements for errors. Save your charge receipts and compare them to your credit card statements. Examine your bank statements for any unusual fees or changes in account status, interest rates, etc. It is not a regular occurrence, but mistakes do happen. With just a little time invested in checking you can save money.
- Utility bills. According to experts, as much as 43% of our utility bill covers the costs of air conditioning, heating and ventilation. The optimum solution would be to redo the HVAC system, but this requires an investment, and would be especially impractical if you are renting your home. There are other money saving measures you can employ, such as using a programmable thermostat that adjusts the temperature according to when you are at home. It is worthwhile to purchase high-tech gadgetry, such as blue-toothed enabled thermostats that allow you to adjust the temperature from your smartphone while you are on the way home. Conduct an energy check and identify places where heat or cool air may be escaping , especially around windows, doors and cooling ducts. Save money by regularly changing air filters, lessening the burden on your heating and cooling systems. Computers, printers, chargers, transformers, electronic kitchen gadgets, etc. use electricity even when closed. According to experts, you can save as much as 5% on your electricity bill just by disconnecting devices.
- Reduce data. Pay careful attention to the statements from your mobile carrier to determine if you are actually using all the data you are paying for. If you see that you are not coming anywhere near to your monthly allotment, change your data plan. According to experts, you could save as much as $240 a year on your cellphone plan by reducing the amount you are paying for unused data.
- Cancel your landline. While we are on the subject of phones, do you actually use your landline? According to a CDC survey conducted last year, 47% of US households have only mobile devices. If you see that the house phone is becoming more of a museum piece, consider joining the 47% and save yourself some money.
- Eat the food you buy. According to the National Resources Defense Council, the food that we throw out comes to roughly $2,000 per year. By being smart when doing your food shopping, organizing your refrigerator so that the newest product is at the back, and skipping the binge shopping you could potentially have $2,000 to put toward other financial priorities.
- Get rid of unused memberships. How many of us make that annual New Year’s resolution to get into shape? We run out and sign up for the full use package at the sports club and are pretty dedicated for a few months. Then the membership card sits in the wallet or drawer. Gather up all your membership cards and determine which ones are collecting dust. Cancel those memberships. This applies also to unused movie subscriptions, book clubs and any other entertainment service that long ago lost its appeal or for which you no longer have the time. You will save money, as much as hundreds of dollars each month.
- Eat in more often. Take a cooking class or watch YouTube and teach yourself how to prepare those delicious meals that you enjoy at your favorite restaurants.
The main thing is to be aggressive and creative. Do not fall into complacency or surrender. Remember that you have control over your financial life and that very little in this world is “fixed.” Be smart and look forward to the extra money you will have to put toward paying bills, saving for retirement, or taking off for your dream vacation.