Four Easy Ways to Save Money on Bills
Whoever said that death and taxes were the only sure things in life forgot to include the monthly bills. Unless you're independently wealthy and pay for everything in cash, you're sure to have at least a few bills to pay every month. Some of these are essential, such as your rent or mortgage, while others are not. When you're looking for ways to save money on bills, the key is to cut back what you pay each month in both categories.
Cell Phone and Communication Costs
The percentage of people who replace landlines with cell phones continues to increase every year. While cell phones are without question more convenient, it's also more tempting to add on features that you don't really need. Examples include unlimited minutes, downloadable games to play on your phone, and special ringtones.
When you receive your bill each month, take a moment to scan it and consider which services are truly essential. Additionally, your contract renewal period is the perfect time to see if another company can offer a better deal. You may even want to consider eliminating your cell phone bill altogether by using free services offered online by Skype.
Utility and Electric
While these services are essential, you also have a great deal of control over how much you spend on them each month. Fortunately, a little discipline can add up to big savings. Here are some ideas you can try right away:
- Seal your doors and windows so air drafts can't make their way into your home.
- Install a programmable thermostat to keep the indoor temperature at a minimum while people are away at work or school during the day.
- Replace all low-watt light bulbs with ones that offer greater energy efficiency.
- Install one or more ceiling fans to help circulate cool or warm air in your home and reduce the workload on your furnace or air conditioner.
Mortgage or Rent
One of the simplest ways to save money over the life of your mortgage is to pay it bi-weekly rather than monthly. Since the mortgage payment typically represents the largest bill, this system helps people budget for it more efficiently. As for cost savings, keep in mind that 26 bi-weekly payments result in one extra mortgage payment every calendar year. This is a nearly effortless way to pay off your mortgage quicker.
Some other ways to save money on housing expenses include refinancing your mortgage and taking in a roommate or renter. If you're currently looking at houses, don't be tempted to buy something larger than you need. If your financial situation changes in the future, you're still obligated to live there and make monthly mortgage payments until you can sell it. Renting and living with roommates is the more logical choice if you need the flexibility to move on short notice.
Home and auto insurance protect you from financial devastation in case of an at-fault accident, fire, or act of nature. However, most people have more insurance coverage than they need. You can easily reduce your monthly premium by choosing a plan with a higher deductible. If you decide to go this route, make sure that you have an emergency fund available if you do need to draw on your insurance benefits.
You may have fewer options for health insurance, depending on your overall health and the plans available to you. If you're young and generally in good health, the easiest way to reduce your premium is to choose a higher deductible. Regardless of your age, you should consider putting money into a health savings account to pay out-of-pocket costs on a pre-tax basis.
These are just some areas where a little discipline and planning can pay off big. What other suggestions would you make to someone trying to get a handle on their money?
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