Managing personal finance is often a challenge for most people. One of the biggest challenges, in many cases, is figuring out how to spend less money and save for the future instead. Often the best way to accomplish this is to cut down on your monthly bills where it is possible. On their own, your monthly bills might seem small or otherwise insignificant, but these bills do add up when you look at them as a whole—they can be a drain on your income. However, you can also minimize them in a number of ways. Saving money on bills in small portions will add up just as the costs on each of the bills do.
There are two main things that you can do on most monthly bills that comes into your hands in order to reduce the cost. Research your options about receiving the actual bill every month. Most providers will provide an option for paperless billing. Instead, you have an online account where your bills will appear each month. The reason paperless billing can reduce your costs is that there is likely an extra fee associated with receiving a physical copy of your bill each month.
Besides signing up for paperless billing on all possible bills, take the time to examine and track your usage on all of your services. To help track your usage, sign up for push notifications from your provider. For bills like your Internet or cell phone, providers will often send notifications through a text message or a pop-up on your Internet browser telling you that you have used 75% of your allotted data for that period, or you are getting close to your text message limit or calling minutes.
Watch for areas that you might be able to trim based on your personal habits. For example, on a cell phone bill, you may not use all of your included minutes, data, or text messages. Based on your usage, you may be able to downgrade to a cheaper plan that is more suited to your habits—this could even be a prepaid phone where you only pay for what you are actually using.
Rates for heating, electricity, or any other utilities are often set and therefore do not change. Unlike most entertainment services, you cannot choose an individualized plan. However, there are still a number of different steps that you are able to take in order to reduce your monthly utility bills.
Try installing energy-efficient light bulbs in all light fixtures around the house. These bulbs use between 25 to 80 percent less energy than traditional light bulbs. They also tend to last three to 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs. Both of these factors mean that you are going to save money on your electricity bill—a significant amount when you add up every new light bulb being used each day.
Don’t use your lights during the day. Instead, open your curtains and allow natural light to flow into your home. The light from outside does not cost you anything on your monthly bill and your home will remain lit. Save artificial lighting for when it is dark outside.
Shut your lights off when you are leaving a room, even if it is only for a minute or two. This will help take a small amount off your bills, and while it may not seem like a lot at first glance, those short minutes that you leave your lights on do add up if you do that all the time. It only takes a second to turn the light back on when you re-enter the room.
If possible, invest in a programmable thermostat for your home. This allows you to take more control over the heating and air conditioning in your home. Specifically, a programmable thermostat will permit you to have a setting for when you are away from home, when you are in your home, and when you are asleep. You do not need to air condition your home for the entire day while you are at work—that costs a lot of money and it goes to waste if no one is there. Additionally, you can start air conditioning or heating your home a couple minutes before you arrive home. This ensures your home is comfortable when you arrive, but you do not have the additional costs of leaving it on all day.
Wherever possible, unplug all electrical devices when they are not in use. You have to leave some plugged in, such as your refrigerator, as this is essential to their function, but there is no reason to leave items like your toaster, kettle, microwave, or computer plugged in when they are turned off and not in use. If you leave them plugged in, they still consume electricity. This is a concept known as phantom power, and adds unnecessary costs to your bill.
If you have items in your home that use electricity and have filters, like a dehumidifier, remember to change or clean the filters on a regular basis. Filters blocked by dust or other substances do not run as efficiently as possible. They use more energy and raise the cost of your bills at the end of the month.
When insuring an older vehicle, consider only putting on liability insurance rather than comprehensive insurance (also known as collision). The amount that you would receive in the event that your car was destroyed, when it is an older vehicle, is often not worth the monthly insurance payments.
Most people have more than one type of insurance—car, home, et cetera—but many do not bundle their policies. Bundling these policies, like with Internet and phone, will often mean you are paying less overall than if you have them separate. Only insure for the worst-case scenarios. There are expenses that you can handle yourself that will cost less than paying an additional amount on your insurance bills.
This might include raising the amount that you save for an emergency fund, rather than adding potentially unnecessary costs to your health insurance bill (or other insurance) each month. Emergencies generally do not happen on a regular basis, and often paying for certain ones out of pocket costs less than paying insurance premiums. Keep in mind worst-case scenarios however—do not take these off your insurance.
Along with utility bills, most individuals or families have at least one bill that falls under the scope of entertainment and communication—popular ones are for television, Internet, and phone services. Beyond examining your usage and making sure that you have plans that suit you, there are a couple of options to further reduce your monthly cost. If you feel that you require all of your services, look into bundles offered by service providers. These are often cheaper than subscribing to these services separately.
While you may wish to keep all of your services, you may be able to eliminate one in favour of another if you change your habits. Specifically, consider making your home reliant on the Internet for watching your favourite television shows, and movies instead of subscribing to a CableTV service. This may require obtaining a Netflix (or similar) account so that you can stream television shows online. Streaming services do have associated costs, but these are much lower than cable subscriptions.
Of course, negotiation is always an option for these types of bills—consider calling Billshark to negotiate on your behalf.