Monthly bills are a fact of life. We’re always going to have to pay for things like rent, mortgage, electricity, Internet, and groceries – but are we trapped by the prices we’re given? Absolutely not. With the wealth of information the Internet has put at your fingertips, there’s always a lower price to be found somewhere. By simply doing a little research and strategizing, you can lower you monthly bills and save significant money.
1. Slash Credit Card Debt
Americans carry an average of $7,000 in credit card debt. Every dollar in interest paid is a dollar wasted and nothing more. To pay down your balances faster, try clipping coupons to save on groceries, refinancing your mortgage, and considering public transportation to cut down on the high costs of owning and maintaining a car. Put all those savings toward paying off your balances and resolve to never carry one again.
2. Do You Really Need That Flat-Screen TV?
A shiny flat-screen TV, a vacation to Aruba, and dinner out at that new four-star restaurant may sound great, but can your monthly finances handle those expenses? If you’re on uneven footing, your best bet is to put off any major purchases until your surplus can more than comfortably allow them. Put all the money you conserve toward your debts, or add it to your savings, and sleep a little easier at night.
3. Don’t Write Checks, Use Dwolla
If you think writing out checks for each of your monthly bills has little effect on your finances, you’re mistaken. Each stamp costs 46 cents and in most cases banks charge money for new books of checks. By using Dwolla to pay your bills, you don’t pay any fees for transactions $10 or under and just 25 cents for transactions above that. When you add up the costs for postage, checks, and transportation to the post office, the savings are significant.
4. Reduce Late Fees With Dwolla
By taking advantage of Dwolla’s automatic payment feature, you can put late fees in the rearview mirror for good. Especially effective for monthly utility bills and rent, Dwolla allows you to send payments directly to your landlord’s email address, and you can even split rent between your roommates and pay via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
5. Do You Really Need the Latest Smartphone?
As smartphones become more and more ubiquitous, picking up the latest and greatest device is all the rage. Resist the urge to upgrade and you can save money by holding onto that older generation phone. Next, reevaluate your usage. The average smartphone owner uses just 256MB of data per month, but many of us end up paying for plans 10GB or larger. Investigate cheaper data plans and switch to one that better fits your needs.
6. Save on Home Energy
Adjusting your thermostat just three degrees in either direction can save you 20% on your home energy bill. You can automate your home’s temperature adjustments by installing a programmable thermostat which can help regulate your energy usage at different times throughout the week. If you use ceiling fans, make sure they rotate counter-clockwise in the winter months and clockwise in the summer. Don’t discount any of these little moves – they add up to big savings in the end.
7. Make Your Own
From health and beauty products to household cleaners, you can save hundreds of dollars each year by simply making your own. For example, baking soda is an inexpensive replacement for name brand cleaners to tackle sinks, bathtubs, and even toilets. Try vinegar diluted with water and a splash of lemon juice for a natural and cheap way to glean glass and mirrors. When it comes to beauty products, you can really save a fortune by making your own. Try fresh papaya for a natural skin peel, oat bran to exfoliate, witch hazel to tone, and coconut oil to moisturize. Plus, all these products are as gentle on the environment as they are on your pocketbook.
Once you start reaping the benefits of these techniques, don’t let the saving stop there. It’s easy to reward yourself for that hard work with a personal purchase of a new electronic gadget, but instead, consider shoring up other financial goals, such as setting aside more for retirement or investing in a college savings program for your children. Saving money is always great for your financial health, but putting that money where it can do the most good should always be your ultimate goal.
What ways can you think of to save on monthly bills?