Saving on Household Bills
The bills keep coming, and you have no choice but to keep paying them, right? Right – to an extent. There may be ways to trim those bills and not sacrifice quality of life in the meantime.
First Things First
The first step to lowering your bills is simply to look at them. See exactly what it is you're spending your money on. Are you paying money for something that you don't use? See where you can trim the fat.
Next, look for possible areas to save. Can you discuss lower interest rates? Can you shop around for a better price? Have you gotten a coupon offer from a competitor? Will your current provider match it?
Look at not only your monthly utilities, but also other household expenses. Read the articles on saving money on food and clothing to find a little extra wiggle room.
The worst they can say is "no." Call up your credit card companies, and ask to speak with a manager or someone who can give you a lower rate. Tell them what you bring to the table and ask if they can do better on your interest rate.
Call your cable, internet or telephone provider and ask if the promotion being offered by their competitor can be used with them. If not, is it worth switching to save money? Is there bundle pricing that can save you money if you get everything through one provider?
Shop around for prices on things like insurance, heating oil – even electricity providers. Will another supplier offer lower prices? Be sure to check out consumer feedback before making the switch. A lower price is great, but not if it means horrible service. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
How's the interest rate on your mortgage? If your home's value has gone up, or even stayed the same, but your interest rate is a little high, it may be worth it to look into refinancing. Keep in mind this will only be worth it if you plan on being in your home for a few more years, and there will be inquiries into your credit and income.
If your home seems to have a lot of extra space, consider downsizing. Not only will the rent or mortgage likely be lower, but you'll also save on heating and electricity. Along the same lines, look at your vehicle. Would a less expensive car do just as well?
There are likely many ways to save on your bills. Adjusting the thermostat, for example, can save on heating and cooling. Along the same lines, insulating your home can help as well. Check out your local energy provider's website for ideas on how to better insulate your home and save energy. You may even be able to get an energy audit through them, offering even greater long-term savings.
Take a look at your cell phone bill. Are you paying for extra minutes you don't use? Are you paying overage charges when an unlimited plan would save you money? Evaluate the bill with a critical eye. You'd be amazed at what you're paying for unnecessarily.
Along the same lines, look at your phone, internet and cable bill. Are you paying for services you don't need? Channels you don't watch? Call your provider and change your plan if possible.
For an even more drastic cut, look for alternate options. Try lower- or no-cost options: Netflix and Hulu.com instead of a cable bill, Vonage or Skype instead of a phone bill.
Borrow books and movies from the library instead of buying them. Rent tools you'll use once instead of buying them. Split the cost of that expensive equipment with a friend or neighbor.
Ways to save are everywhere. Look around you with a critical eye, and options will present themselves. A little research or effort can mean big dividends down the line.