Mortgage, car payments, and loans, oh my! As adults, we quickly learn that paying bills is a fact of life that is hard to avoid. Yet, in 2020, it was reported that at least three out of 10 adults had trouble paying their monthly expenses. One of the biggest challenges for most people is that while spending money comes easily, saving money does not.
Looking for areas in your budget where you can cut costs is crucial, and finding ways to lower your monthly bills is a great place to start. Here are a few tricks you can try to lower your monthly bills and find more money worth saving.
Rein in Subscriptions
You’ve probably heard the suggestion to reduce your subscriptions before, but that’s only because the costs of them all can really add up and make an impact on your monthly expenses. There are many subscription services to choose from, and because of it, paying about $9 a month for Netflix and $13 a month for Amazon Prime may not seem like very much money for each one individually. However, when you start to add them all up, it can bust your budget if you’re not paying attention.
According to a survey conducted by tech consulting firm West Monroe, 84% of consumers underestimate the total costs they spend on subscriptions services, with the actual total being just above $237 every month.
Most people don’t even know how many subscriptions they are paying for each month. To identify those charges, use your bank and credit card statements as a starting place. Then try alternating between your subscriptions. Pay for one or two subscriptions you are using the most at that time for a couple of months while cutting the rest, and vice versa. This way, you can see which services you can live without, and maybe cut them out for good.
Take Charge of Charge Cards
As of Q3 of 2021, the average credit card interest rate is approximately 17.13%. So if yours is even higher, it's time to take charge and negotiate. Believe it or not, the easiest way to lower your monthly credit card bill is to call your cardholder and ask. Many credit card companies will take the time to work with you and find a repayment plan that fits your specific financial situation.
Before you call, do a little research. Look up other offers online with lower interest rates. That way, if the representative on the phone tells you “no,” you'll have some leverage. The key, though, according to financial blogger and founder of online site Money for the Mamas Kari Lorz, is always to be polite and honest. Be sure to let them know that you’ve been a loyal customer, you pay on time, and you hate to leave, but XYZ company has a better rate.
Be Frugal With the Heat
In winter, it's common for us to be eager to turn up the heat, but to save money and lower your electric bill, you should consider turning it down. Of course staying warm is important, so an alternative to keeping the thermostat down all winter long is to only do so when you go to sleep. Sleep experts actually consider 65 degrees to be the ideal temperature for sleep, according to nonprofit The National Sleep Foundation.
Blankets go a long way come wintertime. When you go to sleep, add an extra blanket or two at the foot of your bed just in case you get chilly.
Slay Energy Vampires
Did you know your appliances and electronics could be sucking the life out of your finances? Energy vampires, also known as vampire or phantom loads, are plugged-in devices that leech energy even when turned off or in standby mode; for example, coffee makers, cable modems, desktop computers, televisions, and gaming consoles.
According to the Bonneville Power Administration, consumers can unknowingly spend up to $200 a year on vampire loads.
Smart power strips are a great way to prevent vampire loads, as they cut power to specific outlets while the devices are not in use.
Some utility providers charge lower rates at off-peak times, but it’s best to ask your provider if this is the case. If it is, try running high-energy-use appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines in the early morning or late at night, which will help reduce your costs.
Share and Save
Are your family members all online? If so, then consider sharing accounts, whether that be streaming services or shopping platforms. This can be a great way to bundle your funds, according to Lorz, as the savings can be big. With Disney+, for example, one account allows seven different profiles in your household.
In addition, music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music offer family plans, which allow up to six people to share one account and save on the total amount. As of December 2021, Spotify's family plan is $15.99 a month compared to the cost of $9.99 for an individual user.
It Pays To Shop Around
Before you decide on a rate for anything, it’s best to shop around and see what other offers are available. This is particularly true with insurance. Ask yourself questions like: “Have I been paying for the same homeowners insurance since I bought my house?” or “Am I using the same car insurance I’ve had since I purchased my car?” Buying insurance is just like buying anything else: You want to make sure you're getting the best deal.
To find it, take your time to get to know the various insurance companies that are out there. By getting information about rates, coverage, and services from several agents and companies, you’ll increase your chances of receiving the best possible plan.
Consider Renting Out Your Space
Housing costs are typically one of the largest expenses consumers take on. One of the quickest ways to offset housing costs is to rent out any extra space you have available.
Whether you take on a long-term roommate or provide short-term stays through Airbnb, renting your spare space can help you lower your bills by bringing in some extra cash.
Not all individuals will have the extra space or the extra availability to create that space, to rent a room or portion of their home to another person. This will depend on one’s interest, financial health, and more.
Make a Plan
Generally, the best way to lower the cost of your monthly bills is to take the time to evaluate your spending and make a plan accordingly that will move you forward. Groceries, for example, can be one of the largest monthly expenses for a family living on a budget. But if you make a meal plan each week and prepare ahead by looking at deals for what you are going to use and need, you can save both food waste and money. The same holds true for all of your expenses.