Tips to Lower Your Monthly Bills

by heather

Most of us know that, if we need more money each month, it’s going to be far easier to get it by trimming expenses rather than asking for a raise, especially in this economy.

Finding ways to lower your bills can be tricky, however. How do you know what you can give up?

Here are some strategies I’ve used myself, as well as some informational tips I found while researching online.

Tip 1: Negotiate With Your Cable Company For A Lower Rate

Here’s what I did: I use Comcast, but recently got a letter from A T & T advertising a much lower rate than the one I was paying (a hefty $60 less per month, in fact). I called up Comcast to cancel my service. When they asked why, I told them that AT & T was offering a much better rate, so I was switching to save money. The surprising thing is that they refused to match the price. So, I’m officially an A T & T customer now, getting the same bundled service that I got from Comcost, but for $60 less per month. Yahoo.

Even without a letter from a rival company, you can still call your cable provider to negotiate a lower rate. Telling them you’d like to cancel because it’s just too expensive will usually get them into bargaining mode. This is an easy (although, sometimes stressful if you don’t like negotiating) way to save money every month.

Tip 2: Use A Calling Card For Your Long Distance

This handy tip comes from Consumer Reports. According to their findings, you can get (at the time of publishing) a 700 minute phone card at Costco for $19.99, which works out to 3 cents per minute. If you’re paying long distance through you phone company, it’s likely you’re paying more than this.

You could also consider getting a bulk long-distance plan from your phone company if you don’t have one. This allows you make an unlimited amount of long-distance phone calls for one flat rate. I use this service, since I have a lot of family out of state, and feel it’s worth the money. But, that’s me. Depending on how much you call, this may or may not save you money.

Another option when it comes to your phone bill is to ditch your land line altogether. More and more people are going this route and just using their cell phone. Be careful, here. Going over your minutes can be incredibly expensive (most plans charge 40 cents per minute and up when you go over your allotment). If your cell phone provider offers free nights and weekends, this might be a good choice for you.

If you have a high-speed internet service, you could also use software like Skype to make calls over the Internet. Calls are completely free to other Skype users when they’re computer to computer, and only 2.1 cents per minute for Skype to landline calls. And, this low rate even applies to international calls.

So, if your aunt lives in Spain and you live in the U.S, this means you can call her landline from your computer for only 2.1 cents per minute. If she downloads Skype and the two of you talk over the Internet, computer to computer, then it’s completely free.

I use Skype all the time to talk to friends and clients overseas, and it can’t be beat.

Tip 3: Use Less Energy

I recently wrote a post about 7 Ways to Lower Your Heating Bill This Winter. When it comes to saving energy you not only help your personal finances, but you also help the environment. And that’s definitely a win-win situation.

Find little ways to use a bit less energy each month. Making sure you’re washing your clothes with cold water instead of hot is one way to save. If you have a large basement or empty room, then consider line-drying your clothes instead of tossing them in the dryer. Keep lights out and the thermostat turned down. They may seem like trivial things, but these little actions add up every month

Tip 4: Go Over Your Insurance With A Fine-Toothed Comb

When was the last time you shopped around for home or car insurance? For most people, it’s been years.

However, there are several ways you can trim down your monthly insurance bills if you just take a bit of time to look at your policy.

For instance, if your teenager recently moved out, for college or other reasons, then take them off your insurance! There’s no reason you should still be paying for them on your policy just so they can drive your car on holiday breaks.

Another thing you can do is stop carrying comp (for theft) and collision (for damage) insurance. It’s advisable to do this only if you have an older car, however. The reason is because your insurer will never pay you more than your car’s blue book value. If you have a newer car, it’s worth it to have this coverage. With an older care, you might can do without it and come out ahead.

For instance, if you wrecked your 1995 Acura RS Integra with 150,000 miles, you’d only get about $2,500 from your insurance company, because that’s the resale value of this car. If you’re paying $75 per month just for comp and collision, that money might be better served in a high-interest bank account for when you do need a new car.

Check the value of your own car at Kelley Blue Book to see if this idea is right for your situation.

Another way you can lower your insurance bill is to raise your deductibles. The deductible is the amount of money you have to come up with in the event you have a claim. Having a $250 deductible means that if you wrecked your car, you’d have to pay the first $250 in repairs. The insurance company would pick up the rest.

Now, having a $250 deductible is nice, but you’re paying more per month for this low deductible. If you’re a good driver who rarely, if ever, gets into an accident, you’ll put more in your pocket each month by raising your deductible to $1,000. But, it’s a good idea to make sure you have an emergency fund that will cover this amount in the event you have to file a claim.

Also, check in to see if your insurer offers discounts for things like low annual mileage (usually this is 12,000 miles or less), good grades (if your teenagers are on your plan and keep a “B” average, you might get a lower rate), or an “older driver” rate.

And, this might surprise a lot of you, but your credit actually has an impact on your insurance rate. People with poor scores often pay more in car insurance. If you’ve raised your score since you started with your current company, then let them know. You might get a better rate with a better credit score.

If you or your teenagers have taken a “safe driver” course recently, this can also help cut your rate if you call your insurer. And cutting out things you don’t need, like roadside assistance or rental car reimbursement, will save you monthly as well.

I also should throw in here that experts never recommend skimping on liability insurance. This is what will cover you if you cause an accident and hurt someone else. If you spend money on your insurance, this is the better place to have full coverage.

One last note on insurance: take out your policy and start shopping around! Different companies offer different rates. Companies like Progressive and Geico make it fairly easy to get quotes, and you might be surprised at how varied the rates are. It’s worth the time to do this at least once per year.

Trimming down your monthly bills doesn’t mean you have to go without. After all, these tips were fairly painless and didn’t require you to give up anything, right? Right. There is always fat we can trim away when it comes to our spending, and I’ll be posting more tips soon. Good luck!

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LAL October 8, 2008 at 6:31 pm

I agree it’s easier to cut expenses but the real expenses are things like car payments, too much house, too much in gas.

Alex June 2, 2009 at 6:01 pm

save to bookmark)

Insurance February 2, 2010 at 5:36 am

Nice blog, it will really help me to reduce my monthly expenses. I like Tip 2 & Tip 3. As for Tip 4, my car is already insured. The insurance offered good sum in legal car security including temporary car insurance schemes. I got all the info about it thru website; they cleared all kinds of queries regarding car insurance over policies.

temporarycarinsure March 11, 2010 at 12:26 am

Thanks Heather for giving such useful tips. The car insurance tip is really helped me a lot. Insurance like the Monthly Car Insurance and the Short Term Car Insurance cover the daily breakdown cover which is uninsured loss recovery and also of course for young drivers its easy for them and it has all benefits like coverage against theft & accident and can also customize according to our needs like replacement & windscreen repair & many more. We can get online quote too. These are really helpful to lower monthly bills.

Maggie April 5, 2013 at 10:05 am

Tip 4 about going over the insurance is great! I didn’t even think about doing something like that so I am really glad that I read this blog. As for tip 1, I found this company called BillCutterz and they called Comcast for me and were able to save me $50 a month (Comcast is the only cable company in my area so I have no choice). It was so nice to not have to wait on hold and deal with the reps.

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