With the economy limping along, it’s important to make every penny count. While some people take that to mean cutting back to eating beans and rice, I specifically mean saving money on bills. One of the most important things I stress in my family is to build savings. Yes, you can do a lot of this from eating at home, making your own coffee and the like, but what about saving money on your scheduled monthly expenses?
Let’s take a look at some ways to shave off some money from what you’re already forced to spend and put it in the piggy jar.
Go Over Your Budget
Prices don’t always go up. Take technology—the greater the competition the greater the savings and quality. Companies are competing for your attention, your loyalty…and your money. Let them earn it. But there are other ways you can instantly cut costs and increase your budget:
Insurance - This includes home, life, health, auto, even business insurance. You can save quite a bit in monthly fees if you can find a good company to consolidate all your accounts under one roof. Another good move is to raise the amount of your deductible, which can lower your monthly payments and leave cash in your pocket.
Bank/Financial Fees - If you’re still paying fees for your checking account, wake up. There are a lot of hidden fees we pay when we’re not looking closely enough. When I couldn’t find an institution with truly FREE checking, I moved over to a Credit Union and never looked back. I saved hundreds of dollars my first year alone and now enjoy all the benefits I had from a national institution, but my money is local, and mine.
Cable - New packages are always being developed, especially for promotional purposes. Cable companies want to keep your business over time and many times, are willing to negotiate your services. The biggest advantage, however, are bundled services—allowing you to save big. Consolidating your services is always a smart move.
Telephone & Internet - Landlines are almost non-existent and people are switching over to VoIP (voice over IP). This phone service uses your internet and has become a common option with cable/internet bundles. If you still have need for a landline, VoIP’s are saving residents a considerable amount on their monthly bills when bundled with their monthly internet package.
Credit Card Reward Points - For all the points you earn from your credit card uses, have you taken advantage of them? Make sure to use your rewards, but do so wisely—because the intent of credit card companies is to coax you into spending more. Strategically utilize the card that will give you the rewards you’re more likely to use. Don’t focus on saving the points for some far off goal—you run the risk of losing those acquired points if you wait too long.
Credit Cart Interest - There’s nothing wrong with asking for a lower interest rate from your credit card company, especially in today’s market. They’re likely to consent if they run the risk of losing your business. The other aspect of credit card interest you need to watch out for is making minimum payments. These are eaten up by the interest, which means less of a balance that you can use in an emergency and you stay in debt longer.
Utility Bills - This isn’t always possible, but there are new competitors showing up in the utility industries. That could mean better prices and options for you. If you’re fortunate enough to have a choice, consider switching providers if you see a substantial financial advantage.
Refinancing Your Home - This is one of the biggest differences you can make in your monthly budget, especially if you’re living from paycheck to paycheck. This could mean several hundred dollars a month in your pocket. You can do this by extending your mortgage from a 30 year to a 50 year term, or refinancing when interest rates are exceptionally low; even half a point can save you money. The challenge however is timing and cost. Refinancing can have upfront costs, such as points, fees and taxes, and it could take months to get approved and move forward. Take these aspects into consideration before you decide and look for an institution that can roll the cost of the refinance into the process.
The key? Refinancing your home isn’t usually a good idea unless you plan on staying in the home for several years to come.
What ways have you reduced your monthly payments? Let me know in the comments below or via Twitter.