You can drink Starbucks
When looking to slash your monthly bill, go for the low hanging fruit. In other words, look for ways to spend less that don’t feel like a big sacrifice. Bills you are stuck paying every month seemed like an excellent place to start.
Below, I share how I was able to save about $4320 per year without really giving up much of anything. I do an annual audit of all my recurring bills, so I feel like I had relatively good deals to begin. With that in mind, you may be able to save even more. While I am frugal, I am not always willing to switch providers to get the absolute lowest price. There is a value for quality, customer service (or during COVID not having a service person in my house). All the same, that may be where the most significant savings can be, especially if your provider is unable to match a competitor’s price.
Look at where you are regularly spending money. Make it a game to see how much you can save each month and year. I would love to see you all make my savings look like small potatoes. For me, that $4320 in savings this year will likely pay for a good part of another vacation. How would you spend that money?
How To Lower Your Cable Bill
Simply call your cable company and ask if there are retention specials or bonuses. You may need to threaten to leave, especially good if you have an introductory offer from a competitor. I was able to snag a $50-per-month discount, for a year, without changing my plan. Previously, I changed which channels I had in my package, which saved about $15 per month. I also returned two cable boxes, which allowed me to save an additional $14 per month. They were in my guest bedrooms and rarely used. Now, guests can use an Apple TV or watch television in the living room.
These small changes resulted in a savings of $79 per month, without requiring me to give up cable completely or cut channels that I enjoy watching. Several years ago, when I switched cable providers, I saved about $100 per month for the first two years. That was a significant amount of savings. Another option to consider is cutting the cord.
Total Savings = $79 per month
How To Lower Internet Bill
Living in Los Angeles, several internet providers are competing for business in my neighborhood. Knowing this, I googled new customer offers to compare costs. Armed with the knowledge, I contacted my current internet provider and asked if they could match the competitor’s better price. They did better than that. They gave me faster internet and matched the price. That saved me $20 per month. I had a pretty good deal before, so you may be able to save even more.
If you are working from home during the Coronavirus, they may offer you faster internet speeds instead of a lower price. Unfortunately, this option won’t technically lower your monthly expenses; it will get you more value for the money you spend on the internet.
Total Savings = $20 per month
How To Save Money On Streaming Services
For this section, I will assume you are actually paying for streaming services. If you are bumming a login from a friend, disregard the following tips.
If you have an American Express credit card, check out the Amex® Offers section. I just snagged a $7-off-per-month credit for a few months of HBO Max. Similar offers for Showtime and Netflix
Check with your streaming services or credit card company offers to see if there are specials or ways to pay less. Also, take a look at what services you are paying for each month. All those $4.99, $5.99, $13.99 monthly charges can really add up. When stuck at home, you probably are getting your money’s worth from some streaming services, but not likely all of the ones you are paying for. If you aren’t using it, cancel it, you can always sign back up again later.
Total Savings = $7 per month
Gym Yoga or Other Fitness Spending
As a Los Angeles Financial Advisor who puts a lot of effort into being healthy, I am technically saving 100% of my gym costs at the moment. Everything is closed. But I will begin paying for a gym membership again once they are open and it is safe.
If your gym is open, and you are looking to work out, Listen up! You can negotiate gym rates, and you should negotiate gym rates. Never pay full price. Get my point? Anyway, previously my gym has been under never-ending renovation and repair, so I asked for a discount. I received two free months, which is about $15 in savings, per month, over the next year.
Side Note: If you never go to the gym, cancel the membership. It is a waste of money.
Staying healthy is a big focus of mine. As you heard above, I belong to a gym, and I also have a membership to a yoga studio. I am too cheap to pay by the class, and it is way too expensive to take yoga classes that way if you go regularly. The studio where I practice offers a nice discount if you pay in advance. For example, a monthly membership is $150, while an annual membership costs $900. That is a savings of 50% or $900. Now, I have $75 more per month that I can spend doing something else.
Total Savings = $90 per month
Save On Car Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, Etc.
My insurance company was charging me $2 per month for the privilege of paying my premiums monthly. I switched to paying my insurance bill every six months to avoid this piddly fee. I am now saving a little more money and have fewer bookkeeping entries.
On another note, you may want to consider raising the deductibles on your homeowners and auto insurance policies. Many times, you will pay for the difference in deductibles via lower insurance costs in just one or two years. I raised my deductibles on Auto and Home, which is saving me $50 per month. Additionally, if something were to happen to my home, I would only submit a homeowner’s insurance claim for something major. The same would apply to auto insurance. If I were involved in a small fender bender and the damage was $1,200, I would rather pay out of pocket than submit a claim, especially if I had a $1,000 deductible. That being said, I have an emergency fund to cover such expenses.
For those working from home, you may be able to lower your auto insurance rates if you aren’t putting as many miles on your car. Early in the pandemic, my insurance company sent me a $300 refund check, as I was barely putting any miles on my car.
Total Savings = $77 per month
Shop Around for Cell Phone Plans
Cell Phone Family plans are the best way to lower the cost of having a cell phone. There is also room for negotiation on cost and discounts. Do you have a partner, spouse, or other family members you could share a plan with? My spouse and I have two lines, and our family plan saves us about $75 per month. If we had more lines, the savings could be more. You may also be entitled to a further discount based on your employer or professional organizations.
The caveat here is making sure the people with whom you share the plan pay their share of the bill. If you are not on an unlimited plan (why are you not on an unlimited plan?), make sure you can split the bill by usage.
Total Savings = $75 per month
Music in the Car
I prefer listening to satellite radio while in the car. As I mentioned before, I am no longer spending large amounts of time driving commuting and would prefer to spend that $20, per month, on something that I get more use out of. A quick call to my provider resulted in a $12 discount per month. It took a few rounds of negotiating, and the deal increased with each round. Once they offered $8 a month, I decided to keep the service.
Total Savings = $12 per month
Depending on your income, these cost savings may not be life-changing, but they do really add. Saving $360 per month is a fair amount of money. That works out to $4,320 per year, which could be used to play catch up on missed retirement plan contributions. Making retirement plan contributions can further lower your taxes, thereby putting even more money in your pocket. Perhaps some of these savings could go towards reducing your student loan, mortgage, or credit card debts. That could potentially save you more money in reduced interest charges. For those of you who are otherwise in good financial shape, saving around this amount every month could add up to another vacation.
Put this into action. Take a look at your bank and credit card statements and make a list of recurring charges. What can you do without? Which charges do you think you could get reduced if you were to call the provider? As you can see, the savings can be substantial.
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