A Bill-By-Bill Guide to Saving Money

If you’re on a budget, one of the best ways to reduce costs and have extra money to pay down debt is through reducing your current expenditures. This doesn’t have to mean getting rid of all your comforts, in many cases, it can be as simple as going through each of your bills and seeing where you can make some cuts. Chances are you’re paying more than you should for each of them.

Let’s start with your Cell Phone

Without fail, one of the best ways to save money on your cell phone bill is to shop around. Many of the carriers offer very similar service ranges, and so unless you’re in an area that has particularly bad coverage for one specific carrier, it might be worth it to look at competitors and see what kind of plans they have to offer.

Another way is to check your actual data usage and see how much you think you need, versus how much you actually need. It’s not too hard to check your usage, but it is different for each carrier and phone. If you’re paying for 5GB of data, but find out you only use an average of 2-3GB per month, dropping to a lower amount can save you an extra $10 or more a month, or $120 a year.

Next, Check Out Your Utilities

You may think that your electric and gas rates are mostly unchangeable, but that is far from the case. There are several little things you can do that will add up to huge savings on your utility bill, provided you stay diligent and are willing to stand for some (very) minor discomforts.

For starters, consider lowering your thermostat a few degrees in the winter, and raising it a few degrees in the summer. It may not seem like much, but experts claim you can receive around 1% of your bill back for every degree changed, as long as it lasts longer than eight hours.

Try running your larger appliances at off-peak hours as well, since the house has to work harder to cool itself if a lot of devices are active. Don’t forget to turn off your lights and other devices when not in use. If you are still not happy with what you are paying you can shop around to find the best electric rates possible.

Call Your Internet and TV Provider

Sometimes, a simple phone call is all it takes to save a few bucks at the end of the month on things like your television and internet. If you simply can’t go without these resources at all (and let’s face it, who can?), then it’s always a good idea to call up your providers and ask about lower plans or lower rates. After all, if you don’t watch all 900 channels, why pay for them?

When you call the first time, ask to speak to their “Customer Retention Department.” Their job is to keep you as a customer as long as possible, and many times will go to great lengths to do so. Usually, this will involve something like bumping you to a promotional rate or adding extra services for free. Not bad for a quick phone call.

Don’t Forget the Credit Cards!

In 2016, the average American household carried more than $16,000 in credit card debt. $16,000! As if that wasn’t bad enough, those same households in the same year paid nearly $1,200 on those credit cards in interest alone! That is a ton of cash that is doing nothing but going down the drain.

Contrary to popular opinion, not all credit card companies are completely soulless and evil; many are willing to work with you in order, especially if you have been a long-time customer. Just like with the other bills, sometimes simply calling them up and asking about a lower interest rate is enough for them to drop it a few points.

Consider also switching to a card with a lower rate. Even a few percentage points can save you a lot of money in the long run, so it’s worth it to look into doing a balance transfer. Of course, the ideal way to save the interest money is to pay off the debt in the first place, but that is easier said than done for most of us.