At the beginning of the year, my hubby and I had a “come to Jesus” moment about our finances. It seems like every few years we tend to lose track of where our money is going and all of a sudden we are barely scraping by and wonder how we got there. We got fed up with it a few months ago, so we sat down together and took a hard, honest look at our budget (or lack thereof), our bills, our debt and our spending habits. Neither of us were proud of some of the choices we had been making, and both of us knew we had to do some fine tuning to get back on track.
One of the first steps we knew we needed to take (besides creating a realistic and comprehensive budget), was to cut back on our monthly spending. Of course, there are some expenses we can’t change right now, like our mortgage and our credit card payments, but there are plenty of other ways we knew we could make a big difference by just tweaking a few things. Here are some of the ways we have been able to cut back (in a pretty big way!) on our monthly spending:
We Cut Cable. We recently canceled our cable t.v. subscription and installed PlayStation Vue. By doing so, we are saving over $90 per month and we haven’t lost any channels we care about! I can’t believe we waited this long to jump off the cable bandwagon, but I am so glad we did!
We Grocery Shop Online. I always knew that doing my grocery shopping online and then picking it up at the store would be awesome for the convenience factor alone (seriously, what mom likes schlepping to the store with two cranky, bored toddlers in tow?). What I didn’t realize about shopping online is that it would save us money! Lately, I’ve been doing all my grocery shopping using the H-E-B Curbside service and every week I am spending at least $50 less than I normally would had I gone into the store. I had no idea that impulse buys were costing me so much each week!
We Asked For A Better Deal. Every 6 months to a year or so either my husband or I calls our service providers and our credit card holders and asks for better deals. When speaking to a service provider, we ask if there are any discounts that they can offer us to entice us to stay with their company (this won’t work if you’re under contract, obviously). With the credit companies, we ask for a lower interest rate. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it never hurts to ask.
We Signed Up With Energy Ogre. I am loving this new service, y’all! For $10 a month, Energy Ogre will switch your energy provider based on your energy usage and the best rates going at the time (usually every 6 months). Every time they detect a better deal out there, they will switch to that deal on your behalf. Our energy bills have been significantly reduced since we signed up with Energy Ogre. Energy Ogre is only for Texas energy users, though, so if you are outside of the Lone Star State, I’m sorry for giving you false hope, but I encourage you to do some research to see if there is a company like this in your state.
I Switched Wireless Providers. For several years, my husband has been using AT&T for his cell phone service and I have been a staunch Verizon fan. While he agrees that AT&T isn’t quite up to par with Verizon when it comes to coverage (at least where we live), AT&T provides him a great international plan that he needs for work. I have stubbornly refused to switch over to AT&T because I seriously love Verizon. But since we are trying to do everything we can to save money, I had to admit that being on two separate plans was costing us a lot more than just a few bucks per month. Begrudgingly, I agreed to leave my beloved Verizon and I have to admit, the switch is saving us a lot of money.
We Transferred Our Balance. Every year or so (depending on the terms), we will transfer the balance of our credit card with the highest interest rate over to a zero or low interest rate card. You have to be careful and read all the terms of the new card and make sure you can pay off the balance before the interest rate goes back to the normal APR (or at the very least, just make sure the normal APR is no higher than that of the card you transferred the balance from). Also, keep in mind that there is always a fee for making the transfer in the first place, so make sure you are aware of the fine print before taking this step.
We Reconsidered Our Insurance. My husband took the lead on this one and sent out a bunch of emails to different insurance companies asking them for their best rates. Once he got several responses, he sat down and compared all the details. He was shocked to see how widely the rates varied between these companies! Once he chose the company that was offering us the best coverage for the best rate, he contacted the agent and negotiated the rate down even further. We are know saving $80 a month on our home/car insurance simply because we did a little research!
It didn’t take a lot of work, maybe some emails and a few phone calls, but the reward for making these minor changes has been great! We are saving close to $500 a month with just these few simple tips. We are hoping to reduce our monthly bills even more by paying off some debt and perhaps trading in our minivan for a small SUV. We are hoping that by the end of the year, we will be close to paying off all of our consumer debt. It’s big goal, but we’re motivated and now we’ve got a good head start to saving more and spending less!
What are some clever ways you have been able to reduce your monthly bills? Give me all your tips!