Every January I evaluate my budget. I look through my bills and decide where can I trim the fat. I like to save the money for travel (of course). In the past couple of years I have saved quite a bit of money, by cutting my bills or habits. Here are some examples of where I have cut down on my monthly bills.
Eating out: Cut down on eating out. Pack your lunch. This can be healthier and save you money. My friend is making these salads in mason jars. She puts the salad dressing, carrots, cranberries and any other items on the bottom of the jar, then salad on top of the salad dressing mixture. When your ready to eat the salad, you just shake it up and eat it from the jar. This will keep for a week. You can prepare the salads for the week and save $4-5 each.
Cell phones: Check with your cell phone carrier to see if there are discounts on your cell phone bill. Sometimes the phone companies will offer a percentage off if you work for certain employers. Eliminate your home phone. This can save you at least $50 a month. Monitor your calling plans, minutes, data packages and text messaging for usage and the best plan for you. It’s nice to get an unlimited data usage package for a low price, but double-check how that company works in your area. Its one thing to save money, but if it doesn’t work in your area then you will just have frustration.
Cable Last year I switched from DSL and satellite to cable for a bundle rate. I was able to get faster internet and more channels for $145 savings a month. This worked in my area. I call every year to see if I have the economical plan. Even trimming off $5 a month is $60 a year.
Insurance: Evaluate your car, home owners and health insurance plans annually. There are simple things to do to lower these bills. One example for car insurance is turn in your mileage. You can get a discount if you do not drive your vehicle that many miles in one year. Sometimes you can take an online safety driving class and get a discount (certain car insurances). Check your deductibles to see if you can afford to raise them some.
Walking or riding your bike: If you are able to walk or ride your bike a few times a week this can save you a tank of gas a month. This will also help to trim the fat in other ways too.
Credit cards: in a perfect world we would pay the balances of our credit cards off every month. When this doesn’t happen, apply for a 0% offer and transfer your balances. There are a few being offered for 12-18 months. If you can break your payments down to pay it off during the promotional period, this will save a lot in finance charges.
Refinancing: Interest on mortgages are at an all time low. If You can refinance for a 15 or 20 year loan for 3.5% this can save you a lot of money. This does depend on your existing interest rate and equity in your home. There are some programs being offered. Call a reputable mortgage consultant and see if this could be smart for you.
Water: Watch your water usage. If you can cut down a few minutes on showers, run the dishwasher full, full loads of laundry, use left over drinking water to water plants, you can trim a few dollars off your water bill. Some water usage dictates sewage price too. If you cut one down you can save on the other.
Heating: Cut your heating by having a programmable thermostat. Put an extra blanket on your bed and turn you thermostat down to 62 at night. Program it to turn down to 60 during the day while you are gone.
Taxes: Talk with a tax expert. There may be ways to save more for retirement which will lower your tax bracket. This could save hundreds to thousands.
Sales and coupons: Shop sales and use in conjunction with coupons. Several stores are offering store coupons, you can use manufacture coupons in conjunction with store coupons. In these circumstances stock up (as long as it doesn’t go bad). Divide meats, vegetables and fruit into freezer bags to serving sizes that work for you. This will cut down on waste, and keep you from going to the store as offend.
I am always looking for ways to trim the fat. These are the ideas I look at every year. If there are ways of saving money that work for you, please share them with us. You can never save too much.