Due to high inflation, Americans across the country are navigating a significantly higher cost of living.
Forget big-ticket items and fancy vacations. Smaller, recurring expenses are the ones that truly add up. When you combine “affordable” monthly prices, one-click purchases and the convenience of autopay, it can be difficult to have a sense of how much you’re actually spending.
Regardless of the size of your monthly budget, it’s a great idea to check in from time to time. Use a spending-tracker tool or look at your statements to stay on top of variable expenses, find ways to save money, and regularly evaluate your needs.
Here are 10 tips for saving money and lowering your monthly bills.
1. Bundle your services
Companies love to offer discounts for bundling services. If your cable provider also offers great WiFi and maybe even cell phone service, consider moving to a single provider to save every month. This applies to tech services as well. For example, if you already subscribe to several Apple services, consider checking out Apple One to save money for you or your entire family.
2. Make the switch to a family plan
Speaking of families, companies from streaming services to cell service providers offer considerable savings if you subscribe as a unit. For example, if an individual plan is $17 per month, the family plan might be $23 per month. The savings already kick in for a two-person household budget.
3. Stop paying for services you don’t love
Do you walk into your closet every now and then to see what you can toss or give away? Why not take the same approach to lower your bills? Find out what you’re paying for that you no longer use or that can be replaced with something better.
4. Do a quick review of your statements every month
Keeping track of your expenses can uncover all kinds of surprises:
- Unannounced rate hikes: There’s nothing wrong with raising prices, but it’s important to be informed so you can decide whether a bill is worth it for you.
- Incorrect utility bills: Did your electricity bill skyrocket for apparently no reason? These are great opportunities to get in touch with your service providers to spot errors, faulty appliances, or other issues.
- Potentially fraudulent activity: Stay on top of your financial activity to spot any accounts or services that might have been opened by someone else or to spot any intentionally higher charges.
5. Negotiate to spend less money on recurring bills
If a bill is way too high but it’s for a service you need to use, call their retention department, which works to retain customers because it can cost a lot more money to attract new customers than to keep an existing customer happy.
How to speak to the retention department
- Show up to the call prepared. Write down the exact prices and packages offered by their competitors.
- Let them know you love their service but you might need to leave to a competitor if they can’t match their rates. It doesn’t always work and you might have to call a few times, but for a very expensive bill, it’s worth the effort.
- And maybe if they say no, you’ll realize you’re ready to walk away.
You can also negotiate before you ever sign up for a product or service. For example, if you’re in the market for a new car, you can save thousands of dollars by figuring out the dealerships with the best prices, the best departments to contact for purchasing (often internet sales), and doing a deep dive into the prices of models and features of interest.
6. Pay your bills on an annual basis
If you pay the monthly billing price for all of your expenses, you’re definitely paying too much. A lot of recurring subscriptions offer significant savings if you sign up and pay for the year all at once.
7. Reduce your energy consumption
Invest in energy-efficient appliances or use the energy-saving modes of the products you already own today. Small reductions in energy use can really add up.
8. Sign up for rewards
It might be annoying to share your phone number and email address so much, but if you’re a regular shopper or visitor, it makes sense to join their rewards programs. From earning a free latte after every 10 cups to earning free food and discounts from your local supermarket, these perks can make a major difference in your spending over time.
9. Find out if refinancing makes sense for you
If you’re struggling with high mortgage or student loan payments thanks to variable-interest rates, you might be able to refinance and save big. When you refinance, another lender essentially pays off your debt and you start paying them instead. Do your due diligence to avoid expensive or hidden fees and aim for a lower, fixed interest rate to make the rest of your repayment period more manageable.
10. Ask for discounts
Some insurance companies offer free gifts, free fitness-tracker tools and discounts to incentivize good habits like learning about health, getting in your daily steps, and leading a healthy lifestyle. While other companies offer discounts for students, senior citizens, healthcare professionals, and more.
There are lots of easy tricks to save money. And once you start to use them on a regular basis, it becomes easier to recognize fresh opportunities to spend less over time.