It seems like my bills get higher and higher while my income gets lower and lower. As technology advances, and makes our lives easier, companies seem to look for ways to make billing more complicated, reworking “fees” and contracts to the point where I am thoroughly confused. Have you ever looked at the detailed report of the taxes and fees of your cell phone? If you have, you know what I mean. I am always looking for ways to reduce costs. Again, whether you are just looking to save money here and there, or it is a necessity to living, reducing costs always sounds great.
I think one of the bills I had the most problem with was my “bundle” of cable tv, internet and phone. I was up to about $250 a month for tv of which I only watched about 5 channels, and a phone I barely used. I made the decision about two years ago to turn off cable and use a digital box with antennae, cancel the home phone, and exclusively use my cell and cell provider for my internet.
Cancelling cable was so freeing. I didn’t feel like I HAD to have the tv on just to get my money’s worth, and Grant and Kristy really don’t miss it. We have a much richer home experience together now. We play board and card games and watch movies. We read. WE ACTUALLY TALK instead of everyone being plugged in at all times. I’m not saying the xbox or their tablets are never on, but it is so much more balanced now.
I don’t think I will ever go back to cable tv. I have to admit, it would be so nice to have more than 8G of data every month between two phones and my hot spot for my computer, but we make it work. I think I will be re-assessing and price checking ways to further save when my cell contract is up in the fall, though.
Common sense. Don’t let the water run, turn off lights in rooms you are no longer in, blah blah blah. But, what are some not so common ways to save? I have a motion light at the back of my home instead of a regular porch light. This helps when my dogs decide they have to go in and out a lot during warm summer evenings. In the past, I would often just leave the light on.
Low flow shower heads and faucets can save about half of the water you would normally use, without even thinking about saving water. Just keep in mind, the average bath uses 40-50 gallons of water whereas a 10 minute shower with a low flow head uses about 15 gallons.
I also joined the budget plan for my electric and gas companies. It’s nice knowing what my bill will be every month and I swear it just seems like I pay less.
Why not grill as often as possible? It is not only a healthier way of cooking, it saves energy AND mess. Double score for me because the two chores I hate worse than ANYTHING are dishes and laundry.
In the summer, I turn the central air up to 80 and wear a lot of tank tops and shorts, and in the winter turn down the heat to 68 and grab a blanket on those really cold days. During the past two summers, my budget for gas outweighed my usage, and during the summer months I did not even have a gas bill.
As I mentioned in Part 1, shopping at Aldi and using coupons when I HAVE to buy specific brands help save a LOT. Planning meals before my shopping trip so I’m not just adding to the cart whatever sounds good also saves a lot of money. I don’t load up on snacks, just one or two per shopping trip so we don’t have a lot of boxes and bags still ¼ full occupying space in the cupboard and getting stale. Bagged breakfast cereal is not only cheaper than the name brand, but the Malt-o-meal knock-offs really do taste as good as the original. They also make a great after school snack at any age, dry or with milk. I said it in Part 1 and I will say it again, when possible, support local farmers by shopping farmers markets whenever possible. My mom lives in a warm climate and goes to year-round markets. She shops the same booths so regularly, she has made friends with many of the operators and they always give her special deals and pick up or hold special items for her. I can’t believe the quality of produce at farmers markets too…kills the store’s produce around here, that’s for sure.
I plan my week carefully. If I need to go to one side of town, I try to multi-task there to get the most of my gas mileage. If I cannot multi-task on one side of town, I sometimes hold a trip off as long as possible in hopes that something will pop up, or start at my furthest destination and hit spots along the way to my next destination. A little planning really does add up.
Where my boyfriend lives, their local grocery offers an unbelievable fuel saver program. He buys items in the fuel saver flyer, saving anywhere from 1-20 cents per gallon for each item, then saves the points for me. I have literally saved $25 on a tank of gas many times. The fuel saver programs where I live are not NEARLY as good.
We all have them. I work in healthcare, where short unpolished nails are a requirement, not an option, so mani’s are worthless to me. If nicely painted nails are a must for you, how do you save money? I’ve never had the option of the luxury, so I don’t even know what a typical pedi even costs. I just sneak into my daughter’s bedroom and grab whatever funky color strikes my fancy and paint my own toes.
I have had the same friend cut, color and hi-light my hair for about the past 15 years. Her shop is not expensive by any means. My bill is usually around $100 including curl spray, but times are so tight, I have had to cut back. I come from a long line of hair designers. My grandma had her own shop when I was little, and my mom has her license as well. My mom’s side of the family goes grey in their early 20’s and I was soooo blessed to get that same gene. Our family motto is “color til you die” as to not look 20 years older than our age.
My mom and grandma both insist modern color in a box is as conditioning as the expensive salon color. I finally, with no other options, gave in and literally sat in the middle of the isle at Target with 5 boxes on the floor with me, comparing colors and coverages. I finally settled on one, and headed over to my grandparents house for my (most awesome) grandma to apply it. The result? It looks every bit as good, and the one box also adds highlights! Now I just visit my friend for the cut, spending $32 total in three months vs. $200. AAAND, my grandma ALWAYS makes me stay for lunch while I am there, so the quality time I get with my grandma who turns 85 in just 20 days is priceless. My grandpa just turned 88 in May and I am SO THANKFUL for every minute I get to spend with them.
If I did not have my grandma, I would google how to apply color and have a color party. I have watched my mom and grandma do it so many times and it is not hard. I think I would break out the wine AFTER the color was applied, though…and only invite friends I would trust applying permanent color.
These are just a few of the not-so-conventional ideas that have saved me money through the past few years. A little thinking outside of the box can really add up. I am always looking for ways to save even more, so would LOVE to hear your ways of saving on bills.