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How to Save Money on Monthly Bills

Writing a check

When we're just starting out on our journeys to financial freedom, we're often encouraged to save money on our monthly bills. The most common recommendation is to cut out the cable. But after you've cut out the cable, what next?

As it turns out, there are many things that you can do to save money on monthly bills besides simply reducing television in our lives. Here are a few tips on how you can save money on everything from your mobile phone bill to car insurance.

Mobile Phone Savings

Get together with your family to save money on mobile phones. Many carriers will offer additional lines on a family plan for much less than a separate plan. These savings can reduce your family's bill much more than if you each had an individual plan. Research your carrier to see what is available or switch out to another carrier together as a family. Try to get extended family in on the deal too, so you can split the costs evenly.

If you find you're using up minutes or text messages beyond your quota, then it's time to look at third-party services, many of them free. You can get a phone number through Google Voice, with free long-distance calls in the U.S. For long-distance calls, Skype provides either free calls between users or very competitively priced calls internationally. Whatsapp and WeChat provide free text messages between users.

Many carriers will also provide discounts specifically for the military. Ask if your carrier does.

Put a Sweater On: Save Money on Heating

Growing up, my family was very frugal when it came to heating. My parents would not turn on the heat unless it was 52 degrees… indoors. Instead, they encouraged us to put on another sweater or drink a cup of hot water. Their favorite technique for saving money on heat was to go to bed early, cutting down on both heat and electricity.

You don't need to be so extreme, but you can easily save money on heating with simple fixes. Make sure doors and windows aren't leaking warm air and your money away. You can also use a space heater to only heat certain spots in your home. It's much cheaper than turning on central heating when you are only heating the places you are using.

During the height of winter, many companies encourage their customers to use less gas and electricity for heating in return for a discount on their bill. Last winter, I piled on the sweaters, drank a lot of hot water, and snuggled with my space heater. I received a nice refund amounting to 25% of my monthly bill. My parents would be proud.

Reduce Your Car Insurance Premiums

Car insurance premiums can be pricey. If you are a driver with a clean driving record, shop around. Compare prices at a site such as Insurance.com, and contact a few companies to see what their quotes will be. If you are particularly good at bargaining, this is a great time to let competing companies fight for your business.

Another way of reducing your car insurance premium is by bundling together your home and car insurance together with one company, and many do provide both. You may need to ask to see if you'll receive a discount for getting both.

There are also discounts from companies for a variety of reasons:

  • You're a member of the armed forces. Serving in the military will qualify for a discount with almost all insurance companies. There are also insurance companies specifically for the military and their families.
  • You don't drive that often, making you a low-mileage customer.
  • You were a member of a sorority or fraternity in college.
  • You're a member of Mensa.

Don't be a water guzzler

When I visited Tokyo a year and a half ago, I stayed at an eco-friendly hostel with a twist. Using the showers cost 100 yen (about $1 USD at the time) for five minutes of hot water, which could be turned on and off as long as there was time left. A digital meter told us how much time we had available for our shower.

At first, my friend and I groaned over the limitation, because neither of us felt five minutes worth of hot water was enough. In practice, it was more than enough. It actually felt wasteful to try and use up five minutes of hot water, because it usually only took a few seconds to rinse off.

Reduce your showers to less than five minutes, and save even more with a low-flow showerhead. According to this article, a typical shower uses 25 gallons of water. Install a low-flow showerhead to reduce your water consumption by 50-70%, resulting in significant savings on every shower. You won't even miss the water when you see how much you save on your bill.

Hopefully these tips will help you reduce your monthly expenses. And of course, if you're working to pay off debt, see if you can lower your credit card interest rates. All of the little things add up, so don't give up and keep doing what you can each month to reach your financial goals!

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Personal Finances

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Contributor

Fiona Lee is a personal finance writer for ReadyForZero, a website that helps people get out of debt faster on their own. She is a frugalista who loves discovering new ways to save money, especially in expensive cities. After living in New York and Beijing, she now makes her home in San Francisco. You can follow @ReadyForZero and @moderntime on Twitter.

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