One of the fastest ways to make a big impact in your spending is to shave money off your recurring expenses. You reap the benefit of these savings every month and can funnel that money other places, either paying off debt, investing, or giving it away. Josh and I have done all of these things personally and can attest to their usefulness in reducing our bills. We wish we’d learned some of these tricks earlier, but it doesn’t do any good to beat ourselves up about the past. Everyone has financial mistakes they regret. Bemoaning what we didn’t know back then doesn’t make it better. Learning, making changes, and looking forward is the best we can do!
Ways to Reduce Your Bills:
1. Adjust Your Thermostat
Run your heater / AC at the lowest / highest temp you can tolerate. Wear seasonal clothing indoors and drink cold or hot beverages throughout the day. Utilize windows and fans for maximum comfort. During the summer, we open our windows at night to lower the temperature indoors, then shut them and draw the shades before the heat of the day hits. During the fall and winter, we dress for the season – even indoors. Here’s my tips on staying warm all winter while conserving energy.
2. Switch Phone Plans
Airvoice is the discounted phone carrier Josh and I use. We have the $10 / month plan. This is the cheapest plan, but since we don’t talk or text a lot it works. Nothing is unlimited, so you have to pay attention to your usage. It’s 4 cents a minute and 2 cents per text unless it’s iMessage or a similar texting app. This plan works just fine on our iPhones and we’re saving so much from what we used to pay! It’s definitely worth looking into – especially if you don’t use a whole lot of minutes or data every month.
3. Switch Lights
Switch all your household lights to LED and use windows rather than lights during the day. We have white walls and big windows, so we mostly just use lightbulbs at night. And of course, you should train yourself to turn lights off when leaving a room.
4. Stop Using the Dryer
Since we hardly use our AC, our electric drier is one of our main electric expenses. As much as possible, dry clothes outside or draped around the basement. We do still use it to fluff cloth diapers, but most things are great air-dried. An added benefit is that air-drying can help preserve the life of your clothing.
5. Use Less Water
Get a low-flow shower head. They make ones that save water and don’t compromise water pressure. Take quick showers, shutting the water off to scrub and shave. Our toilets have small tanks too. I’m not suggesting you go and buy a new toilet right now, but whenever something breaks and needs replaced anyway, Josh and I always think about which version will be the most efficient. We also don’t water our lawn, of course.
6. Cut Out These Ancient Thingys
Cut cable and landline. “Bundling” doesn’t save money. You’re still paying more for all three than you are for internet alone. (And not everyone needs internet at home. Libraries and coffee shops are great options for some people. We have internet at home because Josh sometimes works from home and it makes it easier for me to blog.)
7. Switch Up Your Internet Server
Switch internet companies every couple years as they’ll compete for your business. They figure most people won’t go to the hassle of switching and hike up the rate after 1-2 years.
8. Power Off
Don’t let the TV or computer run in the background all day long. Unplug appliances and turn off power strips as much as possible. They still use phantom power even when they aren’t turned on.
9. Pay Bills Online
It saves a stamp, a check, and it’s better for the environment to go paperless. In addition, you can pay with a cash back reward credit card and earn 1-2% back simply for paying your bills! It’s not a lot, but a cash back bonus is a nice silver lining when you have a large, unavoidable bill to pay.
10. Use Less Gasoline
Okay, so this isn’t really a bill, but it’s something many of us buy in large quantities every month. Walk or bike rather than drive wherever you can. In our family, we try not to drive places less than 2 miles away. It actually feels further to drive than it does to walk that distance. Josh and I have both noticed this. Once you’re used to a route, time passes so quickly. If you’re in an urban environment, like we are, look into public transportation. In St. Louis we have a bus system and a Metrolink train to get downtown. Personally, I’d rather walk or bike most places, but we do use the Metro if we’re going all the way downtown. It costs roughly the same as parking, so why not forget the car entirely?
If you feel you must drive, drive a small car if you can rather than a van or SUV. Even if you have kids, it doesn’t automatically mean you need a large vehicle. Carpool if a coworker lives near you or go to a carpool coordinating website. The places you drive everyday, like work and school, will make the biggest difference. Focus your efforts there. We intentionally bought a house that was very close to our church, Josh’s work, several parks, and our main grocery store. Monthly or weekly trips to see friends or visit family don’t add up as quickly as these daily activities.
I hope these tips are inspiring. Feel free to apply all of them, or just one. Every little bit helps when we’re talking about recurring expenses! Let me know if you have any tips to share. We’re always looking to improve our existing habits.