The following is a guest post by David Bakke of Money Crashers who is always looking for ways to save money and score good deals.
Looking to have a little extra cash left in your pocket at the end of the month? You don’t need to make any major changes in your lifestyle – rather, you can easily save a significant amount on your monthly bills by taking just a few simple steps and precautions.
While saving $10 or $20 here and there may not seem like much, those savings add up. For example, if you implement the following ideas, you could save as much as $125 per month. For a 40-year-old, those savings, invested with a 7% annual return, could represent an additional $68,000 of retirement income! So why not get started now?
1. Save on Groceries
If you aren’t yet clipping coupons and saving money on groceries, don’t wait any longer to start. Buy several copies of the Sunday paper and clip coupons for the items you buy the most. Create a basic filing system to make sure you use them before they expire, and pair up coupons with store sales for the biggest bang for your buck. Also, sign up for loyalty discount programs with your grocer to get coupons sent to your inbox or mailbox.
Additionally, consider purchasing generic products instead of name-brand items. There is a substantial difference in price, but not in taste and quality.
2. Save on Home Energy
Naturally, you must adjust your thermostat as the seasons change. However, during winter, lower it by a few degrees and make use of extra layers of clothes and blankets. Also, run your ceiling fans in a clockwise direction to move warm air that collects at the ceiling downward.
In the summer, increase the temperature of your thermostat by an extra three degrees. Open windows and doors when the air is cooler in the evening and early morning, and run ceiling fans in a counter-clockwise direction.
You should also consider improving your home’s insulation, as this can reduce home energy costs in both winter and summer. Upgrading insulation requires an initial investment and isn’t typically a DIY project, but can often pay for itself within one to two years in reduced energy costs.
3. Save on Cable TV
Take a step back and analyze whether you really need several hundred channels and multiple paid movie services. If you can get by with less, do so. If you’re a movie aficionado, get a subscription to Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, or Netflix, or start using your local Redbox outlet. The savings are significant and the sacrifice is minimal.
4. Save on Your Cell Phone
Unlimited cell phone plans may sound good, but unless you’re a cell phone junkie, you’re probably wasting your money. Examine your usage habits for the past few months, or call your provider to discuss your talk and text history. If you’re using nowhere near your allotted texts and minutes, it’s time to downgrade and save.
5. Save on Internet
If you aren’t online all day or don’t have a home-based business that relies on a lightning-quick connection speed, consider reducing your plan to a slower speed. You probably won’t notice a difference, and you may be able to save $10 or more per month. Over time, this small amount will add up.
6. Bundle Services
Another way to save money is to bundle services, such as cable TV and phone. Compare bundled packages from at least three different providers to find the best price, and when you inquire, try to reduce the advertised price even further by negotiating with the representative. According to a Consumer Reports study, one-third of respondents try to negotiate a better deal when bundling, and 90% of those people are successful.
When it comes to saving money, it’s more about changing your mindset than making wholesale sacrifices. For the most part, you only need to eliminate things that you don’t really need or don’t often use. Once you make these changes, you’ll find more money left over at the end of each month, which you can use to increase your retirement savings or emergency fund, or put toward something fun – like your next vacation!
What else can you do to save on monthly bills?
For more personal finance tips, please visit Money Crashers Family & Home