Are you looking to drastically cut your expenses but aren't sure where to start?
It turns out, there are many ways you can lower your household bills. By combining several methods for lowering your expenses, it’s possible to save several hundred dollars per month.
How to Simplify Life and Save Money
Let's face it: Most of us have a lot of household expenses. One way to simplify your life and save money is to reduce your living expenses as much as possible. When you lower your monthly household expenses, you’ll have more money to invest in your future or pay off debt.
In the following sections, I’m going to cover what to cut back on to save money. These tips apply to most people and, when combined, can save you thousands of dollars per year.
Let’s get right into it.
1. Lower Your Cable TV/Internet Bill
You might be paying too much for cable and internet. Many companies open an introductory rate to new subscribers. It is often possible to get this rate after they have raised your rate to the standard rate.
There are a few strategies to reducing your cable and internet bills.
First, do your homework.
- Find all comparable plans by other providers in your area
- Determine how long you’ve been a loyal paying customer
- Do you pay your bill on time every month? For how long?
- Do you need the package you have, or can you get a lesser package?
- How much time do you have before your contract is up?
- Do you bundle your cable and internet service?
- Are you willing to sign another contract?
Call your cable provider.
When you get on the call with your cable provider, tell them: “I am paying too much for cable TV. What can you do for me as a loyal customer to lower my rate?”
If you can’t immediately get a better deal, mention comparable plans. Mention your time as a customer and that you pay on-time if you do.
If you don’t bundle your internet and cable, you can save $10 to $40 per month doing so.
Consider getting a lesser cable package. Doing so can save you another $10-$30 per month.
You could sign another contract if you’re willing. Many cable companies discount $10 or more per month when you’re in a contract.
If asking nicely isn’t working, ask to speak to a supervisor and repeat the previous steps.
Procuring and retaining customers is expensive for companies to do, and cable and internet companies are usually more than willing to work with you to ensure that they keep your business.
The other way to cut spending is to lower your expensive cable bill by buying a compatible cable modem and a compatible cable box. Providers are required to provide a list of devices that work with their services.
You could be paying up to $10 per month per device that you rent from your ISP. So if you rent one cable box and one modem, you could be saving $20 per month right off the bat. If you buy your own equipment, you could save a lot of money in the long run.
Perhaps you don’t need cable TV at all. Consider getting less expensive services such as On-Demand streaming from companies such as Netflix and Hulu. My wife and I have saved thousands of dollars over the past eight years by not having cable TV.
2. Shop Around for Auto Insurance
You can lower your auto insurance premium by shopping around for different rates and taking measures to lower your existing rate.
At The Zebra, you can compare prices of auto insurance plans in no time whatsoever. The amount of money you'll save could be hundreds per year.
Remember, your auto insurance company may not be giving you the best rate. And even if you're happy with them despite your rate, shopping around gives you leverage. Why should you spend more money than you have to?
If you know another company will give you a better rate, call your current company and see if they're willing to price match. That way, you can keep your current auto insurance company and still pay a lower premium.
If you don’t want to shop for a new auto insurance company, what else can you do?
- You can raise your deductible. When you have a higher deductible, your insurance can drop significantly. In fact, when you increase your collision and comprehensive deductibles from $200 to $500, you’ll save on average 15 to 30 percent. When you go from $500 to $1000 on your deductibles, you’ll save 40% or more.
- Maintain a good credit score. Having a better credit score can help insurance costs. When you pay bills on time and keep your credit under control, insurance companies offer better rates because studies show people with higher credit scores have fewer claims.
- Take advantage of low mileage discounts. If you drive very few miles per year, many insurance companies will offer a discount. Ask about this offer and see if you can lower your rate.
- Seek out other discounts. Here are several ways you can save on your auto insurance:
- Antitheft devices in your car
- Bundle homeowners and auto coverage with the same company
- Take defensive driving courses
- Be a long-time customer
- Insure multiple cars with the same provider
- Have no moving violations for three years
- Shop around other insurance companies
3. Save Money On Your Mobile Phone
Another household expense that you can lower is your mobile phone bill, though most people don't realize this. Here are four ways to cut back on cell phone bills.
- If your phone is more than a year or two old, paying insurance on it doesn't make sense. That can save you around $10 a month, or $120 per year.
- Another cost that adds up is financing a new phone. When you're ready to replace your phone, get a phone that isn't cutting edge. A phone that's even a year old can cost hundreds less, which is a lot friendlier if you're on a strict monthly budget.
- If you're not using your cell phone plan to its fullest (talk, text, and data), use a less expensive plan. Using more basic plans can cut down on your bill by up to $30 or more per phone per month.
- Lastly, if your provider offers you a “free phone” in exchange for you staying with them, you're still paying for that phone via them charging you for an expensive plan. Don't stick with a phone company because they're giving you a “free” phone, because it's not free at all. Stick to low-cost plans and use your own phone whenever possible.
The next three I'm going to discuss are utilities and how you can drastically cut your household expenses with them.
4. Lower Your Heating Bill to Reduce Your Monthly Expenses
Here are some tips if you're looking for ways to save money with propane heat or any other form of heat.
- Turn down your thermostat and bundle up: You’ll use less propane this way, and you’ll stay warm with an extra layer of clothing or a blanket.
- Consider using a space heater: If you spend a lot of time in one room like I do, a space heater can keep your room warm, and you’ll save on having to use propane.
- Winterize your windows: If using storm windows is out of your budget, you can place a plastic film to reduce drafts and keep your home warmer.
- Run your ceiling fans in reverse to bring hot air down to floor level.
- Open your curtains and shades during the day to let in the heat from the sun, and close your curtains and shades at night.
- Keep heating vents clear and close off the vents in rooms that aren’t used frequently. This will help circulate hot air in rooms you’re in.
We have a furnace for heat and cut our propane usage by about one-third by lowering the thermostat by 5 degrees and following these other methods. While your results may vary, this method saved us close to $200 per month in the dead of winter.
Check out this guide for many ways to lower your propane bill, much of which can be applied to other forms of heat.
5. Save on Your Electricity Bill
Save money on prepaid electricity, and electricity in general, with these tips.
- Program your thermostat: When you’re asleep and not at home, set your thermostat to a lower temperature to put less stress on your electric heat. Program your thermostat only to provide more heat when you’re in your home and up and about. Energy Star states that using a programmable thermostat can save you $180 per year.
- Use LED bulbs: Not only do LED bulbs last up to 50 times longer than an incandescent bulb, but they are much more energy efficient. This will save you money on electricity and help you lower your monthly living expenses.
- Unplug small appliances that you aren’t using: Unplug things such as microwaves, toasters, chargers, and more. This also includes turning off computers when they’re not in use. You have the potential of saving up to 10% on your monthly electricity bill when you unplug things that you aren’t using.
- Save money on air conditioning-related expenses with tips from this article.
Some electric companies offer a fixed monthly payment based on your average annual consumption. This is an excellent way to budget and save on your electricity bill in the months where you would normally use more power.
My wife and I did this when we had electric heating. Our spring, summer, and fall month electric bills were a tad higher each month, but our winter month electric bills were much lower. This allowed us to better budget our money throughout the year and reduce our winter expenses.
6. Use Less Water to Reduce Monthly Expenses
There are many ways to reduce your water bill, which can save you $100 or more each year. Let's go over the top 3 ways to save money on your water bill.
- Use the dishwasher instead of handwashing: Dishwashers use less water than the average amount of water used when handwashing dishes. When in doubt, use your dishwasher with a full-load and save throughout the year.
- Reduce shower time by 2 minutes on average: The average shower uses 5 gallons of water per minute. If you shower daily and save two minutes of water a day, you're effectively saving around 3650 gallons of water a year, which can greatly reduce your water bill annually.
- Invest in an efficient washing machine: Look for a washing machine with the WaterSense and Energy Star seals. This means that these machines run on up to 50% less water and use up to 50% less energy per load.
Saving on water every day will add up at the end of the year. It's quite possible to reduce your water bill by $50-$100 each year by cutting back on your usage. What would you do with an extra $100 per year after cutting your living expenses via your water bill?
7. Drastically Cut Expenses by Canceling Unused Subscriptions
Many people have unused subscriptions that they are spending money on and may not even realize. This could include gym memberships, online and mobile games, website subscriptions, apps, and miscellaneous other subscriptions like having beauty products sent to your house every month.
Review all of your monthly subscriptions and memberships and ask yourself if you truly need them. To find potential unused subscriptions, read over your bank and credit card statements. You're probably overspending on at least some of your subscriptions. Cancel them and save money.
You could lower your monthly expenses by quite a bit if you really hammer out what you're not using anymore. My wife and I just recently saved $100 per month by canceling four subscriptions we weren't using anymore. We did this with the app Trim, an app designed to save you money across many of your expenses automatically.
8. Use a Discount App When Grocery Shopping
A free app such as Ibotta will allow you to save money on groceries and other commonly bought goods. Straight from their website, “Ibotta is a free cashback rewards app that gives you real cash for everyday purchases when you shop with the app and browser extension. Ibotta provides thousands of ways for consumers to earn cash on their purchases by partnering with more than 1,500 brands and retailers.”
9. Save With Public Transportation
When commuting, if public transportation is available, use it. Public transportation can save you a lot of money, plus it's much better for the environment (an added bonus!). You could also carpool to work and allow everyone to share a single vehicle’s costs (gas, tolls, etc.).
Additionally, riding a bicycle to local areas will save you mounds of money on gas and car maintenance. As a bonus, riding a bicycle is great exercise.
Public transportation isn't everywhere, however, when it is available, it can truly save you money on everyday auto expenses. On top of that, riding a bus or train gives you time to catch up on some sleep, reading the news, or chatting with people via text.
10. Switch Home Insurance Providers to Save
Similar to switching car insurance providers, look around for a better rate on your homeowners insurance. One place to look is The Zebra. Here, you can compare different companies side-by-side.
In the Summer of 2020, my wife and I saved $280 per year by updating our homeowners insurance! We did this by bundling our auto insurance with our homeowners policy and updating and removing options that fit our situation more accurately.
It's always a good idea to try to save on homeowners insurance every couple of years.
What can you do if you want to save money on your homeowners insurance but don’t want to switch providers?
If you’re happy with your current insurance company, consider raising your deductible. Most companies recommend at least $500, but if you raise your deductible to $1000, you can save as much as 25%.
Only insure the value to rebuild your house. You don’t have to worry about your land. What matters is the cost of a total loss. So if you paid $300,000 for your house, but you can rebuild it for $250,000, then you only need $250,000 in coverage, which will save you money.
Bundle your homeowners insurance with your auto insurance. This can save you between 5% and 15%
Some insurance companies will give you a discount if you make your home more disaster-resistant, such as adding storm shudders, reinforcing your roof, or modernizing your heating, electrical, and plumbing systems such that you reduce your risk of fire and water damage. This has an initial cost, but if you plan on staying in your home for many years, you’ll save money in the long run.
Many homeowner insurance companies will give you at least a 5% discount if you install smoke detectors, burglar alarms, and deadbolt locks. Some companies may offer as much as a 20% discount if you install a sprinkler system, though these can be very pricey, so only consider this if the savings are considerable.
Similar to auto insurance, maintain a good credit score. People with better credit scores generally get better rates on their homeowner’s insurance.
11. Create a Budget
I've been talking about lowering living expenses, but I haven't mentioned simply creating a budget. Why does this help reduce your monthly expenses? By having all of your expenses in one location, that is, a budget, you can identify yet even more ways to save.
When you're sticking to a budget, you lower other expenses that you may not realize you have. This could include how much you spend on going out to eat or on entertainment. If you're living on a low income, budgeting can be a lifesaver.
12. Save Money When You Shop Online with the Honey App
Do you love shopping online? My wife and I save money all the time using Honey, an online discount app. With Honey, every time you reach a checkout on a website, you'll get discount coupons automatically applied if they exist. Sometimes you'll save a dollar or two, sometimes much more.
13. Save Money on Drinking Water
Want to know how to save money on drinking water? Kicking your bottled water habit is the first step. Use a filter, such as a Brita filter, in a pitcher and use your tap water to create filtered water. You can also use a filter that goes directly on your tap.
If you must buy bottled water, consider buying in bulk, such as by buying large water containers or jugs. Buying water like this not only saves you money, but it’s better for the environment.
14. Drastically Cut Monthly Expenses by Reducing Child Care Costs Where Possible
You can lower your living expenses when you have young children by taking measures to reduce your child care costs. Some of these methods include:
- Shop around for other child care places: If you live in an area where there are multiple child care facilities, compare rates. You may be able to save money by bringing your children somewhere else.
- Take a year off from work to raise your child yourself: If you or your spouse earns enough money, you may actually save money by having one of you stay home with your child. Some people prefer to do this as well to have more time to spend with their children when they’re very young.
- Ask your family for help watching your child while you work: If you have family that lives nearby, having a family member assist may save you hundreds of dollars per month.
- Work from home: We learned from the 2020 pandemic that many many jobs are doable from home. Ask your employer about work-from-home options, or seek employment in a job that allows you to work from home.
- Consider working part-time: If you can still get health insurance and similar benefits, whether through the marketplace or through your spouse, consider working part-time to save money on child care costs.
15. Move Somewhere Less Expensive To Lower Monthly Rent and Mortgage Costs
You can save money every month by renting or buying a home in a more affordable area. This is especially true if you work from home and don’t need to be near your place of employment. Generally speaking, you can find lower rent in more rural areas.
If you don’t need to live in a city or urban area, consider moving into a suburban or rural area to save money on rent.
16. Buy in Bulk to Lower Your Grocery Bill
Shopping in bulk can oftentimes save you a fair share of money. You can shop in bulk at stores like Costco or online at Amazon and other online stores.
Some great foods you can buy in bulk to save money include
- Dried Beans
- Frozen meat
- Frozen vegetables
- Dried Fruits
- Nuts in the Shell
- Dried Pasta
- Peanut Butter
You can save quite a bit by buying in bulk. As energy drink lovers, my wife and I save over $400 per year buying energy drinks in bulk (yes, I know, they’re terrible for you!)
17. Go Out to Eat Less Frequently and Save
The average person spends $228 per month eating out every month. $228 per month over 12 months is $2,736. Should you give up eating out completely? Absolutely not! But what if you were to eat out half as often? How much would half of $228 per month add up over the course of a year?
The answer is $1,368 per year, which is now saved by cutting back on eating out.
Cooking your own meals can take time, so what do you do when you eat out because you don’t have enough time to cook? An alternative to eating out is to get a meal prep service where the meals are delivered to you.
Home Chef and Blue Apron are examples of meal prep service companies. You can generally get an entire meal for around $10-$12 a pop. This is still more expensive than cooking from scratch but generally significantly cheaper than going to a restaurant and eating out, considering you’ll need to add tax and tip.
When you cook for yourself, your savings are immense. Here are three examples:
- A pound of store-brand pasta is generally less than $1.49 and can serve four people easily. That’s less than 40 cents per person.
- A pound of chicken breast is generally in the $4-$6 range. This can serve two people.
- Canned soup runs anywhere from $1 to $3 usually.
In these three simple examples, you can see how much you can save by finding time to make your own meals. It’s not to say you shouldn’t eat out or order in once in a while, but finding time to cook will create an abundance of savings over the course of a year.
An Automated Approach to Saving Money
I recently heard of a website called Trim. How this site works is pretty simple. You sign up and provide information about all of your reoccurring bills that it supports. Trim will then negotiate these bills with your providers for you, and you'll pay an annual service charge equal to about one-third of what Trim saves for its average customer.
This is a great automated way to save money on bills without the hassle of calling each company and dealing with people individually. My wife and I recently saved $1200 per year by using Trim.
What to Do With the Saved Money
These examples generally focus on saving tens of dollars each. When added together, you could save several hundred dollars per month. If you're familiar with the “Save $5 a day” challenge, you've just done that and more. Now consider putting that money in a savings account or pay off debt.
Once you've started saving extra money, you can allocate that money elsewhere.
Don't have an emergency fund? Open up a bank account with a high interest rate and set some financial goals to buff up your emergency fund. What about a retirement fund? Open an IRA and start saving for retirement.
Most importantly, though, you can reward yourself for kicking butt and saving money by drastically cutting expenses. Spend a night watching YouTube or reading a good book. If you've saved some extra cash on the side, go out and have something to eat with a friend, loved one, or family. We can't be frugal all the time.
Wrapping It Up
Reducing everyday expenses is one way of saving more money each month. With this extra money, you can get yourself out of debt faster, save for the future, or reward yourself with something now. By reducing monthly expenses now, you greatly increase your long-term savings. With enough savings, you may be able to save upwards of $10,000 every year.
What other ways to save on common monthly expenses have you found?