Does it ever seem like your monthly bills are out of control, even though you feel like you do everything in your power to keep them low? Well here’s a little checklist of things you may not be doing that you should get on doing immediately to consistently save money:
- Never Checking Your Bills for Mistakes:
It is very important that you always give your bills the once-over, even if you do automatic bill pay, just to make sure you’re aware of what you’re being charged for. Just last month, I started up with a new cable/internet company, and upon checking out my first bill, I found a $10 for a security back-up service I hand’t asked for. After one quick call to Verizon, the unwanted service had been removed from my bill and the $10 was credited to my next statement. If I had never checked, I would not only have lost $10 that one time; I would have lost $10 every month unnecessarily!
- Not Negotiating for Lower Rates:
There’s a quote that says “Success in life is directly proportional to the number of awkward conversations you’re willing to have.” People shy away from negotiation because they feel like it’s uncomfortable, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. The worst thing that will happen is the answer “no.” Negotiate interest rates at your bank, a better plan for your cell phone bill, accidental overdraft charges, better terms on your loan payments, and more.
- Making Do with Less Energy Efficient Bulbs:
You’ve heard this tip before, but there’s no harm in a little reminder. If you’re still settling for bulbs that aren’t energy efficient, you’re throwing money down the drain every month. Switching to CFLs or LEDs would produce an electricity cost savings of roughly $108 per year. Easy money!
- Not Refinancing Your Mortgage or Car Loan:
Contact lenders about your monthly rates.
You may be able to find a plan that lets you pay less for your debt payments without greatly increasing the total cost of your loan. Make sure you do your research to see if refinancing is right for you.
- Keeping Your Electronics Plugged In
Even if you turn the lights off and switch off your electronics when they’re not in use, you’re still paying for electricity. When your computer, lamps, printer, fans, etc. are plugged in, they are still pointlessly sucking up energy. Decrease your energy bill and make things easier for yourself by using power strips where you can. Then you can unplug one plug from the wall when saving energy on electronics/appliances that aren’t being used.
- Making Your AC/Heater Work Harder Than It Has To
There are several things that will make your AC work harder than it should and therefore will increase your energy bill. If your unit is poorly maintained and the filter is dirty, it won’t work as efficiently. When it’s in use, be sure to clean filters once a month to keep your air clean and costs down.
You’re also making your AC do needless work when you force it to cool rooms that aren’t being used. So just make sure you keep doors closed to save on cooling (and heating) costs when certain rooms aren’t in use.
You’ll also want to check for air leaks to ensure that air isn’t being sucked under door cracks, for example.
- Washing Loads That Aren’t Full
When it comes to your dishwasher and washing machine, you’re wasting water and energy by washing several small loads. Try to make it a rule to only run the dishwasher when it’s full and only run the washer once you can fill it with clothes. If you must wash a small amount of clothing, be sure to set the washer to the correct load size to save on energy as much as you can.
- Making Minimum Payments
You may be paying less month to month if you pay the monthly minimum on your cards, but you’ll be paying much more over the course of a longer period of time. From Kiplinger:
If you have a balance of $5,000 with an APR of 14%, and you only pay the minimum of $100, it will take 22 years to pay off the debt in full, according to a Federal Reserve credit card calculator. You’ll also hand over $6,110 in interest. Boost your monthly payment to $150, however, and you’ll be debt-free in four years and pay $1,369 in interest.
- Not Insulating Your Pipes
You can lose a lot of heat (and money) when heated water travels through uninsulated pipes. If any water pipes in your home run in the open air or underground, you’ll want to insulate them to save on your energy bill. You can also insulate cold water pipes to prevent dripping and wasting water:
- Neglecting to Review Your Insurance Policies
Settling for paying the same insurance rates year after year (or even rolling with price increases) could cost you a lot of unnecessary money. Review your health, dental, auto, home and life insurance policies from time to time. You save a lot monthly by taking advantage of lower rates when you can.
- Paying for Too Much Entertainment
There are a lot of ways to watch TV and movies in the day and age. If you’re paying for cable, internet, Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Video, you’re most likely paying too much for entertainment. You’re getting access to a lot of TV shows/movies with services like Amazon Video and Netflix, so make sure you’re only paying for one of them if you choose to go this way. Since you’ll need a strong internet connection to enjoy TV and movies this way, maybe you can save by reducing your cable needs or cutting out cable altogether. If you can rent your favorite series and new and old movies from the library, you might not need to pay for these kinds of services at all and just stick with basic cable.
Either way, it’s worth evaluating how much entertainment you need and how many sources you can cut out or cut down on.
- Not Investing in a Programmable Thermostat:
If you don’t have a programmable thermostat in your home, this will be a very wise investment for you. It’s impossible not to occasionally forget to turn the heat down for a night or off for the day when you leave for work. A programmable thermostat takes over for your memory and makes sure that your heating times are minimized as much as possible.
- Not Sealing Up Cracks:
Little things like sealing up small cracks and holes might seem like it won’t make a big difference in the big scheme of your heating bill, but it does. In fact, 35% of a home’s hot air is lost through air leakage, so sealing off cracks, openings behind light switches, hidden recesses in the attic, etc., can make a tremendous difference by bringing that percentage down. Check out 2 frugal ways to prevent drafts and save on heating costs.
- Keeping the Water On:
Hot water heaters suck up a lot of power to keep your water warm. Conserve energy and water by taking shorter shows, turning off the water while you brush your teeth, and washing as many dishes as you can at once. Also, don’t forget to lower the temprature setting on your water heater when you go on vacation for more than a few days.
- You’re Paying for Too Much Internet:
If you don’t work from home or watch a lot of videos on your computer, you can definitely save by asking your provider to give you a lower speed internet connection.