With the economy being so unsure, now is as good a time as any to start thinking about how to cut back on your regular monthly bills. For many, once you’ve cut out some of the more obvious expenditures, it doesn’t feel like there are that many other places that can be cut.
The truth is, however, that most people have a lot of places that they can still cut back and save money.
Today I thought I’d look at some of the main areas of spending that people have every month – their regular monthly bills.
Often people take those monthly bills for granted, not even thinking about how they can save money on those regular expenditures, just taking it on faith that they can’t get those bills any lower.
How To Save On Your Phone And Wireless Bills
There are a variety of ways that you can save on your cell phone, home phone and mobile internet charges. Here are a couple of the options that we’re using – or plan to start using in the coming year to save on our phone bills.
Landline phone service: For years we’ve had a landline because my dad prefers talking on that versus a cell phone, and also because we needed the landline for our home security system. We recently made changes that mean we can now opt for a cheaper VOIP option for our landline service.
After doing some research a lot of other bloggers are talking about the Ooma phone service, which is apparently very good. All you have to do is pay upfront to buy an Ooma Telo device for around $140, which then allows you to make unlimited calls in the U.S. for free over your existing broadband connection!
All you have to pay is local taxes in your area (about $4.50 for us). You can port your current landline phone number over as well, for a $39.99 fee.
Prepaid Cell Phones: One way that we’ve been saving a ton of money over the years is by using prepaid cell phone service, instead of more costly contract plans.
We have no contract phone service from Republic Wireless, and we pay on average about $40/month for two phones. Both of them are Android smartphones with tons of minutes and unlimited text with 1GB/data ($20/month).
The only downside is the up front cost of the cell phone – it isn’t subsidized like on contract plans. There are a variety of other low cost prepaid cell services out there that many people recommend including Tello and a Gen Mobile.
Low Cost Hotspots: A while ago I had a need to have Internet access on the go while traveling. At the time I settled on buying a mobile hotspot from Virgin Mobile via their prepaid wireless broadband plan.
You just buy the hotspot, and then pay $35/month for 1GB of data. I was in a rush so I bought the hotspot and used it while on my trip.
When I got back I became aware that there are quite a few companies that offer mobile hotspots for much lower cost, or phones and phone plans that can be used as hotspots – for much less.
Do your research.
How To Save On Your Housing Costs
One place that you can save hundreds of dollars every month is in your housing costs. Most people are aware that they could probably save by refinancing, but there are other ways you can save as well.
Refinance your mortgage: The most obvious way to save on your housing costs is simply to refinance your home mortgage. Rates are so low right now, and by refinancing you can often save hundreds of dollars off of your regular monthly payment.
I’m in the middle of looking for a refinance right now, and we stand to save in the neighborhood of $200-300/month.
Appeal your property taxes: A lot of people don’t realize that you can actually appeal your property taxes in many counties by appealing the county’s tax appraisal value.
I have successfully appealed our value once a couple of years ago, saving $363/year.
Get cheaper homeowner’s insurance: I go into this more in the insurance section below, but if you shop around you can often find hundreds in savings every year just by switching insurance companies.
We saved almost $1000/year by doing this just a couple of months ago.
Remove mortgage insurance: If you’re paying mortgage insurance with your regular monthly payment, and you have already reached 20% equity in your home, you may want to look into having that insurance removed by your mortgage company.
It isn’t there to protect you, but the bank.
Often you can have it removed after getting 20% equity in the house, and in many cases it may be required that they remove it.
In some cases, if you’re a high risk borrower or if you have a FHA loan, you may need to keep the mortgage insurance longer.
Downsize your house: If you’re really trying to lower your bills a sure fire way is to downsize your house.
Not only will your payment go down, but your insurance, taxes, maintenance costs and other costs will go down as well.
Of course any costs associated with moving also need to be taken into account.