Everybody, regardless of demographics or income level, wants to lower their cost of living. Where many people get tripped up, though, is in focusing on ideas that are hard to execute properly or that have a poor return. In this article, however, we’re going to show you several easy ways to reduce the money you spend around the house.
1. Negotiate Your Utility Bills
If you’re lucky enough to live in a deregulated market like Texas, Illinois, etc. you’re lucky: you can shop around for the best deals on your power, gas, etc. A few minutes on utility sites (whatever is local to you) can net you hundreds of dollars in savings each year.
If you’re not lucky enough to live in a deregulated market, you should still contact your utility companies. Find out if there are things that can be done to lower your bill. Challenge your fees, ask for savings tips and special rates, etc. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save just by asking.
2. Negotiate Your Debts
If you have a debt problem, explore debt consolidation as a way to lower the amount of money you’re sending out to your creditors and lenders every month. So can calling up those creditors and lenders to ask for lower interest rates. If you have a solid repayment history and are in good standing with them, most companies would rather lower your interest rates than have you close your account or transfer it to another card.
3. Reduce Your Auto Expense
If you live in a two car household, think about selling one of your cars. One car is easier to maintain, cheaper to insure, etc. Plus, you can use the money you make from the sale of your other car to either pay off the car you’re keeping or pay down a chunk of your debt, which will reduce your monthly bills, etc.
4. Bike or Take Transit
Biking is your best option here because it is helpful in many other ways. For example, if you’re biking around instead of driving, that means you’re getting exercise. Regular built-in exercise will allow you to cancel that expensive gym membership. Riding your bike and/or taking transit also reduces what you spend on gas, parking, etc. This reduction in driving can also be parlayed into insurance savings.
5. Do the Math
Many people sign up for yearly memberships at places like their local zoos, art museums, history museums, etc. How often do you and your family actually visit these places? Do the memberships cost less than you’d spend on individual tickets? If yes, keep them. If not, get rid of them.
6. Dine in
Going out to dinner and shows with friends can be really fun, but you don’t have to do it every week or even every month. Save up for the shows you really want to see and the restaurants you really love to visit and go every other month. During your “off” months, invite people over for potlucks and movie or game nights. Your friends are probably trying to spend less money, too and will likely appreciate the chance to do so.
7. One is Better Than Seven
Do you really need that expansive cable package and a membership to every streaming media service that exists? If you have cable and a DVR, you don’t need Hulu, HBOGo, or the CBS Streaming service. If you have Spotify, you don’t need Rhapsody, Pandora or RDio. You don’t need both Netflix and Amazon Prime. Choose one movie/TV service and one music service and then cancel everything else.
8. Hand Me Downs Are Awesome
Stop buying your kids brand new clothes that they’re just going to grow out of in two months anyway. Instead, get together with friends who have kids roughly the same ages as yours and do clothing swaps. This way the clothes will feel new to the kids and everybody saves money.
Second hand and thrift shops are also great places to find amazing deals on clothes, housewares, etc. Everybody has that story of finding the $100 jeans at Goodwill in perfect condition for $10. Spend some time really looking at your local thrift shops, you’ll be amazed at what you find.
PRO TIP: If you live in a tiny town, shop in the thrift shops in the next town over or nearest city to avoid being seen in a coworker’s cast-off.
Readers: What tips for saving money around the house would you like to share!