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youngandthrifty talks about how to save money on monthly expenses so you can have a little more hop in your step and a little more change in your pocket

Hey guys!  Here’s a guest post by David Bakke (I’m currently studying for finals and writing last minute papers so I’m grateful for this help!).  He’s a financial blogger who frequently writes about smart spending, frugality, and saving tricks on Money Crashers Personal Finance.  Obviously Money Crashers is like the American equivalent (well, much bigger, better, and arguably cooler equivalent) of Y&T.ca because all these posts like cutting back on Cell Phone costs and Extreme Couponing have been written about by yours truly too!

If you could shave $100 off your monthly payments by refinancing your mortgage, you’d probably jump at the chance, even if the process required several hours of your time. But what if you could save more than $100 on your monthly bills and it only took a few minutes?

While hitting a financial home run is beneficial, don’t ignore the quick and dirty ways to save on everyday expenses. Most of these tips are no-brainers, but there are a surprising number of people who don’t take advantage of them.

Look to these five areas to see if you can save a significant amount of money:

1. Home Telephone
Unless you live somewhere without cell reception, get rid of your home telephone service. And if you think you need a second telephone, consider using a VOIP service that connects through your computer and Internet connection, such as Magic Jack or Megapath. Using a VoIP solution could cost you less per year than what a landline costs in one month.

2. Television
Take a look at your television package and review the movie channels you currently pay for. Do you need that many? Do you need multiple paid movie services? It’s likely that you don’t.

Call your TV provider and eliminate what you don’t need. If you’re already subscribed to the bare minimum package, it never hurts to ask for a discount. I’ve enjoyed a $10 “temporary” discount on my TV service for several years now – as soon as it expires, I call customer care and say I can’t afford the service. After speaking to the retention department, the discount is quickly reinstated.

3. Home Energy
By setting your thermostat three degrees lower or higher, depending on the season, you can reduce your energy bill by as much as 20%. If a three-degree change would shock your system, adjust your thermostat by one degree at a time once a week for three weeks, and you’ll be less likely to feel the difference.

You could also invest in a programmable thermostat to streamline the process. They cost around $50, but you may want to leave the installation to a professional.

4. Groceries
Use coupons! Pick up a Sunday paper each week, and quickly scan the coupon circulars for discounts on the items you buy most. If you want to take it to the next level, pick up two Sunday papers, and your savings will double. Want to quadruple your savings? Find out when your grocer has double coupon days, and shop for groceries then. This extreme couponing idea is not time-consuming, contrary to popular belief, and the savings potential is huge.

5. Cell Phone
If you own a smartphone, is it really worth it? Data plans are expensive, and if you’re just using it to check Facebook 20 times per day, you can save time and money by scrapping it altogether.

However, if you need a smartphone for business, consider scaling back your minutes and going with a cheap cell phone plan. Your provider won’t notify you if you’re paying for more minutes than you typically use, so it’s your responsibility to check your usage.

If you don’t have a smartphone, you can save money by dropping cell phone insurance. Replacing a basic phone is very affordable.

Final Thoughts
Most of these cost-cutting measures involve nothing more than taking a step back and objectively reviewing your financial habits. Getting on track financially involves paying attention to the “little things” as much as (if not more than) tackling major expenses. Remember, when you are evaluating potentially items to cut back on, consider the annual savings. For example, saving $50 a month may seem like peanuts, but you’ll have more than $600 extra in your pocket by the end of the year.

Readers: What other ways can you think of to cut your monthly spending?

Article comments

John says:

We got rid of home phone service a long time ago, and just use cellular service and voice over internet. For the two of us, we’re paying around $50 a month now for everything! Cool stuff!

young says:

@John- That is excellent! $50 a month for two people! Is data cheap in the US? Sometimes VOIP isn’t so good (today i called long distance and the person on the other end got so frustrated she hung up haha because she couldn’t hear me).

Leo @ Free Samples Canada says:

Totally agree with removing home phone. In my situation (married and no kids) it works really well. I tried Magic Jack before but didn’t like it for you have to connect to your laptop all the time. You can also use Google Voice – it’s free to call any number in US and Canada.

And negotiating with your cable company is really a great way to cut down on costs.Was able to lower my monthly bills by $60 just by calling my cable/internet provider and asking for a discount nicely.

Great post by the way.

young says:

@Leo- I looove using Google Voice (Talkatone). I don’t have magic jack but maybe if I have a need for a landline sort of thing I’ll get it in the future.

Great tips! Many people don’t realize that simply calling your phone service provider can save you tons on your monthly bill. I thought about getting rid of my iPhone, but I just couldn’t do it! But I do just have the cheapest data plan & try not to go over it – so far, so good 🙂

young says:

@Pamela- I thought I went over this month! (My iPhone tracker was telling me I went over- it happened because I switched it from Wifi to 3G while I was at home and then forgot to switch it back until a few days later!!) I almost had a minor heart attack but called Telus and they said I wasn’t over thankfully!

Bryan R says:

Completely agree that we need to take these small steps and be proactive and not just sit and, that one accept what our bill is. I love the small adjustment in the thermostat, I am doing that one for sure. Thanks.

young says:

@Bryan- It’s all about habits- my BF is really good at turning down the thermostat now whereas I still forgot 98% of the time. We’re too cheap to replace them with automatic thermostats haha. Oh well it’s spring/summer now anyways!

Tips4savingmoney says:

I really like the tips in the post. Thanks for sharing

young says:

@T4SM- You’re welcome! (Well, Money Crashers deserves the credit, not me!)

Great ideas for the frugal minded. I pretty much use all the tips. Another one is I just decreased my internet bill lately because I called in and asked for a discount. Still kind of sucks we only get 2 choices as our IPS though.

young says:

@LI- Awesome!! Which company were you with for internet? I take it starts with the letter T? I tried to negotiate with Shaw and was REJECTED for a discount so then used my student status!

Lol nice, being a student has its perks. I use Shaw as well, and I was only able to get an $8 discount, not much.

young says:

@LI- Hey your negotiation skills must be top notch because they didn’t give me any discount at all!

merrious says:

relying entirely on a mobile phone only really works for students and young adults, who ironically have the least expenses. As a father I don

Wholly agree with #1-4, but 5 is debatable.
I’ve actually cut my monthly costs by over $50 by investing in a really good data plan for my smartphone. Now, my phone serves all my purposes – not only is it my phone, but when I tether it to my computer, it becomes my internet connection and TV package.

young says:

@E&M- I disagree with #5 too. My cell phone is my life! Wow that’s great that you tether it to your computer. I only have 500MB on mine so that’s a no-can-do for me.

Ada says:

I disagree with #5. I have a smartphone and I pay less for an unlimited data plan on it than I was paying for my bare-bones piece-of-crap phone with a different carrier. (In case you think I was paying obscene amounts, my old plan was something like $35 or $40/month and my current plan is $29/month). I waited for a back to school deal with Wind (ie: not one of the “Big 3”). I decided that I would really benefit from a smartphone rather than a no-frills cellphone and I have really enjoyed the increase in productivity and the ability to look up directions, etc. when I’m on the go. In short, I thought about my priorities and waited for a good deal.

young says:

@Ada- I LOVE MY SMART PHONE. I don’t know what I’d do without my iPhone and Google Maps. I would definitely be wasting a lot more time (and gas which is at a pretty penny right now) without it.

Every little bit help. Even $50 is a lot of money if you have many bills. I have use a prepaid cell phone and it works well enough for me.

young says:

@retirebyforty- Prepaid- I think they work much better in the US than in Canada- here your prepaid voucher expires in 30 days so basically it’s similar to a plan!

Marianne says:

We are currently working on switching to a device like the Magic Jack. I use my home phone for our side gigs and I don’t want to change our home phone #. Magic Jack can’t port our Canadian phone # so I’ve just ordered a similar device through a different company. Hopefully this works out. It should save us a bunch of money.

young says:

@Marianne- HowtoSaveMoney.ca has a great mega-post on Magic Jack- you should check it out! Which company did you use that allowed you to keep your phone number?

Bryan says:

Oddly, my wife and I, who have resisted getting a land line in our condo for the past few years, have started thinking about getting a home phone recently, in part because cell phone ringers are pretty easy to turn off. My family was down to visit this last weekend, and my wife and I kept missing calls because our cell phones had been silenced or turned off.

How much does a land line cost nowadays anyway? $10-$20 a month?

young says:

@Bryan- I think it’s more than that but if you don’t go with Telus or Bell or Shaw it might be cheaper. A lot of companies bundle. The Magic Jack system sounds like a good alternative to a land line. They sell it online and at Best Buy.

Modest Money says:

Yes these kinds of tips can add up to a lot of money saved. It’s like giving yourself a raise. Each person’s situation is unique though. Some savings tips will work extremely well for some people, but just won’t be feasible for others. You just have to analyze your own habits and priorities and see where you can cut back a bit. A lot of time you are wasting money on things that just aren’t necessary or can at least be gotten at a discounted price.

young says:

@MM- well said! Wasting money on things- like lattes!

Michelle says:

These are good tips! We need to get our cable bill down.

young says:

@Michelle- if you’re a student some companies offer good discounts! My BF won’t let go of his cable- that’s his life blood, but we managed to use my student status to get about 40% off our cable bill.

I appreciate that tip! All the above ones are good, too. I’ve just already tried to implement them :p Maybe trying to get a student discount will help.

young says:

@FF- Milk the student status, sister! Enjoy it while it lasts 🙂

Good tips! We can all use a reminder here and there to watch over our expenses; it is easy for them to get carried away! I like to focus on one of them at a time and explore what I can do to knock it down. Already hit the mortgage and car payment!

young says:

@MMD- Awesome job!

Schultzter says:

Suggestions 1 and 5 seem contradictory!

Also, relying entirely on a mobile phone only really works for students and young adults, who ironically have the least expenses. As a father I don’t see our house working too well without a phone line – how do you call “the house” if the house doesn’t have a phone? Once you have a family the house becomes a home – an entity with a life of it’s own. VoIP or mobile phone only solutions don’t really work in that case.

young says:

@Schultzter- Haha you’re right! Good observation! Yeah I agree- unless people don’t call the house! But then if your teenager daughter had their own cell phone you wouldn’t be able to check who’s calling up on her!

I recommend to people that they get rid of their cell-phones. My wife and I don’t have cell phones and it makes a real difference not to have disturbances.

young says:

@Steve- Everyone seems to have cell phones these days- I think it would be hard to do, unless more data shows that cell phones are terrible for our health.