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.
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.
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.
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?