We did a TON of research on our monthly bills before getting started trying to lower them. We wanted to make sure we had all of the information we needed to get them down to the lowest they could possibly be. Through Google searches, our utility web sites, and (LOTS AND LOTS) of Pinterest, we got a lot of really good tips on how to save, even a couple dollars a month. Even when it’s not a lot, that little bit adds up. I’m going to list off our utilities and then share some of the tips we came across while studying up. Some of them are pretty obvious, but some of them you may have had no idea!
- Turn off lights when you aren’t in the room.
- Unplug appliances that you aren’t using – These awesome energy saving strips are available on Amazon and they eliminate phantom power!
- Buy a programmable thermostat – This was advice that we, personally, didn’t heed. The extra cost of the thermostat wasn’t paid for by our electricity savings because there’s someone in our house 90% of the time
- Buy energy star appliances – Not only does this cut down on electricity (especially for those of you who use propane to power some of them) but many large electric companies offer rebates for using these items, some of them up to $100!
- Switch to solar. The upfront cost is a lot. It’s a big investment, but the benefits are endless. You could end up having the electric company pay you for generating energy that they have access to!
This weird, amazing, warm winter weather is keeping us from getting a good idea what our natural gas bill is going to look like. We haven’t had it very long, so it’s very difficult to figure out a “normal” average. We have a very drafty house, so I can imagine, with this onset of cold weather, it’s going to be absurd.
- Seal windows – we used plastic, Frost King It was easy to apply (or so my husband says) and it comes with everything but the hairdryer. So far, it seems to be working well. Besides window plastic this brand, has a whole line of house winterizing supplies. They even have plastic large enough for unused patio doors.
- Make use of draft blockers – When I stand in front of my doors in the winter, it’s almost like standing outside. These nifty little things can either be bought to sit in front of your door (which can even be made yourself) or to slide on the bottom. I personally would prefer the latter if they would fit on our doors, but nearly everything in our house is awkward-sized, so we improvise with more versatile versions.
- Socket sealers are also a really nice – and inexpensive – way to make a difference. If you hold your hand in front of your outlets in the cold, you can actually feel cold air coming in. These gems are pieces of Styrofoam that sit behind your sockets and switches to block the chilly draft coming through.
- The first thing we did was ditched our contract. I LOVE AT&T, their customer service is absolutely unrivaled, but it wasn’t worth the extra cost or commitment. No other companies do contracts anymore. What they do, is pretty much like a contract because you buy devices in installments and it’s added to your monthly bill. What you can do to combat this, is pay cash for the device up front. However, if you will want to upgrade before your phone is paid off, I wouldn’t recommend this. There’s no point in paying off an entire device if you don’t mind trading it in for your upgrade when the time comes. What I would recommend, was suggested to me by my aunt a few days ago. She recommended, that the value of the device be put into a separate account. That way, if financial trouble hits unexpectedly, you aren’t stuck in that “non-contract, contract.” I was very skeptical when we switched, because of how contract-like the idea sounded, but with a backup plan, I felt comfortable going ahead and signing up. So far, so good!
- Get away from the smart phone. If you can go without it, that’s another way to save at least $10 on an access fee every month and hundreds on a device.
- Go pre-paid – though it might be paying as much, at least you can call it quits at any time without having to pay an early termination fee.
- Protect your investment – this is actually going to cost you a little bit more, but will save you SO much should you ever break or lost your phone
- There’s not a ton you can do for this easily, but there are some more invasive methods you can use.
- Refinance – This isn’t a quick fix. It takes some time and thought, but it could save you some money each month, depending on how much you still owe on your house.
- Sell – If you feel like your mortgage is really outside your means, you can always look for something that would suit your budget. Again, this isn’t a quick fix, it’s just an option
- Negotiate with your cable company. Chances are they can and will give you a deal to keep you as a customer.
- Switch to Netflix/Hulu/Amazon/Apple TV – you watch the shows you want, most of the time without commercials.
- Shop around – cable and dish company prices vary a LOT. Call around until you figure out who will offer you the best deal! If there’s a company you prefer, share with them what other companies quoted you and ask what they can do for you. Don’t lie, of course, but they might just be willing to match.
- Switch to Magic Jack – At just over $50 dollars for the first year and just over $30 after that, you can have home phone that uses your internet connection just like a real phone. Note: Be careful if you use your home phone for work, some employers require an actual phone line.
- I don’t know about other phone services, but T-Mobile completely got rid of our necessity for a home phone with a feature called “Wi-Fi Calling.” Similar to Magic Jack, this service uses your Wi-Fi to allow calls and text messages on your mobile phone. They even have a free router (one-time $15 security deposit, which in some instances they might waive) in case yours isn’t compatible.
- Consider DSL or local. Many local companies have DSL internet. If you don’t absolutely need a cable or fiber optic connection, these rates run much lower than the big guys.
- Bundle – if you have three different utilities at three different companies, chances are, you’re paying more than if you bundled at one company.
- Use your local library or public Wi-Fi connections. This would never work for us. We use our internet for absolutely everything, but if you use it very minimally, Starbucks might be a good place for you.
- Waste disposal is very competitive and will definitely make you a deal to keep you around.
- Shop around – many trash pick-up companies serve huge areas, so most of the time, you have options. We live in the middle of nowhere and still have 3 or 4 waste disposal companies that serve our area.
This is only a few of the ways to save on fixed bills. There are many more out there. It just takes some dedication and hard work to find out where these savings are.
Now I want to hear from you. How do you save money on your “fixed” bills?