Between rising costs and an uncertain economy, we're all looking for new ways to save money. But instead of looking for the one-time big score, try saving a little bit each month. It adds up.
Saving money on a single purchase is good, but the real savings come when you’re able to slash the payments that you make monthly. Think about it. Reducing a monthly bill is like saving on 12 purchases every year. It allows you to immediately begin devoting more of your monthly income to debt reduction, investing, or inflating your cash cushion. In addition, reducing your monthly expenses to the minimum will extend the amount of time you’re able to live off of your savings if you lose your job, switch careers, get sick, or otherwise suffer an income interruption.
Here are some places to look to start lowering your monthly bills:
- Use a television antenna and the Internet to cut your cable or satellite bills. Receiving a television signal with an antenna has always been an option, but with the rising price of cable and satellite service and the falling price of technology, it’s becoming more compelling. Even a cheap digital antenna now picks up high-definition broadcasts. And many shows can now be streamed from the Internet to your TV with devices that cost less than one month of cable. One of the most popular stories we’ve ever published is 3 Steps to Cut Your Cable Bill by 90 Percent. Check it out.
- Slash your cell phone bills. There are many ways to cut your cell phone bills dramatically. Reduce your minutes, ask for a group or corporate discount, or go in on a family plan. Check out 5 More Steps to a Lower Cell Phone Bill.
- Refinance your home. Mortgage rates are at or near their all-time lows. If you’ve got good credit and enough equity in your home, compare the costs of a refinance to your monthly savings. Read Ask Stacy: Should I Refinance My Mortgage? then go to our interest rate search and see if you can find a lower rate. While refinancing takes time and effort, it can return hundreds in monthly savings.
- Refinance your credit card debt. If you’re carrying credit card debt, look for ways to cut monthly interest payments. For example, Chase is now offering a version of its Slate credit card with a zero-percent interest rate on balance transfers of up to 12 months, with no balance transfer fee. You can find it, along with other credit offers, in our balance transfer credit card search. Warning: Those with the best credit will get the best offers.
- Slash your home phone bills. If you have Internet service, start making your calls online. Devices like MagicJack will charge you less for a year’s service than most land-line phone companies charge for a month.
- Reduce your Internet service costs. Most people don’t know that their cable or phone company offers a perfectly good “economy” tier of service that is rarely advertised. Call yours and ask. Are you paying to rent their modem? Buy one on Ebay.
- Pay less for car insurance. There are lots of ways to pay less, many of which we’ve written about: See 7 Ways to Save on Car Insurance. The simplest? Raising your deductible from $250 to $1,000 can slash your bill by 15 percent. And don’t stop with the car. There are ways to save on all kinds of insurance, from home to health to life. See The 5 Golden Rules of Saving on Insurance for more ideas. Then check out our insurance search to shop around.
- Save at restaurants. If you are unable to go all the way and stop eating out, at least find the maximum savings when you do go out. Sites like Restaurant.com offer $25 certificates that can make the cost of a nice meal out little more than the price of fast food. Here are our original tips on using Restaurant.com for savings, and 6 more I came up with. And when you’ve satisfied your appetite for restaurant savings, try to find more gain without pain with other entertainment savings. See 26 Tips to Save on Entertainment.
- Go in with your neighbors. If you have next-door neighbors you get along with, consider sharing services. Creative neighbors have found ways to share Internet, cell phone family plans, and other services. This is especially easy when you live in a condo and can negotiate services as a group. Just be sure to comply with each provider’s terms of service. For example, when I lived in a condo, we entered into contracts to share cable television and commercial-grade Internet service. You don’t even have to live in the same building to negotiate a group discount with providers of lawn care, snow removal, or house cleaning services.
By looking for cuts to your monthly costs, rather than one-time savings, you can reduce your expenses well into the future, while safeguarding your family’s finances should the unexpected occur.
For more, check out another of our most popular stories, The 10 Golden Rules of Saving on Everything.