Budgeting to Save Money on Bills

by Guest Contributor · 9 comments

They turn up in the mailbox every month, demanding your attention and your money.  If you want to save money on bills you need to approach the problem in two ways.  The first thing is to cut services you don’t need and the second is to find ways to get the things you need, cheaply.

How to Trim Essentials Bills

Food, power and shelter are all essentials.  Each can be trimmed, but that ability is heavily dependent upon some factors.  For example, to trim shelter costs you can move from a large home to a smaller home, or even to an apartment.  This may or may not be realistic.  Taking in a college student as a tenant can help defray housing costs as well, but carries some risks.

  • Power costs relate to what you pay on gas and electricity and in some areas water as well.
  • Weatherproofing helps reduce waste and energy lost from the windows and doors.
  • Redoing your landscaping with a focus on drought resistant plants and smaller plots of grass will save you money.
  • Changing to compact florescent bulbs and setting the thermostat lower in winter will save on gas and electricity.
  • A sweatshirt is cheaper than heating a whole house to 67°.

Food is one of those areas where relatively large cuts can be made with little effort.  You don’t have to survive on Ramen noodles either.

  • Ground turkey and beef provide plenty of good protein, as do eggs, and they cost a lot less than large cuts of meat.
  • Plan your menu around the circulars for the week and cash in on the discounts.
  • Clip coupons from your paper and find them online to save the most possible.


I know that we don’t really think of cable and Internet as luxuries any more, but they really are.  Do you really need the level of service you currently have?  I shut off my cable service nearly two years ago and we haven’t really missed it.

I don’t use the highest level of DSL, rather I settle for a slower speed that is still plenty fast since I don’t game online.  Between the two items I save nearly $100 a month.

Editor’s Note: I am paying for the slowest service, and my whole business runs online. Before you think you need to download the latest security patches in a millisecond or else your lifestyle will somehow be affected, think carefully about how much money you are actually wasting by helping broadband providers prosper.

Pedicures, manicures, fancy haircuts and gym memberships are all luxuries too.  If you are in the professional world and feel that you must have the manicure and haircut, check out a local esthetician school; you can get the same services performed by supervised students at a fraction of the cost.

Cell phones are also luxuries, believe it or not.  If you carry it for anything other than emergency calls, you are spending more than needed.  Now, some of us use a cell phone exclusively, having abandoned the land line.  In that case you need more than basic service, but shop around and find a plan that meets your usage profile, don’t try to fit your profile into a specific package.

Saving money on your bills is all a matter of viewing them in a new light.  Be creative, re-prioritize your spending and watch your bank balance grow.

Like these simple tips? Check out the How to Save Money on Everything ebook. It’s yours free when you subscribe to the free frugal newsletter.

Money Saving Tip: An incredibly effective way to save more is to reduce your monthly Internet and TV costs. Click here for the current Verizon FiOS promotion codes and promos to see if you can save more money every month from now on.

{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Roger says:

    Like this article says, I went over my cell phone bill to see if I was paying for more than I needed, and I was. When my contract ended, I switched to Straight talk, and now I only pay $30 a month and get 1000 minutes, texts, and 30mb of data. And there’s no contract, so I don’t have the hassles of unexpected charges. I’d recommend it to anyone else looking to save.

    • Deloris says:

      Straight talk has an unlimited plan for $45 with unlimited everything and I have never had a problem. The reception is well. When I switched I ordered my first phone online, and it was refurbished for $20. the total package I think initially for the phone and unlimited plan was somewhere around $50.00. It has been a couple of years and I bought another phone, but the first one still works. I just upgraded. I advise anyone that is tired of unexplained and sporadic increases on your bill to try it.

  • Andrew says:

    I have really saved a lot by switching from a cellphone contract to a Net 10 prepaid phone. Calls cost me 10 c per minute and I only pay for what I use. Suddenly I am much more careful on how I use my phone.

  • James says:

    there is no doubt that on average Americans pay way more for certain goods and services than they can afford. items like mentioned above cell phone, cable tv, internet, etc.

    i have for a long time been a sports fan and feel most of the TV i watch is sports related. i am still hoping for the day that cable TV can have an option where you pick and choose the channels you and to watch and old get service for those channels and thats it.

    when will this be possible i would love to cut my $149 cable bill down to $35 cus i only watch 4 channels.

    think about it..

  • Donna says:

    I looked into bundling and it is saving me $50 a month on internet/land line combo. I also looked over my credit card statement and found some charges that we had forgotten, ie monthly service fees. Needless to say I was quickly dialing the phone to cancel.

  • CD Phi says:

    I am a huge proponent of supporting local esthetician schools. I can’t speak for everyone but from my experiences they have never screwed up my hair or eyebrows. Not once. Not only that but it’s nice to know that you are helping out students and economically, you’ll be saving a lot. My community college has an underground basement that they’ve converted into a hair salon and last time I went there for a cut and dye, the student did a wonderful job. There was also no set price but tipping was recommended of course. Try it out. You might end up really liking the student stylist.

  • Jenn says:

    Those people who turn up their heat and then wear shorts and a t-shirt during winter used to really bug me. Why waste so much energy and money just to feel “hot”? Don’t they sweat enough during the summer?

  • Nate says:

    Another thing you may try if your cell phone plan allows is to tether your phone to you laptop. You could even drop your Internet plan.

  • Lynn says:

    As far as internet goes, for those who believe they have to have the faster cable or DSL – call your ISP. Ask them for a discount or shop around. You can save a ton of money that way. 🙂

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