Saving Money on Household Bills

by Guest Contributor · 13 comments

Between the rising cost of day to day expenses and decreases in the availability of jobs, many people are finding themselves in need of cutting costs on household bills once deemed essential. There are many ways to trim your costs, but for some reasons, we just don’t think about them. Years of being able to afford whatever we wanted make it difficult to know where to start, but don’t worry, because the process gets easier the more you think about it.

Pay On Time

One of the biggest money wasters is paying bills late. The companies you do business with are hurting too and they are quicker than ever to charge late fees and surcharges. Over drafting on your bank account can cost you hundreds of dollars in one day since each charge will result in an overdraft fee of around $30 per incident.

Put overdraft protection on your account immediately to prevent such problems, and if you find your bank charges a lot of additional fees, change banks. Credit cards not only charge you for paying late, they also raise your interest rates–a double whammy. Utilities companies may demand a deposit if you are regularly late on paying your bill.

Bundle Services

Many local phone providers are now offering cell phone service, cable television, and internet access as well as land line service. Pick one of these companies and bundle your services. Discounts are pretty significant if you pick a larger bundle. If your phone company doesn’t offer a bundling service, look at the cable company. Almost all offer internet as well as cable and you can pair them for some savings.

Cut Back

Do you really need 500 channels? Cutting back to basic cable can save you $50 or more each month. Frankly, I turned off the television service two years ago when I realized the kids were watching too much TV and I never watched it at all. After two weeks of complaints they figured out how to entertain themselves and we have never turned it back on.

You can reduce the extra services on your phone line or opt for a slower download speed on your internet connection. Start using generic products from the supermarket and clip those coupons. There are several coupon websites, like Coupon Shoebox, where you can find tons of coupons all in one place. I don’t do as well as the real gurus, but when you can get $17 worth of stuff for $5.50, that is money I can use somewhere else.

Find Free Options

The public library doesn’t only have book, you know. DVDs, CDs, and computer games can all be found within the walls of the library and you can take them out for free. Just remember to bring them back on time or you end up paying late fees.

If you like to eat out, find out which local restaurants offer free kid meals or free appetizers with a meal. Eat only on the days when you can maximize your savings. Local museums, zoos, and other cultural centers usually offer a few free days each year. Plan ahead and visit when you don’t have to pay for admission, pack a lunch and enjoy a great day out with your family at no cost.

When cutting back, it is natural to feel that you are somehow losing something valuable. With a little creativity and planning you can still enjoy all the things you like, but spend less doing it.

This is part of the How to Save Money on Everything. If you are interested in more money saving tips, sign up for your free copy here.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Toni smith says:

    Truly I thank everyone who have share their ideas, however some take money to make money. Me and my family are struggling just to exist, everyday necessities have become a worry. I don’t want a hand out just need a miracle or what this world would call a break, I am desperate to make a difference in the lives of me and my family.

    As well as other, I am tired of waiting for a change to come, and feel hopeless because I have not a dime to start with. I am hoping against hope and I encourage all who are looking for ways to just survive to keep trying and have faith.

  • Papa Bear says:

    We use Net10 phones instead of signing up for a contract. It saves a ton of money and you can control what you spend instead of being at the mercy of the big wireless companies. I can talk, text, and do everything you need to do on a cell phone and pay a ton less. We use the Net10 cell phones instead of even having a land line also. That saves big money.

  • Anil Sharma says:

    instead of cramping yourself saving money why dont you invest a lil in stocks and get money from it periodically? People dont always prefer giving up their shopping,etc. Instead invest a lil in penny stocks(these stocks come for as low as 0.0001$), Eternal Image is one such company where you can invest and expect high pays later cause the company has been on the move, they make Star trek caskets too,hehe.

  • Bonnie says:

    @Split Cents-by “overdraft”, I think he’s actually referring to an overdraft line of credit, rather than the standard per-transaction overdraft fees that banks love to charge nowadays.

    Re: borrowing DVDs from the library, bloggers all seem to assume that every library system allows free DVD rentals. Here in Hawaii, though, it costs $1 per DVD rental for a 1-week rental and the late fee is $1 per day. If you rent a lot of videos, Netflix is still cheaper. The only time I rent from the library is when I’m borrowing a full box set at one time, because the whole thing is still only $1 to rent. I can’t imagine that no other library systems have started charging for DVD rentals in an effort to cover costs.

  • Julie K. says:

    To save money on your household is a matter of optional thinking on regular basis. Some people think it may jeopardize their living standard but on the contrary it won’t. On the other hand it always turns up to the modern, healthy and worthy standard of life. I guess KM got that point right.

  • Cd Phi says:

    Gosh, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times our internet or phone service providers call us to try to convince us to get a bundle package. We currently don’t have cable but they’ll try to get us to buy that as well. I understand it’s a bundle and that it’ll help me save more if I use it but if I don’t even use it won’t I just save more altogether?

  • CreditShout says:

    Great tips. I am a chronic coupon cutter and I am not afraid to admit it. I love seeing how much I saved when I look at my receipt.

  • physcodog says:

    With all the smartphones you have to get a data package which increases your phone bill so beware of that little tidbit everyone.

  • says:

    Good points here. Many people forget about their local library as being a source for DVDs and such. However, with REDBOX and NETFLIX the cost of rentals is way down from the traditional days when you went into blockbuster.

    I also agree that people need to evaluate their services like cable and cell phone to see if it is still needed at the level they have.

    • physcodog says:

      I love Redbox. I do not have to see a movie as soon as it comes out on dvd. I can wait the few days until Redbox gets it.

  • KM says:

    Bundling services does not always work in your favor. We ended up saving $50 or so per month by unbundling and getting service from several different companies. But it depends on the situation – we were wasting a lot by not watching the American channels on DirecTV, which we were using for international channels only, so by switching our TV service, we eliminated $70 worth of cable charges. The only thing I hate about it is that a base package is required for international channels, but it only consists of religious channels and infomercials, which is a waste. Also, we eliminated international phone charges by switching to Vonage World, which includes free calls to the country that we need.

    And it’s always worth reminding people that small things like turning off the lights in a room you are not in, turning off the water when you brush your teeth, and not leaving the fridge open while you make your sandwich are easy ways of saving on water/electric bills without it reducing your comfort level at all. Cutting your hair so that your shower is shorter, skipping shower days, and installing dimmers are a little more extreme and don’t work for everyone, but how hard is turning off the water while brushing teeth?

    Another place where I am personally saving a lot of money is my cell phone bill. In fact, I don’t even have a bill at all. I switched to prepaid once I found a plan I liked, which doesn’t charge a certain amount for every day you use it (which for me is almost every weekday, but only a few minutes a day), so I only pay for the minutes I use, there are no fees or contracts, I can’t go over my minutes, and I use every single one because I don’t have a set amount per month. I just refill when I am low, which ends up being something like $25-30/month. I don’t need frills like internet on my phone and I only use text messages rarely, so it works great for me.

  • says:

    All simple ideas that can prevent the ‘money drain’. I know quite a few people that wait until after a bill is due to pay and then they complain about the late charges, (and they had the money to pay it, just not the discipline). Makes no sense to me.

  • Split Cents says:

    Great post. You are right about paying on time, but I’m afraid many can’t. W/ overdraft protection, you still end up paying a $35 fee… On small overdrafts that can be a worse rate than payday lending. Also, if you take your bank account negative and can’t bring it up within a few weeks, many banks will drop your account.

    Rather than risk all that, my advice would be to simply call the billing department of the company you owe money and ask for another week to pay the bill. Most would much rather give a week’s forbearance than waste money chasing a debtor or turning the account over to collection.

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