Almost every adult deals with the tedious responsibility of paying monthly bills and almost every adult is constantly looking for ways to cut down on these expenses. Oftentimes, it can seem like there is no choice other than to pay your monthly expenses as they’re laid out in your statements. However, these numbers aren’t always set in stone and there are many ways in which you can lower these monthly payments.
Better yet, these tips to lower your monthly bills are neither complicated nor unachievable. From consolidating debt to using less energy, let’s take a look at some of the most innovative tips to lower your monthly bills and save you some money this year.
Install a programmable thermostat
Your home’s heating and cooling bills are likely one of the highest that you pay every month. This is why many common tips to lower your monthly bills revolve around your home’s HVAC system. While there are several things you can do to make this system work more efficiently and cost you less money, one of the best actions you can take is to install a programmable thermostat.
Unlike older thermostats, programmable thermostats allow you to control the temperature of your home at any time of the day, even when you’re asleep at night or you’re out of the house. By setting the temperature you want your house to be at for different times of the day, you can avoid heating or cooling it when you’re not there to enjoy the optimized temperature. You can even set the thermostat to heat or cool your home just before you arrive back from work or a vacation. Many of the programmable thermostats on the market today are considered smart home devices, as they can connect to your smartphone and other smart home features you have. Not every family will need or want this whole-home connectivity, but many enjoy the convenience of having all of their home’s systems linked together.
Although installing the thermostat may initially cost you more than you would like, its adjustable nature can cut down considerably on unnecessary heating and cooling expenses. Thus, you’ll be lowering your monthly bills and saving money in the long run.
Lower the temperature on the hot water heater
Another of the energy-focused tips to lower your monthly bills is to lower the temperature on your home’s hot water heater. While this is an essential appliance, it is a major energy drain in most homes as it accounts for about 14% of total energy costs. Since heat is constantly lost to the environment, you often end up burning a significant amount of energy to keep your water hot.
Most hot water heaters keep a home’s water hotter than it ever needs to be, giving you plenty of room to lower the temperature and save money on constantly heating that water. Try dropping the temperature on your hot water heater to about 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This is as hot as the average home needs its water.
There are a couple of other ways you can save money on your hot water heater, but the savings will come after initial expenses. You can install a water heater blanket and insulate any exposed hot water pipes to prevent the heat from escaping. The blanket is initially expensive but will pay for itself in about a year. After that, you’ll be consistently saving money every month. If you think your hot water heater is past its prime, you could call a local plumber to advise you on replacing it. About 58% of homeowners are planning on spending money to make improvements to their homes this year and getting a new hot water heater would certainly put you in this percentage. Again, replacing this appliance will be expensive initially but the newer model will likely be more energy-efficient, saving you money in the long run.
Use power strips and timers
Your electric bill is another utility that you can’t live without, but tends to cause a bit of sticker shock every month. One of the most effective tips to lower your monthly bills is to cut down on how much electricity you use with timers and power strips. When you have electrical devices that constantly stay plugged into your home’s outlets, they each draw a small amount of electricity even when you’re not using them. Known as phantom charges, these seemingly small amounts of electricity can quickly add up when you consider just how many devices or appliances are always plugged in.
One method to minimize phantom charges is to unplug any items or power strips you can when you’re not using them. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of constantly plugging and unplugging your devices, utilize timers. Timers can automatically turn off the charge that goes to a power strip or anything plugged into at a certain time every day. This is a great way to ensure that any electrical devices you don’t need on while you’re asleep or away from home aren’t using electricity unnecessarily.
Certain power strips can also be helpful in this endeavor. If you use power strips with a switch, you can turn it off to block the phantom charge on the devices connected to it. You can also use smart power strips to manage electricity flow based on a control device. For example, a DVD player plugged into this power strip would only receive power if the TV (also connected to the power strip) is turned on first.
By using these tips to lower your monthly bills, you can save money while effectively cutting down on the amount of electricity your home uses. This lowered usage will help prevent power surges in your home that can cause the electricity to go out and your home’s back-up generator to kick in. You’ll avoid the energy expenses that come with using these generators while also helping out the environment by using less energy.
Consider selling a vehicle
While energy bills make up a sizeable chunk of the average person’s monthly expenses, various types of vehicle payments take their toll as well. If your family has multiple cars, consider whether you really need all of them. By selling a vehicle that you rarely use, you can save money on insurance payments as well as any loan payments you had on the vehicle. When you’re selling your car, be sure to compare different dealers to find the one that gives you the best price. You could also contact a machine shop or parts dealer to see if they find more value in your car’s parts than the car as a whole.
You’ll also want to think about other types of vehicles your family owns that regularly cost you money. If you have a boat that you only use a couple times in the summer but pay year-round to have it docked or stored somewhere, consider selling it. Plenty of people are looking for a used boat for sale and would love to take it off of your hands. You can then stop paying for its storage and instead go out on the water on a friend or family member’s boat when you get the urge. Other vehicles that may be costing you more than they’re worth include motorcycles, ATVs, and RVs.
Consolidate your debts
Almost everyone has some kind of debt, whether its from loans or credit cards of various kinds. Having to pay off this debt can add considerably to your monthly expenses. One of the best tips to lower your monthly bills is to consolidate your debt whenever possible.
If you have student loans that are locked into a high-interest rate, look into whether it makes sense to consolidate all or some of them. Consolidating and/or refinancing them with a different lender can give you a lower interest rate, which can save you money every month. Not every loan and not every person’s financial situation will qualify for consolidation, but it’s well worth looking into in case you do qualify.
Seeking a debt consolidation loan for multiple credit cards with high balances is also a good idea. This type of loan can combine several high-interest debts into a single personal loan, which will ideally have a lower interest rate than your current rates. This can help you pay off your debt more quickly while also simplifying your payment process since you’ll be paying just one lender. With this type of loan, be sure to always make your monthly payments on time and take into account any upfront fees the lender charges to consolidate your debt.
Cancel subscriptions and memberships
A magazine subscription here and a club membership there may not seem like extravagant expenses, but when you add all of them up you may realize that these little payments are costing you a lot. Start with any newspaper or magazine subscriptions you get in the mail. Many families have had these types of subscriptions for years, but then the magazines and newspapers just sit on the table untouched and unread. If this is true in your household, cancel these subscriptions as soon as possible. Most of the content in these printed materials is online anyways, where you can access it without the expense or the clutter.
Next, consider the entertainment services you pay for every month. Many families are now forgoing cable for more affordable streaming services. This is one of the best tips to lower your monthly bills, as you can probably find the shows and movies you watch on cable elsewhere for less money. As helpful as streaming services are, you’ll also want to consider if you’re subscribed to and paying for too many. If you pay for HBO but only use it to watch a few series when they premiere, cancel your subscription until those shows come back. This will take a little more work on your part but can save you a lot of money.
Another type of modern monthly subscriptions are subscription boxes. These services vary from delivering ingredients for pre-planned meals to different types of womens health products and are typically catered to the subscriber’s likes and preferences. Many people like them because they don’t know what exactly will be in a box when it arrives, but they’re usually enjoyable goodies. Unfortunately, they can often be more of a fun expense than a necessary one. Not only are you paying for the products inside, but you’re paying for the packaging and shipping. As parcel pricing experts will tell you, sending large packages is an expensive endeavor.
Of course, not everyone will be able to forgo certain subscription boxes. Someone with a disability may have a monthly subscription box for groceries because it is easier than going to the store. Other subscriptions may actually save people money on buying makeup or hair products. If you have a few subscription boxes, consider which ones you can live without. After all, you could always ask a friend or family member for a membership to your favorite subscription box when your birthday or a holiday comes around.
Consider different childcare options
You want your child to have the best care possible, but the option you’re currently using may be costing more than what you need to pay for quality care. Comparing childcare options in your area is one of the more uncommon tips to lower your monthly bills, but there is likely a more affordable alternative that offers the same level of care.
If there aren’t other suitable options, get creative in how you can cut your existing childcare by a day or two. See if there are any ways you and your spouse can adjust your work schedules so that you can be home more during the day. If you’ve recently gone through a divorce, be sure to put aside any differences you may have with your former spouse and co-parent effectively to work out a childcare schedule that doesn’t break the bank. You may also be able to ask any grandparents who live nearby if they are willing to watch the kids part-time while you work.
There is an endless number of tips to lower your monthly bills. By getting a little creative and thinking outside of the box, you can easily find ways to lower your bills or cut them out completely. These efforts will put more money in your pockets and isn’t that all any of us want at the end of the day?