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Quick Tips for Cutting Your Monthly Bills (So You Can Spend More on What You Really Want)

Katie Doyle  |  November 14, 2018

Raise your hand if you love paying bills. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Yeah, me either.

I tried a couple quick tricks to lower my monthly bills and ended up saving about $300 per month — more than enough to supplement my over-the-top Lilly Pulitzer-shopping habit.

Let me show you how!

Cable

At our house, we split up the bills — I grab the mortgage, cable and my car payment, and my husband gets his car and all of the utilities. The total monthly payments we each made used to be about even, until I took a closer look at our cable bill. We were paying $250 per month to the cable company. $250! We don’t even watch TV that much.

So, being the deal-seeking lady I am, I jumped on the phone and knocked that down to $45 by dropping most channels and keeping high-speed internet. Sure, we can’t DVR, and “Jimmy Fallon” looks a little fuzzy live, but we picked up Hulu and Netflix instead, and we still are paying less than half of what we used to. Best, creepiest news? I can watch “Handmaid’s Tale” anytime I want. Praise be.

Check with your cable provider every year or so to see if your package has changed and whether a new one might better fit your needs and budget. Cable companies are incredibly competitive and fully aware of other providers’ prices. As a result, you can often negotiate a better deal by quoting a competitor’s offer, and if nothing sounds great, check out streaming options.

If you are prepared to walk away from cable completely, tell the representative. They’d love to keep you as a customer and will be willing to work with you.

Electricity

Electric bills are a little different than cable because the bulk of your energy savings comes down to the thermostat on your wall.

In the winter, try not to make your home a sauna. According to a report by Consumers Energy, every degree you lower your thermostat will lower your energy bill by 1% to 3%.

And for my fellow Floridians, and everyone else on Earth in the summer, Consumers Energy recommends buying an air conditioner with a high energy efficiency rating (EER), reporting that a unit with an EER of 10 will cost half as much to operate as one with an EER of 5.

Another tip: Get a programmable thermostat that’ll regulate your house’s temperature for you. We invested in a Nest thermostat two years ago, and it has more than paid for itself — it tracks our movements through an app on our phones, turning on “eco” mode by itself when we’re away from home.

It’s also pretty awesome to be able to change your home’s temperature from the couch using the Nest app — not that that saves electric energy, but it does help me maintain my Sunday-afternoon-lounging status.

Other Recurring Charges

Still paying for a gym membership you don’t use? It may seem harder than a Crossfit WOD to escape the contract, but it probably isn’t. Contact the manager and tell him or her what’s up. If you can’t completely stop paying, many times you can pause the membership (and payments) until you’re back on the exercise bandwagon.

While you’re looking through your bills, take at hard look at anything else you are getting dinged for. Do you really need that Apple cloud service? Wine of the month club? The answer may be yes (especially wine of the month), but maybe at a lower service level.

Lowering these charges by even a couple dollars means gaining a couple dollars toward something you may really want, like some more pink-and-green super bright clothes. Amirite?

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