By Sarah Kaufman, Manilla.com
Looking to spend less each month? Consider these tips for reducing your bills.
1. Re-evaluate your budget
The first step to lowering your monthly bills is to re-examine your budget to see where you may be able to cut back on spending. Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income — the difference is how much you have to spend on everything else, such as dining out, groceries, entertainment, clothing and more. Take a look at how much you’re spending in each of these areas and think about how you could spend less. If the majority of your leftover money is going to restaurants and bars, think about cooking at home more often to save money. If too much of your money is going toward going to the movies, consider having a movie night in with friends.
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2. Cut the credit.
It’s important to use credit cards to build credit over time, but if you’ve already racked up massive amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to pay it back, stop using credit cards now. Doing so will ensure that your overall credit card balance will stop increasing, so you’ll pay less in interest over time. As a general rule, try your best to pay more than the minimum amount due.
3. Switch providers.
Do online research and ask friends and family about the utility and cable providers they use to see if switching might lower your monthly bill.
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4. …Or call your existing ones.
If you don’t feel like switching cable providers, consider calling your existing one to see if there are any seasonal or ongoing promotions you could benefit from. A quick call asking how you can save money could lead to lowering your monthly bill. The reason? These providers are happy to have your business, so they’ll do what’s necessary to keep their customers happy.
5. Use a programmable thermostat.
Save money on energy by investing in a programmable thermostat. You can manually program the thermostat to change temperatures based on your schedule, so your home is warm or cool whenever YOU need it to be. Check out ConsumerReports.org to find the best one for your needs.
6. Rethink your transportation.
Driving to and from work every day can be a gas-guzzler, costing you hundreds of dollars each month. To avoid this unnecessary cost, consider car-pooling to and from work with colleagues or neighbors who work nearby. Or, if you live in a city that has convenient public transit, try taking the subway or bus.
7. Exercise for free.
Staying in shape doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune on a monthly gym membership. Instead of forking up tons of cash for a fancy fitness facility, check local discount gyms in your area or take up a free way of working out, such as jogging, walking or biking. Or, check Meetup.com for exercise groups in your area and hit the park for group workouts.
8. Lower your data usage.
Limit your data usage by only using your smartphone’s web browser when there’s free Wi-Fi available.
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9. Check daily deals first.
Don’t settle. Instead of paying full price for anything, check daily deals sites, such as Groupon, Yipit, LivingSocial, to find the best deals of your favorite items. Daily deals sites are great for things like haircuts, gym classes, and even things like birthday gifts for friends and family.
10. Monitor everything
Make sure to check every bill and statement before making a payment to ensure there are no errors or inaccuracies you need to report. It would be a shame to throw money down the drain because of a simple clerical mistake.
Sarah Kaufman is the editor-in-chief of The Manilla Folder at Manilla.com, the leading, free and secure service that helps you simplify and organize your daily life. Using just one password, Manilla lets you manage your finances, utilities, daily deals, travel and rewards programs, Netflix and magazine subscriptions, and more — all through Manilla.com or the top-rated iOS and mobile apps. Sarah is also a regular contributor to Yahoo! Finance, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, The Motley Fool, and other major sites. For more budgeting tips and great ways to save, visit The Manilla Folder.