Need to find more money in your budget? Evaluating ways to lower your bills is a good place to start.
Small tweaks can help you save on everything from groceries to homeowners insurance. Big-ticket items such as rent, home loan and car payments require more legwork, but can boost your savings
Here’s how to lower your bills and cut down your monthly expenses in these categories:
» MORE: 16 ways to find fast cash
Save Money On…
Lowering your housing costs is a heavier lift than, say, trimming your grocery bill, but doing so can result in big savings. Learn how you can save on your rent, home loan and homeowners insurance.
1. Refinance your home loan. Lowering your interest rate by a couple of percentage points can save you hundreds of dollars each month. If your credit score is in good shape, you’ll have access to the best rate possible. Be sure to shop around and compare rates and fees from multiple lenders.
» MORE: How to pay off your mortgage faster
2. Downsize. Moving your family from a three-bedroom flat to a two-bedroom flat could lower your rent by hundreds, depending on the city. It may mean sharing a room with a friend or losing a spare room in the short-term.
3. Get a housemate. If you have an extra room, consider getting a housemate to split the cost of rent.
4. Negotiate. If moving isn’t an option, try negotiating with your landlord. They may be willing to lower your rent in exchange for a longer lease or handling your own repairs.
5. Shop around. Like any type of insurance, it’s worth comparing quotes from a few carriers to get the coverage you need at the lowest possible price.
6. Bundle home and car insurance. Buying policies from the same insurer could lower your insurance premium between 5% to 30%, depending on the insurer and your location.
7. Ask your insurer about available discounts. For example, you may be able to save money on your homeowners insurance by paying in full, signing up for electronic payments or having a home security system.
Your monthly utility bills are a smart place to look for quick savings. Small steps like signing up for automatic payments can add up to major savings.
Pay television and internet
8. Get rid of extras. Evaluate which streaming services you actually use — and which you haven’t touched in a while. Cancelling those unused services will save you money each month.
If a service only has a couple of shows you watch, consider bingeing them, then cancelling the service. Also take advantage of free trials to watch what you want in that time period, without committing to the expense.
Still plugged in? Learn how to lower your cable bill.
9. Bundle your pay TV and internet. You can typically reduce your pay TV and internet costs if you bundle those services with the same provider. You can also reduce your internet costs by switching to a lower speed tier or opting to buy a modem rather than renting one from your provider.
10. Change or get rid of your phone insurance. Check with your mobile phone provider to see if they offer a cheaper protection plan. Standard insurance might be sufficient and is often a few dollars less expensive than premium options.
11. Switch your plan or carrier. Take a close look at your plan and data usage, then see if you can get a better deal with your carrier or another one. Switching to a prepaid service may lower your mobile phone bill even further.
» MORE: Find more ways to lower your cell phone bill.
Electricity, heat and water
12. Only use your heater or air conditioner when you need it. Try turning on your unit for a brief time to cool down or warm up the room you’re in, and be sure to switch it off if you’re leaving the house.
13. Power down energy hogs. You may reduce your average electric bill with a smart power strip, which shuts off power to devices not in use. Also, unplug devices when you’re not using them — think toasters, air fryers and computers.
» MORE: Learn more about how to save money on your electric bill.
Is money tight?
Learn about ways to save on a tight budget, including getting support and negotiating with service providers.
Transportation costs, whether for a car or an Opal card, fall squarely into the “needs” category of most budgets. Find more room in your budget by lowering what you spend on getting around every month.
14. Refinance your car loan. You can lower your car payment by qualifying for a better interest rate or extending the length of your loan. You’ll need a track record of on-time payments spanning six to 12 months.
15. Sell your car. Look into selling your car and using the money to pay off all or most of your current car loan. Then, buy a less expensive model — a used car is a good idea as it won’t lose value as quickly as a new one.
Whether you opt for new or used, aim to keep your total costs — petrol, insurance, car payment, registration and repairs — below 20% of your take-home pay.
16. Re-evaluate whether you need a car. If the answer is no, sell your car and use the proceeds to pay off your existing car loan. What you save in monthly insurance, petrol, parking and maintenance costs will likely be more than enough to cover public transportation (more on that below) and the occasional Uber ride.
17. Increase your deductible. This will bump up your out-of-pocket costs if you’re in an accident, but will lower your monthly insurance premium.
18. Reduce your coverage. Comprehensive coverage may not be necessary for an older car. Third-party car insurance might be enough for your needs.
19. Ask about discounts. You might be able to slash your premium by being a loyal customer or safe driver.
» MORE: Tracking monthly expenses: The first step to money success
Before adopting a steady diet of peanut butter sandwiches or instant noodles to cut your food costs, try switching to store brands at the grocery store and taking advantage of happy hour deals when dining out.
20. Make a shopping list. You’re less likely to overspend if you have a plan. Plus, you can look for coupons and save even more on your groceries.
21. Opt for the no-frills brand. Generic labels and store brands are a surefire way to save money, even if you’re shopping at pricier stores.
22. Become a member. Unlock exclusive sales and coupons by signing up for the store’s loyalty program and downloading its app, if it has one.
23. Scope out specials. Look for happy hours or other specials, like burger nights, Taco Tuesday deals and game-day promotions.
24. Skip or split the main. Order an entree instead of a main to shave $5 to $10 of your bill. Or save money by splitting a main meal with your friend or date.
» MORE: The 50/30/20 budget
The good news is you can get relief on debt payments. Consider refinancing or consolidating debt to lower your monthly payments.
Credit card debt
25. Ask for a lower interest rate. Your credit card issuer may be willing to lower your rate if you have a solid payment history and good credit score.
26. Transfer your balance. Take advantage of a balance transfer offer with an existing card, or open a balance transfer credit card with a 0% interest rate. Moving your balance to either will allow you to pay it off interest-free for a designated length of time — after that period ends, you’ll go back to paying interest on your balance. This move usually requires an excellent credit score.
27. Consolidate your credit card debt. Personal loans often have lower interest rates than credit cards. If you qualify for one, you can consolidate your credit card debt with a personal loan to lower your monthly payments and save on interest charges in the long run.
» MORE: How to get a personal loan in 7 steps
Your monthly subscriptions may not feel like a lot, but $7.99 here and $9.99 there can add up quickly. Use these tips to chip away at your membership fees.
28. Limit the number of services to which you subscribe. Finding one that does double duty can also save you money in the long run. Amazon Prime members, for example, get free streaming and free shipping and delivery.
29. Look into family plans. Popular music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music also offer family plans, which allow multiple people to share one account and save big.
» MORE: Discretionary spending: The extras, not essentials
30. Negotiate for a lower monthly membership rate. Come to the conversation armed with competitors’ rates and the gym’s own new customer promotions to get the best deal.
31. Cancel your membership and gym-hop. Most gyms and studios will give you a free class or two to test the waters. And many yoga studios hold community classes that are free or by donation. Thousands of free online workouts let you break a sweat without leaving home — and the only cost is dedication.
Magazines and newspapers
32. Cancel any publications you don’t read regularly. You can always resubscribe at a discounted rate. Or, better yet, pick one up at your local library.
33. Downsize print subscriptions. Not willing to give up your daily subscription to The Australian or other newspapers? Consider opting for digital-only versions or for Sunday-only print deliveries.
» MORE: Financial counselling: What it is and how it can help
If you’re in the United States, read this article on the NerdWallet US site.
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