The Complete Bill-by-Bill Guide To Save Money On Your Monthly Expenses

The Complete Bill-by-Bill Guide To Save Money On Your Monthly Expenses

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It’s the end of the month, which means time to empty your bank account once again.

In general, bills take up most of our income. It’s no wonder we don’t want to pay them and we die a little inside each time we do.

Besides that, things are slowly getting more and more expensive over time (have you noticed a change in the amount of soap you get for the same dollar?).

But just because the cost of living is climbing up, doesn’t mean your bills have to too.

I love creating useful content that applies to real life, so I’ve laid out a (massive) guide complete with a table of contents, to detail all the ways you can save money on each bill you get to pay.

It’s especially great for families that are actively looking to cut their spending and save money without huge lifestyle changes.

Many have already followed lots of the money saving methods to save thousands each year. Now it’s your turn to challenge yourself and cut down your monthly bills.

Here is your bill-by-bill guide to save money on monthly expenses and stop being broke all the time.

Table of Contents

Electric/Gas
Cell Phone
Groceries
Water
Cable/Wifi
Credit Card
Miscellaneous Bills



Electric/Gas

Electricity can easily be one of the biggest budget killers on our list, but it can also be the one you save a substantial amount of money on.

Let’s look at all the ways you can make a difference in your electricity bill:

Use energy efficient Lightbulbs: LED light bulbs use a fraction of the amount of energy a regular bulb uses, lasts much longer, and also generate a lot less heat. You can invest in efficient LED light bulbs that aren’t as wasteful. It’s a good idea to prioritize and use them in places around the house that are lived in the most.

Smart power strip: I had no idea these were a thing until I found out about them not too long ago. You can invest in a power strip that can automatically cut off power to any device that is plugged into it. This way you avoid forgetting to unplug your devices. There are many power strips out there that offer some awesome features. This one in particular comes with eight efficient ports, is affordable and comes with plenty of power saving features you can use to lower your electric usage.

Thermostat: According to the American Council for An Energy-Efficient Economy, For every degree you turn down on your thermostat, you can lower your bill by about 3%. It also helps if you get in the habit of turning your thermostat down or off when you aren’t home. That is simply heat that no one uses and money you’ll get to keep. The next energy saving tip is very common, but one that not very many people use.

Unplug every night: Did you know that even if you’re not using any kind of electricity, anything left unplugged still sucks up energy from your outlets? Make it a habit to unplug everything you aren’t using every night. Or better yet, invest in the Niagara Automated Power Strip so it automatically cuts off all power when not in use for you. Automation is a literal lifesaver, and in this case, an energy saver.

Double pane/blanket windows: Something else to consider when trying to cut down on your electric use is to invest in double pane windows to keep the cold out. If that is too much of a step for you or you aren’t allowed to modify your living space, the next best thing to help keep out window frost is to drape a thick blanket over your curtain holders while you sleep. It makes a big difference in how much cold creeps in.

Wash in cold water: Your washer spends a great deal of electricity on the water heating part of washing with warm water. Washing with cold water helps you skip the warming up part and helps you save. From dollar to dollar, these changes start adding up over time.

Change light switch habits: Getting in the habit of turning off the lights in rooms around the house (or outside) that aren’t being used can save you tons. My mother disciplined us into doing this and after a while we got the hang of it and it showed on our electric bill.

Put together an indoor clothes dryer: Skip using the dryer if you aren’t in a hurry to get your clothes dry. You can easily put together a discreet indoor clothes hanger in your laundry room that helps you naturally dry out your clothes. Here’s an example.

Lower temperature on your water heater: Lowering the temperature on your water heater can help curb your hot water addiction (I also very much guilty of this). This way, the max your water gets heated only goes so far and you eventually get used to it thus saving you money on heating in the process.

Find out your off-peak hours: Depending on where you live, often, electricity use will cost less at certain hours during the day. See if you can find this out with your local power provider so you can take advantage of off-peak hours to do your dishes, wash your laundry, or wash your car.

Billcutterz: This company, founded in 2009, can haggle your bills for you. They only charge you half of what you save if they manage to get you any savings at all. If you really don’t want to take care of bill haggling yourself, they’re always an option.

Phew, after doing most or all of these money-saving pointers, you should have a good amount shaved off your electric bill if you stick to these habits consistently.

Now, next comes the cell phone bill. How exactly can you save money on that?

Cell Service

Admit it, you can’t live without your cell phone. The problem is it can also leave a big fat hole in your wallet and it isn’t exactly your bank’s best friend.

Here’s how you can save on your cell bill and still stay connected to your friends and family.

VoIP voice: This stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and it simply uses your internet connection to place calls anywhere around the world. All you need to use it to make calls for free is a reliable internet connection along with a microphone and computer (or your cell phone). You can either use their free or paid service, depending on the perks you want. Here’s how to get started with them.

Pay as you go/prepaid plans: Pay as you go plans are absolute pocket savers. They offer the same cell service for a fraction of the price of what a traditional contract service would cost you. With it, you basically pay a fee every month and you get to choose a more personalized data plan that fits your usage. This way you are constantly only paying for what you pay for. T-Mobile has a great pay as you go plan you can check out, though they aren’t the only ones out there offering this alternative. Make sure you do your research on which one can work best in your area. Nerdwallet has a useful plan comparison post you should check out for more info.

Second hand cell phones: One way to save hundreds on phones are second hand unlocked cell phones that you can easily find online in great condition for a fraction of the price. You can get pay as you go SIM cards from companies like T-Mobile or Straighttalk to provide service for you. A friend of mine has Verizon and pays more than $100 per month constantly only on her cell phone bill. I currently have my own pay as you go plan that costs $46 bucks and it does the exact same thing. All you have to do is go out of your way to find a cellphone on your own and not get trapped into a contract one with those bill service providers. Definitely a cheaper route.

Haggling on your cell bill: Here’s what I found on a comments section by someone who haggled successfully on their cell phone bill:

“We got about $30 knocked of our cellphone bill, just by nicely ‘threatening” to drop the plan after the contract had expired- the salesperson was nice enough to inform us that because we used so much less data on a monthly basis than the plan provided, they could make an adjustment to our rates. We didn’t even realize that was an option, and boy did we feel dumb for not negotiating it sooner. At least I get to keep my crappy iPhone…”

Groceries

Buying food is easily the biggest money burner in our budget. And this is especially true if you haven’t read my how to save money on groceries guide (see what I did there?).

The good news is you can get a little more savvy with savings on food and still eat nicely. Here are some top hacks to cut your grocery bill in half:

Buy In bulk: Membership places like Costco are great for buying in bulk and finding great deals on household items. But you can likely avoid the $60 membership fee and buy in bulk with Amazon’s Bulk Food Supply section. And with the shipping being FREE on most orders (or just having to go over a certain amount to qualify for free) then you save yourself a gas guzzling trip to the store and long waits in line.

Constantly get cashback: One of the easiest ways to save money on groceries is to take advantage of rebates from different rebate apps. Ebates is the go-to rebate apps for getting cash back on items you’re already buying. You simply create an account, and if you buy at one of their affiliated stores (they’re affiliated with tons) they put a percentage cash back into your account. You can start your Ebates account here and earn $10 bucks when you make your first purchase over $25 dollars.

Other rebate apps that are just as useful are:

Ibotta: You might have already heard of Ibotta but the gist is this: when you go shopping, you can keep your receipt, take a picture, and upload it to your Ibotta account. It’ll look for any cash back you can get on items on your list and add it to your account. It’s easy to use and can be worth it if you’re willing to spare the few minutes to upload your receipts.If you want to try out Ibotta, you get a $10 welcome bonus for joining.

Meal-plan ahead of time: Budget an exact amount and make a list of the exact things you need for the meals of the week (including snacks). You should be intentional about it because preplanning makes for less unplanned purchases once you get to the grocery store.

Use two types of towels together: If you have kids, this is an especially real money saver. Kids tend to mindlessly grab a wad of towels for the most unnecessary things. And honestly, sometimes adults too. Try keeping a set of high absorption microfiber towels in plain view so the paper towels aren’t the first thing you fly to. They’re great for spill cleanups, drying dishes, and the biggest paper towel waster: drying your hands. It’ll help you not go through so many roles at once and will make your paper towels last longer.

Water

Water is yet another part of our bill paying that can turn out to be way too much at the end of the month if you aren’t mindful of how much you use. While it’s a bit more challenging to save on water compared to the other areas on this list, there are still some pretty solid ways to make your bill more bearable.

Let’s look at a few—

Toilet hack: Make your toilet use less water to flush by adding a sand filled bottle to the tank. This offsets the water and requires less of a water refill/use every time you flush.

Install a rain catcher: rain catchers can gather tons of water as it collects it from roof runoff every time it rains. This is perfect for washing your car or watering your lawn/garden. Here’s a guide to make and install your first rain catcher.

Take Note: Some states have made installing a rain catcher illegal, make sure you check with your local laws first.

Take military showers: Military showers are quick and waste no more water than necessary. The gist is: get wet enough to latter, turn off the water, shampoo and scrub, turn on water enough to rinse. Get out and get dressed. All in less than 5 mins.

The basin method: Or you can fill up a pail of water, instead of using the shower head (because you’ll be tempted to leave it running when you don’t need it) and use the water in it to scoop and shower. Old school style.

Use low flow shower heads: Low flow shower heads allow you to shower without wasting the gallons of water that spew out per few minutes. Not to mention it also helps out the environment. Investing in a Niagara low flow shower head can ring you up as low as $8 bucks. It’s a one-time investment that can save you money in the long run.

Cable/Wi-fi

What would our world be without the internet? Probably way too different to imagine. I freak out when it goes out even for two minutes, especially if I’m in the middle of something.

While you can’t do without internet, here’s what you can do to make it more budget friendly.

Haggle on your wi-fi: Haggling on the grand majority of your bills works. Here is another forum comment on how they saved more than $500 from a 15-min phone call:

“Last year, my husband decided to go back to school, thus losing about half our income. I called our internet company because I knew we were at a lowered rated and was hoping to keep it. The normal rate is $75 a month, we were paying $30 but it was set to expire that month. When we called we said we were thinking of moving to a different company and wanted to know if they could match or give us a lower rate. They agreed to keep our discount for another 12 months. That was last year and since my husband is still in school, we really were hoping to keep it. We made the call again and they agreed to keep it at $30 a month for another 12 months.

Bills like this are “negotiable.” Call and find out what they can do for you!

edit: yep, math was way off. Actually saved around $540. Also, I know the post title sounds like Geico commercial.”

Buy a second-hand modem: When you connect brand new internet in your home, the biggest cost is the modem. I made the big mistake of ordering a modem from the company and paying around $90 in payments over the span of a year for it. I could have very well found a second-hand modem for a fraction of the price that did the exact same job.

Work out a payment deal with your neighbor: If you get along well with your neighbor, you can try working together to adopt an internet plan that’s fast enough for all of you to use and split the bill every month. Heck, write out a contract if you have to. Splitting the bill on something that can be shared, like Wi-fi, is a great way to save.

What are alternatives to cable? Cable is already old school, and you can find plenty of entertainment through online subscriptions like Netflix ($8-$14 a month) or Hulu ($8) or even Amazon Prime (they have a growing selection of tv shows and movies and you get free shipping on select items for around $8 a month). Here’s a complete comparison of all three services you can look through to see which one is the best replacement for the costly tv channels that you don’t even watch.

Bundle and negotiate: Often companies will bundle TV and internet for a whole year. For example, Comcast did this for me for $47 bucks, and it was the only reason we got cable (it turned out to be cheaper). Make sure you ask about their bundle plans and try to negotiate on top of that to get a cheaper deal.

Buy an antenna: Antennas are relatively cheap and they can catch some extra channels for you after installing it. If you don’t mind the look, the cheap access to certain channels you get might be worth it.

Credit Cards

The only great thing about credit card bills that I can think of is that there is an end to them once you manage to pay them off. It might be a while before that happens and you can check them off your list (hopefully forever).

Here’s how you can save on your credit card bills/repayment plan:

Haggle and ask for lower interest rate: You don’t get what you don’t ask for. It’s a popular saying that also applies to your credit cards. It might be nerve-wracking at first, but it’s good practice to call your credit card company and try to negotiate a lower interest rate.

Pay off a loan with a loan: I recently read about an alternative that may help you pay off your loan faster. The gist is: Take out a personal loan with a much lower interest rate from places like LendingTree or Lending Club, pay off all your credit cards, get a side hustle and THEN pay off your personal loan faster and with an overall lower interest rate that’ll save you tons in the long run. Genius.

Refinance: Refinancing, if you have multiple sources of debt, can help, though it isn’t always the best option for everyone. This is especially true for student loans, which are a huge financial burden for recent college grads. Not too long ago I found a guide on what debt refinancing options out there are for student loans, and if they would work for you. Here’s the guide to help you tackle burdensome loans.

Misc. Bills

All your bills can’t fit into pretty little boxes because there are some miscellaneous expenses that fluctuate or change with the times/mood. Not to mention everyone’s misc. ‘bills’ can differ (if you have pets, medical bills, etc).

Here are some ways you can save on your misc. expenses and be a boss bill payer.

Gas

Three sites you can use to find where the cheapest gas is:

Taking the time to check for the cheapest gas option near you or on a trip can be worth it in the long run. As we all know little gas expenses add up.

Entertainment

Use Groupon deals to go out: Groupon is a great way to save when going out to eat or other fun activities around town. We’re talking 70% off deals and the likes. It changes often and the coupons don’t last long, that’s why you should make sure you sign up to stay updated. 

Look into credit cards rewards program: Many credit cards will reward you with cashback if you go out to eat/watch a movie at select places. You can end up going out for either free or really cheap if you know how to use the system well. You can look into getting a better cash back credit card here.

Start to Save Money on Your Monthly Bills

Hands down, sometimes the easiest way to save lots on your bills is to simply ask for lower rates.

The problem is that most of us are afraid of failing at it. The worst that could happen is that your bill provider says ‘no’ (which rarely happens according to all the haggling success stories out there and because they want to keep your service).

It’s awesome to be able to curb extra money into your savings account, or towards a vacation you really want to take. But it takes some action, so start saving on your bills now because you’ll thank yourself later.

Hopefully, this guide helped you and gave you some solid ideas on how to start saving money on your monthly bills.

I covered a lot of ground, but there can always be more ways to save on your bills. Are there any worth mentioning that I missed?

Make sure you leave a helpful comment below.