Here are five super easy ways that you can save money on utilities. Sometimes all it takes to save money is a little bit of time and focus on what you really need.
By Raki Wright
As part of the $1,000 challenge, I’ve been closely reviewing my monthly bills, looking for discounts and savings wherever I can find them. I’ve had one caveat: make a change so small, I won’t notice it. As the author says, willpower is finite. So, I figure that if I make easy changes that are essentially put on autopilot each month, the savings will come easily and be long-lasting. Here are five ways I was able to save money on my utilities.
Look for added fees, discounts, rates. etc.
Answering these questions brought about easy savings in reviewing a few of my monthly spending categories. Are you being charged late fees? Note the due date and if there is any grace period before the fee would be assessed. Did you sign up for an add-on that was free for a certain period of time? Those added services can drive your bill up, when you are not paying attention. So, make a note in your calendar for a few days before a discount is set to expire. That way you have time to call in to request the offer again or negotiate different terms. Discounted rates are often given to new customers, but existing customers can get them to, if they ask. If that’s not available, inquire about bundles (where you combine more than one service like cable+internet) or agree to a contract to lock your rate in for 1 year or more.
Decide what can be cut without changing your lifestyle.
When we signed up for satellite, it came with a free year of the NFL Sunday Ticket. The installer repeatedly warned me to be sure that I cancelled the service before the Super Bowl if I didn’t want to have to pay for another full year. After discussing it with my football-watching husband, we determined that he wasn’t really using the service, so I cancelled it. This is an example of cutting something that didn’t require a change in our lifestyle. Ask yourself these questions: Do I use it? Is it worth it? Can I get it elsewhere?
Consider alternate providers with lower rates.
These days many service providers are offering multiple services. For example, you can use the cable company for phone service. Try voice over internet protocol (Voice over IP or VOIP) for phone service. Drop your landline and use your cell phone only. Switch to satellite TV instead of cable. When all else fails, consider a switch to a competitor.
Ask for what you want.
You may have to call, write, live chat, or email with more than one customer service representative to get what you want. You may even have to try more than one means. Still, ask. I may have employed the “hang up and call back” method a time or two, to reach a different representative to see if I got a different answer. In order to get a discount, I’ve directly asked for it, told them about a competitor’s offer, said I was considering taking my business elsewhere, and even talked to a sales representative (instead of a customer service representative). Be prepared to cancel your service if you can’t get what you want – don’t just threaten, because it may not work.
Pay bills on time.
If you don’t already, you need to budget – which is a fancy way to decide how to spend your money before the month starts. Then, you need to use a bill paying system. You need one that is organized and on a regular schedule (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) to manage your finances properly. It is imperative that you schedule time to pay bills, even if you utilize automatic payments. Some other ways to make bill paying easier is to
make smaller payments more often (weekly or bi-weekly, instead of monthly), use your bank’s or creditor’s electronic bill payment (paid online or by phone), and set up reminders. To keep you on track, you can also pay bills in person, when you are short on time.
There you have it – five super easy ways to save money on utilities. Which one will you use today?
For more on family budgeting, check out these two series:
- The $1000 Challenge: One woman’s attempt to cut $1000 from her monthly budget.
- Budgeting Basics with Lexi DeRock!: A newlywed finds the joy in sticking to a budget.