Tips for Saving on Monthly Services

If money is tight right now, or if you’re just trying to live frugally, there are a number of ways to save money without having to drastically change your lifestyle. One of the best way to save money is by going through all of your recurring bills to see where you can eliminate or reduce spending.

In our age of user-friendly, advanced technology, there are more services available to us than ever before. You can call an Uber with one tap on your phone or order more laundry detergent by clicking the Amazon Dash button in your cabinet. With services this readily available to us, it’s hard not to sign up. Read on to learn how to save some money on your monthly services without having to sacrifice too many of life’s comforts.

Utilities

There are countless ways to save on water, heat, and electricity. Yes, you can turn down the heat in the winter time and take shorter showers, but there are less commonly known ways to save as well. For example:

  • Keep multiple electric-powered items plugged into one power-strip and power off the strip overnight. This will stop those items from consuming electricity in standby mode
  • Insulate your windows in the winter time by using caulking, weather stripping, and shrink wrap your windows with heat shrink film to keep the heat in
  • Some Saturday afternoon make a checklist of all of your home’s lightbulbs. Then go out and replace them with energy efficient CFLs and LED bulbs
  • Hang clothes on the line in fair weather and wash your clothes in cold water; much of the energy consumed by washing clothes goes to heating the water up first

Monthly services

Remember when there were only a few good shows on TV and paying for cable was the only way to watch them? Now any given household can have Netflix, Amazon Streaming, HBO Go, and countless other monthly services for watching TV.

To save on watching your favorite movies and television, try these tips:

  • Ditch Netflix DVD services or expensive premium cable channels and rent from your local library system. Through inter-library loans you can get the newest movies and TV shows shipped to your library for free
  • Cancel your cable bill and try a cheap service like Hulu. If you’re worried about missing the news, use websites or news apps on your smart TV to keep up to date on the issues
  • Negotiate rates with your provider. Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to learn about better options. Since many people are taking the internet-only approach, cable companies are desperate to maintain customers

Saving on telephone bills:

  • First, ditch the landline. You probably only get telemarketers calling there anyway; what do you have to lose?
  • Use a family plan and calculate your data usage. Make sure your family is on wifi whenever possible. You can save up to $30/month just by having a lower data plan
  • Negotiate with your provider. Reminding your provider that you have other options when it comes to cell phones can get you a better rate.

General tips and tricks:

  • If you have a student email address (.edu) this can be used to gain discounts from a number of monthly services
  • Ask your providers to apply promotions to your account. If you see that something you pay for is running a deal, call and ask if you can have the rate as well. You’re a loyal customer after all
  • If you’ve built up good credit, look for lower interest rates online. There are apps and websites dedicated to finding you better deals

3 Miscellaneous Expenses for Homebuyers to Consider

You’ve found the home of your dreams, can afford the regular mortgage payments and even accounted for your closing costs, too. Clearly, you’re in a great position to cover the costs associated with your home consistently, right?

Even the most diligent homebuyer may encounter unforeseen costs along the way. Fortunately, we’re here to help you prepare for these miscellaneous expenses.

Here’s a closer look at three miscellaneous homebuyer costs that you’ll need to consider before you purchase a residence:

1. Homeowners Association Fees

Planning to move into a condo? You’ll want to find out what the homeowners association (HOA) fees are before you close on your residence, as these costs can add up quickly.

HOA expenses usually cover the costs associated with keeping your lawn clean and looking great, clearing snow from roads and driveways in winter and other condo community costs. As such, these fees may wind up costing you several hundred dollars each month – a hefty sum that every condo owner needs to know about.

To find out if HOA fees will affect your monthly budget, be sure to consult with your real estate agent. This professional should be able to get in touch with a HOA and determine exactly how much you’ll need to add to your budget each month to account for these costs.

2. Unexpected Income Changes

Your income may change over the life of your mortgage, and as such, you should try to plan accordingly.

For example, consider what may happen if your full-time work schedule is reduced to part-time hours. This may prove to be exceedingly difficult, particularly if you don’t have a Plan B in place to pay your mortgage.

When it comes to potential income changes, it always is better to err on the side of caution. And a homeowner who has an emergency fund in place may be able to cover regular mortgage costs even if his or her everyday wages are reduced.

3. Emergency Medical Bills

Unfortunately, medical emergencies can arise without notice and wreak havoc on a homeowner’s budget. But even though these emergencies can put a financial strain on a homeowner, this homeowner still will be responsible for making regular mortgage payments.

Emergency medical bills, like unexpected income changes, should be accounted for as part of an emergency fund. Furthermore, homeowners who contribute to this fund monthly can accumulate finances that will be readily available in even the worst-case scenarios.

Buying a home requires a significant financial investment, but homebuyers who prepare accordingly will be able to ensure that they can manage any financial hardships that could come their way.

No homebuyer wants to consider financial hardships, but working with a resourceful and intelligent real estate agent may help you prepare for the worst. This real estate professional may be able to offer guidance and tips to help you budget for your new residence and ensure that you’ll be prepared for any emergencies as well.

Plan for your new home purchase as much as you can, and ultimately, you’ll be better equipped to make regular mortgage payments and manage any financial hardships along the way.

Ways to Cut Your Monthly Expenses

Would you like to save money every month? How about eliminating $1,000 a month from your budget?  Trimming $1,000 a month is no easy task. Here are some places to start reducing your monthly expenses.

1. Phone, Cable and Internet

Start out trying to cut costs on utilities. Call your cable, phone and Internet providers. Review the services you have, look for services you don’t need, and slim down the utility bill as much as possible. Don’t forget to ask about any specials or promotions they may be running. You may also want to call the competition to see if they offer a better deal.

2. Child Care

You can save money on child care if your employer offers a flexible spending account. A flexible spending account lets you set aside pre-taxed dollars to pay for health care, child care and commuting costs.

3. The Mortgage

If mortgage rates are low you may want to consider refinancing. A lower interest rate can help reduce monthly mortgage payments. You may also consider future savings and change the terms of your mortgage. Look into 15-year mortgage options that could allow you to have your home paid off prior to retirement.

4. Groceries

Take the time to comparison shop when buying groceries. Try the store brand instead of paying top dollar from brand name food. Coupon clipping can also save you money, every little bit helps. You may not have time to become a master coupon clipper, however, saving a few dollars each week will add up over time.

If you can focus on recurring monthly expenses, and make cut backs as needed, you won’t have to work as hard every month to save money.