Hand holding mobile smart phone with paying bills

Many of us tend to accept that our monthly bills are what they are and can’t be lowered. However, with some finesse, they actually can!

For example, you’d be surprised how often you can snag a lower rate on “fixed” expenses like insurance and internet just by calling your billers and asking if they’re running any specials or changing their payment structure. Alternatively, you could find better deals from other providers.

You can also take everyday actions to lower the amount you owe for services you impact directly — like water and energy.

Here’s how to save money on bills like these to grow your savings even more.

Your water bill

Water is a precious resource that seems to be ever-dwindling in availability. Finding ways to use less water not only benefits your bottom line, but it’s also good for the planet.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to use less water (and save more money!) each month.

  • Take shorter showers. Reducing your time in the shower by even a minute can save 2.5 gallons. Whether you live alone or have a family of five, that adds up over the course of a month.
  • Recycle water. While we’re on the subject of showers, it may sound strange, but bring a bucket into the shower with you. If you wait for the water to heat up before hopping in, you can collect that water and use it on your plants or in your garden.
  • Look for leaks and drips. Did you know that small household leaks amount to about 10,000 gallons of lost water? Check your pipes and outdoor faucets every spring for leaks to reduce water waste.
  • Fix that running toilet. Similar to leaky pipes, a running toilet can flush a lot of money down the drain — to the tune of about a gallon an hour.

You can use less water in many other ways, including using the dishwasher over hand-washing, adding aerators to your faucets and taking your car to the carwash. Challenge yourself by picking three of these changes to start today, and watch your savings fill up your wallet.

Your energy bill

Similar to your water bill, you can make simple tweaks to your everyday behaviors to save on your energy consumption — and your electricity bill.

  • Tinker with your thermostat. Gradually set your thermostat lower/higher depending on the season. Start with two degrees lower in the winter and two degrees warmer in the summer, and move from there. Hopefully, you’ll see, but not feel, the difference.
  • Change your furnace filters regularly. The harder something has to work, the more energy it uses. So, opt for high-efficiency filters in your furnace come wintertime even though they cost more upfront. They’ll end up saving you more in the long run.
  • Switch to LED lightbulbs. This is less of a choice now than it used to be, but choosing LED lightbulbs over incandescent will help your bill. Amazingly, they use about 75% less energy. While they used to be quite pricey, the cost of LED lightbulbs has come down dramatically since they were first put on shelves.

Other money-saving tips include setting a timer for outdoor lights and checking the seals around your windows so your central air isn’t working overtime to cool your house. You’d be surprised at how much money a simple tube of caulk can save!

Your food “bill”

OK, food isn’t technically a bill you receive in the mail or your inbox every month, but it’s still a fluctuating, monthly expense that many people struggle to control. If you want to save money on what you eat each month, create a budget around the main areas in which you spend money on food. To find them, ask yourself:

  • Do you love takeout?
  • How about weekly meal boxes/kits?
  • Are you a caffeine junkie?
  • What about happy hours at your local bar?

All of these activities are perfectly enjoyable and nothing to necessarily cut out of your life — please, keep them if they make you happy! But push yourself to spend less by setting a specific amount you’ll allow yourself to spend each month.

So, let’s say you have $500 total to spend on food each month. Here’s one way you could break that down:

  • Groceries/meal boxes: $250
  • Dining out: $150
  • Coffee: $50
  • Drinks: $50

Track your expenses and compare them against your budget to stay within your spending limits. Next month, you can make adjustments as needed.

Your monthly subscriptions

While subscriptions to streaming services and gaming apps might fall closer to a set expense than something that changes month to month, that’s really only true if you know what (and how many) you’ve signed up for. Subscriptions with low revolving costs, under $15, are common offenders for a “set it and forget it” mentality.

In fact, on average, we’re all subscribed to seven streaming services. But would you say you actually use them all on a monthly basis? Probably not. So, while these services may have fixed rates each month, as you continue to sign up for more and more, you’re adding a significant monthly draw to your bank account that you might not even attribute to this category.

If you’re like most people and you’re not entirely sure which subscriptions you’re signed up for, apps like Trim automatically analyze your credit cards to find recurring monthly charges. If you find a service you’re underutilizing (or not using at all), they’ll actually cancel it for you.

And keep in mind that:

  • Streaming services typically don’t have contracts, so you can and should pause your subscription when you realize the next season of your favorite TV show isn’t coming back for another nine months.
  • Cutting cable is easier if you replace it with a lower-priced streaming option like SlingTV or Hulu + Live TV. You can then more easily pause those online-only services when you’re on vacation or spending more time outside in the summer.
  • Revisiting your subscriptions on a regular basis will help you keep track of and more easily eliminate any that just become money-wasters.

Your big savings

These are only a handful of suggestions on how to save money on bills to get you started. Experiment with new and different tweaks that fit your lifestyle, and see how your changes impact that figure at the bottom of your bill. Also, use a spreadsheet to keep track of everything — subscriptions you’re signed up for, your food budget, the grand totals for your water and electricity bills each month.

A spreadsheet can help you stay on top of everything, including specific actions you might’ve taken that month to lower your bill. Create a “Notes” column or row to keep track of certain things you switched up. Did you use the outdoor hose less while gardening because you recycled water, and your water bill dipped? Make a note! Did you pop in those high-efficiency furnace filters for the first time and saw your energy bill decrease? You’ll need to remember that for next winter!

All it takes is small changes to your daily habits and a regular evaluation of what you’re actually using to see big results. So, try extending your money-saving mindset beyond everyday purchases to your utilities and watch your savings soar.

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