Money Health

How to Cut Back on Monthly Expenses— Today

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Cutting back on monthly expenses can feel impossible when there are so many things that fall into the category of “must-have” as opposed to “nice-to-have.” That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, however, to spend less each month and still get everything you need.

In fact, small tweaks can make all the difference in how much you pay for common expenses.  What’s even better: there are many changes you can make today that can reduce your bills, from car insurance to groceries. Start paying less today with these ideas.

Rethink Your Car Insurance

Car insurance can be a hefty monthly bill. To reduce your car insurance bill, call your provider to see if you qualify for a better rate. Many insurance providers offer dozens of discounts that you can likely take advantage of, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Here are a few of them:

  • Anti-Theft Devices
  • Auto and Homeowners Coverage with the Same Company
  • College Students away from Home
  • Defensive Driving Courses
  • Drivers Ed Courses
  • Good Credit Record
  • Higher Deductibles
  • Low Annual Mileage
  • Long-Time Customer
  • More than 1 car
  • No Accidents in 3 Years
  • No Moving Violations in 3 Years
  • Student Drivers with Good Grades

If you don’t drive a lot, you may also want to consider switching to a per-mile insurance option to save more money on your car insurance bills.

Cut Back on Entertainment Costs

If you haven’t cut the cable cord yet, now may be the time. Getting rid of cable can drastically decrease your monthly entertainment bill, according to a study conducted by Lend EDU—cord-cutters save an average of $115.34 per month.

With so many streaming services available now, it’s easy to do away with this bill in favor of something cheaper. When choosing a streaming service, consider what’s most important, like local broadcasts. Note that most cable providers also offer their programs for free online, making it easy to stay up-to-date with all your favorite shows sans the pricey bill.

Learn How to Save More on Entertainment Apps

Spend Less on Food

There are many ways to cut back on extraneous food costs, while still getting everything you need to eat healthy and stay full all week. Here are a few tricks to use this week:

  • Buy non-perishable items like granola, beans and rice in bulk, which is often cheaper than the boxed version.
  • Plan your meals—this leads to less waste. Instead of grabbing items haphazardly, you’ll buy foods you know you’ll eat.
  • Buy foods that can be used more than once throughout the week. For example, chicken breasts can be roasted with potatoes, sautéed with veggies or mixed into pasta.

If eating out or ordering in is a regular expense for you, start with a small goal for cutting back, like eating out just twice each week instead of three times. According to research from Forbes, on average, it’s almost five times more expensive to order delivery from a restaurant than it is to cook at home. Cutting back just one less day a week will have an immediate impact.

Reduce Your Utility Bills

Whether you own or rent, you know how expensive utilities can be, especially if you have the heat or A/C running a lot. The good news is adjustments to your energy usage can help you drive down the cost of your monthly utilities, now and in the future. Here are a few ways to save on your energy bill today:

  • Put a reminder by your door to turn off the heat or air conditioning so you don’t accidentally leave it on.
  • Unplug electronics, such as lamps, microwaves, toasters and other appliances when they’re not in use.
  • Service your air conditioner once a year to ensure it’s running at top efficiency, allowing you to use less energy.
  • Cover your windows with plastic in the winter to avoid heat air leakage.

Don’t forget to contact your local gas and electricity provider as well. AllState explains, “Many utility companies have programs and incentives in place to help encourage their customers to cut back on energy consumption.”

Save on Your Cell Phone

Cell phone bills are a necessary evil, but you may not need to pay as much as you are.  First and foremost, call your provider to review your current plan and data usage—you may be using less data than you think, allowing you to drop down to a lower tier. You may also be able to get a lower rate by signing up for automatic payments.

If you can’t get a lower rate, and you don’t like options from other cell providers, consider other simple money-saving tactics like using Wi-Fi whenever you can. You can also go into your phone’s settings to find out which apps are using the most data or download an app that will tell you and then automatically close those apps for you.

Lower Your Monthly Bills—Today

Now is the time to spend less on monthly expenses. In most cases, a simple phone call can help you save in just a few minutes. Use these ideas to spend less while still having great car insurance, a warm home and access to your favorite shows.

Next: How to Teach Your Kids About Personal Finance.

Jessica Thiefels is the CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting and has been writing for more than 10 years. She’s written for AARP, Reader’s Digest and Lifehack and regularly contributes to The Financial Diet, Homes.com and more.