As some of you may know, we have a very influential blogger program here at Swagbucks. Every so often, we like to showcase one of the influencers that we feel would be beneficial to all our Swaggernauts. Here is a guest post from David Bakke of Money Crashers.
David Bakke is a contributor for Money Crashers Personal Finance, where he shares tips and tricks for smart shopping, budgeting, money management, and generating extra income.
If you think of your monthly bills as fixed expenses you can’t do anything about, think again. There are plenty of ways to save on services like cable, electricity, and phone costs, and quite often it’s not that difficult to do. The economy is starting to pick up steam, but it’s by no means off to the races. Cutting costs wherever you can can help ease the pinch. The more you can save on your monthly bills, the better off you’re going to be in the future, so follow these five tips to get started today:
1. Cut Your Food Bill
Your best bet for saving on groceries is to clip coupons. Pick up an extra copy of the Sunday paper to double your savings and organize your coupons by expiration date in a file folder. Find out which day of the week your grocer doubles their value and shop on that day. Sign up for any customer loyalty programs to receive additional opportunities to save. If you own an Apple smartphone, download the Yowza app or see if your preferred grocer has an app that can allow you to use coupons directly from your mobile device. [Don't forget, all this month for every Swagbuck Coupon you print you'll be entered into a drawing to win $500 - click here for details]
2. Reduce Home Energy Expenses
Invest in a programmable thermostat and you can reduce your home energy bills by as much as 20% simply by adjusting the temperature three degrees in either direction. Pare down to T-shirts and shorts in the summer and use ceiling fans effectively to save even more. There are plenty energy providers out there, so research the competition and see if you can reduce your bill by switching companies. If your provider offers free home energy audits, take advantage of them and get a complete list of ways to reduce your expenses.
3. Bundle Your Services
Combine your Internet, cable TV, and cell phone services under one company for a reduced-rate package. Just be sure to investigate all opportunities so you know which is best for your needs. Never agree to a bundled deal that includes something you don’t require, like perhaps a landline telephone, and avoid signing a long-term contract if possible.
4. Cut Back on Your Water Usage
Take shorter showers and commit only to full loads of dishes and clothes, and you can cut your water bill significantly. The cost of water services has risen in many areas of the nation as a result of recent infrastructure improvements. Counter those price increases with smarter usage. Installing low-flow shower heads can help as well.
5. Rethink Your Needs
If you want to buy a new GPS or digital camera, or even some new clothes, ask yourself if you really need them. If you’re honest, you’re likely to find that the answer is going to be no. Keep your money in your pocket and put it where it can do you some long-term good. This also applies to minor everyday purchases such as snacks, lottery tickets, gum, soda, and newspapers. Either you can do without these things or you can find inexpensive alternatives.
Once the savings start rolling in, direct them effectively. If you’re trying to dig yourself out of credit card debt, send your surplus there. If you need an emergency fund to protect against life’s uncertainties, build one. If all else is taken care of, put your savings toward your child’s 529 college plan or to your own retirement – you can never have enough there. Saving money on your bills is great, but putting those savings where they can do the most good is even better.
What ways can you think of to reduce monthly bills? Leave your ideas in the comments below and we’ll hook 3 of you up with 25 Swag Bucks!