Cut Back On The Cable Bill
It seems like cable has become a necessity of life, but is it really that important? If you tell your kids you are cutting off the cable you will probably witness a complete meltdown.
So if you if want to cut out the cost of cable but still have access to your favorite shows then here are some options.
- Smart TV with built-in Wi-Fi, which enables the TV to easily connect to the internet
- Digital TV antenna, which brings in all the local stations, enabling you to still get local news and coverage
- Hulu and Netflix subscriptions
- Amazon Prime membership, which includes free access to Prime Video and gives you the option to buy an Amazon Channel subscription
- Starz subscription (though Amazon Channels)
You can also add the Hulu, Netflix and Amazon apps to your smart TV, and you are ready to roll.
Three necessities of modern life are phone, TV and internet service. They can be bought separately or bundled, and the costs vary wildly. Figuring out the best deal takes effort since the monthly bills are full of cryptic charges seemingly designed to baffle customers into submission. But buckle down and decide what you really need as far as data capacity and TV channels, then shop around for the best bundle or individual service.
Watch What You Are Eating
If you’re ever debating whether to eat out or eat at home, don’t start your car. The cost of food prepared at home dropped 0.5% in 2016, while the price of eating out increased 2.7%. A 2017 report by the U.S. Department Agriculture predicts those trends will continue. In terms you can really sink your teeth into, that means the rotisserie chicken dinner with vegetables you get in a restaurant for $12.95 (not counting tip and beverage) will cost you about $6.50 at home. When you go the grocery store, go prepared. Studies have shown almost 70% of purchases are impulse buys, so make a list beforehand and stick to it. And use coupons. The U.S Consumer Packaged Goods marketers say consumers can save $30 to $50 a week using coupons for food, clothing, tobacco and household items. Also, never go to the grocery store hungry. Your stomach will overpower your brain and you’ll spend more than you need.
The average U.S household with a credit card has a balance of $16,425, and the average interest rate is 16.49%. That means Americans are throwing away millions of dollars each month on interest charges, while they overpay with a credit card for that third big-screen TV. Call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate. If you find yourself overwhelmed by monthly bills, call a nonprofit credit counseling agency and consider enrolling in a debt management program. Counselors will consolidate your expenses and work with lenders to lower your interest charges. You then make one monthly payment to the non-profit, which distributes the funds to lenders. Counselors will also set up a budget that will get you out of debt.
Reduce Electricity Use
Electricity can be expensive, but it’s not like there is another option unless you want to live like the Unabomber in a one-room shack cut off from the world. What is optional is how much electricity you choose to waste. A few simple steps will save you money: Two inefficient light bulbs use the same amount of electricity as a large computer, so get energy-efficient light bulbs and turn off when not in use. Avoid “Vampire drain,” which is the power that is slowly sapped by electronics (stereos, workout equipment, kitchen appliances) that are infrequently used. Just unplug them until they are needed. Air conditioning is the biggest power users, so don’t keep your thermostat at sub-freezing temperatures. Use fans to circulate air. Insulate your windows to cut down on heat radiation. Turn off preprogrammed utilities, like the AC, heating and sprinkler system. Many times they kick on when they are not really needed.
Grow Your Own Garden
If you’ve ever been down the Produce aisle at Whole Foods, you know how expensive vegetables can be, especially if you want organic ones. No one is suggesting you buy a tractor and become a farmer, but growing a garden is surprisingly easy and rewarding. The start-up costs are basically just garden soil, a few tools and seeds for the basics like carrots, peppers, tomatoes, berries and squash. There is a wealth of Do-It-Yourself information available for free on the internet. Not only will you have the old-time satisfaction that comes with producing much of what you eat, Business Insider magazine estimates the average family could save up to $24,000 a year on food expenses. That’s a savings anyone can sink their teeth into.
Stop Smoking – Not Only For the Money 🙂
Speaking of getting healthier, here’s an obvious one. But after decades of Surgeon General’s Warnings, a lot of people still haven’t gotten the message. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3,200 people younger than 18 smoke their first cigarette every day. Just to rub the disturbing facts home – cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the U.S., including 41,000 from second-hand smoke exposure. If the thought of killing yourself or people around you isn’t enough to make you quit, consider this: The average national price of a pack of cigarettes was $6.16 in the first quarter of 2017. If you smoke a pack a day that means you’re spending $185 a month on death sticks. That’s $2,248 a year going up in smoke. So if a person starts at age 18 and doesn’t kick the habit until they were 50, they would have spent (assuming the price doesn’t go up, which it will) almost $72,000 on cigarettes. I think I’d rather have a nice BMW.
Reduce Your Insurance Premiums
Insurance is a lot like cable and cell phone bills. It takes an I.Q. of 170 and/or dogged determination to figure out all the confusing charges. Here are a few simple tips: Shop through an independent agent, who will compare prices and policies. It’s often cheaper to bundle auto and home insurance through one company. Raise your deductibles if possible. The difference in monthly premiums between a $250 deductible and a $500 can be substantial. Driving less (or better yet, carpooling) will reduce your car insurance rates because the less you drive, obviously, the less chance you have of getting into an accident. If your car is old and paid for, eliminate the costly collision coverage. Buy term life instead of whole life insurance. The premiums are much lower.
Get Around More Wisely
Most people can’t live without a car. But if you can, do it! The annual cost to operate an average sedan was $8,558 in 2016, according to the American Automobile Association. That was 57 cents per mile, or $713 a month. Even if you must have a car, and most of us do, use public transportation whenever possible. A lot of people don’t necessarily like riding buses all over town, but most light-rail operations are clean, safe and direct. The rise of rideshare services like Uber and Zipcar have also made it easier to live car-free. And if you have an automobile, try to carpool as often as possible. Or better yet, get around on a bike. You’ll not only save money, you’ll get healthier.
Stop Spending So Much on Weekends
This is a two-day course of action that could lead to a lifetime of savings. Try to go an entire Saturday and Sunday without buying anything. Eat what’s already in your refrigerator or the pantry. Drink what’s in the liquor cabinet. Instead of going to a movie, watch one on TV or read a book or take your kids to a park or play board games with your family. Not only will you save money, you might discover some of the better things in life really are free.