Five years ago I was homeless. My husband abandoned our family and due to physical safety and no income, my kids and I ended up in a women’s crisis shelter. Although, I can honestly say with full confidence, that it was the worst time in my whole life, I can also say with confidence, that I wouldn’t trade that moment in my life for anything, even riches beyond my wildest dreams.
Being homeless taught me what I REALLY TRULY needed to survive. When you can’t afford a bar of soap, you start to think about things differently. Before then, I had lived a very charmed life. I was a stay at home mom all of my kids lives, and while we were not rich, we had enough to get by. But losing it all and still being able to survive, made me realize that I don’t need all those things to make me happy, thus, there in that homeless shelter, I truly learned what contentment was. Anything above food, shelter, and clothing I’m happy.
And even though I wasn’t saved at the time (I wouldn’t give my life to God until about a month after I got out of the shelter) God would STILL be gracious and giving to me and use all that for His glory and my good. I would go through all that again and again if it meant I come to the place where I am truly content and in being content, I don’t NEED to buy stuff to fill that void anymore.
There are very few things I want, but when I do, I have the capacity to buy them. Last Christmas, I went out and spent $600 on a Wii U and had no second thoughts about it or budgeting to figure out how I was going to pay for it. Since I am completely debt free, I do not have such worries, and you can get there too! It might take you five years, like it did me. It might take you less or more, depending on your situation, but you CAN, read it again, ABSOLUTELY CAN DO THIS!
If it seems hopeless, take heart, I was once there too. It is not impossible, and it is not hopeless!!!!!
So, how DO YOU save money on your monthly bills? Easy.
20 Ways to Save Money on Your Monthly Bills
1) Lower your bills. This is really the first step to saving money that a lot of people miss. In order to make your income go farther and stop your money from flying out the window, you need to stop the leaks.
Bills are like little leaks, stealing your money every month. Get those leaks plugged up as best as you can, and your income can actually stay the same, but you’ll have more of it. Click here to find out more about how to start a budget diet.
2) Move to a smaller place. Consider if you really need the size of a place you are living in now. If you moved and saved $200/month, that would mean you could pay off a $1,000 bill in 5 months.
For some people, this may really be worth it in the long run. Perhaps living in a smaller place until you are debt free, and once you are debt free, you can have an even better place than where you live now. This has been true for me personally. I live in the nicest place I’ve ever had in my entire life right now, BECAUSE I am debt free and I can afford it.
3) Getting cash back. Ahhh, cash back on things you already purchase. I love it!
Now, you can get cash back in two ways.
1-Go through a company like Ebates, who pays you to shop online on purchases you’re already making.
2-You can use a Paypal debit card that gives you a certain percentage back each month. Pay your bills from that Paypal debit card and make money on bills you’re ALREADY paying!
4) Lower your grocery bill. There are many ways you can lower your grocery bills. From saving money on meat, saving money on produce, to using portion controls your family won’t notice, even playing games with your family to eat from your pantry. If you’re a busy mom, there’s even a guide I wrote especially for you.
Whatever you do, one thing that will really help your budget is by starting to make things from scratch. Make your own BBQ sauce, your own fettuccine sauce, and so on. Why buy minced jarred garlic that will go to waste when a head of garlic is like a quarter. A jar of minced garlic is $3.50-$4. Convenience foods are always more expensive, remember time is money. Don’t trade 2 minutes of your time for $3.50! That’s like $105/hour. Anyone get paid that?
5) Let go of bad habits. Bad habits can suck your money from you right and left. Figure out which bad habits are sucking your income dry and stop them. I’m not just talking about things like smoking cigarettes either. Things like shopping to kill time is a biggie for a lot of people.
6) Do It Yourself. YouTube is great. You can literally learn to fix anything yourself, saving you a bundle. Maintain the items that you have and take care of them. Clean out that lint trap from your dryer; it saves you money! Here are 8 Household Chores Your Probably Forgot to Do and many of them will save you money in the long haul!
7) Bundle your bills. Did you know that companies like Qwest/Century Link bundle bills with DirectTV to save you $5-$10/month. Get your internet through them and you save an additional $5-$10/month, depending where you live. Bundling your bills will help you save money on your monthly bills without changing anything! You’re still getting the same service, but you have one or two less bills to keep track of and $10-$20 less a month on those same exact bills.
8) Shuffle your money. Shuffling my money is one of my favorite tricks. I don’t let ANYTHING go to waste. It gets used up in one way or another! Sometimes you might have to get creative, sometimes I’ll use a gift card someone gives me as a gift to someone else. I know, it’s taboo, but if I won’t use it and it saves me from having to spend $20 on someone else’s gift, I still come out looking like a rock star and no one is the wiser. Well, unless my friends read this…..lol. Sorry guys, saving money here! 🙂
9) Do you really need two cars? There was a time in my life where my husband and I shared one. He worked and I didn’t. I would borrow my mom’s car when I needed to get groceries or go grocery shopping when my husband was home.
While that may not work in every situation, it’s something to consider. Less gas, less car insurance, less money in maintenance all around, less snow tires you have to buy if you live in the snow….the list goes on and on.
10) Use free online services. Internet is not free, but are you using it to it’s full potential to save money on your monthly bills??? Things like bill pay, we can easily understand it saves us money, but what about letting your fingers do the shopping instead of your legs? Instead of wasting gas running all over town pricing something to save money, price it online. Use sites like Amazon and eBay or even the stores’ own websites to check prices. This will save you not only money, but time, and who has plenty of time to kill? Not me!
11) Negotiate your bills. Did you know that you can negotiate just about everything? It’s totally true. Over the years, I’ve become really good at haggling and you can too. This is ESPECIALLY true if you see a new customer discount. What’s up with that? Give the new people great deals, but loyal customers get nothing?!?! Tell them about it and you may just see that same or a better discount coming your way!
12) What can you cut out and what can you add to your budget to save? It’s easy to think of things like gym memberships and extra credit cards, perhaps even fancy coffee to cut out of your budget, but sometimes, with many people (and I saw this in my banking career), there are a lot of little charges here and there that you don’t remember you have!
It’s set up automatically, and if you don’t balance your checkbook to the penny, you may never see it!
So, balance those checkbooks to the penny. Even if you have to start a whole new checking account to do so, it is SOOOO worth it. Trust me, in my banking career I used to have to deal with all the nightmares of people who never balanced to the penny. It was my job to balance them! Ahhh!
Likewise, what can you ADD to your bills to save money on your monthly bills? Let’s say you go to the movie theater once a month. Something like that will set you back a good $50, but if you purchase a Netflix account, you can stream movies whenever you want for like $10/month!
13) Trading to get what you want. There are lots of things you can do to get what you want for free. That includes trading! You can trade on Craigslist, you can trade your friends. You can trade anything. Trade babysitting services, trade your food for another person’s. I mean, if your neighbors’ milk is going bad and they can’t drink it all before it does, why NOT give it to them? When you buy a bunch of scallions, do you REALLY use up the whole thing? Getting with friends or neighbors and planning your meals together as more of a community trading for food, would really work out great and could ideally cut your grocery bill quite a bit! Especially if you both have a garden. Say she plants tomatoes, you plant squash. Trade!
14) Pay your bills online. Paying your bills online can save you a good $90/year on stamps and envelopes alone! Not to mention it saves on time. Likewise, invest in the forever stamps before they go up. Buy 100 rolls if you have to. Over the course of your life, it’ll save you and your family quite a bit, since you won’t ever have to pay the higher stamp prices! Forever stamps never expire!
But it’s not just banks you want to watch out for…did you know that Target charges you 5¢ every time you shop there for grocery bags! It’s true. You see, you probably don’t notice because you only get the discount if you bring in your own recycled bags. So, if you’re NOT getting the discount, that means you’re paying it, right?!?! I know it’s a little thing, but can you imagine the billions of dollars they make on those bags each year. Pretty sneaky, eh?
16) Do your research. You can save money on your monthly bills just by comparison shopping. In this post (click here), I give an example of a cell phone cover that had horrible reviews on it. Always do your research to save yourself hassle and money!
17) Don’t waste anything. Now, I don’t reuse things like paper plates, but there are a lot of things you CAN reuse very easily. For me, one of the major ways is on paper! We go through so much paper in this house and we reuse it all. My kids homework, they color on. I have scraps of paper I use for notes as I can’t remember a thing without writing it down and I just LOVE me some checklists. I’m weird like that. 🙂 After we are done, yep, it goes into the recycling can, but not before we recycled it first.
Another great idea is giving your kids your toilet paper rolls. They can make some fun crafts out of the things you throw in the trash!
18) Get free stuff. There are a lot of ways to score free stuff. In fact, I never pay for these 15 things. Maybe it’s just me, but I HATE paying for stuff. In my life, I get so much for free. Before I started getting essential oils for free, I always couponed and took surveys to get free products. I even had a separate email address to apply for all the samples that every company loves to give out. I never paid for toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. It’s always free!
19) For pete’s sake, don’t buy cheap stuff. You know it’s just going to break down on you! This is my pet peave for sure. Sure, there are some things you don’t care about quality, like stickers, crafts for the little ones, thank you cards or things like that; they will just get used up quick, but for things that you want to keep a while, go quality!
20) Carry change. Carrying change has saved me from some pretty embarrassing situations when the debit card machine breaks down or when the total comes to $.99. Carrying change will save you from running that errand again or if you find a good deal and it’s $0.99 (regularly $8), you can save money that way too!
Actively think of ways you can save money on your monthly bills. Keep in mind that every penny counts and every dollar you spend is another dollar you must earn back!
Did I miss anything? What’s your favorite way to save money on your monthly bills?