Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

Ways To Reduce Your Bills

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Aug 31, 2017 9:05 PM

If you're independently wealthy you can stop reading right now. For the rest of us, monthly bills are the burr under the saddle that never goes away. The interesting thing, however, is that the overall payout can often be reduced, sometimes by a substantial amount. In some instances, simple negotiation with service providers can cut your bill. Another approach is to take a close look at what you're paying for and decide whether or not it is essential. While some cost saving measures are obvious - turning your thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter - others might not leap immediately to mind.

Hot Water Heater

By some estimates, your hot water heater accounts for 14 percent of the monthly energy bill. That's a lot. Consider turning the thermostat down. For most of us, hot water directly out of the tap is too hot to tolerate without mixing in some cool, so why not experiment with setting it in the 125-130 degree Fahrenheit range? Traditional reservoir water heaters should be wrapped in thermal blankets to stop heat loss. The same goes with any bare water pipes. You might be surprised how much energy it takes for your heater to make up for heat loss.

Electricity

Here's something most people don't realize, especially if they live in a major urban area. When it comes to your monthly utility bill, you don't have to just grit and reach for your wallet. For example, there are more than 40 different energy companies in the New York City alone, some gigantic corporations and others smaller, leaner service providers. Like we said in the first paragraph, negotiation is the key. If you don't feel comfortable bargaining or simply don't want to, look online at electricity rates and go with a new company. And, yes, the savings for your effort could be substantial.

Entertainment

Entertainment should be one of the first areas you look for monthly savings because, for most of us, it is way out of control. From too much technology to memberships you never use, get out the paring knife and start hacking. Are you getting good value from your $35 a month gym membership? Consider a basic home weight set and walking around the block instead. If you're only using it once a week, it's a waste of money. Many people have decided to cut the cable cord and switched to streaming sources. It's a great idea, but don't fall into the trap of thinking you need Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Pick one. It'll be enough. You need to get outside more anyway.

Trim Paid Services

Got subscriptions to a newspaper and magazines? It's clutter. Get rid of them. For probably $25 a year you can find all the reading material you want from the local library. Likewise, no need to pay someone to mow the yard. Do it yourself and get in shape at the same time. If you pay for oil changes, do it yourself (it's not that hard) and, voila, instant savings. The idea is to sift through every outgoing dollar and evaluate whether or not it's a necessity.

Balance Transfer

If your credit is excellent, there's a good chance you are under constant mail barrage from credit card companies that want to offer you a card with 0 percent interest for some length of time. If you are paying interest for a balance on another card, get the new card and transfer that debt. We shouldn't have to tell you how much paying full interest on a card balance can add up to over the course of a year. Theoretically, you could transfer the balance to a different card every time the 0 percent interest period was set to expire.

The Bottom Line

There are so many ways most of us could reduce monthly expenses. A good exercise is to track your spending for a month to get a feel for where every dollar is going. After that, sit down and decide where and how much you can save. If you're serious about it, expect to find ways to save several hundred or maybe even a thousands bucks. That's like getting a serious raise.

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