Bills might be a fact of life, but that doesn’t mean that high bills need to be a fact of life. But sadly, most people are being robbed quietly each month by utility companies, insurance companies and other expenses that seem reasonable but aren’t. Don’tallow yourself to be a passive bill payer – consider the five ways below in which you can save money each month, and take action to save big. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned.
- Mortgage payments – Interest rates are at the lowest point they’ve been in ages, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity to save money. It may be a bit of a hassle to refinance your current mortgage, but you can end up saving thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Consider whether you’d want to reduce the term of the loan or to keep the same length of the loan but reduce the monthly payments, and speak with a financial advisor who can guide you on the best way to proceed. If you’re a homeowner, a bit of legwork can really pay off big.
- Car insurance – If you’re like most people, you’ve chosen a car insurance company, signed the deal, and have been paying the same amount of money for months on end. But if you’ve never filed a claim and you’ve had the car for more than two years, you should be entitled to a significant reduction. For starters, your car has devalued somewhat in the past few years, and it’s now worth less, so you can insure it for less. Secondly, you should receive a reward for safe behavior, and while your insurance company won’t be quick to offer this to you, they shouldn’t hesitate if you ask for it directly.
- Cell phone bills – Today’s cell phone companies offer a range of feature-filled plans that sound reasonably priced for the services that they’re offering. But if you aren’t taking full advantages of the features being offered, you may be overpaying for your cell phone service. If you pay for an SMS package, for example, but you don’t text more than a weekly vote for your American Idol favorite, you shouldn’t be paying for this service. Likewise, if you have a high minute allotment but you aren’t using up all of your minuets, you should consider downgrading your plan to reduce your monthly cell phone bill.
- Health insurance – If you receive decent health insurance from your employer, consider yourself lucky, because more and more employers are offering meager packages – if they offer health insurance at all. If you’re looking to save money, consider these tips: If you’ve been recently laid off, COBRA may not necessarily be the best option for you. Research your options online, and you may be surprised to find even cheaper options. If you’re currently paying for your own health insurance, consider how your needs may have changed since you signed up for your policy. As your children age, they tend to go to the doctor less frequently, so you may be able to save money by trading your current plan for health insurance with a higher deductible and a lower monthly fee. Don’t hesitate to research new companies or to question your loyalty to your current company – most doctors offer multiple types of health insurance, and you should be able to find qualified physicians with any health insurance plan.
- Car expenses – Many consumers think that purchasing a cheap used car can save them from financing a newer car. But the pitfalls of buying an older car are numerous, from higher maintenance fees to lower gas mileage per gallon. Before you commit to purchasing an older car, consider the additional expenses that you’ll have to pay over time, and determine whether it might be better to choose a newer model which will cost more upfront but significantly less over time.