Tuesday, April 10, 2012

5 Penny Pinching Tips: Household Bills

I've decided to create a new series (because there aren't enough of them on this blog already!), and share some of my money saving activities!

Reggie and I have been looking to cut back on costs recently, with the baby arriving, and my income decreasing drastically we thought we would prepare ahead of time. So every other week I plan to share some of the ways we have found to cut monthly costs. I hope that this might help any of you who are looking to do the same.

This week we are going to look at household bills. I'm sure this is one I will re-visit in the future, but I have a few starter tips to share today. These are things like phone, internet, cable, hydro, water, etc.

Start by pulling out all these bills and lay them out in front of you (I am a visual person). Calculate the total amount of these bills to see what you are paying per month. Take a moment to catch your breath. This is an important part of the process, to make sure you realize how much you spend per month. I realize there are other monthly bills/costs but right now we are going to look at utilities.

Take each one of the bills and look at it closely. What is the base monthly rate? What is included with this rate? What are the extras? What are you being charged for the extras? These questions are to get you thinking about the amount you spend on monthly household bills, and here are 5 ways you can reduce some bills around your home:
  1. Phone: What does your base rate include? I looked at this recently and we had an unlimited long distance plan, which we were hardly using. And what are the extras? We had a fancy package that included call answer (answering machine), call display, call waiting and likely more. I don't remember how I got talked into all these features, but we, for the most part, didn't use them. When I realized this I decided to stop paying my bill blindly and called to get it changed. I was able to reduce my monthly bill from $80/month to $35/month with a long distance plan of 5cents/min. That is a savings of about $500/year seeing as we don't call long distance very often.
  2. Internet: This is a necessity for us. With me trying to make a little business out of my blog/shops I have to be able to stay in touch with people. But we did find out that you can get discounts for bundling internet with cable, and I believe you could also bundle with your phone depending on your carrier. This can save money/month while you can continue to get the services you require.
  3. Cable: We watch more tv in the winter than we do in the summer, but we both feel that we don't really need it. A few months back Reggie called the company to speak to them about cancelling and they offered to reduce our monthly rate by half. We agreed to stick with it for a while, but we recently decided that come summer (longer, warmer days) we will cancel it completely. We both have numerous hobbies and sitting on the couch is bad for our health and our wallets. Do you really need that cable/satellite package? At the very least I would recommend calling and asking about a reduced rate, this is often possible for long time customers.
  4. Hydro: Turn your lights off! I'm serious. It's something we've all been told since we were young, but it really does make a difference if you only have a light on when you actually need it. On top of that unplug unnecessary electronics including phone/laptop chargers. They constantly draw power even when they're not charging, and this costs you money!
  5. Water: We live in the country, so this is sometimes easy to overlook. We are on a well, and we don't actually pay for water. But we are conscious of our usage. If you are on city water, and you do pay for it there are a few things you can do: When you are running water waiting for hot, catch this water in something - kettle, watering can, brita water filter. I do this all the time when I am waiting for the hot water to do the dishes. Do you have a garden? Do you water it? I would highly recommend a rain barrel, that way you won't have to draw from city water (which is full of chlorine, etc.) to water your garden - and it's free!
I will definitely touch on some of these topics again, this is a brief overview just to get you started. If you have any questions or would like to request a topic for the future please leave me a comment below!

Happy Penny Pinching!


  1. I have another water saving tip that I've recently adopted. NAVY showers. Comes from the sailors on boats with limited fresh water supplies. You just turn off the water while you're lathering up. It doesn't seem like much but can save a lot of water. Plus, in the summer it's not so bad because it's not too cold with the shower off.

  2. Great tips. I try to be conscious of all of those areas. It's amazing how quickly little expenses can add up if you're not paying attention.

  3. A few years ago now, I gave up cable in favor of Netflix. I've never been a big TV watcher, and when I do watch things I prefer to watch them on my own time, at my own pace... and it's so much cheaper than having cable!


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