Everyone likes having extra cash, and saving money every month doesn’t have to mean making big sacrifices in time, effort, or enjoyment. Take a look at how you use some of the goods and services you pay for each month, and you’ll probably discover that there are some money-saving alternatives.
Here are a few ways to save money on five common household expenses.
1. Cable TV
Let’s face it: having lots of channels still hasn’t put the phrase “There’s nothing on” out of business. Most of us still spend too much time flipping through channels without any satisfaction when our favorites aren’t on, and the bills keep going up.
These days, giving up cable doesn’t mean giving up the ability to watch favorite television shows or movies. As the modern equivalent of the set-top box, several devices are available for streaming shows onto a television, such as Apple TV and Roku, which each run about $100 with no monthly fees, or Google’s Chromecast at about $35. Each will run a variety of streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu, and they also provide access to other free and subscription-based Internet TV options.
If you enjoy watching shows on your computer, or have a television that you can hook up to a laptop to run the display, you have even more options. Many made-for-television cable shows and series are available on iTunes or Amazon for a couple of dollars per episode, or $25-35 per season, and you can watch them over and over, at your leisure. If you only watch a few shows, purchasing single episodes or seasons can be far less expensive than a monthly cable bill.
On top of saving money every month, you might find that a variety of Internet-based content services and new programs that you might have missed otherwise.
2. Land line
Really? You still have one of these? If you’re one of the holdouts who still has a land line but do most of your talking on a mobile phone, what are you gaining by keeping it? Even if sending or receiving faxes is a routine part of your work, there are better, inexpensive or free alternatives available. Unless you’re using dial-up Internet or some other service that requires a land line, or if keeping it is part of an exceptional discount on bundled services, who needs it?
3. Pack your lunch
In general, packing a lunch and snack to take to work can result in significant savings. A can of tuna can cost as little as 80 cents to $1.50, and making a decent sandwich can cost $2 or less. Making a pot of chili during the weekend, depending on ingredients and what is on sale, can cost between $8 and $15 for frugal shoppers, and yield six or more meals over the course of a week; even more when it’s combined with pasta or a topping for chili dogs or taco salad.
Meanwhile, buying lunch can cost as much as one pot of chili. A high-quality, frozen prepared meal from still costs about half as much as eating out. Ten dollars a day spent on lunch translates to $50 a week, which adds up to $2,500 a year assuming 50 weeks of work every year. Give yourself a raise and start packing your lunch.
4. Late fees be gone!
Missing a payment due date by just one day can cost $30 or more per pop. And if it’s on a credit card bill, you can end up paying interest on those fees. If it’s any bill related to credit or loans, then your credit rating can take a sharp hit as well.
Get on a schedule and get ahead of your bills. Use a bill tracking system like Mint or one of these alternatives to get on track.
5. Learn how to slay vampires
You’re probably wasting money on energy bills every month with vampire electronics. Any appliance or electronic device that remains warm when it isn’t in use is consuming energy, and probably constantly. These include DVD and Blu-Ray players, anything with a digital clock, and the cell phone charger once your smart or dumb phone is charged.
According to the U.S. government’s Energy Star website, the average U.S. household spends $100 per year to power devices that aren’t in use. This may not sound like a lot of money, but if you’re tech-savvy and have a lot of gadgets, you could be spending a lot more. For convenience, but the vampire devices on a power strip and shut it off when you’re done and save money.