Trying to find a way to save money every month is a lot like playing Whack a Mole. In April you might save some money by brown bagging your lunch to work. In May you might try some hypermiling driving tips , like easing up on the brakes or driving closer to the speed limit. By June, you’ll probably have stopped brown bagging lunch as often but you’ll try going out to bars less after work. It’s hard keeping everything straight, especially if you haven’t made it a habit.
That’s why the key to saving money every month is to reduce your overall “financial load.” That is, cut or reduce your fixed monthly expenses.
When was the last time you thought about paying your cell phone bill or your cable bill? You probably don’t spend much time thinking about it or, if you’re like me, it’s automatically charged to your credit card or debited from your bank account. If you find a way to cut your costs, you never have to think about it. You’re saving money, every month, without doing anything different. If you are looking to save money every month, that’s the first place you should look.
Here are a few places you might take a look at:
- Home Landline Phone: If you have a home landline phone and a cell phone, consider cutting your landline. I can think of two important reasons why you might want to keep it – it’s tied into your security alarm system or you need it for your children’s safety and security (it’s easier to dial 911 on a landline than a cell phone). If neither of those apply and you can’t think of a reason to keep it, cut it.
- Cell Phone: Are you on a contract? If so, skip to the next one. If not, try to negotiate a lower rate. You might even want to consider prepaid cell phones, sometimes a la carte pricing is cheaper.
- Cable Television: How often do you watch TV? Maybe cable television is something you can remove, or at least reduce, from your monthly fixed bills. You can replace cable television  with many other services, some of which are cheaper (or even free.)
- Insurance: Insurance companies are fighting for your business, if you haven’t shopped around in the last year, shop around. Actuarial tables change and you might find a cheaper policy elsewhere. You are not contractually obligated to stay with your current insurance provider for the period of your policy. If you do shop around, do a little background research on the insurance company first, you want to make sure you can collect on a claim if you need to!
- Subscriptions: How many magazines or newspapers do you receive on a regular basis? Do you read them often enough to justify the expense? Many of them are available in their entirety online (I just learned that the entire Real Simple magazine is available online) and unless you can justify getting the dead tree version, don’t renew.
Next, check your credit card statements for anything that might look like a recurring charge. Maybe you signed up for a trial that you canceled, but the company never canceled the charges. Maybe you signed up for a service and cut it, only to find the business continued to bill you. You should be checking your statements anyway but do it again with this aim in mind.
Once you’ve looked at your fixed costs, it’s time to move towards the variable costs each month. Costs associated with your food, like trips to restaurants and the grocery store, or costs maintaining your car or home. For suggestions on what to try, I want to point you to an article I wrote a couple years ago – 100 Money Saving Tips . That list, which does include some fixed costs to trim, should keep you busy enough with moles to whack. 🙂
(Photo: amagill )