August 19, 2011

Whenever we get into these times of economic turmoil, it is always a good idea to step back and look at the ways you can trim spending on a small scale.

We’ve done a variation of this show in the past, but we often like to revisit and update the ways you can save on everyday services you use.  In particular, your family may be able to find hundreds, or even thousands, in savings per year by shopping for more favorable rates on insurance, cable, internet, phone service, etc.

A very helpful website that I use is www.whitefence.com.  You simply type in your address and the site provides the best deals for all service providers in your area.  This includes utilities, phone, internet, and cable.   I do this every few years to ensure that I am always getting the best deals for these services.

Insure.com is a great tool for pricing out your life, auto, and health insurance.  Because a lot of insurance companies pay preference to new customers, you may be missing out on the best rates if you have been with the same provider for several years.  You should price it out every few years and always pay attention to what you are paying.  I don’t recommend that you buy from insure.com.  I still believe in having a relationship with an agent, you just want to make sure that increasing rates aren’t being ignored over the years.

Another way to possibly save on insurance is to raise the deductibles on your policies.  However, do your research first to make sure that raising your deductibles will actually save you money in the long run.  I recently did a break-even analysis and realized that the savings I would have realized by raising my deductible were too insignificant to be worth the decrease in coverage.

If you are willing to sacrifice some of the sports channels and HBO, replacing cable with Hulu and Netflix is an easy way to save money.  If you are currently a Netflix member, you probably know that they have been all over the news recently for raising their rates.  You may want to review your current plan and consider downgrading to a less expensive one.  My family decided to change from the 4 DVD plus streaming plan to the 2 DVD plus streaming plan due to the rate increase.

A couple of other ways to save:

  • Programmable thermostats:  You can keep the house warm during the day and programs the thermostat to cool it back down around the time you get home.  Bo recently installed a programmable thermostat and says he has realized tremendous savings on his bill since doing this.
  • Cutting the cord:  Getting rid of your home phone line is another easy way to decrease your monthly expenses.  If you use your cellphone as your primary source of communication, it might be time to get rid of the land line.
  • If you do want to keep your cable and phone line, consider purchasing a bundle.  Those usually do offer better prices than buying each component separately.

Now that we have told you some great ways to save, we should mention what to do with the extra cash.  First of all, make sure that you have an adequate emergency fund.  Other good ideas are contributing to a Roth IRA and maxing out your 401k at work.  Don’t let the turmoil in the economy get you down.  Although it can be scary, you will rest much easier knowing that you are doing everything you can to save money and protect yourself and your family.  Instead of panicking, be proactive.

Feel free to share any additional tips you might have for knocking some money off those monthly bills!

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