Subtle Ways to Spend Less on Bills

Finding more money for fun stuff can be as simple as making subtle changes to your everyday habits. Without making any sweeping compromises, there are a number of ways you can save money on things like your grocery, energy, and even your credit card bills. Adopt a few new changes after checking out my 12 ideas for spending less on your bills.

  • Make Friends With the Freezer - Put the days of wasted leftovers to an end. Instead of packing up your dinner leftovers and putting them in the refrigerator where they're often left until they go bad, stick them right in the freezer. Same goes for the remaining fresh bread you ate on the side, or any loaf of sliced bread that's nearing its best-by date.
  • Fill Up Your Dishwasher - You're paying for the water and energy used by running the dishwasher regardless, so wait until it's full before you turn the dial to start. Your favorite mug is dirty? That's not enough reason to run the dishwasher; just take a minute and wash anything you need right away by hand.
  • Visit the Dollar Store - Adding the dollar store into your rotation can save you money on things like shampoo, school and office supplies, spices, candy, snack foods, and household cleaners. Just remember that you still have to be a smart shopper at dollar stores, because not everything is sold for the best value.
  • Buy In-Season Produce - Substitute in-season produce in your favorite recipes for the freshest and usually least expensive ingredients. Farmers markets are often the best places to find value, especially if you head there at the very end of the day when farmers are more willing to sell their goods at a bargain price.
  • Check Your Bills For Mistakes - Review your online statements carefully to be sure there aren't any erroneous charges on your bills and keep an eye out for any suspicious fees. It's quick to do and even the smallest catch is saving you from paying for a mistake.
  • Consider a Small Downgrade - If you're not using your home Internet for work purposes, consider switching away from the highest speed connection. The second highest speed runs about $15 cheaper a month, which really adds up over one year. If you don't really need the best of the best, call your provider and ask about other package options.
  • Unplug Your Appliances - Put little reminders by your appliances to get in the habit of unplugging them whenever they're not in use. Soon it will become second nature and you could end up reducing your monthly electric bill significantly.
  • Use Natural Light and Air - If your home has windows, there's little reason why you need to keep lights on during the day. Work or read in a spot close to a window to get maximum light, and if the temperature outside isn't harsh, open it to get some fresh air. You might end up spending more on air conditioning during the Summer, so take advantage of the longer days and use natural light more to offset those AC bills.
  • Replace Incandescent Lights - Save on electricity by replacing your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Not all of these more energy-efficient bulbs are created equal, so ask for assistance when you're selecting a brand.
  • Try New Brands - Test out products outside the usual brands you buy if they're among the more expensive of the bunch. Store brands are typically less (but not always) and sometimes you can find excellent sales on other brand-name products that are very similar to what usually lands in your cart.
  • Get a Programmable Thermostat - You can buy a programmable thermostat for about $35, which allows you to set the thermostat ahead of time with up to four settings a day. So, you can cut back on temperature control while you're at work and then program the thermostat to kick on and create a comfortable level soon before you arrive back home. You can also set a particular temperature for the nighttime when you're asleep.
  • Just Ask - Call your cable provider and ask what they can do to lower your bills; more often than not they'll compromise in some way because they want to keep you as a customer. Same goes for credit cards; if your interest rate is higher than you think is fair, call customer service and ask for a lower rate. The worst that can happen is they tell you no.
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