Saving money is hard, but there are some relatively easy ways to save without having to count every penny or give up your morning coffee. Probably the easiest way to save is to do an audit of your utility bills.
Many of us have both a cell phone and a home phone. Do you really need both? If you get good cell service in your home, then maybe you can cancel the home phone.В If, like me, your cell doesn't work in your home, then you can still find lower cost options for the home phone.В Check with your carrier to see if there is a lower cost plan that will work for you. If you have high speed internet service, then look into a VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone service. These are availableВ from your internet provider, who may give you a special rate for having more than one service with them, or from companies like Vonage.В Skype, which only requires a computer and headset, is another great option. I use the lowest cost Vongage plan for my domestic calls and Skype for international ones. With this combination, I pay $22 a month for phone service. Before switching to this plan, my home phone bill was over $100 a month.
I have a cell phone with (unfortunately) a family plan for the teens. If you have teens or preteens, make sure you add a text plan. Otherwise, you may get a very unpleasant surprise when they start texting with a vengeance, and they will. You will be charged for incoming texts from their friends, so there is no way to stop it, other than taking the phone away. If you do get a huge bill, call the cell phone company, they may be willing to forgive at least some of it.
My two year cell phone service contract just ended so I am not going to renew it, but go month-to-month, instead. If the kids want new phones, they can buy their own. With this arrangement, if I lose my job, I can eliminate a big bill from my budget, immediately.
This one is probably my least favorite utility bill, probably because it is consistently the highest one. Many household appliances still use energy if they are plugged in, even when you are not using them. Starting a few months ago, I unplugged every appliance and charger in the house that was not in use. I asked the kids to unplug their TV's and video game consoles when they done using them-especially before going to bed or to school. I used to leave the computer on all the time.В I started either putting it in standby mode or shutting it down when it was not in use.В I had already started replacing light bulbs with fluorescent ones when they burned out.В The first month of uplugging, when we were all the most vigilant, the electric bill decreased from $140 to $70! We still manage to keep it 20%-30% lower than what it was, even without trying quite so hard. This is so easy, I wish I had started doing this years ago.