you’ve heard advice about cutting discretionary
expenses — a daily latte, for example — to save
money. It’s true that small savings can add up and
provide more wiggle room in your budget.
what about necessary expenditures: the bills you have to
pay each month?
are you’re paying a lot more for food, utilities and
insurance than occasional (or regular) treats. You’re
recurring expenses likely consume the bulk of your
there are plenty of ways to cut these costs. Here are
six common bills you can trim so you’ll have more cash
to stash in a retirement account, save for emergencies
or pay for those things you enjoy, like a latte. The
actual savings you’ll see will vary depending on which
cost-cutting moves you choose to make. But our examples
show it is possible to cut $500 off your monthly bills.
BIG ON GROCERIES
spending can take a big bite out of your monthly budget.
A family of four spends an average of $1,300 a month on
food at home, according to U.S. Department of
Agriculture. One of the best ways to lower your grocery
bill is to stock up on items that are nonperishable or
can be frozen when they are on sale rather than buying
just what you need for the week. "When shoppers buy
only their weekly needs, they are forced to pay full
price for 50 percent to 80 percent of what goes in their
cart," said Teri Gault, founder and CEO of
you have a stockpile, you can plan weekly meals around
what you have and perishable items that are on sale at
the supermarket. Gault said that TheGroceryGame.com
members report average savings of $523 a month for a
family of four by stockpiling sale items and using
THE COST OF WIRELESS SERVICE
you’re not locked into a two-year contract with a
wireless service provider, you can lower your monthly
bill by switching to a smaller carrier that offers more
competitive pricing than major carriers. For example,
you’ll pay just $45 a month for unlimited talk, text
and 3 gigabytes of high-speed data with Straight Talk
Wireless. You’ll pay at least $20 more for a similar
plan with AT&T or Verizon.
you don’t want to switch to a smaller carrier that
might have a limited coverage area, you still might be
able to lower your monthly bill with a major carrier.
Check your statement to see if you’re actually using
all of the data for which you’re paying. When my
husband and I did this recently, we cut our wireless
service bill by $30 a month by switching to a plan with
a lower data allotment.
THE CABLE CORD — OR AT LEAST TRIM IT
cost of cable TV isn’t getting any cheaper. Market
research group NPD estimates that the average pay-TV
bill will be $123 in 2015, up from $86 in 2011. So
cutting your cable chord can quickly save you more than
$100 a month.
if you’re not ready to give up cable TV entirely, you
could lower your bill by forgoing pricey premium
channels and opting for the most basic package. Then you
can get your movie fix with inexpensive streaming
options, such as Amazon Instant Video, Hulu or Netflix.
Or you could ditch cable and still get live programming
with Sling TV. This Internet-only service costs just $20
a month and offers 23 channels, such as CNN, ESPN, HGTV
YOUR AUTO INSURANCE
doesn’t always pay when it comes to auto insurance.
The J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study found
that consumers who shopped for better auto insurance
rates and switched insurers saved an average of $388 on
their annual premium. Auto-insurance comparison site The
Zebra found that its customers save an average of $614
annually by switching carriers, said The Zebra Chief
Operating Officer Joshua Dziabiak.
on those figures, you could save about $32 to $51 a
month by switching to a lower-rate auto insurance
policy. You can get quotes and compare offers from
several insurers at The Zebra, InsuranceQuotes.com and
YOUR ELECTRIC BILL
can lower your heating and cooling costs by using a
programmable thermostat to automatically adjust the
temperature in your house when you’re away from home.
In fact, proper use of a programmable thermostat can
save about $180 a year — or $15 a month — in energy
costs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s
Energy Star program. Energy Star recommends using a
thermostat’s pre-programmed energy-saving setpoints to
get the most benefit.
can reduce your bill more by identifying and unplugging
energy vampires — devices such as cable TV boxes and
DVD players that use electricity even when turned off.
They can account for up to 20 percent of your electric
bill, according to Duke Energy, the nation’s largest
electric company. Since the federal Energy Information
Administration figures the average monthly electric bill
to be $111, you could save about $22 a month by
unplugging all of your energy vampires.
OVERPAYING UNCLE SAM
you got a big tax refund this year — the average was
about $3,000 — that means you’re letting Uncle Sam
withhold too much from your paycheck each month. Sure,
it’s nice to get a big check every spring, but you’d
have more spending money each month if you adjusted your
tax withholding so that you’re not overpaying the IRS.
a new W-4 form with your employer to claim more
allowances since the more you claim, the less tax that
is withheld. IRS.gov has a withholding calculator you
can use to figure out how many allowances to claim. If
you received the average refund of $3,000, you should
get an extra $250 in your paycheck each month by
adjusting your withholding.