I write about debt issues all the time. I've done it for decades. Truly the best way to deal with digging yourself out of a financial hole is to adjust the balance of your money coming in and your dollars going out. It is a fact of life that every dollar saved in expenses is a dollar you don't have to earn. Why work harder when you can work less and come out further ahead.
Based on my recent experience of saving $3,200 in annual expense with just a tad of mediocre effort, here are things you can think about doing as well to save yourself a boatload of money with almost no effort at all.
Slash Home and Car Insurance
Loads and scads of people have a relationship with just one insurance company for home and auto insurance. These days it's not unusual for it to be with a company they only have an online relationship with.
The advertisements say you can cut your rates with just 15 minutes of online work, but how many companies are you going to do that with?
Instead, find a local insurance broker that represents a number of insurance companies and let them do the hunting for you. Sure they'll make a commission from the sale of the policy, but so what if it means saving you a lot of money.
I'd been with the same insurance company for a number of years and had been a loyal customer and as a reward they kept raising my rates year after year. Loyalty had no reward or consideration for my wallet.
So I called my local insurance broker and with just one phone call and about five minutes I was able to cut $800 off my combined home and car insurance policies. I even kept the same level of coverage and I'm with a major insurance company.
And then there is the issue of cutting insurance costs by cutting coverage. Is that really a smart thing to do? Probably not. Changing a car insurance policy to a $1,000 deductible only makes sense if you have $1,000 to use towards the deductible when you need it.
Slash Cell Phone Service
Cell companies compete like crazy to woo customers away. But just like the insurance companies I was talking about above, they do little to reward loyal customers. The quickest way to cut your cell phone costs is to login to your online account, look at your actual usage, and then take a close look at the most current rate plan. Chances are since you've been such a good customer you are getting a crappy rate.
In about two minutes I was able to slash $100 a month off my cell phone bill and triple our family data plan. Unbelievable. Yearly benefit - $1,200.
Cut the Television Cord
For years I've heard all about people who cut the cable or satellite television company out of their life. They chose to instead watch their television using online services. I never thought that was a realistic thing to do. That is until I did it.
By using this digital television antenna we receive upwards of 20 free local television channels. It took just a few minutes to unscrew the cable and attach the antenna.
There was a withdrawal period of having a DVR packed with all sorts of content waiting to watch. I also don't get all the shows I ever setup to record. But so what, the cut saved me another $1,200 a year even with the small monthly charges below.
If you still want to DVR shows, take a look at the TiVo Roamio OTA DVR. The box costs just $49 and can record up to 75 hours of HD programming. A monthly service charge is well worth the money for all the benefits you get.
Using the digital television antenna and a combination of online services like Netflix, Hulu, Roku, and Apple TV my television bill is miniscule. Combined, on all those online content channels I only spend less than $17 a month on more shows and movies than I will ever be able to watch in my lifetime.
And here is a big bonus by doing this, you will no longer have to call the horrible customer service department at the cable company to fix television problems. Dealing with the cable company to just get basic customer service these days seems virtually impossible. My life is better without all that bullshit.
Even More Cost Cutting Tips from Readers
I asked readers to share their favorite cost cutting tips and some great ones rolled in.
- Travis suggested the Nest thermostats for saving money. I happen to have them in my house and he's absolutely right, I find they do reduce the amount I pay for heating and cooling. The thermostats know when you are not home and adjust the settings to lower costs. They also allow you to change settings via your smartphone to warm up a chilly house before you get home. It also offers loads more features worth exploring.
- Diana said she teaches a coupon class and has discovered if you just send an email to your favorite brands and ask for free coupons, they will send them. Smart.
- DA offered a bunch of good ideas. She said, "Turn down the heat on the water heater, use air dry on the dishwasher (just pop it open to vent when it is done). Get refrigerator/freezer thermometers and adjust the temperature. Make sure you change the filter on your furnace. Close off the vent above the stove during cold spells, it lets in a lot of cold air. Invest in thermal curtains, they aren't particularly expensive. These helped me out quite a bit as far as bills, around 30 dollars a month."
- Lot's of readers offered grocery shopping advice using coupons. Stacy said, "Shop to stock your pantry and freezer with stuff you know you'll use when it's at rock-bottom prices, so you don't have to pay $1.79 for an emergency can of green beans that you could have gotten for $.30 on sale with super double coupons this week." I wish those tips worked better for me. I actually tend to by bargains but never actually use them. I don't have the discipline to filter my massive saving purchases to just the things I'll actually use.
- If you are ready for a big life change Katie offered this suggestion, "Consider going from two cars to one for your family. Depending on work place proximity and daily driving obligations, reducing your fleet to one car can save you hundreds of dollars a month. It can definitely be an inconvenience at times but the savings may outweigh the cons. If that is not an option for your family consider trading in your car for one that takes less of a bite out of your paycheck each month."
So it seems there are some really terrific simple ideas to boost your income by easily cutting expenses. Awesome!
Before I go I wanted to leave you with three easy action items you jump on right now to address problem debt situation you might be having. Just click here.
If you have a credit or debt question you'd like to ask, just click here and ask away.
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