When it comes to saving money, a sound tactic is to focus on the big wins. This means something that requires little effort but can rake in big savings. For instance, slashing costs on recurring expenses such as your bills.
The beauty of it? Making moves to lower your monthly costs is a one-time deal, but you’ll stack that cash all year long.
Plus, unlike scaling back on, say, going to concerts or eating out, saving on bills won’t affect your quality of life. In fact, money saved on bills can go toward enhancing your day-to-day.
Here are a handful of savvy ways to save on bills:
Nix Unnecessary Bills
First, comb through your existing subscriptions and check to see which ones you no longer need. Canceling subscriptions and bills that don’t serve a purpose or add any value to your life is a no-brainer.
Next, see where there’s overlap, and consider getting rid of services that serve the same purpose.
Sure, you need to keep the essentials, like electricity and gas to light your stove, but what about subscription services?
Do you really need Hulu, HBO GO, and Netflix? Or will keeping one of those do? And if you’re an Amazon Prime member, which gives you free access to Amazon Prime Video, you might be able to binge watch your favorite TV shows through that platform instead.
Cloud storage is another thing you might be able to forgo. If you have a Gmail account, you get 15 gigs of free storage, so you might not need to purchase storage elsewhere.
Or if you’ve recently signed up for yoga classes at a local studio, you might not need a gym subscription to get your fitness on.
Negotiate for a Lower Rate
Put your haggle hat on and flex those negotiation muscles for a lower rate.
Oftentimes cell phone carriers and internet providers offer promo packages or lower their existing plans. It doesn’t hurt to reach out to them and see if you can jump on any of these deals.
I was on the same cell phone bill for years. I gave my carrier a call, only to find out that the plan I was on was being offered at a lower rate. Boom! Instant savings.
You can also snag a bit of savings by opting into things such as autopay, or through a group discount.
Another tactic? Do your homework and compare competitor rates.
Then use that information as leverage. For instance, if competitor X is offering a bundle internet and cable package for $60, and you’re paying $90, see if your current provider is willing to match or lower that competitor’s rates. Of course, this requires a bit of work. But do it once, and you’re set up for ongoing savings.
Pro tip: You’ll boost your odds of getting what you ask for if you are a long-standing customer and have been on top of payments.
Assess the Plan
As your needs and situation change, so do your plans. And if you don’t review your insurance plans and bills every so often, you’ll miss out on easy savings.
For instance, is your car insurance policy still a good fit for you and your family’s needs?
Or can you make adjustments? When I financed a new car, I purchased a loan and lease add-on to my auto insurance policy. But once I’m done paying off my car, I can drop that particular add-on.
Hunt around and see if a competitor is offering something similar for less.
Split the Bills
Going Dutch nets quick and easy savings.
If you’re on friendly terms with a trusted neighbor, see if you can hop on their Wi-Fi and go halfsies on the internet bill. Or share the internet through a service like Open Garden. If you share a Netflix or HBO GO account with members of your household, divvy up the bill accordingly.
To make sure the bills are paid on time, consider signing up for an account through Twine, and creating a shared goal.
Each month, transfer your share into the pool of money that will go toward bills.
What to Do With the Savings
Now that you have some spare cash, what can you do with it? Here are a few ideas:
Pay off debt.
While certainly not the most exciting way to spend that extra money, your future self will thank you.
Crush your debt early, which means savings on interest fees. And that’s money you can free up for your goals, which we’ll get to in just a bit.
Put it toward a goal.
Whether it’s a shared goal with a partner or something more short-term for yourself, tuck away those extra funds toward a goal.
Not sure what to focus on? Try a visualization exercise, where you imagine what your perfect future would look like six months or a year from now.
Another tactic is to jot down all your money goals—a dream vacation, down payment on your first home, a sleek, new laptop, paying off debt, and so forth. Then place each goal on a spectrum, in terms of urgency and how excited you are about hitting each of them.
That might help you gain some clarity on which goal to prioritize.
Squirrel it away into a splurge fund.
I love me a splurge fund. As the name implies, a splurge fund is money you have on hand to spend on whatever you please.
Of course, you can create a splurge fund once you save enough for your emergency fund, which should cover anywhere from three to six months of your living expenses. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, just enough to enjoy the fine pleasantries without the guilt or regret.
I personally use that money toward the occasional pair of boots or a massage.
The bottom line: having more cash is awesome.
And saving on bills is a fairly easy way to go about it. Spending less on the stuff you don’t care about so you can free up funds to spend on what you do is a no-brainer.
Jackie Lam is an L.A.-based money writer who is passionate about helping creatives with their finances and to cultivate community among entrepreneurs. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and FinTech startups, and her work has appeared in Forbes, Business Insider, and GOOD. She blogs at heyfreelancer.com.