6 Monthly Bills Nearly Everyone Overpays (Plus Easy Steps to Get Them Lowered)
You’ve done what you can to cut back your spending.
You brew coffee at home, you avoid the candle aisle in Target and you cut cable out of your life.
But no matter how cognizant you are of your spending habits, you’re still stuck with those inescapable monthly bills. You know which ones I’m talking about: utilities, cell phone, credit cards, groceries…
Although we can’t swipe these off the table for you, we can stop you from OVERPAYING them…
1. Electric Bill: Do a DIY Energy Audit
If you’re like many of us, it seems like no matter what you do, your electric bill continues to creep up and up each month. But here’s an easy trick to find out if you’re wasting money: Do a DIY energy audit.
Many electric companies will do this for free, but if you want to take matters into your own hands, the Department of Energy offers some simple tips:
- Find air leaks. Check for any gaps along your baseboards, doors, windows, switches and electrical outlets. Seal any leaks with caulk, weatherstripping and other appropriate material.
- Inspect your heating and cooling units. It’s a pain, but you should replace the filters regularly.
- Take inventory of your lighting. The Department of Energy says this accounts for about 10% of your energy bill. Save money by using energy-efficient bulbs, sensors and timers.
- Unplug the vampires — the appliances and electronics that suck away energy just by being plugged in. Think: Toaster, game consoles and hair dryers.
2. Phone Bill: Get Your Phone Service For as Little as $5/Month
How long have you been with your cell phone company? Probably awhile, right? Which means you’re probably paying way too much.
But we found a discount wireless company called Tello that offers plans starting at $5 a month. How much are you paying now? Exactly. Imagine cutting that to just $5.
Tello operates on Sprint’s nationwide network, offering 4G LTE data everywhere Sprint does. It lets you choose a wireless plan based on how many minutes and how much data you want, and you can even use Tello’s coverage tool to see how strong its network is where you live.
You can bring your own phone (Tello works with any Sprint-compatible phone), or buy a new one through them. Even better — there are no early termination or activation fees, no contracts or phone-exclusive plans, no tricks of any kind.
If you decide you don’t like it, you can always just change your mind. See how much you could save here.
3. Car Insurance: Stop Giving Your Car Insurance Company Extra Money
If you really want to get the best price on car insurance, experts say you should be shopping twice a year.
OK, we can hear you laughing from here. Who has time to do all that?
But seriously, insurance companies take a lot of factors into consideration, and they change all the time. Ipso facto — you’re paying too much.
Thankfully, a free website called The Zebra will do the shopping for you — in just two minutes.
All you have to do is enter basic information about your car and driving history, then The Zebra compares prices from more than 100 companies to find you the best price.
The Zebra says it saves its users up to $670 a year.
If you find a policy you like, you can sign up online instantly.
4. Credit Cards: Ask This Website to Help Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month
No, like… the whole bill. All of it.
While you’re stressing out over your debt, your credit card company is getting rich off those insane interest rates. But a website called Fiona could help you pay off that bill as soon as tomorrow.
Here’s how it works: Fiona can match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every credit card balance you have. The benefit? You’re left with just one bill to pay every month, and because the interest rate is so much lower, you can get out of debt so much faster. Plus, no credit card payment this month.
If your credit score is at least 620, Fiona can help you borrow up to $100,000 (no collateral needed) with fixed rates starting at 4.99% and terms from 24 to 84 months.
Fiona won’t make you stand in line or call a bank. And if you’re worried you won’t qualify, it’s free to check online. It takes just two minutes, and it could save you thousands of dollars. Totally worth it.
All that credit card debt — and the anxiety that comes with it — could be gone by tomorrow.
5. Bank Fees: Avoid Monthly Fees and Grow Your Savings 16x Faster
If you’re saving some money for your future, that’s great! But if your savings are in a typical bank account, chances are your money isn’t growing as quickly as it could be.
But there’s a legitimate way to grow it a lot faster than the average person — more than 16 times faster.
It’s with a mobile banking app called Varo. The FDIC reports that the average savings account pays a paltry .05% APY*, but when you open an online checking and savings account with Varo, it will pay you more than 16 times that amount on your savings account.
Oh, and there are no monthly fees.
We know opening a new bank account isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of fun, but Varo makes it easy. You can open an account with just a penny, and more than 750,000 people have already signed up.
6. Groceries: Get Paid Every Time You Buy Toilet Paper
Grocery shopping was never exactly pleasant. But these days, it’s a downright struggle. Fighting crowds; keeping six feet of space — just buying toilet paper has been a feat. Shouldn’t you have something to show for it?
A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for sharing your grocery receipts. Yep, that includes toilet paper brands like Cottonelle and Scott, too.
Just upload the photos of your receipts to the app and Fetch will reward you with gift cards to places like Amazon, Walmart, Chipotle and dozens of other retailers.
And it’s perfect for those of us who don’t want to put a ton of work into this. All you have to do is send Fetch a photo of your receipt, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use it with any grocery receipt.
When you download the app, use the code PENNY to automatically earn 2,000 points when you scan your first receipt. Then start snapping photos of your recent receipts to see how many points you can earn without a single trip to the store!
Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?