This Is How to Save Money on the Expensive Monthly Bills You Can’t Escape

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You’ve done what you can to cut back your spending.

You brew coffee at home, you don’t walk into Target and you refuse to order avocado toast. (Can you sense my millennial sarcasm there?)

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: rent, utilities, cell phone bill, insurance, groceries…

Although we can’t swipe these off the table for you, we can give you a few tips to help you save on your monthly bills.

1. Save on Your Electric Bill With a Reward Program

Have you already taken the basic measures to cut your electric bill?

At this point, you might be sitting in your too-cold living room (because you refuse to turn the heat on) wondering if you have any other options.

It’s time to contact your utility company. Many offer programs that’ll help lower your energy usage — and reduce your bill.

For example, Duke Energy claims to save EnergyWise Home customers $147 a year in bill credits. Check in with your utility company and see if it offers a benefits program. But be careful it won’t shut the heat down in the middle of a winter day…

Or, here's another option for California residents who have a utility account with PG&E, SDG&E or Southern California Edison: Look into an online service called OhmConnect.

This free service will pay you to help save energy when the grid gets stretched. Once you connect your utility account, you’ll get notified about these earning periods called “OhmHours.” During this time, your job is to simply use less power.

Go outside. Take the dog for a walk. Or take the kids to the park. Wait to run the dishwasher, unplug the Keurig, turn off the fridge and switch the A/C off. If you can successfully reduce your energy usage, OhmConnect will reward you with cash.

One guy has managed to make more than $400 in one month.

Plus, when you sign up and activate your account before June 30, you'll snag a $10 bonus.

2. Save on Car Insurance With a Pay-Per-Mile Service

When the car-insurance bill is due each month, you might ask yourself, “Why the heck am I paying this much when I just use my car to go to the store?”

It’s eternally frustrating seeing that triple-digit number each month when, most days, your mileage might have stayed in the single digits.

But it doesn’t have to be this way with a pay-per-mile insurance company like MetroMile.

Philadelphia resident Susan Gibbons switched to MetroMile and lowered her payment to $35 per month after spending 30 years with State Farm. By paying by the mile, Gibbons estimates she saves $720 a year on insurance.

If you're thinking about making the switch, here a few things to keep in mind:

  • MetroMile is available in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington right now.
  • Your car must be made since 1996 to qualify.
  • After signing up, the company will mail you a free device that plugs into your car and tracks mileage (that's how it saves you money!)

Find out if it’ll help you save by snagging a free quote.

We’ve also got a few more tips to help you save on car insurance.

3. Save on Your Internet and Cable Bills With a Negotiation Bot

The price of internet — and cable, if you’re still into that kind of thing — certainly isn’t decreasing. If anything, prices are steadily climbing.

And if you’ve had to chat with a representative from your internet/cable company recently, you know how long you can sit on hold.

That’s why it’s time to call in a robot. A negotiation bot like Trim will negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you.

It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other major providers.

You can sign up simply with Facebook. Then, upload a PDF of your most recent bill, and Trim’s AI-powered system gets to work. If at first it doesn’t succeed, it’ll keep negotiating until it can save you some money.

Also, if you have any outages, Trim believes you deserve a credit, and it’ll handle that for you.

Trim takes 25% of the savings tab, but you get the rest.

4. Get a Better Price on Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance is a necessary expense if you want to protect your biggest asset — your home.

Fortunately, we found an easy, modern way to shop for home and condo insurance.

Hippo can supply you with a quote in 60 seconds — and a new policy in less than four minutes.

By modernizing homeowners insurance, Hippo charges up to 25% less than average industry prices. It’s able to offer lower prices by tailoring its coverage to the needs of modern homeowners.

For instance, it offers better coverage for things like smart home devices and other electronics. But unlike outdated insurance policies, it cuts out unneeded coverage for stuff you probably don’t even have, like fur coats, pewter bowl sets or valuable silverware.

According to Hippo, customers save an average of $250 a year.

To start, you’ll answer about 10 questions, and get a preliminary quote on a price.

Once you see your options, you’ll answer three or four more questions to identify the best insurance policy for your needs. Hippo’s policies are grouped into three categories, depending on how much coverage you want.

Then you get a final quote. If it’s a go, you can make the purchase right there on the website.

Hippo is doing business in Arizona, California, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, and plans to offer coverage to 60% of U.S. homeowners by the end of 2018.

5. Break up With Your Expensive Cell Phone Provider

You might be paying an absurd cell phone bill each month — just so you can avoid eye contact in awkward situations and scroll through Instagram instead. I mean, you probably use it to check for important emails and keep in touch with your mom, too, but still, it costs how much to do that?

If you’re sick of of paying your cell phone carrier hundreds of dollars each month, look beyond the so-called Big Four and into the discount carrier.

You might have heard of Virgin Mobile, which runs on the Sprint network. It offers low-cost plans for the iPhone.

You can bring your own iPhone, or buy a new or used one through Virgin.

Virgin keeps it simple. Its main cell phone plan is “The Inner Circle,” which offers unlimited talk, text and data for a flat $50 per month. Plus, right now it’s offering an introductory rate of just $1 per month for the first six months. No kidding.

Bonus: Virgin Mobile customers get access to discounts from a revolving selection of retailers and brands like H&M, Hulu or Reebok.

Here’s something extra for parents: You can set up digital curfews on your kids’ cell phones. (No calls after 9 p.m., young lady!)

6. Save on Rent With These Tips

Rent — or a mortgage — is arguably the largest monthly expense you’ll face, so let’s get that out of the way.

Before you throw in the towel (which is probably dirty because you need to do laundry… ugh), consider negotiating your rent. That’s what San Francisco resident Davis Nguyen did. He managed to cut his rent in half with these tactics.

If you don’t have luck on that front, you might just have to suck it up — and hustle. We’ve rounded up nine ways to pay the darn rent.

7. Save on Online Purchases With Cash Back

One of our secret weapons is called Paribus — a tool that gets you money back for your online purchases. It's free to sign up, and once you do, it will scan your email archives for any receipts. If it discovers you’ve purchased something from one of its monitored retailers, it will track the item’s price and help you get a refund anytime there’s a price drop.

Plus, if your guaranteed shipment shows up late, Paribus will help you get money back for what you paid for shipping.

Another way to save on online purchases? Get paid for shopping!

One of our favorite cash-back shopping sites is Ebates. You'll earn cash back when you shop your favorite retailers through the site. Plus, it's giving away $10 gift cards if you sign up as a new member and earn your first cash-back rebate.

You can choose a $10 gift card for Walmart or $10 in Ebates cash for your next shopping trip on the site.

To earn your gift card:

  1. Sign up for Ebates here with your email or Facebook account.
  2. Make your first purchase through the site within 90 days, and spend at least $25.
  3. Your account will be credited with rewards points you cash in for your $10 gift card.

Find more ways to save money when you shop online here.

8. Get Help With Medical Bills From a Personal Concierge

Medical bills can blow a huge hole in your finances. In fact, they’re the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States, reports USA Today.

However, navigating your way through the world of health care and health insurance is hugely complicated and complex. Why not enlist a little help?

For that, check out Joany, a technology company that’ll help you deal with your medical bills. It can help you understand bills, and detect billing errors, overcharges and other inaccuracies.

Joany’s free health care concierge service helps people compare health plans, seek out doctors, check health plan coverage and more.

Start using their services by submitting your basic information and any helpful documentation regarding your health insurance query, such as a picture of a doctor’s prescription or medical bill.

It’s faster if you have health insurance coverage, but Joany’s team will still try to find solutions for you even if you don’t.  

The service is free to you, because Joany gets paid through your health insurance provider.

9. Save on Loans With Refinancing Options

Unless you’re one of the lucky few fortunate enough to avoid it, chances are you’ll need to take out a loan at some point.

If you’ve already done this, it’s worth considering refinancing or consolidating your debt, which could substantially lower payments you’re already making and help you save more money each month.

A good resource is online lending platform Upstart, which can help you find a loan without relying on only your conventional credit score.

Unlike traditional underwriting models that use only the common FICO scoring model, Upstart’s technology looks at factors like your education and employment history to determine your creditworthiness.

It can help you borrow up to $50,000, potentially with better terms (e.g. lower interest or lower monthly payments) than traditional lenders. If managing many different bills and credit lines is a hassle, you can also use an Upstart loan to streamline all of your loans into one.

10. See How Your Finances Stack up to Your Peers

We’ve been taught to focus on ourselves, and that’s great. But sometimes it helps to zoom out and see what’s happening around you, especially when it comes to personal finance.

Two data scientists are hoping to make that easier through a service called Status.

When you sign up for Status, you’ll be able to compare your financial choices with your peers (though anonymously). You can compare everything — from your spending and income to your debts and investments. Even check out how your net worth and credit score compare.

OK, but you’re asking: How is this going to help me? Won’t it just make me feel bad about myself and my wallet?

The purpose of Status is to help consumers make smarter decisions — to add a layer of transparency. By doing that, you’ll be able to see if you’re paying an insane interest rate on a loan, if you’re earning way below average (time to negotiate with your boss!), or if you’re spending a little too much.

To get started, create an account and link your credit file and bank account. In about three minutes, you’ll be able to start crunching numbers to see where you’re killin’ it — or where you need to take some time to improve.

Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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