This is How to Save Money on the Expensive Monthly Bills You Can’t Escape
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 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.
2. 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, if you’re a California resident, look into an online service called OhmConnect.
Let’s get straight to the point: This app will pay you up to $300 for turning out the lights, shutting off your energy-consuming appliances and going outside for an hour.
If you have a utility account with PG&E, SDG&E or Southern California Edison, which cover nearly every single county in California, go grab a copy of your latest bill.
Got it? Good. Here’s the deal.
OhmConnect is a free app that will pay you to help save when the energy 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 switching the A/C off. If you can successfully reduce your energy usage, OhmConnect will send you a check!
Not only are you helping the environment, you’re also reducing your energy bill and getting rewarded in cash.
3. 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.
MetroMile is only available in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington right now. If you live in these states, snag a free quote. If you don’t, you can join the waitlist.
We’ve also got a few more tips to help you save on car insurance.
4. 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.
5. Save on Your Cell Phone Bill With a Discount Carrier
Your phone buzzes. It’s your cell phone provider, which might text you more often than some of your friends.
“90% of your data plan has been used,” it kindly informs you. “We’ll add 1GB of shared data to your plan for $15.”
How nice. Just go ahead and add that to my already-ENORMOUS cell phone bill.
If you’re sick of of paying your cell phone carrier hundreds of dollars each month, look beyond the “Big Four” and into a discount carrier like Twigby.
That’s what Zak Wilson did. He’d been paying Verizon Wireless about $180 a month for two lines. So he tried Twigby. For both phones, he’s now paying $60 a month.
Plus, new customers get 50% off their first two months of service.
If you want to keep shopping around, use this free tool to find your perfect fit.
6. 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.
7. Save on Groceries With a Cash-Back App
Don’t forget food. You’ve gotta eat. And you’re usually better off stocking up on groceries than eating out.
The easy-to-use tool has partnered with more than 50 retailers — just about anywhere you’d do any kind of shopping.
Some cash-back opportunities I’ve recently taken advantage of include:
- 25 cents back for any item
- 25 cents back on strawberries
- 50 cents back on frozen fruit snacks
- $1 back on a box of tea
- $5 back on a case of Shiner Bock beer
The app works the same for stores like Walmart and Target, too — even drugstores like CVS. It’s free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after you redeem your first cash-back offer.
Pro tip: Use it in conjunction with in-store coupons as well as a cash-back card to stack the savings!
8. Save on Online Purchases With Price Protection
If you prefer to do the majority of your shopping online, be sure you’ve signed up for a price-protection service like Earny.
You know online prices constantly fluctuate, but you don’t really have time to sit there and monitor them. That’s where Earny can help.
The bot takes advantage of retailers’ price-match policies to negotiate a refund on your behalf. So you don’t have to do anything — just wait for a notification that you’ve earned cash back.
You’ll get a refund via your original payment method, store credit or a check in the mail. Earny keeps a 25% “success fee” — but only when it saves you money.
Find more ways to save money when you shop online here.
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.