10 Ways to Save 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. Reduce Your Credit Card Payments
Unless you’re one of the lucky few fortunate enough to avoid it, chances are you've racked up some credit card ebt.
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 lot of us are being crushed by credit card interest rates north of 20%. If you’re in that boat, consolidation and refinancing might be worth a look.
A good resource is consumer financial technology platform Even Financial, which can help match you with the right personal loan to meet your needs.
Even searches the top online lenders to match you with a personalized loan offer in less than 60 seconds. Its platform 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.
2. Share What's in Your Fridge
Remember the Nielsen company? The one that’s always tracked TV ratings? Well, now it wants to know what’s in your fridge.
Once you sign up to be on the Nielsen Consumer Panel, you can either use your smartphone, or the company will send you a free barcode scanner. Every time you go shopping, you simply scan the UPC codes on the back of each product and send your data to Nielsen.
Nielsen will reward you with gift points, which you can redeem for free electronics, jewelry, household items or even toys for the kids.
The longer you stay on the panel, the more opportunity you have to earn points toward prizes. You’ll also receive entries for the panel’s many sweepstakes. Prizes include vacations and brand new vehicles.
3. Squeeze Your Bills
It’s important to make sure you’re getting a good deal on any product or service you use, and this is a lot easier than you might think.
Hop on Squeeze, a website that allows you to compare rates for mortgages, auto loans, student loans, renters insurance, and mobile and internet plans (among others) for free.
Say you want to compare internet prices. Based on your location, the site aggregates all your options and shows you companies alongside price points and download speeds.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
4. Get Rewarded for Paying Your Bills on Time
Your mom probably gave you an allowance for washing the dishes and sweeping the floor when you were a kid. Now all you get for doing it is a kitchen that’s clean for, like, 15 minutes.
As an adult, you don’t typically get rewards for doing things that are expected of you… until now.
This invention kind of rules them all: MoneyLion, a free all-in-one app for managing your personal finances.
MoneyLion offers rewards to help you develop healthy financial habits and will literally pay you for logging onto the app.
You can earn points in the rewards program by paying bills on time, connecting your bank account or downloading the mobile app.
You can redeem those points for gift cards to retailers like Amazon, Apple and Walmart.
If credit cards aren’t your thing, MoneyLion is like having a rewards credit card without the temptation to overspend.
The app also connects with all your bank, credit card, student loan and other financial accounts. Based on your income and spending patterns, it offers personalized advice to help you save money, reduce your debt and improve your credit.
5. Save on Everything You Buy With Cash Back
Want to save when you shop in store? Get paid for shopping!
We know it sounds strange, but Ibotta will pay you cash for taking pictures of your grocery store receipts.
Here’s how it works:
Before heading to the store, search for items on your shopping list within the Ibotta app. When you get home, snap a photo of your receipt and scan the items’ barcodes.
Bam. Cash back.
Ibotta is free to download. Plus, you’ll get a $10 sign-up bonus after uploading your first receipt.
One of our secret weapons for online shopping 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.
6. Let These Tools Negotiate Lower Bills for You
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.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
That’s why it’s time to call in a robot. Trim is an AI assistant — aka cute robot — that will negotiate your cable or internet bills down for you.
It works with Comcast, Time Warner, Charter and other major providers.
You communicate with Trim via Facebook Messenger or texts. Simply sign up with Facebook or your email address to get started. 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, and you get the rest.
If an app is more your style, download TrueBill, which will negotiate your bills, cancel unwanted subscriptions and refund your bank fees for you.
After downloading the app, create an account and link your bank account and/or credit cards. Turn on the bill negotiation and outage protection features. Boom. TrueBill is already searching for potential refunds — it might get you a refund even when you didn’t know an outage occurred.
On average, Truebill customers get $12 in credits off their cable bills each month.
The app will also remind you of all those sneaky subscriptions you’ve signed up for through the years, so you can cancel what you don’t use and reclaim your monthly budget.
Signing up and using the service is free, though there are some paid premium services that are totally optional — but could totally be worth it.
7. Get a Better Price on Homeowners Insurance
If you have homeowners or renters insurance, you might be paying too much for it. Try shopping around.
If you’ve never looked into it, start by getting a free quote.We recommend the online insurance company Lemonade, through which renters insurance starts at $5 a month and homeowners insurance starts at $25 a month.
Beyond affordable rates, Lemonade adds a layer of transparency you don’t often see in the insurance world. Instead of profiting extra when it doesn’t have to pay out claims, the company keeps a set 20% of your premium for itself, and 80% goes into a pool for paying claims. Money left over after paying claims each year goes to a cause of your choice.
That also means Lemonade isn’t going to be super stingy about granting customers the claims they deserve — ’cause the money isn’t going into its pockets.
Lemonade is available in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.
OK, so now that you know Lemonade has your back, here’s how to get a free quote. It’s easy — and you can do it all online. (Nope, it won’t hurt your credit score!)
- Click “Check Our Prices.”
- Get to know Maya, Lemonade’s chatbot. She’s nice and will ask you a few questions.
- Once you complete the application, you’ll receive a quote within a minute or two.
It’s easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy. Plus, at the end of the day, you’ll feel better knowing your hard-earned belongings are insured. After all, when life hands you lemons… (OK, we’re done.)
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Lower Your Student Loan Interest Rate
Consider refinancing your private student loans so you can pay them off faster and save money in the long run.
An easy way to do this is with LendKey, a service that allows you to quickly browse low-interest loans from credit unions and community banks.
That’s LendKey’s secret sauce. Compared to the big national bank chains, smaller community banks often offer more borrower-friendly loan terms — namely, lower interest rates and more flexibility.
LendKey’s simple, straightforward online platform can help you find and apply for the right loan without visiting a dozen bank branches.
And if you’ve been turned down by other lenders, don’t fret. LendKey has more lenient credit score minimums and income requirements for applicants, so you have a better shot at getting a loan through the company.
Plus, when you’re approved for a loan you applied for through LendKey, you’ll get a $100 bonus after the loan is disbursed.
Bonus: Talk to the Right People to Improve Your Mortgage
More of the homeowner type? You might have considered refinancing your mortgage.
Refinancing means paying off your existing mortgage and replacing it with a new one. Why do that? Maybe you get a lower interest rate, shorten the term of your loan or tap into your home’s equity to get a large sum of money.
Sometimes refinancing your mortgage makes financial sense.
But in other cases, starting over with a brand new loan could actually mean paying more or pushing back the day when you can pay off your mortgage for good.
The goal of aboutMYmortgage is to help you avoid that mistake.
“Be careful of ulterior motives when you’re getting advice,” says Tim Allen, the company’s CEO. “If you go to a mortgage office, they’re not going to tell you about home equity loans [for example].”
aboutMYmortgage is available in 29 states, and Allen says the company has been signing agreements to partner with some of the biggest mortgage servicers in the U.S.
Carson Kohler ([email protected]) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.