monthly bills http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/15318/all en-US 5 Easy Ways to Add $50 to Your Pocket http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-add-50-to-your-pocket <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-easy-ways-to-add-50-to-your-pocket" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2693291576_f2947ac437_z.jpg" alt="man checking wallet" title="man checking wallet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>In terms of the economy, things seem a little better than a couple of years ago, but we are kidding ourselves if we think everything is hunky dory. The media outlets can talk all they want about a recovery, but chances are good that your family can still use some help. Here are five ways you can gain $50. You won't be rich overnight by doing any of what I've outlined below, but the money saved is nothing to sneeze at. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash">10 Monthly Bills You&nbsp;Can Slash</a>)</p> <h3>1. Pause Your Memberships for Part of the Year</h3> <p>Chances are good that you can live without some of your memberships and subscriptions. Even if you do utilize them, it's likely you don't need them all months of the year. Consider canceling them for part of the year and reactivating them during others. Take your gym membership, for instance. Do you really need a gym during the summer when it's more enjoyable to stay active outdoors? Can you cancel your membership before the Thanksgiving weekend and start it back up in January if you won't be thinking about losing weight during the holiday season?</p> <h3>2. Cut Your Home Services</h3> <p>You've likely heard of the suggestion to cut your cable TV and give the Netflix free trial coupon a go, but it's hard to give up the sports channels, isn't it?</p> <p>If so, why not cancel your subscription a few days before you go on that annual vacation? Since you will be gone for a week or maybe even two, you won't be needing the service anyway. When you come back, you'd likely take a few days to recuperate. Add another week or two to give Netflix a serious try, and you are looking at one less cable TV bill, even if you hated not being able to channel surf.</p> <h3>3. Start Using Your Credit Card to Pay for Everything</h3> <p>My friends used to make fun of me when I whipped out my credit card for tiny purchases, but it's a smart move as you are responsible with your spending. Using your credit card to pay is actually faster, and the rewards from just your small purchases can add up to big bucks after a few months.</p> <p>From bills to that candy bar purchase to lunches out, you should be thinking about how to put everything on your credit card. And always ask whether you can use your credit card, too. Last time I bought a car, the dealership allowed me to put $5,000 on the credit card while paying the rest with a check. Since my card offers 1% <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">cash back</a>, I got $50 just for asking.</p> <h3>4. Refinance</h3> <p>If you still haven't <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-hidden-dangers-of-refinancing-your-mortgage">refinanced</a> your 6% 30-year fixed-rate loan, you owe it to yourself to get this done. Work out the numbers, because this can be more complex than you might think. But you may come out ahead even if you borrow money to come up with the sum underwater borrowers need to refinance. A home equity line of credit, your savings, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-0-balance-transfer-credit-cards">0% balance transfer credit cards</a>, and even family members could be potential sources of funds. Though this is more work than the other suggestions, the reward is potentially much greater than $50 too.</p> <h3>5. Get Rid of Redundancies</h3> <p>We don't often think about it, but we often pay for the same thing in different ways. Take internet access, for instance. You have it at work, there is free WiFi in many stores, everybody in your family has that data plan, and you have internet access at home. Sure, it's convenient, but do you really need to be paying for so many different types of access?</p> <p>An alternative way to think of spending is to ask what benefit you are actually getting out of an expense. You may not like mowing your lawn, and paying for someone to do what you hate is perfectly fine. But if you pay for a gardener just so you can go work out at the gym, then it seems like a waste of money.</p> <p>It's your money, but spending a bit of time to optimize how you spend it will let you live the life you want much more easily.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/david-ning">David Ning</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-add-50-to-your-pocket">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/101-ways-to-save-money-around-the-house">101 Ways to Save Money Around the House</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-extreme-ways-to-save-money-that-could-work-for-you">12 Extreme Ways to Save Money That Could Work for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/turn-a-day-off-into-your-most-profitable-day-of-the-year">Turn a Day Off Into Your Most Profitable Day of the Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-expensive-products-that-will-actually-save-you-money">5 Expensive Products That Will Actually Save You Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-money-lessons-to-take-from-the-great-depression">9 Money Lessons to Take From the Great Depression</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living cost cutting cutting cable monthly bills refinancing Thu, 01 Mar 2012 11:36:29 +0000 David Ning 909005 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Monthly Bills You Can Slash http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_looking_at_bills.jpg" alt="Man looking at the mail" title="Man looking at the mail" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="151" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bills! Bills! Bills! Sometimes it seems as if everyone&rsquo;s got their fingers in the pie when it comes to your hard-earned money. Electric bills, water bills, cable, cell phone bills, doctor&rsquo;s visits &mdash; the cost-of-living expenses never seem to end. However, if you&rsquo;re smart about it, you can work the system and save some money on these so-called necessary expenses. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-to-shrink-your-bills-every-year">6 Tips to Shrink Your Bills Every&nbsp;Year</a>)</p> <h2>1. Cell Phone Plans</h2> <p>Do you really need that $80-a-month smartphone plan with unlimited data? Unless you work in social media or your smartphone is essential for your job (in which case, consider asking your company to provide a cell phone plan or look into writing it off on your taxes if you&rsquo;re self-employed), most people don&rsquo;t need a smartphone. I&rsquo;ve lost track of the number of people I&rsquo;ve heard complaining about the abysmal state of their finances and all the debt they have yet to pay off, and yet they are still paying for two iPhone plans per household. What if you saved yourself $40 a month and put that money towards paying down your debt? Consider a far less expensive family plan where calls between family phones are free. You may even be able to share with family members even if you don&rsquo;t live in the same household.</p> <h2>2. Internet</h2> <p>If the extent of your Internet usage is surfing the Internet, streaming Netflix movies, and sending emails, look into your Internet plan to see if you really need super-high-speed Internet. Your internet service provider might have a lower-speed plan that is sufficient for your needs but may save you $20 a month or more. Even one of the slower Internet speeds may be more than enough to stream movies and music &mdash; you may want to give it a try.&nbsp;</p> <p>By the way, if you were getting an introductory deal on your Internet that is expiring, call your provider and suggest (politely) that you want to cancel your service unless they can offer you a better price. You never know, they might extend the deal for you or slash a few bucks off your monthly bill.</p> <h2>3. Landline Phones</h2> <p>If you have a good cell phone plan, consider canceling your landline service. Alternatively, look into one of the Internet-based phone systems like Costco&rsquo;s Ooma system, Vonage, or Magic Jack. These VoIP phone systems feel just like landlines, have 911 support, offer inexpensive long-distance calls, and often cost just a few bucks a month (though there may be an upfront cost for the hardware). Personally, I use Google Voice, which is free (but doesn&rsquo;t offer 911 support), which I have connected via my router to a phone in my home &mdash; it works just like a landline and doesn&rsquo;t cost a penny.</p> <h2>4. Cable TV</h2> <p>I don&rsquo;t have cable TV, and I don&rsquo;t miss it.&nbsp; I can stream almost everything I want to watch through Internet sites like Hulu and Netflix, from sports to my favorite TV shows. If you must have TV, consider switching to basic cable and bundling your TV service with your Internet and phone services for a better deal.</p> <h2>5. Energy Bills</h2> <p>You can make significant savings in your energy bills by being more energy-efficient in your home. Your water heater and furnace are probably the biggest energy guzzlers. Insulate your water heater and turn down the house thermostat by a couple of degrees. Do laundry using cold water &mdash; your clothes will last longer, and you&rsquo;ll save energy. If you&rsquo;re buying a new appliance, look for the Energy Star logo, and see if you can get a rebate from your local water or electric company for getting a more efficient appliance. Oh, and your city may even pay you to let them cart away your old cruddy fridge, too (or you could sell it on Craigslist).</p> <h2>6. Doctor&rsquo;s Bills</h2> <p>If you have health insurance and you receive a bill from a medical provider, don&rsquo;t just blindly send a check. They may have neglected to bill your insurance or sent you a bill &ldquo;by accident.&rdquo; For instance, I received a bill from the California Prenatal Screening Program &mdash; they assumed I didn&rsquo;t have health insurance until I provided proof, even though I was tested through my doctor&rsquo;s office (which has my insurance information). Be sure you know how much your co-pays should be according to your insurance plan, and when in doubt, call to clear up any misunderstanding.&nbsp;</p> <p>By the way, going to your routine check-ups at your doctor or dentist is an important way to maintain your health and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-do-to-save-money-that-end-up-costing-you-more">avoid bigger expenses in the long run</a>. You don&rsquo;t want an unfilled cavity to turn into a root canal, which means more pain and more money.</p> <h2>7. Coffee</h2> <p>If you spend $3.50 on a latte every day, that adds up to $1277.50 a year. At those prices, you could have an espresso machine at home and still save money! Save the coffee shop for special occasions, or limit yourself to once a week. Meanwhile, invest in a good-quality coffee maker at home for your morning java fix.</p> <h2>8. Groceries</h2> <p>The grocery bill is a significant chunk of your income every month. I&rsquo;ll be the first to admit that I am not as diligent at finding bargains as I&rsquo;d like. This year, my resolution is to clip coupons, look for deals, and to shrink my grocery budget by 20%. My first step is to create a coupon folder in which to store coupons so that I can find them when I need them.</p> <p>There are other things you can try too. Buy less meat and eat more vegetables; both your body and your wallet will thank you. Try growing, canning, and pickling your own produce. Cook from scratch instead of buying pre-seasoned or prepackaged foods. Buy generic brands.</p> <h2>9. Household Necessities</h2> <p>Almost anything can be cleaned up with baking soda and vinegar, which are cheap and natural alternatives to pricier commercial cleaners. Good for tasks including scrubbing baked-on food off dishes, cleaning the oven, washing windows, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/naturally-get-rid-of-ants-in-your-kitchen">fending off ants</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clean-silver-naturally">cleaning silver</a>, and brightening laundry, these two basics will have you pretty much set. As for other household necessities such as paper towels, over-the-counter medicines, trash bags, and toilet paper, opt for the generic brand and/or buy in bulk.</p> <h2>10. Credit Cards</h2> <p>Not everyone can handle having a credit card.&nbsp; If you can, be sure to pay off your balance every month to avoid being charged interest. If you&rsquo;re the forgetful type, consider setting up automatic payments through your bank (just be sure you have enough money in your account to pay your bill, or you&rsquo;ll be charged by your bank too). Don&rsquo;t get a credit card that you have to pay a yearly premium for &mdash; there are lots of free options that offer cash back, points, or other bonuses. By the way, if your credit card offers cash back, you may have to claim your cash back bonus in the mail. Be sure to do that to avoid losing the money you&rsquo;ve earned. If you can handle the temptation of having that plastic card in your pocket, credit cards can work in your favor and actually earn you money.</p> <p>In general, setting up automatic payment for all of your bills is a good idea, as long as you're sure you'll have the money in your account. You'll save on postage and avoid late fees if you forget to pay a bill. Also, some of your bills may be payable by credit card. If you pay your bills by credit card, and set your credit card to be paid off in full automatically, you can earn cash back on your bills too.</p> <p><em>How do you keep your expenses down every month?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-monthly-expenses-we-dont-realize-we-dont-need">7 Monthly Expenses We Don&#039;t Realize We Don&#039;t Need</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-to-shrink-your-bills-every-year">6 Tips to Shrink Your Bills Every Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs">The 4 Most Common Unnecessary &quot;Needs&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/chore-time-allowances-for-adults">Chore Time: Allowances for Adults</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-to-consider-before-hiring-household-help">4 Things to Consider Before Hiring Household Help</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Home cutting expenses lower bills monthly bills Fri, 06 Jan 2012 11:24:18 +0000 Camilla Cheung 855712 at http://www.wisebread.com