Budgeting for the New Year: Cutting down your household bills
The start of the New Year is a perfect time to go through your household bills. By reevaluating what you use in your home, you can easily cut down and organize your expenses and family budget. Use these simple tips to get started.
Get rid of what you don't use
Evaluate the usage of your services to help reduce your monthly expenses. Start with these services to see maximum results:
- Long distance calling plans
- Cell phone
- Cable or satellite TV
Most of your paper bills should have an overview of your current usage and some even have a history of past usage. If your bills do not reflect your overall usage patterns, call the company before you cut back on services. For example, if you consistently are under your cell phone minutes each month, revise your monthly plan to fit your usage patterns.
Tip: It's important to look at your usage patterns before cutting back on your service because going over your plan's limits can end up costing you more.
Take a closer look at your bills
Look at your bills and service details to determine what exactly it is that you are paying for. If you pay for extra services and don't use them or if the company added on services over time, carefully review all of the charges. Get rid of anything you don't need or use -- even the little charges add up quickly.
If you're looking to cut down your expenses for the New Year, now's the time to cut your usage as well. Teach your kids the importance of conserving things like electricity and water and get in the habit yourself.
Create a budget
Create a spreadsheet or budget with your weekly and/or monthly income and expenses. A budget allows you to look ahead at the weeks or months to see where your money is going and helps you put a savings plan in place.
Tip: Create a Google Doc and share it with your spouse so that you are on the same page.
Tips for cutting down your household bills
- Electronic bills: Opt in for electronic bills to be emailed to you to cut waste and better organize your bills.
- Auto-payment: Set up auto-payments to better budget. Some companies offer a percentage off your monthly bill if you enroll in auto-pay.
- Contracts and penalties: Don't cancel a service that is still within a contract, as you could end up paying more in the long run.
- Trial run: Do some trial runs with your family. Turn off the TV for a week and put a curfew on cell phones to see what happens.
- Need or want: Look at all of your services to determine if you actually need them.