Creating a monthly budget is one of the best things you can do to help you successfully save for a goal. A budget not only tracks your spending each month, it also makes it easier to review each individual expenditure.
When reviewing your monthly budget, be sure to take a close look at those recurring monthly bills. We’re so used to simply paying these same bills each month that we don’t even question how much we’re being charged. In some cases, there may be an easy way to lower the amount, or even find a cheaper alternative altogether.
With that in mind, here are 6 tips that could help you save on those typical monthly charges, so you can direct more of your money to your savings:
1. Ditch the landline
Do you still have a telephone landline? If so, it may be time to join with many other Canadians who no longer find it necessary to have an old-fashioned phone in their homes. After all, just about everyone has a cell phone these days, and with most mobile plans providing unlimited usage within Canada there’s really no need to pay for an additional phone.
If you’re holding on to your landline for international calls, consider other internet-based options like Skype or WhatsApp. Because these utilities connect over the internet, there are no additional long-distance charges to worry about, no matter how widespread your family and friends may be.
On the subject of cell phones, be sure to review the details of your current plan when it comes up for renewal. Don’t simply continue your contract without first seeing what competitors may be offering, as companies typically offer aggressively priced introductory plans to attract new clients.
2. Cut the cable
This is also a good time to look at how much you’re spending on your cable television provider. With streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime now offering some of the highest rated TV shows, together with access to a huge inventory of movies, the “cut the cable” movement continues to grow. At the very least, you may find that you really don’t need so many specialty TV channels, and you can save money by cutting back to a basic cable service.
3. Park your transportation costs
If you own a car, you don’t need anyone to tell you how expensive car ownership can be. With fuel getting more expensive, along with the high cost of insurance and maintenance, your car takes up a big chunk of your budget each month. When you factor in other costs such as parking and highway tolls, finding a way to leave the car at home more often will help you save even more.
Not only can you save money by taking public transit, you might even get in some quality reading (or extra snoozing) time during the ride. Imagine actually looking forward to your commute, which is something very few who have to drive back and forth from work each day can say!
If transit is not available where you live, see if you can set up a carpool or ride-sharing option with others in your area. Finally, if you have multiple vehicles or home owner’s insurance, check to see if you're eligible for a discount by “bundling” your home and auto insurance, as this could lower your monthly insurance premiums.
4. Learn to program
Are you guilty of heating or cooling your home when there’s no one home? Not only is this a waste of energy at a time when we all need to consider how we can reduce our impact on the environment, it’s also a colossal waste of money.
By installing a programmable thermostat, you can assign times – such as when you’re at work, or at night – for your heating and cooling systems to run at a reduced level. Smart thermostats even let you connect to your thermostat from a mobile device so you can monitor or adjust your home’s temperature from practically anywhere.
5. Beware the phantom (power)
Many electronic devices, such as computers and appliances, go into “standby” mode when you turn them off. What you may not know is that even when in standby mode, these devices may continue to draw power, even though they may appear to have been shut down.
This is known as “phantom power”, and a study by Hydro Quebec suggests that up to 10% of the typical hydro bill can be attributed to phantom usage. While this may not seem like a lot, multiply this across 12 months and the amount of wasted energy and extra cost to you soon adds up.
When you don’t intend to use an appliance or other electronic device for an extended period, unplug it rather than just switching it off. This way you can be sure that you’re not paying for phantom power.
6. Lose the interest
When you carry a lot of debt from month to month – particularly high-interest debt like credit cards – you’re blowing a large hole in your budget. That’s because when you pay just the minimum each month on your credit card, your payment is applied mostly to the interest you owe. The principal remains unpaid and interest continues to be applied to your total debt, and you need to make reducing this debt a priority.
Getting rid of high-interest debt is key to boosting your savings. If you find yourself in this situation, make paying down this debt a top priority.