How to Reduce your Utility Bills

Utility bills are the worst. We have to have them (who doesn’t want water and heat in their home?) and yet they seem to just keep going up and up. No single utility bill hurts your budget but all of them together add up and therefore need to managed.
Let’s start with your electric, water, sewer and gas bills. There are a couple of basic things we can do here. The first is to sign up for level pay all year round. This doesn’t lower your bill but it does make your payment predictable which is good for budgeting. Second, if your income is lower you can check out low income plans to reduce your payment. Virtually all utility companies have programs to help their customers.
If you qualify, and it’s not that hard (college student, lower income, retired) you can save 15% to 35% on your water, sewer and electric bills just by asking. Often times these programs have partnerships with local non profits and when you apply and get approved your bill is just paid by the non profit directly to the utility company. It’s really pretty easy to do.
Third, make sure that your payment is being automatically debited from your account. That way you can avoid late fees. Utility companies generally don’t have terrible late fees but any late fee is a bad late fee. Fourth, many utility companies offer different kinds of free weatherization inspections, upgrades and offers. All you have to do is ask and you might be able to lower your bill with free faucets, weatherization tape, or insulation.
Now let’s talk about auto insurance. I actually don’t mind paying for auto insurance because I feel like it’s an actual service that protects me. That’s not to say that I want my premium to increase though. The good news is that auto insurance is definitely based on your driving behavior and driving record. More expensive car? More expensive premium. Drive less? Lower rates. Older and slower? Lower rates. The strategy is clear here. Check around once a year for a better rate. If you’ve gone another year without an accident or a ticket you definitely want to see your rate remain the same, or go down a little, or at least not go up.
If you are really serious about controlling your auto insurance premiums, of course you will want to buy a car based somewhat on how much it costs to insure. And if you pay cash for a car that gives you even more savings opportunities to not be forced to have mandatory insurance coverage that doesn’t even really cover you, just the car loan.
Now let’s talk about the real trouble maker in your budget; your internet and cable bill. These guys specialize in upselling you and raising your rates. Why? Because they can. I personally think that what the internet companies charge is outrageous but they know exactly what we want…convenience and entertainment. I don’t have any television channels anymore because I want to watch less TV and I have Netflix but the internet bill still remains. And lurking there is always the chance for a late fee and a rate increase.
What I do with my internet provider to keep my rate as low as possible is to threaten to change providers once a year. Just the mere act of calling customer service and asking for a discount, or repeal of a rate increase, or threatening (politely) to change services is enough to hold off the increase for another year. We play the same game year after year. I threaten to quit, they offer me another “one-year special with a guaranteed price” and we are good for another year.
There you go! Several effective ways to easily control your utility bills. Good luck!