If you’re trying to improve your finances, you know how difficult it is. Finding extra money can feel impossible, and you might think you’ll never get ahead. However, you can make progress by aggressively cutting your budget. In fact, with a few simple changes, you can significantly reduce your monthly expenses.
10 ways to lower your bills
While cutting your bills will require some sacrifice on your part, the results will be more than worth it. Here are 10 ways you can trim your monthly expenses.
Refinance your student loans
If your monthly student loan payment is too high, one option to lower it is to refinance your student loans. Through this process, you take out a loan from a private lender for the amount of your current loans. The new loan has a different interest rate, repayment term, and monthly payment. If you qualify for a lower rate or extend your repayment term, you could dramatically reduce your monthly bill.
For example, let’s say you had $35,000 in student loans at 7% interest, and had 10 years left in your repayment term. With those terms, your minimum payment would be $406.
If you refinanced that debt and qualified for a loan at 4% interest and extended your repayment term to 15 years, your payment would drop to just $259. That means you’d have nearly $150 extra in your budget each month.
Consolidate your credit card debt
If you have high-interest credit card debt, it can be difficult to dig your way out. Worse, juggling multiple minimum payments and due dates can be confusing, making it easy to fall behind. To streamline your payments and save money each month, consider consolidating your debt.
With this approach, you take out a personal loan for the amount of your credit card debt and use the loan to pay off the cards. Moving forward, you’ll have just one payment and one monthly due date to remember. Even better, you could get a lower interest rate, so more of your payment goes toward the principal rather than interest.
Negotiate your cellphone and cable bill
Between your cellphone and cable bill, it’s easy for these expenses to cost as much as a car payment. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your bills.
Contact your cellphone carrier or internet provider and explain that you’ve been a loyal customer, but that the service is just too expensive for your budget and you can’t afford to keep paying it. Tell the representative that you’re looking at other providers to try and find a better deal.
Chances are, the representative will offer you a lower price and a better deal just to keep you as a customer.
Cancel unused subscriptions
The internet makes it easy to sign up for monthly subscriptions for streaming services and apps. While many of these services are low-cost, they can add up and consume a large portion of your monthly budget. You likely don’t even use all of the services that you pay for.
One way to quickly and easily cancel those unused subscriptions — and save a boatload of money — is to use a service like AskTrim.com. AskTrim scans your emails for subscriptions and identifies which ones you don’t use. It will notify you about what subscriptions you’re signed up for, and if you want to cancel, AskTrim will handle the process for you.
Cook at home
While eating out and services like GrubHub and Seamless are convenient (and tasty!), they can cost hundreds of dollars each month. You can save a significant amount of money — and get healthier — by cooking at home. Preparing your own meals and bringing your own lunch to work can help you save thousands over the course of a year.
Comparison shop for car insurance
According to insurance site The Zebra, the average cost of car insurance in the United States is $1,426 a year. However, you can reduce how much you pay each month by comparison shopping for a new insurance policy every year. Using a site like The Zebra, you can get offers from multiple insurance providers, making it easy to find the best deal.
Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan
If you have federal student loans and don’t want to refinance your debt, another way to reduce your payment is to sign up for an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan. With this approach, your loan servicer extends your repayment term and caps your payment at a percentage of your discretionary income. Some people will qualify for a payment as low as $0.
With an IDR plan, you’ll likely pay more in interest over the length of your loan than if you stuck with a standard 10-year repayment plan. But when you’re short on cash, it can give you some much-needed relief.
Eliminate banking fees
If you review your bank statements, you’ll likely see a list of fees, such as ATM fees. Over the course of a year, these fees can add up, eating up a significant portion of your bank account.
You can reduce fees by visiting only your bank’s ATMs, rather than the most convenient ATM near you. It will mean planning out your ATM visits more carefully, but the extra work is worth the amount of money you’ll save.
Negotiate your medical bills
Medical bills are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy. If you can’t afford your monthly payments, don’t give up hope; there may be a way to reduce your medical bills.
Contact the hospital billing department and explain your situation, emphasizing that you can’t afford the bills at their current rate. You may be eligible for a bill reduction or even balance forgiveness, cutting down or even eliminating your debt.
Refinance your car loan
If you have less-than-stellar credit, you may have been stuck with an expensive car loan with a high-interest rate when you bought your car. As your credit improves, you can ditch that pricey loan by refinancing your car loan.
When you refinance, you take out a new loan for the amount you currently owe, and use it to pay the loan off. If your credit score went up, you can qualify for a lower-interest loan and even change your repayment term, freeing up money in your budget each month.