Want to cut down on your household expenses, but not sure where to start? Or think that there’s no way you can cut any more from your spending and save money on bills?
It might take time and some extra work, but it will be worth it in the end to save money and have more financial freedom. Here’s how!
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How to Start Saving Money on Bills
Do an audit on your spending.
Figure out where your money is going by taking a look at your bank statements from the past several months (3-6 months).
Go through your bank statements line by line and highlight them with different colors representing different categories.
Whatever ones you want- for example: Income, Utilities, Medical, Food, Kids, Pets, Entertainment, etc. or Necessary and Unnecessary. Or whatever system works best for you, so that you can see what your family is spending money on.
Look at each category, figure out which one you’re spending the most money on and start there first. Think about if this spending seems reasonable. If not, what can be done to lower this expense every month?
Be realistic with yourself on what changes can be made, and if the expenses are really necessary. Go down the rest of the list of expenses, doing the same with each one.
While we can’t stop all the bills from coming, here are some great ways to save money on bills- some that you may not have considered before.
Saving Money on Food Expenses
Food is of course a huge necessary expense for everyone, especially when you have a growing family. To save you more money at the grocery store, check out my other post: How to Spend Less Money on Groceries.
There’s a lot that you can do at home to stretch your food budget also. Here are some of my favorites, many that our family does:
- Meal plan every week– some people also like to meal plan for a whole month at a time.
- Cook more at home instead of eating out.
- Double the amount you cook, and eat later in the week or freeze additional servings for later use. NOTE: Be sure to use glass bowls with good airtight seals similar to these to help keep the air out so food will last longer.
- Add simple and cheap ingredients to your meals like rice, pasta, beans and potatoes.
- Have a Meatless Monday or another day once or more a week.
- To help stretch your meat when cooking, add oatmeal (I do this in meatloaf), breadcrumbs, beans, minced veggies and other similar items.
- Grow your own produce. (I have one of these and love growing my own salad greens and herbs!)
- Make your own homemade versions of your favorite store-bought things like cookies, muffins, breads, granola, granola bars, and yogurt (use that InstaPot!).
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- Use different spices to give your dishes more variety.
- Cut your own cheese at home. (That made me laugh- I’m used to tween boy jokes, lol.)
- Have a list of fast and favorite meals that you can make and always keep your pantry stocked with those staple items.
- Instead of throwing them out, use produce or veggies that are about to be tossed in things like breads/muffins, soups, or smoothies.
- Eat out less often. But if you do need to eat out, here’s how to save money when doing it.
- Use ice cube trays to freeze herbs, heavy cream, stock, pesto, and more for later use.
- Cut down on food waste by: using airtight containers, checking expiration dates, and using produce keepers to keep produce fresher for longer.
- Use Subscribe and Save options at places like Amazon (or wherever has the best price), so that you don’t have to run out at the last minute to get something and spend more money.
- Cut down on/cut out unhealthy things in your diet, like sodas.
Buy Reusable Items When You Can, Like:
- Reusable K cups for coffee, tea & cocoa instead of the regular disposable ones.
- Silicone muffin or cupcake liners instead of paper ones. You can also use them for lunch packing!
- Silicone baking mats instead of parchment paper or foil.
- Reusable silicone bags instead of plastic Ziploc type bags. I love that they have ones that stand up on their own, you can cook in, and they can go in the microwave!
- Alternatives to paper towels- either reusable ones or zero waste products.
- Sponge alternatives that are more eco-friendly. But you have to watch out, some companies like to put walnut and coconut in some of these. If you have someone with a food allergy in the house, I would steer clear of those.
Other Ways to Save Money on Food Costs:
- See if friends you know have food to swap or share. Many people who garden will often have an excess.
- Use curbside grocery pick up to save money on impulse purchases (and it saves you time!).
- Go in with a friend or two on larger bulk purchases, like fresh meat.
- Split a Sam’s, Costco, or similar store membership with another family member or friend.
- Check if your child’s school offers free breakfast and/or lunch. Many schools offer this now, and it is open to everyone regardless of income.
- Shop at your local farmer’s market. You also might want to visit right before closing sometimes as they may mark down leftover items.
- Do a Pantry Challenge once a month (some people like to do a whole month), or every once in a while to save money on grocery expenses for that month.
Posts You Might Also Like:
How to Save Money Eating Out
7 Apps That Save You the Most Money on Groceries
Saving Money On Utilities: Electricity, Heating, Cooling
In some places you may have only one choice for your utilities provider, but if not, try to shop around to find out who can offer you the best rates.
Always ask if they have discounts that you might qualify for- if you’re a first responder, veteran, teacher, military member, etc. It doesn’t hurt to ask!
To Save Money On Your Electricity Bill in General:
- Check if your electricity provider charges different kilowatt per hour costs for day and night, or certain days are “free.” Do as much as you can during those cheaper or free times- like run the dishwasher and do laundry.
- Unplug things that aren’t being used. Even if an item isn’t on, it’s still sucking up some energy by being plugged in. You can also use a smart power strip similar to this one that will shut down power to items not being used. (Be sure that it’s ok to plug that item into a power strip ahead of time though.)
- Turn off lights when not in use. A great idea I read somewhere- if you have older kids who like to leave the lights on, tell them that you’ll charge them a certain amount per light every time you find that they’ve left one on. Or if that won’t work, you can take away 5 minutes of their daily screen time allotment, lol!
- Buy energy efficient appliances when you can.
- Change out lightbulbs to LED lighting and/or use dimmer switches and lights.
- Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when they’re full.
- Use cold water in your washing machine when possible and add in another spin cycle to get more water out. That way your dryer won’t have to work as hard.
- Air dry your clothes & use the air dry setting on your dishwasher.
- Use dryer balls (we use these dryer balls and love them) to help speed up drying time by distributing the air more evenly in your dryer.
- Keep your oven door closed while cooking. Every time you open it, the temperature drops and it has to bring the heat back up again after you close it- using more electricity.
- Use a smaller appliance instead of a larger appliance if you can. For example, use the toaster oven or microwave instead of the oven or stove, or run a fan instead of the AC.
To Save Money When Heating & Cooling:
- Get a programmable thermostat (we love our Nest thermostat– it’s so handy to control via Amazon Echo & cell phone too) & make sure it’s installed on the correct wall.
- Keep your thermostat’s temperature set lower when you sleep- cooler temperatures are proven to help you sleep better and be better for your health.
- While you’re out of the house, or out of town, be sure to set your thermostat so that you aren’t heating/cooling an empty home.
- Block drafts– check for leaks around doors and windows, make sure that the area behind electric plugs and switch plates are insulated too!
- Use your ceiling fans to both cool and to disburse the heat. Run them clockwise for winter and counterclockwise for summer.
- When it’s cold outside, leave your oven door open after you’re done cooking to let the heat in the house. When it’s hot, don’t use the oven as much– grill outside or use a crockpot more.
- Close vents in rooms that are not often used.
- Insulate windows for both winter and summer. Or add solar screens on windows to reduce heat.
How to Save Money On Insurance
Be sure that you’re getting the most for your money with your car and home insurance. If you’ve been with the same companies for a while, call to see if they can give you a better rate.
Ask for any discounts that you might qualify for– first responder, veteran, teacher, current military member, etc.and/or a bundle discount if they have multiple insurance types you want to use.
If you’re a Costco member, they offer discounted home and auto insurance. You can check with other bulk warehouse membership stores that you might be a member of to find out if they also offer these services.
Check with your employer, and/or your spouse’s employer to see if you can get discounted insurance (including life insurance) through them. There might be benefits out there that you aren’t aware of.
How to Save Money On Medical Expenses
Medical costs in the U.S. are huge, to put it honestly. If you can get medical insurance for you and your family through an employer, that’s the best way to go.
Overall, having medical insurance will normally help you save the most money on medical expenses.
If you have the opportunity to put money in a healthcare flexible spending account, you will save some additional money when paying for medical costs.
Ways To Save On Medical Bills:
- Check around at different medical facilities for the price of a procedure beforehand. Different places will charge different amounts. Ask if there are any discounts available.
- You may receive multiple medical bills from different offices after a medical procedure. So don’t be surprised if you get one from the doctor doing the procedure, one from the anesthesiologist, one from the actual facility where you were, etc.
- These medical bills may be received way after the actual procedure was done.
- Don’t ignore ANY bills. If you think the one you just got is the same as the one from last week, double-check. It could be different!
- Contact the offices as soon as possible after you get the bills if you have any questions. If you wait too long, you may miss your chance for a discount.
- If you’re not sure about what the charges are for, ask for an itemized statement detailing each charge on your medical bill. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the charges.
- People can make mistakes- whether it be an incorrect charge on the bill, that the bill was put in the incorrect person’s name (happened to me before), or that the charge was coded wrong for insurance, resulting in the insurance company saying that they won’t pay it.
- If you have medical insurance, make sure the doctor’s office has the correct medical insurance on file. One time they were trying to charge an insurance company I didn’t have anymore, even though I had given them the correct information beforehand.
- Ask for a discount if you can’t afford to pay the bill. Let them know your financial situation.
- They also might have payment plans or discounts if you pay in full, or pay in full on the day of the procedure.
- For those with medical insurance- if needed, check that everyone is in your network, and that you get any required referrals beforehand to see a doctor or get a procedure done. Confirm with all offices that the referral(s) have been received beforehand.
To Save Money On Prescriptions:
- Ask your doctor if there’s a generic or cheaper medication that you can be prescribed.
- Your doctor might have samples of the medication or a coupon card– don’t be afraid to ask.
- Visit the medication’s official website and look for discount cards.
- Check prices on GoodRX. GoodRX will show you prices for your medication in your area, and they’ll let you know of any coupons they are aware of.
- Several stores now offer certain medications for very cheap or free (sometimes with a membership fee)- such as Sam’s, Walgreen’s, Walmart, Publix, Target, Kroger, and more.
- Prices may also be better if your doctor writes you a prescription for a 30 or 90 day supply if it is a medication you will need for that long.
- Ask the pharmacy if they have any coupons or advice on how to get a specific medication cheaper.
It also never hurts to check with online pharmacies like these for medication prices (whether you have insurance or not):
- Blink Health
- Mark Cuban CostPlus Drug Company (Only has certain medications and doesn’t take insurance.)
- Amazon Pharmacy
Save Money On Transportation & Gas Bills
Transportation costs can really add up, especially when you have kids who need to be taken to lessons, games, recitals, etc.
The most obvious ways to save on gas are to not use your car as much, get a more fuel-efficient vehicle, or to go down to a one-car family (if you have two cars). But many of those are probably not an option.
An easy way to save on gas is to get a credit card with a high percentage back on gas purchases.
This could be through your favorite gas station brand, membership clubs like Sam’s or Costco (the benefit there is that they have their own gas stations that are normally cheaper already, so that’s double the savings!), or bank. Ask if they offer a credit card with benefits for people who like to travel.
Other Tips to Save Money On Gas:
- Take the most fuel-efficient route to where you’re going- the one with the least stops. Google Maps will now show you this (or at least it does on my phone).
- Use any of your car’s features that make it more fuel-efficient, like cruise control, or stop-start systems that turn your engine off while you’re at a light to save fuel.
- Don’t use premium gas unless your car really needs it.
- Make sure your tires are always inflated to the max recommendation.
- Don’t drive aggressively.
- Use GasBuddy to find current gas prices in your area, and use their FREE gas card to save even more off each gallon!
- Consolidate errands and trips “into town” (if you live out further) so that you can get more done at one time instead of having to make multiple trips.
- Plan your errand stops in the most convenient order, so you aren’t having to drive back and forth all over town.
- Sign up for any savings programs at the gas stations you use the most.
- Check if you can get gas discounts through programs at work, or other perks programs. For example, through T-Mobile’s Tuesday’s app right now, we can get up to 10 cents off per gallon through one gas station’s rewards program.
- Several grocery stores offer gas discount programs. Read the fine print to see if the discount only works on a certain number of gallons on one fill-up, or what restrictions there may be so that you can plan to get the most gas you can at the biggest discount.
To Save Money On Transportation in General:
- Ride public transportation when you can.
- Take turns picking up groceries or doing other simple errands with a neighbor or family member.
- Carpool and offer to take turns with other parents if kids are going to the same school or lessons.
- Whenever possible, walk or ride your bike!
How to Save Money On Phone Bills
Today’s phone bills are so outrageous, but we are basically sunk without our cell phones!
If you’re paying for a land line and a cell phone, it would be good to reconsider whether or not you still need a land line. Or see if they can give you a discount on it.
There are so many different cell phone companies out there right now and they offer a million different plans. Call your provider and ask for any discounts or plans that you qualify for to lower your bill.
If not, then shop around! They know there are tons of other options for you, and they don’t want to lose you as a customer if they can help it.
A lot of providers offer free phone lines at sign-up, or after you’ve been with them for a while. (Some give free or super cheap phones to go with them too.) An associate at one cell company told us she had 4 free lines!! Call and ask if they have any promotions where you can get a free line.
Split the cost of a phone plan with family or friends. In some cases it can be cheaper to get multiple phone lines on one account than to get separate accounts.
Don’t get a smart phone for your child unless they absolutely need it. Elementary and middle school age kids don’t need smartphones. They don’t need to have access to the internet and social media at all times.
And for you to be paying for them to talk to their friends. And for criminals to be potentially contacting them (read this scary story here).
If you’re concerned for your child’s safety, or they’re in activities where they might need to contact you, consider one of these options before you make a final decision:
- GabbWireless– Watches & Phones (We love our Gabb Watch so far!)
- The Light Phone– It has a electronic paper screen, which is so cool!
Or check with your current cell phone provider and ask if they have any “dumb” phones, phones for kids, or phones for seniors.
Saving Money On Entertainment: Television & Internet
I’m lumping all TV/streaming/internet/music/reading services in here, although we need internet access for a lot more than entertainment in today’s world.
If you have traditional satellite or cable TV, and you want to lower your cable bills, I’d say you need to evaluate how much you actually use it, and is it worth what you’re spending?
A lot of shows can now also be found on video streaming services. If what you watch the most can also be found on a video streaming service, compare the prices.
Your internet might be bundled in with your cable, and you could be paying too much. Do you need the fastest internet? New providers come out all the time with better, cheaper plans, so shop around. If you try to cancel, your provider also might offer you a better deal if you stick with them.
To save on online streaming services, consider paying for Amazon Prime (where you get many services for one fee), buying discounted streaming service gift cards at places like Sam’s to get a better deal, using Swagbucks or Rakuten to earn streaming services gift cards, or get a free or discounted trial through your cell phone provider.
Once you end a trial period, they will normally offer you a discount to continue your membership. If you say no, you might get a better deal later via email when they’re trying to lure you back.
Check Slickdeals for new deals on phones, cell plans, gift cards, streaming services, cash back credit cards, etc. You can also set up an alert for key words and get notified whenever a related deal is posted.
Save Money on Subscription Services
Last, but not least, evaluate any additional subscription services you have and decide if they’re actually worth the money. Like gym memberships, streaming services, delivery services, magazine subscriptions, subscribe and save orders, and those monthly subscription boxes you keep meaning to open.
You might find a few subscriptions or memberships that you forgot you were paying for. Be sure to cancel those ASAP or start using them again. (Though if you haven’t been using them for the past 3-6 months, you probably won’t start using them in the future!)
Look Into Using A Bill Negotiation Service
If you have high bills and you don’t want to take the time to negotiate them- get someone else to do it for you! Yes, this really is a thing!
Disclaimer: I have never used any of these companies, don’t endorse them one way or another, and am not getting anything from them if you click on the links- this is only for informational purposes to let you know what’s out there.
These companies claimed to save people a lot of money! Depending on your situation, one of them might work for you.
Be sure to do your research before using one and read all the reviews you can find. Here’s one to start you off.
Talk to them about what services and features are necessary to you, and if you will agree to different contract lengths, etc.
Don’t like the idea of splitting the money saved with company? Don’t feel comfortable giving them access to your bank account? Totally understandable! Here are some great tips to help you negotiate your bills on your own!
Get Everyone Involved & Save More Money to Spend on What You Really Want
If you have a hard time getting the whole family to buy into cutting back on some things, talk about what you want to do with the money you save.
Maybe set a certain amount of money to save as your goal, and then decide as a family what you will use it on.
Make it into a game if needed, and give small rewards (that don’t cost you extra money) when you see that the kids are doing their part to help save on household expenses.
What’s one of your best tips to cut down on household bills? Share it below in the comments!