If you feel like you are drowning in debt, looking for ways to cut your expenses is a smart move. Fortunately, there are many simple tips you can use to balance your household budget and reduce the amount of money spent on everyday luxuries such as Internet access, cable TV service and phone plans.
Contrary to popular belief, you can stay in touch with friends and family or learn more about a favorite hobby without spending a fortune on Internet access. For example:
- Consider dial-up access for the greatest savings. A high-speed connection isn't truly necessary for most people.
- If you seldom use the Internet, you may be able to save money with a limited usage plan that restricts your access to certain times of the day or a certain number of hours per month.
- Look for a bundled package that offers a discount to customers who combine their Internet, phone and cable TV services into one convenient monthly bill.
- Investigate well-known discount service provides such as NetZero and PeoplePC.
- If you own a home business, your Internet access can actually save you money. With a home business, your income may justify the expense of the access. Additionally, you may be able to deduct your monthly bill from your income taxes.
Sometimes, after a hard day at work or school, you may want some downtime in front of the TV. The following tips may help you save money on your monthly cable bill:
- If you're lucky enough to live in an area with competing service providers, investigate other available deals. If you call your current company and tell them that you're thinking of going to the competition, they may lower your rate as an incentive to keep your business. Also compare the cost of cable to a satellite dish service.
- Consider how often you really watch premium channels. Unless you're using them every night, they may not be worth the expense.
- Do some research to see if your favorite television shows are available to watch online for free. For example, ABC offers free episodes of popular shows on its website. However, you'll usually need high-speed Internet access, so weight the cost difference.
- If your family loves to rent movies from the local video store, consider signing up for a DVD rental service such as Netflix. The service is often a cost-effective alternative to local rentals and you'll never need to worry about late fees. You'll save on the price of premium movie channels, too.
If it seems like your phone bill increases every month, it's time to consider what you're getting for this expense. Try one of the following cost-cutting strategies:
- Get rid of caller ID, conference calling and other unnecessary features. If you're trying to decide whether or not a particular service is needed, ask yourself how many times you've actually used the feature in the last six months.
- Instead of having voice mail, switch back to an answering machine. It serves the same purpose with no additional monthly cost.
- Take the time to do some comparison shopping to see if you can find a company that offers cheaper long distance rates. You're not obligated to stick with the same business that provides your local service.
- If you need to make international long distance calls, consider purchasing a prepaid calling card. Many offer very affordable rates with no monthly fee.
- If you're planning a long vacation or an extended business trip, ask to have your phone service temporarily suspended. This rate is often much lower than the regular monthly fee.
- If you have both a cell phone and a home phone, it may seem like a good idea to eliminate your landline service to save money. However, it's important to remember that cell phone coverage can be unreliable in many areas. A landline may be a lifesaver in the event of a true emergency, so talk to the phone company about the cheapest option.
Cutting Your Bills
Reducing the amount of money you spend on Internet, television and phone bills can save you hundreds of dollars each year. When considering whether you can cut back on these costs, carefully evaluate your actual needs. Living without the fastest Internet service or premium cable channels means that your bank account has the chance to grow.