Yes, those lovely monthly bills... since my husband or I neither one had lived on our own before we were married we were unable to be put on a budget for any of them, so they will vary, a LOT. We also live in a very poorly insulated house with single pane windows. Yeah. Nightmare. But here are some things we are able to do that have saved us a lot of money...
* The simple stuff- turn off lights when you aren't in the room, use natural light when possible, don't leave the door standing open, etc. The kind of things your mom yelled at you for not doing when you were a kid. They do actually work ;)
* Switch to compact florescent light bulbs- we actually changed every bulb in our house when we moved in, because I witnessed my parents' electric bill being literally HALVED after they switched. They are a little more money to buy than incandescent, but in the long run the money you save makes it worth it-- besides, you don't have to change/buy them as often!
* Adjust your thermostat- it's easiest to buy a programmable one, though we don't have one now. In the summer, I put off turning on the a/c as long as possible, and when I do, I keep it set at 75. If you are gone a lot during the day you can turn it up a little higher and have it set to turn it down an hour or so before you come home. Don't forget too, when you go on vacation, to turn the temp up a little too. (Same applies in reverse if you are vacationing in the winter). In the winter months, we do the opposite. The thermostat never creeps above 68, and we will turn it down a little lower at night (and when we're gone during the day) and throw an extra blanket on the bed. Now I will tell you that 68 is NOT my ideal temp. But honestly, a hoodie and slippers makes a world of difference! And it makes a big difference in our bills too.
* Kick one of your phones- we don't have a land phone line. My husband and I both have cell phones and we just use those for any other calling we make. Unless your job requires it for some reason or if you live in an area with no cell service, just ditch the land line. Also, look into any discounts you may qualify for on your mobile plan. My husband gets a 22% discount because of where he works. And don't forget to try and reduce your monthly plan/minutes/etc. When I joined my husband's cell plan, we were able to drop our minutes back quite a bit because now that we had the same provider, we weren't using all our minutes talking to each other.
* Cut back on (or get rid of) your cable plan. We really didn't want to get rid of our internet, so we pay for high speed cable internet. It's actually cheaper to bundle and get cable TV with it, so that's what we did. BUT, we only have basic cable. (No digital channels, HD, DVR, any of that fun stuff... just 18 channels) Instead we have a Netflix subscription and when we do watch TV we stream it through our Wii or computer. My cable bill plus the Netflix subscription cost about 30 dollars less than just expanded basic cable and internet together.
* Cut back on eating out. Pack your lunch rather than eating out. Not only is it way cheaper but it's often better for you too! My husband and I will go on two "date nights" a month usually. And usually we go out to dinner. Other than that though, we don't eat out, unless it's a special occasion. (Like a friend's birthday or something) If that pops up then instead of eating out on our next date night we'll do something that's cheaper, like rent a movie and make homemade pizza.
* Cut back on take-out as well. I allow two nights a month for ordering in as well. And sometimes it doesn't work out that way, but we try to stick to it as much as possible.
* Meal plan- it's not that hard, doesn't take that much time, and it not only makes cooking dinner and making your grocery list easier, but it'll save you money in the long run. I plan for two weeks at a time- no you don't have to plan what you'll have each day. I just make a list of 14 different meals to fix for dinner. For example my meals for this week and next (7/24-8/6) are:
- Baurentopf (already frozen), crescent rolls
- Tacos, mexican rice
- Spaghetti & meatballs, salad
- Grilled chicken salad
- Chicken, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli
- Hamburgers (already cooked & frozen), chips, baked beans
- Pizza Di Spaghetti (with leftover spag. and meatballs)
- Chicken Quesadillas
- Pad Thai
- BBQ Chicken, Macaroni & cheese, green beans
- Eat out
- Frozen skillet meal or other leftovers
*Coupon when you can. I'm not an extreme couponer by any means. But I do go through the paper and clip what I will use. After I make my list I go through my coupons and grab any I can use.
*Buy generic. Great Value/Equate and Kroger brand are just as good as the name brand. And a lot cheaper!
* Hit up the Dollar Tree for things like cleaning supplies and such.
* Watch for sales. Shop at the end of the season when it's all marked down and you'll have what you're wanting for next year!
This is my area I'm trying to improve... we have a savings account and I just try to put SOMETHING in there every month. Sometimes I can put a couple hundred dollars, sometimes it's just twenty. But it's better than nothing, and every penny adds up!
Alllrighty, that's basically any "tricks" I have up my sleeve. LOL feel free to share any tips YOU may have, I'm always searching for more ways to save money!!! :)