As part of this #nospendnovember challenge, I’ve asked you to take a look at recurring bills you might have. Ongoing subscriptions, insurance, utilities, and other bills come in each and every month. It’s easy to just pay them, and forget about them until next month.
Or if they’re paid automatically, you might not even notice them.
Not this month, though! If you’re doing a no spend November challenge, this is the perfect time to look closely at each and every bill that comes in the door. Why? To see if it can be reduced – or eliminated.
With that said, lets take a closer look at ten common bills that might come in, and what you can do about them.
Ah, car insurance. That thing we all need but hate to pay for. Car insurance is a place where companies like to sneak in increases every year, hoping that you won’t notice. They depend on your apathy and inherent laziness to up your bill and hope you won’t leave.
But CMO readers are smarter than that, aren’t they?
If it’s been a while since you last shopped around for car insurance, or if your vehicle situation has changed a lot since you last shopped, you owe it to your wallet to shop around again. What’s a change in situation mean? When it comes to insuring your cars, it can mean you have new cars or drivers, or got rid of old cars or drivers, or even got new tickets/accidents or had old ones fall off. Even a change in your credit score can impact your insurance rates!
If you’re overwhelmed by the process, take a look at this article where I go over the most effective way to shop for car insurance.
You can also call your existing insurance company and tell them you’re considering shopping around. Ask them if they have any additional discounts they can apply for you.
Homeowners, Condo, or Renters Insurance
Here’s another common place where the “lazy tax” can get you. Similar to car insurance, the insurance companies will seem to raise your rates every year without giving you more for your money. Also like car insurance, changes in your home, credit score, and loss history can all impact which company will give you the best rate.
The shopping around process for home insurance is very similar to car insurance, so check out that guide above for tips. Also, you can enjoy this video from an Australian consumer affairs show all about the lazy tax.
There are two common ways to save on your electric bill:
1 – Use less electricity. This means doing things like turning off lights when you leave a room, hanging laundry to dry rather than using a dryer, keeping your AC off or the temperature higher, keeping your heat off or the temperature lower (if you have electric heat), turning off electronics when you’re done using them, and so on.
2 – Go with a cheaper provider. Many places in the US will now let you select an electricity provider that might save you money. BUT you have to stay on top of them! Many will offer an “introductory rate” that goes up over time, relying on that same “lazy tax” principle to keep you from shopping around. If you’re interested in shopping around, you can try All Connect or Power 2 Switch to find other options in your area.
For number one, there are both one-time and recurring ways to save. The recurring ways to save typically require some kind of investment in more energy efficient appliances or lights. They can be worth the additional cost if you need to make a replacement anyway, so if you find yourself with a broken dishwasher, or a burnt out light bulb, look into your energy-efficient options.
This one may or may not apply to you, but it certainly does to me. I live in Connecticut, and it’s starting to get cold. My house, built in 1968, runs on oil heat. This means every month in the winter I get to pay hundreds of dollars to heat my home.
With oil heat, there are a few ways to save money:
- Use less. Keep the temperature down a degree or two from normal, and turn it down before you leave the house. Consider asking for a gift like a Nest thermostat for a Christmas gift to save even more. If your house is drafty, fix the drafts and consider adding insulation if needed.
- Find it cheaper. In my town, there are a number of companies competing for my oil dollar. Calling around to find out who consistently has the best price can save money all winter long.
- Supplement with something else. My parents, for example, installed pellet stoves to help reduce the amount of oil they would use. This is on my “someday” list, once the little guy is a big older and it’s safer to have these kinds of stoves around. My house has two fireplaces, so a wood burning or pellet stove would fit in perfectly. Bonus: cozy winter fires!
Yes, people still have these. They might be like me, where there’s little or no cell service in the house. Or perhaps they have kids, and need an emergency line for kids who might be home while adults aren’t. Even if you need a landline phone, there’s no reason to pay out the nose for the honor.
We’ve had an Ooma for about 3-5 years now (can’t remember, exactly) and I love it. It’s about $5 a month for the service, and even when I work from home there’s no issues with the phone. This is the one we have, and it’s held up wonderfully (affiliate link, so if you pick it up I’ll get a small commission at no cost to you). Check out more about our Ooma here.
Ah, the cell phone. There are so many options here for other services that you owe it to yourself to shop around. Especially if you’re with AT&T or Verizon, which tend to be expensive, or if it’s been a while since you shopped. What are some options here?
And I’m sure I’ve missed some – if you have other suggestions, comment below! Even if you have to get a new phone, it can be worth it to switch. Before changing from AT&T to Virgin, I calculated how long it would take to pay off the cost of the “new” (actually refurbished) phones, and it was under a year. Give it a try!
Wait, people still have cable?
I kid, I kid.
Our family of five has lived cable-free for a number of years now. In my adult life I’ve probably only had cable for 2-3 years of the eighteen I’ve lived on my own. Why? The cost has never been worth it to me. Now, if it’s worth it to you, you could shop around and save. OR you could use this month to cut that cable cord, and replace it with various streaming services instead.
Here’s my top tips on cutting cable, and some lessons your family will learn in the process.
Netflix. Hulu. Amazon Prime. HBO. Starz. There are so many different streaming options available now, I don’t know why people still have cable. Heck, you could probably subscribe to all of them and STILL pay less!
But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Every month or so, we like to evaluate the value we’re getting from our streaming subscriptions. If there’s one or two we haven’t watched much that month, it’s closely examined as a candidate to be cut out. If there’s just one or two favorite shows, can we get them from the library? Would it be less expensive to buy just that show, rather than keep the subscription?
Take a look at your streaming subscriptions this month, and decide whether any of them should be put on the virtual chopping block.
We all love our kids, but they can be expensive. Daycare. After-school care. Activities. Hot lunches. Books from the scholastic book fair. School photos. And so on.
It can be worthwhile to put your kids expenses under a microscope, and decide which ones are really worth it.
Do they buy hot lunch every day? Maybe they could bring lunch a few times a week. Heck, my older boys, 15 and 11, never buy lunch because the food they get from home is so much better.
Are they in daycare? They’ll be in daycare for five years, so it can be worth checking around to see if there are other options. Especially as your kids go from one age (say, infant) to another age (toddler), there could be better quality or lower cost options.
And yes, there might not be better options – or it could be too disruptive to move them. But it’s still worth checking in to. Especially if they’re at a center where moving up in age means totally changing their rooms, teachers, and fellow students anyway.
Do they go to preschool? Check to see if there might be local free or inexpensive options.
Are they getting before or after care? Check in to see what other options might be around. Similar to daycare, they’ll be in after care for a long time. New options might pop up in your local area that could be worth a switch.
Do they have lots of
Are they constantly coming home with ideas for the new after-school activity of the week? You’re the parent and can set limits on how many activities you’re willing to juggle. And for their activities, you can look into lower-cost options to participate. For example, you can get second hand instruments from a kid who decided he was bored of band. Or “new” ski equipment from a kid that’s outgrown theirs. Heck, at my kids Boy Scout troop, they regularly have swaps of outgrown uniforms, shirts, and camping equipment.
And if your town or activity doesn’t have a swap, consider starting one! Other parents would appreciate it, and old things will find new loving owners to use them again.
Magazines. Websites, Subscription boxes. Amazon prime. You name it, you can subscribe to it.
But should you?
It depends on whether or not said subscription is worth it to you, of course. But this month, I challenge you to look closely at each and every subscription bill that hits your bank account. Are you still getting value from this subscription? Would you get a better deal on it if you cancelled, then came back some time later as a new customer? Or do you just not use it anymore?
Cancel any ongoing subscription that doesn’t bring you value – you can always get it again later. And you’ll probably get a better deal on it if you come back. Subscriptions rely on that lazy tax too, hoping you won’t notice the bill.
But you’ll notice this month, right?
I Challenge You!
Even if you’re not doing #nospendNovember, I’m still challenging you.
Pick just ONE of the types of bills above, and commit to reducing – or eliminating – it by the end of the month. If you permanently cancel or reduce an ongoing bill, you’ll reap those savings all year long. Let me know in the comments which one you’re going to try!
Also, if you can think of other common bills, be sure to put them in the comments to help your fellow readers out!
Lets kick off the week strong, and save money this month!
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