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Manage Your Money to Escape the 9 to 5: Part 2 – Monthly Bills

November 10, 2010

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been running a short series of posts on how to manage your finances as a first step towards escaping the 9 to 5.  Last week I took a look at some easy (and not so easy) ways to save money on grocery shopping.  This week’s post highlights some useful tips for driving down expenditure on monthly bills.

Cancel newspaper subscriptions. If you need a news fix, check out your favourite sources online.  The same goes for glossy magazines – do you really need to fork out serious cash to be force-fed a diet of advertising and lightweight ‘self-help?’

Review your mobile phone usage. Many of us are paying well over the odds on our monthly cell phone bills.  This is because the networks know that most customers are lazy and can’t be bothered to switch to a better package when contracts expire.  I recently saved £20 ($32) a month by switching to a sim-only deal.  Take ten minutes to review your monthly usage and research the market for the best deals based on this.  The knowledge will be a good bargaining tool even if you decide to stay with your current provider.

Don’t get ripped off on building insurance. A huge amount of home-owners are paying well over the odds on their building insurance.  This is because most people insure their home for the market value rather than the rebuild value.  Check out your survey report – it should indicate the cost to rebuild (often up to 50% lower than market value).

Drive down utility bills. There’s no excuse for being stuck on an overpriced gas or electricity tariff.  Go to a comparison site, type in your monthly usage details and switch to the best deal.  The chances are you’ll be able to save hundreds, if not thousands each year.

Consider internet tethering. The latest iPhones (3G & 4) can be connected to your laptop via USB or bluetooth to enable mobile web browsing.  If you own one of these phones check out the possibility of internet tethering – it means you’ll be able to cancel your monthly landline subscription.

Shift debt to a 0% deal. If you’re in debt, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re not paying over the odds on interest.  If possible, switch your credit card balance to a 0% or ultra-low deal.  If you’re unable to switch, consider implementing a ‘debt snowball.’  This entails paying as much as possible off ONE of your debts until it’s gone before moving on to the next one.  This is much better psychologically because you get to see much quicker results by not spreading payments thinly across all your debts.  For more tips on this, and on managing your finances more generally, I highly recommend Adam Baker’s book Unautomate Your Finances and the GetRichSlowly website.

Ditch expensive ‘premium’ bank accounts. Some bank accounts charge a fixed montly fee and give subscribers access to a range of offers and discounts.  However, the reality is that many customers don’t make use of the offers and still get stung with the monthly payment.  Do you really need that ‘10% off Disneyland holidays’ deal?

Get a water meter. As a rule of thumb, if there are less people in your house than bedrooms you’ll be better off getting a water mater installed rather than paying fixed monthly installments.  Drive down costs further by taking some simple water conservation measures like using a water butt in the garden and installing a water hippo (or even a housebrick!) in your toilet cistern.

Cancel your cable/satellite TV subscription. There’s nothing on anyway.

Pay off debts before saving. Again, if you’re in debt, it makes shrewd financial sense to pay it off before thinking about paying into a savings account.  This is because banks charge more interest on loans and credit cards than they offer on savings accounts.  Check out Gerri Detweiler’s eBook Reduce Debt – Reduce Stress for some more practical insights on how to manage debt effectively.

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Image Credit – AMagill via flickr

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ryan permalink
    November 10, 2010 5:02 pm

    You may want to reconsider hacking down your homeowner’s insurance. Insurance is intended to replace (rebuild) your home, not buy you another one. Every state is different. Call the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance in your state to find out your rights as an insured.

  2. November 10, 2010 5:46 pm

    Thanks Ryan – I agree. Far too many people are insured for the market value and not, as they should be, for the rebuild value.

  3. Macs permalink
    November 11, 2010 10:26 pm

    “Cancel your cable/satellite TV subscription. There’s nothing on anyway.”

    I would – and did! – go one further… scrap the TV entirely.

    Not only do you save on the TV licence, you also get rid of one of the major electricity-hogs. As you say, there’s nowt on anyway – apart from poorly-disguised consumerist propaganda designed to make you want to spend your way to self-worth and happiness.

    Of course, if there’s a programme you really can’t live without, there’s always iPlayer, but I generally find going back later to download usually means the interest has waned anyway.

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