Whether you’re trying to pay down debt or have a sudden new expense you have to cover, trying to find money in your budget can be difficult.
After housing costs, bills (bills…bills..Beyonce, anyone?) are easily some of the most costly expenses in your budget. You might think you simply have to accept your current bill amounts. That simply isn’t true! There are many ways in which you can trim your bills….you just might not know about them yet.
I'm a fan of a once-yearly bill audit in order to find extra room in your budget. (See how I did this to pay off $8,000 in 90 days…here). But as my Mom always used to say, “there's more than one way to skin a cat.” So, I've listed six different ways you can trim your bills to find extra cash to put towards other expenses below. Enjoy!
A Do-it-yourself Bill Audit
The best way for you to trim down on your bills this year is to audit what you’re spending…and you do that by…wait for it…tracking your spending.
If you aren’t already, take a month where you track every single thing you spend and put it in categories. Are there any areas in which you’re overspending? If so, why is that happening? Are you simply not budgeting enough, or are you spending more than you need in that area?
Sometimes, the reason we spend too much is that we aren’t aware of it. Knowing what you’re spending, when you’re spending it, and why you’re spending can help you make decisions on what to cut and what to keep.
It's worth noting that for right now, I'm talking about fixed expenses (things you absolutely have to pay no matter what you do like utilities, groceries and gas.) If you want to figure out how to cut back on discretionary spending, here's a post on the easiest things to cut.
Here are some questions to ask to help you cut down on expenses.
- Are there any changes you can make to your diet that will cut down on your grocery bill?
- Are there any services you’re receiving that you could get less often? If you’re doing something twice a month, could you do it once a month?
- Do you get any services that aren’t necessary, or that you could do yourself, like getting your nails done, changing your oil, or other things?
- Can you cut down on your water or electricity usage to make your monthly utility bills less?
The best thing about this option is that by “doing it yourself” your bill audit is completely free! All it takes is you, your budget, and some honest truth about what you do and don’t need in your life.
For more step-by-step guidance on finding money in your budget, click here for the full guide.
One downside is that it’s easy to miss some spending, especially if it comes out of different accounts. Even if you think you’re thorough, there’s always a chance that you are missing something that’s taking money from you each month and racking up a few hundred dollars a year.
- TrueBill is an app that helps you save money by cutting down on your bills.
- The app works by identifying subscriptions and provides insight into where your money is going.
- They’ve helped their customers save more than $14 million through negotiating lower service payments, identifying unwanted subscriptions and getting fees and outage refunds.
The most significant benefit of TrueBill is that everything is automated. They aggregate all of the data from your accounts into one place (technology magic!), so you don’t have to look at everything individually. They also work on your behalf to get fees reimbursed if they identify any.
BillShark is a service that helps you renegotiate your bills for things like the Internet, security, phone, and TV.
They work to help you get the best price for what you’re paying and help you audit your expenses to make sure you aren’t paying for things you don’t need. BillShark also offers long-term monitoring of your bills to ensure they stay down.
BillShark isn’t just for your personal use. They’re also around to help you lower business bills as well. Any business subscriptions like SaaS, payroll, document services, and more BillShark can help.
The great thing about BillShark is that you have someone else negotiate on your behalf. You don’t have to make any annoying calls to customer service and have unpleasant conversations with people who are trained to upsell you when they can.
BillCutters is another service that works to get you the best prices on your telecom needs. The way it works is they deal with the hassle of calling your providers for you and renegotiating your plans to get you the best service for the best price.
They help you save money on bills including:
- Alarm & Security
- Bundled packages
- Phone Service
- Satellite Services
For the most part, BillCutterz works to make these negotiations happen in three business days or less. There’s no guarantee of how much you’ll save because they don’t know exactly how much they can cut on your bills, but they report saving their average customer 25-35% of their monthly bills.
They also enjoy one of the strongest reputations of the bill audit companies on this list and have been in business for over ten years.
One downside to using this service is that they charge you directly instead of taking money out of the savings you get. That requires a trusting relationship, which might not be something you’re willing to commit to.Price: They take 50% of whatever they save you if you pay monthly. It's 40% if you pay upfront. The plus side of using BillCutterz is that all you need to do is send them your bills and the authorization to negotiate on your behalf. If you don’t get any savings, you don’t get charged.
Arcadia Power is a bit of a different service. They help you connect with local clean energy projects to help improve the environment while securing you with better electricity rates.
There are 300,000 Arcadia members, with over one million MWh generated. T
You won’t need to install any new hardware and can choose between the free plan, which creates 50% of your energy from wind, and the premium plan, which costs only a little extra.
The biggest downside to Arcadia Power is that projects are only available in certain parts of the country If there isn’t a clean energy project near you, then they may not be able to help you save and change your energy source.
Cushion is an automated service that connects to your banks and helps you fight against bank fees it finds. It’s an entirely digital service, and while it won't lower your utility bills, it can find bank fees and overdrafts and get those back for you.
..Which when we're trying to find money in the budget, this can be super important!
The service uses 256-bit SSL encryption as well as a secure infrastructure to keep your data safe. Since it needs to connect to your banks, it has to fight hard to protect your information.
Cushion generally gets you money back the same day you sign up for their app. Many users report getting something back within hours of connecting their accounts. I did try out Cushion on my own (like I do with all the affiliates I recommend) They got me $36 back for about a half-hour of my time. Not bad!
The biggest downside to Cushion is that they only support two banks. Womp.
The Final TL: DR
Trying to cut back on your spending can feel like a damper on your life, but it doesn’t have to be. Doing an audit of what you’re spending for the not-fun stuff can save you several hundred a year, which adds up.
While I recommend doing the free DIY bill-audit because it saves the most money, I understand how time-consuming it can be to go out and get these lower rates. Bare minimum, if you don't have time to commit to lowering your bills, outsource to one of the providers listed above.