In an effort to offset rising costs in food and energy, many Americans are seeking ways to reduce their household expenses. We are no different.
During the past few months we have been reviewing our monthly budget and looking for areas to shave. Some categories can be reduced drastically with a radical change (such as canceling your home phone or cable service). Others choices are not quite as painful.
Reduce cable service to basic channel offerings. Monthly savings: $30. The idea of canceling cable altogether strikes fear in most couch potatoes. A good compromise is to cut back to basic cable service. You’ll still receive your local cable channels and will be able to use a TiVo or DVR to record network television shows.
Many cable providers offer this bare-bones package at $10-15 a month – compare that to what you are currently paying for 150 channels of things you barely watch.
I also see the use of internet television programming continuing to rise, and with a device such as a Roku player, or internet-enabled television, you can find plenty of offerings (some free, some not) for viewing pleasure.
I keep hoping this will one day satisfy my wish for a la carte programming where I only pay for the few shows that I watch, rather than a huge cable bill every month to receive the 145 channels I don’t watch.
Skip the bookstores and hit the library. Monthly savings: $30. Before I started making an attempt to live more frugally, I frequently picked up a book or two at the local bookstore to the tune of $25-30 a month (this is a conservative estimate as newly released hardcovers typically cost much more).
To satisfy my reading habit in a more frugal fashion I decided to visit a local library. I found the sections on personal finances, career development and personal productivity clustered in one area. I was in heaven!
These days, many libraries support various ereaders such as the Amazon Kindle which allow you to download the content electronically, furthering your savings and convenience factor.
Cancel your home phone service. Monthly savings: $40. I was late to the party on this front as several of our friends cut home phone service almost immediately when cell phones (and unlimited in-network and long distance packages) became so prevelant.
I was always a bit leery of doing away with my home phone, largely because I was concerned we would go over our out-of-network minutes making local calls, etc. However, these days so much correspondence takes place over email, Facebook, Twitter and text messages that there isn’t much need to make local phone calls. The few local calls we make generally fall well short of our out-of-network minute plan.
So you see, with a little creativity and some sacrifice, it is relatively easy to save $100 a month. What will you do with that $100? If you are in debt, I suggest putting the savings towards debt repayment. If you are out of debt, I suggest increasing your emergency fund to a full year’s worth of expenses.