You are probably in the thick of spring cleaning right now, wiping down the window sills, cleaning under the fridge, and throwing out the old and musty items in your basement. But while you are cleaning out your physical house, you should also be looking at cleaning your financial house. You should be taking a hard look at your finances to find out where you can get rid of things you don’t need anymore and where you can clean up some of the detritus, like those fees that are nickel and diming you.
You should conduct an expense purge at least once a year, but ideally, you should do it every six months. Here’s what you need to look at for your expense purge:
Your electricity expenses can vary wildly throughout the year. When it gets colder or warmer, you are likely to crank up your air conditioner or heating to offset it, which will increase your energy costs. As your home ages, it can become less energy efficient, sending your bills up, as well.
You need to get an energy audit to find ways to improve energy efficiency, such as by replacing the weather stripping or insulation. You should also shop around to find the best energy providers, such as by using a service like electricityproviders.org.
Work with your family to reduce costs through changes in lifestyle, such as keeping the thermostat at a steady temp and turning out lights when not in a room.
Do you really need to pay for all the data that is included on your phone plan? You may be paying more than you need. Take a close look at the last several months of bills to find out what your average usage is for phone minutes and for data transfer. Then look at how much is included on your plan. Call your phone provider and find out if you can get a lower plan that has the appropriate data level and saves you money.
Auto insurance prices can vary widely based on your driving record, state law, and other factors. When your policy is coming to an end, it’s time to shop around and see what kind of rates you can get. Some insurance companies will cut you a discount if you have multiple policies, such as home and auto. Some will give you discounts for having no accidents, for being married, for having a certain kind of car, and so on.
You can also save a lot of money by looking at your coverage level and adjusting it where necessary. You might be able to lower or drop certain coverages that you don’t really need. Talk to your own insurance company about adjusting your coverage to save money also.
A lot of people feel like they have no control over their credit cards other than to try to spend less. But this isn’t true. You can call your credit card company and request a lower interest rate, request to have the annual fee waived, and even request to have a late fee waived. You actually have more power than you think to get some of these fees reduced or dismissed. You just have to actually ask – and you have to be nice about it.
You can also lower your credit card costs by getting a credit card with a lower rate and transferring the balance. Many cards offer you a zero percent interest rate for a certain amount of time when you transfer a balance.
Do you really need HBO and Showtime? Do you really need that package that includes all those sports channels that you never watch? Now is a good time to analyze exactly how many of the channels you pay for that you actually need. Even if you decide not to change anything about your package, you should still call the cable company and ask for a lower rate. The company likely has introductory rates for new customers, so there is wiggle room for what you pay.
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Look closely at all the services you pay for and find ways to reduce what you pay. You could potentially drop hundreds from your monthly bills. Imagine how much you would save if you do this every year!