Work and Money
8 Ways to Lower Your Bills While Living Paycheck to Paycheck
We've all lived paycheck to paycheck at some point in our lives, but we don’t have to live that way. By saving more, you can increase your financial stability and work toward breaking free from the paycheck-to-paycheck rat race. Most people fall for the myth that saving money has to be a drastic action, but the truth is that every little bit counts. I’m sure we all would like to save more money, and luckily there are plenty of ways to cut down on expenses today and in the future. Here are some effective ways to generate savings today and tomorrow.
1. Make It Automatic
Late fees can lower (hurt) your credit score. Setting up automatic bill payments will help you avoid late fees. And there's peace of mind in knowing you won't be missing a payment. (Just make sure to have enough in your account when the check goes out.)
2. Become the Negotiator
Negotiating medical bills is another thing I’ve started doing that helps a ton. Speak to your medical company's administration team and see if you can work out lower payments or a suitable payment plan.
3. Switch to Term Life Insurance
If you’re paying for life insurance, you could be overpaying. Term insurance is pure insurance without all the bells and whistles, which means you pay much less. Grab free quotes from various providers to shop and compare.
4. Look for a Family Phone Plan
Consolidate your phone bill. If multiple people in your household have cell phones, see if you can get a family plan, or switch to an affordable prepaid company to lower your bill. Most of the popular prepaid-cell companies use cell service from leading well-known companies (like Verizon). If you all have different plans, see if you can move to the same service plan and use the "bring your own phone" option.
5. Shop for Cheaper Internet Service
You may or may not have other options for internet service in your area. You never know until you search and compare. Some internet providers will let you try their service for 30 days and change companies, or upgrade or downgrade if you need to.
6. Avoid Getting into Long-Term Subscription Contracts
You want to be able to cancel services as you see fit, so be sure to read the fine print. For example, your gym membership may come with a 12-month commitment, while others allow you to cancel with just a 30-day notice.
Another example is home-security companies. My husband and I unwittingly got locked into a three-year contract, which prevents us from canceling the service to free up more money unless we pay a high fee.
7. Exercise at Home for Free
Start working out at home instead of at the gym and save money on your membership. You can download free fitness apps, or check out YouTube channels like 305 Fitness or Jillian Michaels.
8. Consider Cheaper Housing
A good rule of thumb is to keep your housing expenses lower than 30 percent of your income. This means if you bring home $3,500 per month, your housing costs shouldn’t be more than $1,050. It's a nice threshold to keep in place because it ensures you’ll have enough money to cover other essential expenses. Explore your options and try to find affordable housing in your area, whether that means renting a no-frills apartment or getting a roommate. If you live in an expensive city, you may want to move to the outskirts of town or the surrounding suburbs to save money.
Living paycheck to paycheck can make you feel limited in terms of how fast you can pay off debt and how much you can save. The key is to get creative with your budget and the way you manage money. Start with these tips if you’re looking to save, and also realize that living paycheck to paycheck doesn’t have to be your future. Create a plan to start building up your emergency fund, increasing your income, and taking specific actions to improve your financial situation.
Also, check out my Budget Beyond Your Paycheck worksheet bundle to help you stay on track.