JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When you sit down with your monthly bills, do you feel overwhelmed? The past few years have been a struggle and while many have seen improvements, the cost of some bills just don't seem to be going down ... that's what the experts are seeing.
Here are my top 10 ways to lower or reduce your household bills, they have been tested and they work:
Number 10: Audit your grocery bill. While using coupons certainly helps, you need to look at what you're buying. Plan your menu for a week, create a grocery list and stick to it and consider store brands over name brand items.
Number 9: How much do you pay for fun every month? You may want to explore memberships like AAA that not only provide a service but offer discounts to many entertainment venues and save you bucks.
Number 8: Utilities ... need I say more? When you leave your home set your thermostat to the away setting, when you leave a room turn off the lights. Do your laundry with cold water.
Number 7: Check your phone bills. Do you really need caller ID and call waiting. This includes cable and satellite services. It is time to review that expensive high definition package.
Number 6: Insurance: you need it but it can be costly. With auto insurance, look at your deductible. With health insurance, investigate alternatives, consider actual needs versus what you have and with home or renter's insurance, do you need that extra coverage?
Number 5: Avoid overdraft on debit cards. Even if the bank doesn't charge you for using overdraft, tip toe over the line and it will cost you. Use the same caution to avoid late payments on anything ... that is free money for your creditors.
Number 4: Look at the cost of owning an automobile. When possible, use public transportation or carpool with friends and neighbors.
Number 3: Refinance your mortgage. If you have good credit but your rate is not as low as it could be, refinance now and lower your monthly house payment by a sizable amount.
Number 2: If you have medical bills, use generic drugs when filling a prescription and if you have a chronic condition, consider hiring a health care advocate that specializes in negotiating medical bills on your behalf.
Number 1: Before you do anything, sit down and create a spreadsheet of how much money comes in and where it is going. You would be amazed of the number of people who are trying to lower their bills but have no idea how much money they're spending.
Martha Cox of the Family Foundation Consumer Credit Counseling said by doing this, "you will reduce your bills by three percent."
First Coast News