What can you do to cut your monthly bills?

For many of us, the bills come in and the check goes out. But do you know how much you could save in just one year?

Jessica Sloan and Beth Ellis are both work-at-home moms and both needed to save money. They both reevaluated what they were spending, hoping to save big.

Beth cut her cable bill, turning off dozens of premium channels.

"When you looked at the monthly cost -- and it was $40 or $50 -- for what you actually got out of it, it wasn't worth it," said Beth.

Jessica also cut her cable costs but also said goodbye to her cell phone package. She replaced it with a pay-by-the-minute phone.

"So instead of $77 a month, I think we're paying $7 a month," said Jessica.

Maria Pippidis is an expert in family and consumer science. She says you can make deep cuts and not miss out by making smart substitutions.

"If movies are still important, what are the cheaper alternatives?" asked Pippidis.

"You could buy movies online. You could do /*Netflix*/," said Beth.

If you want to save even more, turn your thermostat down 5 degrees during the cooler months and up 5 degrees in the summer. For every degree, you can save 3 percent of your monthly electric bill.

Finally, Pippidis tells people to examine their auto insurance policies every year. Your deductible may be too low and you may be paying for things you don't need.

"If you've got a health insurance policy that's adequately covering you, then having medical coverage in this policy doesn't make sense," said Pippidis.

Small changes become a matter of big dollars and cents. Beth and Jessica said they each saved $200 per month.

When it comes to auto insurance, one recommendation is to increase your deductible from $250 to $500.

Additional money saving tips:
In today's economy, it's difficult to put money away.

According to the /*U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis*/, personal savings are at their lowest levels since the Great Depression. If you're not careful, your bills may be consuming more money than they have to. Experts say paying your bills on time and online will save money. Late payment of bills can affect your credit history and credit score, which can result in higher interest rates and additional fees on any loans you take out. Keep your bills organized and pay them as soon as you get them. Paying your bills online will also save you time as well as money on checks, envelops and stamps.

Additional tips for slashing your bills:
Maria Pippidis, an extension educator at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., says there are ways to cut costs of specific bills.

  • Cable: Look at what channels you really watch and determine if it's worth the cost. Switching to a combination of basic cable, Netflix movie rentals and Web-based program watching can save money.
  • Phone: Ask yourself if it's necessary for both a landline and cell phone. Review your usage for the last three months to see how you are using them, and then compare the cost of buying both these services from one company versus buying them from different companies.
  • Electricity: Once a month, clean or replace filters for anything that heats or cools your house. Blocked filters cause the systems to work less efficiently. Use a vacuum to clean the coils in the front of your refrigerator. Also, clean the lint collector in your dryer and the hot-air duct leading out of the house, or just skip the dryer altogether and air-dry clothing.
  • Dining out: Reduce your eating out costs by taking out foods and eating them at home. This will save on drink and tip money.
  • Other food tips: Prepare convenience foods at home, assign family members a night to cook and cook large meals and freeze leftovers to make frozen dinners.



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