How to Really Cut Your Bills in Half

Everything costs too much. We all understand this. It’s why we clip coupons, buy things on sale and shop at thrift stores and sites like Craigslist as much as we can. But what if I told you that doing those things is only treating the symptom, not the underlying condition? If you really want to cut your spending, there is one important thing you have to do.

You have to go to the source.

It’s a simple thing and yet it is the thing we most avoid doing. Why? Because it seems too complicated? It’s not that hard. Here is how you do it.

Start With Your Bills

What is one of the first things that you learn to do when you decide that you want to pay off your debt? You learn how to contact your credit card companies and negotiate a lower interest rate and better repayment terms. Sure, sometimes if your debt is really out of control, you might hire someone to do this for you, but it is still an integral part of the process. Why wouldn’t you apply this strategy to the other bills in your life?

Cut Your Bills
Believe it or not, even your utility bills can be reduced--and not just by turning off the lights and using less water. A lot of states have deregulated their energy industries and that gives you, the consumer, a lot more power than you might have originally thought you had. In Texas, for example, consumers can shop around with the different Texas electricity companies to make sure they get the best rates and the right type of energy (this is particularly important if you’re hoping to only use renewable energy to power your home).

Even if you don’t live in a deregulated market, you have options. A lot of utility companies charge more than they are supposed to for the services they provide. Scour your bill and, if you find any extra charges, contact your provider. You might be able to get them removed from your bill!

If your income is stretched especially thin, you might also qualify for energy assistance which can help you lower your bills even further. Contact your provider and explain your situation and find out what kind of options are available where you live.

Get Creative

“Going to the source” isn’t just applicable to credt card and utility companies. It is a rule that you can apply to almost every aspect of your life. Need more proof? Check it out:

Grocery stores are famous for marking up their products. It’s not a mystery why this happens: after all, grocery stores have bills to pay too! Still, why do you have to eat that cost? The short answer is: you don’t. Not really. Shop for your produce at farmer’s markets. Buy into a CSA. In the long run this is cheaper for you and you’ll feel better about what you do spend because you’ll know exactly where the money is going.  

Then, learn how to make as many things as possible from scratch, using the ingredients you get at these markets or that you buy marked down in a bulk discount. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with some eggs and flour. Why would you spend $4 for a bag of chips when you can make your own in fifteen minutes for less than a dollar?

Clothing stores are another place where goods are extremely marked up. This is part of the reason that shopping at thrift stores feels so satisfying. You can get a pair of jeans that cost $70 in a department store for $10 or less.

Why not take it a step further and learn how to make your own clothing--at least the simple stuff, like t-shirts, skirts and socks? Material costs a lot less than the pre-made stuff and being able to design and make your own clothing is a skill that you can market to bring in extra income.

Alternatively, buy the fabric and work with a local seamstress. You’ll get better clothing that lasts longer than the mass produced stuff and, over the long term, pay much less for your fashion.

It’s true: these things sound simple when typed out here on the internet. It does take time to learn to make your own clothing and food. Even so, when you can do for yourself, you are reducing costs at their sources and that will save you much more than you’d ever save with a “buy one get one” coupon at the local store. And, with all of the time you’ll spend learning and doing for yourself, you won’t be as tempted to go shopping and spend money in the first place.

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