Analyze fixed costs and destroy them

This is the last post in my series on how to boost your net worth without having to increase you income.

 

Recurrent costs are expenses that we often subscribe to but may not necessarily be aware of. I often forget about certain monthly bills that I set to pay automatically. It should be good habit to reassess our needs to cut costs. Some recurring bills include:

  • Electricity bills
  • Gas bills
  • Sewage/HOA bills
  • Garbage disposal fees
  • car payments
  • rent/mortgage
  • property tax
  • vehicle registration and insurance
  • internet bills
  • cable/satellite bills
  • online subscription services: Pandora, Evernote, web server, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime
  • magazine subscriptions
  • country club fees
  • golf course fees
  • telephone bills

 

Utilities (electricity, HOA, gas, sewage, trash)

These costs are mandatory, but you can still trim off the fees by paying attention to your usage. Basic supply line fees and taxes can’t be avoided, but decreasing consumption strategically will cut your bill with minimal disruption to your lifestyle. The majority of our electricity usage comes from our refrigerator, light bulbs, washer/dryer use, and air conditioning. Changing out your incandescent bulbs to CFLs or even LEDs will cut use dramatically. Insulation and increasing thermal mass of your house will help keep temperatures more stable through the day and decrease heating and cooling costs. Many modern homes aren’t designed to take advantage of the sun and the environment (which is a shame), but if you are able to find a home that has strategically placed windows (south facing windows if you are in the northern hemisphere), you can take advantage of the sun. You can track the electricity use of your appliances using a Kill-A-Watt meter. It’s surprising to see how much electricity certain appliances use. I found that my 40” LED television hardly drew any power while off, but consumed about 0.65kWh of electricity in 5 days of 1-3 hours of use. Find your appliances that have excessive phantom electricity draw and eliminate them! Options to decrease gas usage is more limited to decreasing your heat in the winter—obviously not an extremely popular option for many people to keep their homes much colder than comfortable. Again, the solution is actually to thermal insulate your home and increase thermal mass. If you can design your own home, look into Trombe walls and take advantage of the sun.

Cellphone bills

There has been an open battle among the big cellular companies and their offers to slash bills. If you are out of contract with your mainstream carrier, consider tracking your use and try some of reassess with alternative companies like Airvoice, FreedomPop, Ting, or Virgin Mobile. I was able to save at least $25 a month using Airvoice.

Internet bill

This is also a no brainer. Since the internet market is monopolized by a handful of companies, it is relatively easy to price shop. Use WhiteFence. If you live in a rural area, then your options will be more limited. Don’t be afraid to cut your provider in favor of a cheaper option.

Get cable along with Internet? Consider bundling if you must have cable or satellite, but you’d be better off cutting the cable. Likewise, if you find yourself too busy to use your Netflix subscription or online streaming memberships, considering cutting them.

Conclusion

Make it a habit to reassess your recurring costs annually. If there are services that you are not using, consider canceling. Be sure to check if you are spending too much on utilities, cellphone, or internet. I was surprised to find that many of my coworkers pay over $200 a month for bundled cable/internet!  Is premium television worth $2400 a year in after tax dollars?

What suggestions to you have to cut fixed costs? Comment below!

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