Lower Your Monthly Bills Checklist

Some tips will be helpful reminders; other ideas will be new to you. Each tried-and-true strategy could save you $100 or more.    

To Lower Your Mortgage Costs

  1. Check Refinance.

    You’ve heard it before, but this is the easiest way to reduce your housing expenses substantially. Annual savings: $1,984 (These figures are based on the average U.S. house price of $272,000.)

  2. Check Appeal property taxes.

    If your house has lost value since it was last assessed, you could qualify for a lower annual bill. Annual savings: $1,400

  3. Check Get rid of your private mortgage insurance.

    As long as you have at least 20 percent equity in your house, you’re not required to have this coverage. Annual savings: $2,050

To Lower Your Utility Bills

  1. Check Use a programmable thermostat.

    Lower the temperature (or raise it in summer) seven to eight degrees when you’re not home, and adjust it at least four degrees for the hours that you’re asleep. Annual savings: $180

  2. Check Unplug electronics when they’re not in use.

    Annual savings: $100

  3. Check Launder everything in cold water.

    And to save even more on energy costs, let your laundry air-dry. Annual savings: $103

To Lower Your Transportation Costs

  1. Check Drive sensibly.

    Gas mileage decreases when the speedometer tops 60 miles per hour. Annual savings: $585

  2. Check Fill up with the right octane grade.

    Check your manual and use a higher grade of gas only if instructed to do so. Annual savings: $217

  3. Check Set up a transportation-reimbursement account.

    Pay your commuting expenses, such as parking and public-transportation rides, with pretax earnings and reduce your overall income-tax bill. Annual savings: $375

  4. Check Patronize the cheapest gas station.

    Annual savings: $500

  5. Check Carpool.

    Annual savings: $2,280

To Lower Your Cable and Internet Bills

  1. Check Stop paying for TV channels that you don’t watch.

    Annual savings: $450

  2. Check Use Skype, the communications software program.

    It’s free for all domestic and international calls with other Skype users, plus you’ll receive up to 25 percent off international calls with a subscription. Annual savings: $156

  3. Check Cancel call-waiting and caller ID on your landline.

    This is an especially pain-free move if you use your mobile as your primary phone anyway. Annual savings: $105

  4. Check Lower your Internet speed.

    If your at-home computer use is typically limited to checking e-mail and social-media sites, you may be able to downgrade without too much of a sacrifice. Annual savings: $360

  5. Check Bundle your services.

    Using one company for all your entertainment services can reduce your costs by about 20 percent if you tend to make a lot of long-distance calls on your landline, watch cable TV, and require high-speed Internet. Annual savings: $216

To Lower Your Cell-Phone Bill

  1. Check Match your texting plan with your family’s needs.

    If you have teenagers, you may need to sign up for an unlimited option, since they send and receive almost 2,300 more texts a month than adults do (gulp). No adolescents in the house? Make sure you’re not overpaying for a texting plan that you don’t utilize. Annual savings: $240

  2. Check Know your data usage.

    Use the calculators offered by AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, or sign up for message alerts to figure out how much data you use, then downgrade your plan accordingly. Annual savings: $240

To Lower Your Health-Care Costs

  1. Check Visit in-store pharmacy clinics.

    For minor illnesses, they’re a great alternative to your doctor or the local emergency room if you can’t get an appointment with your doctor or don’t have health insurance. Annual savings: $200

  2. Check Double-check invoices.

    Nine out of 10 invoices contain errors (such as charging for routine services or equipment fees that are already factored into the price), according to the Medical Billing Advocates of America, which can inflate your medical expenses anywhere from 17 to 49 percent. Always compare the Explanation of Benefits (sent by your insurer) with the bill from the provider to verify that all the charges match. Annual savings: $537

  3. Check Receive an annual checkup at a dental school.

    You can save up to a third off your bill by trusting dental students to perform a cleaning. Annual savings: $684

  4. Check Open a flexible-spending account.

    Eighty-five percent of employers offer these accounts, which allow workers to set aside pretax dollars for medical expenses. Annual savings: $775