bills22nd April 2016 –

First off, a big welcome to all of the new readers who have come on board following my cheeky little promo on Reddit FI Australia. I hope you enjoy my articles and get some value out of them. Your comments and feedback are always welcome.

So let’s get started…….

This week’s article is borrowed, more or less, from along with my own 5 cents worth added in for good measure. is a well written blog by David Ning who, after a successful career in IT and sales, gave up the daily 9 to 5 at aged 28, and retired early. He now struggles to find enough hours in the day being a full-time dad as well as managing his personal finance websites. It’s well worth checking out at

One of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce your spending each month is to take a look at the most common expenses. The ones you faithfully, but reluctantly, pay every month. I’m talking about ‘the monthly bills’. You know the ones I mean……electricity, gas, mobile phone, home phone/internet, Fox or Sky TV subscription, insurance, and so on.

If you’re smart, you’ve probably set these up on automatic payment so that they always get paid on time and you never miss the due date or get hit with late payment penalties.

I’m guessing, in most cases, you just take a passing glance at the invoice when it arrives and if it looks similar to last month, just pay it without another thought.

Well, with a little bit of research and effort on your part, I’ll bet that you can easily shave hundreds of dollars off these bills each year.

Take a look at these examples……

  • Mobile phone – Do you currently have an on-account plan with plenty of text, calling minutes and data? Chances are that you never come close to using your ‘allowance’ each month but are still paying for it regardless. Then, at the end of each billing cycle, it’s gone, and you start all over again. Have a look through your next bill and see how much you are actually using. Then have a look at what alternative plans are available or consider a pre-paid plan. The other thing to consider is that mobile phone companies are constantly bringing out new, cheaper plans to stay competitive. However, they never tell their existing customers they could get a better deal if they change, so you could be paying a fortune for a legacy plan while I get the same usage for a fraction of the price.
  • Home Phone – Do you still have a home telephone line? That’s so 1980s… Consider how much time you spend on the home phone each month and there’s a good chance it’ll fit within your mobile plan. So why have it? The only exception here is if you need a physical line for your internet connection. But if you get charged for all calls, including local, like here in Australia, then don’t use it for calling. We have a physical line for our internet but no phone plugged in.
  • Internet – Have you looked into the different technology (and thus, options) available to you? If you are a low volume user, could you actually use your internet-capable mobile phone and hook it up to a PC (known as tethering) to get essentially the same service for a fraction of the cost? If you require a larger amount of data, shop around to find the best deals and look for reviews of the different providers on the web. Remember, they all use the same technology and physical cable to deliver it to your door so once it’s up and running, why would you want to pay a premium, each month, charged by some providers.
  • Pay TV – There are now plenty of legal alternatives to Fox and Sky TV and most are significantly cheaper too. Unless you are unable to live without your live sport fix for the Rugby Union or Rugby League (depending where you live) why pay $60 or more each month for the rest of the crap they show. Netflix, Stan, Lightbox etc. have so much content available for less than a quarter of the price, and with no lock-in contracts you can pick and choose who you want to watch on a month-by-month basis if you want. And another tip from me. If you want to see all of the overseas content that Netflix won’t show here because of licensing agreements, check out an subscription as well to unlock the content that the rest of the world get to watch.
  • Gym Membership – Gym? Do you actually go anymore? Or did you start with a ‘hiss and a roar’ for a few months and now you just dangle your membership card from your keychain? Guess what, just having a gym subscriptions doesn’t get you fitter, it just gets you poorer!! Most people are going after a healthy and fit body instead of becoming a muscle man (or lady). The fittest people are always the ones who go out to jog every day. They run on the road, on the beach and in the parks. You don’t need to smell other people’s sweat and pay a bunch of money just to stay fit right?
  • Clubs, Newsletters, Subscriptions – Enough said. Unless they provide real value, stop paying for them.
  • Electricity – Many tricks for saving power we already know, but in order to save money every month, we have to change our habits. Turning off lights and electronics whenever they’re not needed, dial down the hot water heater to 45 degrees, and opening windows or use fans instead of A/C are all simple ways to not only save but to put less strain on the overall environment. Also, power companies operate in a similar way to mobile phone companies and are always offering cheaper plans or incentives to win new business. Of course, if you are a loyal existing customer, thanks for your payment each month, but don’t expect to hear about the better deals. So shop around and when you find a better deal, it’s so easy to change supplier now. Just do it and reap the rewards. 
  • Medication – Check with you doctor to see if you can switch your prescriptions to generic brands. In most cases, you’ll get the same medication but much cheaper. Same applies to a number of over-the-counter meds such as pain relief and cold medicines.
  • Cars – Oil changes and regular maintenance may be out of your league but wash your own cars, please. And check your tyre pressure at least once a month. Tyres that are underinflated by 25% will increase fuel consumption by 2% as well as increasing wear on the tyres, and affect braking and handling (A little tip from the Stig there).
  • Insurance Companies – Firstly, how much insurance do you have, and do you really need it? Most people carry too much insurance ‘just in case’. You could be paying a fortune in premiums each year for unnecessary amounts of cover. I’ll take a look at this in an upcoming post. But in the meantime, see if you can pay your premiums monthly without penalty, instead of a lump sum each year. It’s far easier on the wallet to pay monthly. Ahhhhh, that feels better already. This is one of the most competitive industries out there and all of these companies want your  business. If you find a better deal from another company and are happy with who you’re with, give them an opportunity to match it. If not, goodbye!! I saved an easy $250 a year on my car insurance by comparing online, and got a far more comprehensive package at the same time.
  • Review annually – Finally, review your regular bill providers at least once a year to see if they are offering you the best deal or just to see how keen they are to retain your business. Be upfront and tell them that you are shopping around and see what they come back with.

We’re so use to the cost of services increasing over time, you may find, that with a bit of research, many of them actually reduce which will put money back in your pocket, or at least offset any increases from others. You could be surprised how much you can save.

You can read the original post here at

So let us know how you manage to save money and keep your expenses in check each month.

In next week’s article we’re going to call in some experts when we look at how carrying large amounts of debt is going to kill your chances of reaching your financial independence goal, and some proven ways of digging yourself out of this great big steaming pile of financial poo. See you then.

14 thoughts on “11 simple ways to start saving money every month”

  1. Here as a result of your Reddit promo 🙂

    The energy company we use was recently advertising with a great offer for new customers.
    We’ve been with them a while so i rang and asked to speak to the retention team. Surprisingly they put me straight through. They wouldn’t match the cash incentive offer but they did give us a much greater discount than we were receiving. Electricity discount went from 26% to 40% and gas from 13% to 27% (off the usage only). All it took was a 10 minute phone call.

    Did the same with my mortgage. Rang the bank, asked for a better rate and waited to be called back by the retention team (not as easy to get to as the energy company). I’ve done this a few times over the last 18 months and have gone from a 0.7% discount off their standard rate to 1.3% now. I think there’s still a little room to move but they only reassess once every 6 months so i’ll try again then.
    Current rate is 4.3% with one of the big 4. I could certainly get a better rate elsewhere, however, the suite of products they offer make this a good option for our needs.

    As for insurance, we’ve increased our excess quite a bit and in the process are saving hundreds per year across our vehicle and house insurance. We have savings to pay the excess in the unlikely event that we need it or to self insure if we only have a small claim.

    1. Hi Adrian, thanks for the great feedback and good on ya for making those calls. When I read what you did it makes me feel that I’m actually doing some good out there and that the time spend compiling these articles is all worth it. It really is that easy to save a heap on these bills that most people just keep blindly paying month after month, year after year. I suggest, if you haven’t done it already, is make a note in your diary to do another review of your bills in 6 and 12 months time ongoing. Consider this, if you save $100 for 10 minutes work, that’s an pretty good hourly rate isn’t it. M

      1. It’s not a bad rate of return on my time 🙂

        I have reminders set in my phone calendar. The mortgage takes the most work since I can’t get to the retention team without telling them about some other offer i received from a competitor. I then need to wait for a return call from the team which may never come. Apparently if they can’t give a better deal then they won’t bother to call.
        The energy company locks in the rate for 12 months and they’ll contact me before it reverts back to the previous rates so i’ll need to talk to them again or lose the discounts.

        There’s hardly any Aussie blogs around so it’s good to find one. Keep it up.

  2. I cut the cable: no tv.
    I negotiated the mobile: 4 euro per month (ok, not too many minutes included but I will speak less).
    I checked the electrical consumers in my house. I review the water consumption.
    I have a menu planning, weekly. Including lunch boxes for all the family.
    I cancelled the buying books ( we have more than 500 😀 ). We are going to borrow from local library.
    I changed the bank. I have lower taxes here.
    I am doing more exercises alone: I lost weight, less medical problems (no more back pain, no more doctors and massage).
    All the savings will push to pay down a part of the mortgage (already did it 😀 1.8 %..). Then I will again negotiate the tax because the value to pay is around a half of the price of the apartment (maybe I will obtain around 1.5%, like my neighbour).

    All these reduced the monthly payments, down with around 200-300 monthly => so around 3000 per year, with just an effort about 1-2 hours for every bill… But needs discipline, a lot of discipline! It is not easy, I think a lot of people are paying for …convenience….

    1. Nice one. Although this site is aimed at primarily aimed at Aussies and Kiwis, you are showing that this can be done in pretty well any westernised country as fundamentally, we all share the type of market economy. I also use the library for my reading material and have recently started downloading ebooks from my library as well. And you mentioned the benefits of keeping yourself fit and healthy as well. Consider the long term implications of this. Reduced doctors bills, reduced medication costs, improved mental ability, more active lifestyle, longer life……and so on. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Can I ask, what country do you live in? M

  3. Good on you for putting this together. Likewise I’ve come over from reddit.

    I’ve also started a personal finance site and like the way you’re promoting it and writing articles. You’ve inspired me to put it out there on Reddit too, so expect a post in the next 24 hours.

    Here’s some other ways that you can save money that this community might be interested in: Credit Card Rewards; Sign up, cashback or referal bonuses; Discounted gift cards; Loyalty programs;
    and Paypass rebates.

    Here’s one of my first posts that describes how I saved / earned $2,500 last year through the above methods

    1. Hi Steve, thanks for your comment. It’s great to see others in the FIRE community sharing their stories and their tips for a less-costly, improved lifestyle. I’ll be checking out your site today. Cheer, M

  4. Great list! We wish we could cut cable, but it is built into our building’s HOA!

    One big change I made in the last year was the gym. As you mentioned, we often don’t go as often as we want, and we can obtain the same fitness goals by just getting outside. For us, we moved closer to work and now we walk for our commute. That little change means my girlfriend and I get some cardio on our commute AND we save money by not needing a car or public transportation.

    You make another great point about automatic payments. Similar to automatic investments, the automatic nature means it is out of sight, when it likely should be reviewed at least annually, as you recommend.

    1. Hi there DD and thanks for dropping by. Compulsory cable? lol. Does that mean you have no choice but to pay for it? Bummer!! Hey, great change for the good. Not only save money by leaving the car in the garage but staying fitter and healthier as well. Win win!! I try to use my bike as much as I can instead of the car, especially any trip less than 10km. In fact, I haven’t had the car out of the garage all week. Big thumbs up.

      1. Yep, pretty much regarding the cable. Our building as a whole negotiated a built in cable rate per condo unit. Luckily, it is only ~$35/unit, but I would rather keep that $35. If it was the higher rate of ~$100-120 that I’ve seen some people spend on cable, then maybe I would opt to join our board and start a crusade to make a change.

  5. The insurance costs is a big one. Alot of financial institutions may offer insurance protection on the balance owing on your debt in the event you become ill or unable to work. Unless this is mortgage insurance (which is a subtstaintial amount of debt), I think this is a waste of money. Many times the illness has to be so severe that people don’t even qualify for the bank to pay off their debts.
    I would even include extended warranties (some not all). They can be a real waste.

  6. Hey,

    Nice list. In pretty much every area of the budget you can get a better deal for your money. We have paid a lot of things annually this year and saved money (PHI, Car insurance, home insurance) rather than paying on a monthly basis. Extremely important to compare though, otherwise your company will jack up the price.


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