K.G. asks from Fort Lauderdale, FL on July 22, 2008
Trying to Reduce Our Home Bills, Suggestions?
With the economy the way it is, my husband and I are trying to reduce our monthly bills... Unfortunately we now pay almost 6k PER month for bills... That is NOT including gas, food, entertainment, etc.....
We have comcast now for our cable and internet and pay 170.00 per month (ridiculous)... We plan to switch to Direct TV but I am worried about the satelite going out when it's really cloudy out or raining... Any suggestions? Does anyone have Direct TV and love it or hate it? It's only going to be about 80 per month. That does NOT include internet though... Any suggestions where I can get "high speed" internet for cheaper?... We tried Verizon but our wiring in our neighborhood is with Bellsouth and doesn't allow Verizon to do it...
Also, does anyone use Vonage for the home phone? Like it? We would love a cheaper home phone too... We have At&T right now and pay almost 100 for it.....
Does anyone use Metro? We have a family plan with Verizon and pay about 170.00 per month.. I know Metro is cheaper but I heard the signal stinks.. I would rather pay more to get a better signal but I didn't know if that was true or not.......
Any suggestions are appreciated.....
Even if we could cut costs down by 200 per month, it's still a savings...
C.G. answers from Boca Raton on July 22, 2008
I think you really need to evaluate how many extra features on your phone do you really need? We have pared down our phone bill with AT&T/Bellsouth to about $65.00/month and that is including DSL internet. We don't subscribe to caller ID or call waiting - we just have the plan that included unlimited local calling, that is it. We have cell phone through verizon and only our family and good friends have the cell number so that if they tried to call us while we were on the phone and it is an emergency, they can always call us on the cell. I do miss Caller ID, but since we are on the do not call list, I don't have to worry about screening calls too much.
We have DirecTV and are very satisfied with it. Yes, it can go out during heavy storms, but it doesn't last that long and when we had the hurricanes, people with cable were out for several days, we never lost service (as long as we had electricity, that is...)
Other things we have done, we installed a programmable thermostat and keep the temp at 82 degrees when we are at work during the week and have it set to 79 degrees when we are at home. We just use energy efficient ceiling fans in the rooms we are in and shut them off when we leave the room.
Water bills - if you have a sprinkler system, don't run it if we have had a couple of good rainy days. We haven't had ours turned on since the start of rainy season and our grass is as green as our neighbor's who still runs their sprinklers on their designated days.
Other household stuff - don't be afraid to change brands of everyday items you use. I went from Tide to All for laundry detergent - they both clean just as well. With the little one - forget about Pampers and Huggies for diapers, Luvs is cheaper and works just as well, I have also heard good things about WalMart's brand of diapers. I used to get the CVS brand when they would have them on sale and those held up well also.
Grocery shopping - take advantage of warehouse club memberships - if you belong to BJ's, BJ's actually takes coupons, I am usually able to use the BJ's coupons as well as the manufacturer's coupons on many items. Take advantage of and stock up with buy one-get one sales. Again be open to different brands, one week we are drinking CocaCola, the next week, it's Pepsi, or for the kids, one week it's Mott's apple juice, the next it's Juicy Juice and the next it's publix brand and if you water down the juice to 50/50, you save that much more money. I use a filter to filter water from the tap so that I don't have to buy bottled water.
I could go on and on, but I hope this has given you some ideas on ways to cut back.
K. answers from Boca Raton on July 23, 2008
I hear you about bills - mine are higher w/car payments, etc. I just switched from Direct TV (I've hated it for 5 1/2 yrs - goes out easily & I've had boxes replaced 4 times) I bundled (the way to go) w/ Comcast (phone, cable (w/1 HD DVR box, 1 reg box, basic plus channels & internet)for $130/per mo for 1 yr
I had HBO, SHO,etc, etc w/Direct TV - nothing was ever on used pay per view - which is now same option as Comcast. I had 2 receivers w/Directv but also had to have basic cable in bedrooms/bathroom (yes we do) I was paying $150 for DirectV alone (it would've been too expensive to have boxes at every tv - that's why you also need Comcast!!) I had Internet w/bellsouth for $30/mo and just switched over from Vonage (it was ok, a lot of echoing on the phone at times) price was good, esp. when my husband travels to Central America on business alot - but w/Comcast for add'l $10/mo I can have unlimited long distance to C. America!!! so I've saved a ton switched to Comcast w/ everything - ask an associate about a triple play - tell them you are going to leave them & see what they can do for you.
I have a pool so my electric bill is always pretty high but usually this time of yr close to $600 (ugh) but I've cut it to almost half - we don't live in a meat locker anymore - I shove AC up to 80 after brkfast, shut the blinds, put on the fans, I also make sure to shut off my computer when not in use (beleive me big draw on elec) unplug anything not in use (i.e. lamps, cell phone charges, washer, dryer) or if it's on a surge flip the switch off
I've raised the deductibles on my insurance, or lowered the coverage ( on our cars, we already have gap, etc - we were over insured)
These are just a few suggestions but I realized how we just were throwing $$$ out the window on BS when it could be going toward retirement or college fund.
S.L. answers from Boca Raton on July 23, 2008
I have direct tv. You will notice that it goes out even when a storm is approaching, usually comes back on pretty quickly though. I have not had it through any hurricanes yet, so I don't know if you end up needing to have someone come out to reposition your dish after a storm. We pay $136.47 just for out direct tv every month! Keep in mind that if you have HD, any receiver where you get the HD is an extra $10 per month. You also pay an extra $5 per month for any TVs after the fourth.
A.M. answers from Boca Raton on July 22, 2008
you are on the right track with trying to reduce your current bills. every little bit helps. don't be afraid to negotiate with companies, they are well aware that times are lean and people are willing to go without the overpriced luxuries at the moment. also look into a work from home biz. i just started one a month ago that is already making me an income with very little effort. it's in the wellness industry so i am also helping others to become healthy and happy in all aspect of their lives. it has been a blessing for our family. contact me if you want more info. i am also a sahm of a 2 year old boy.
V. answers from Boca Raton on July 22, 2008
you know TV is getting pretty bad, cancel cable and only get comcast for high speed internet that by the way includes basic cable with all kids channels (comcast won't tell you that and they will deny it too)
2nd thing is you should look at business opportunities such as MonaVie for example, this is something that we are doing. If you are interested in adding extra income to your life, then let's get together and I will show you how in a few month we went from earning $500 to $1500 per week and we just started too. There are people in MonaVie who are in business for 6 month and making over $10K a week! You can read all about the product that is super awesome on Monavie.com.
If this is something that interests you give me a call ###-###-#### or email me back.
M.C. answers from Boca Raton on July 23, 2008
I am anxious to read the responses to your question. I have the same questions. We too have a Verizon plan with our 3 cell phones as well as a phone line in our vehicle. We plan to cancel the phone line in our vehicle as well as my husband's cell since he has a Nextel phone paid for through work.
I just cancelled our home phone yesterday since we can use our cell phones to be notified if there is a guest at our gate. We share 1,400 minutes so friends who call us will know to keep the calls short if they are not VERIZON customers or it is not after 9:00 PM or on the weekend.
We have been PAYING AOL $11.00 per month since 1998. I don't know why we didn't cancel a long time ago. I cancelled yesterday. We can just sign in to Internet Explorer and type in Aol.com. Duh! lol
We are looking for an alternative to Comcast High Speed internet connection. We have Basic Cable service through our HOA.
We only want basic, not any premium channels.
Well, I will be checking for suggestions, most of us need to cut back these days.
The next step will be for me to go back to work.
L.E. answers from Boca Raton on July 23, 2008
I have had Metro for about 3 1/2 years and LOVE IT!! I pay about $60 a month for unlimited long distance and texting. The only time I ever have a problem with signals is if I'm in some parts of Doctors offices or hospitals and I think that might be the machines in there. The only downside to Metro that I know of is if you travel a lot they only work in certain areas. You can go all the way to the keys on this coast and up to about Tampa but after that you have no signal. You can put money in your account for travel talk but I've never used it so I'm not sure how it works. Hope this helps!
G.H. answers from Miami on July 23, 2008
Can't help with your internet/cable dilemma as I actually don't live in the US, but can give you some suggestions on other areas.
To help with electric, try to organize the use of appliances that heat or cool - like toasters, iron, a/c. I find that by ironing the whole pile at one time rather than as it is needed helps. Also, change all the light fixtures to fluorescent - they seem brighter and actually do use less power. For a/c, cool the room and then maintain the coolness with a ceiling or standing fan.
Is your stove gas or electric? If electric esp., I suggest minimizing a one item use of the oven - when I use the oven, I usually have at least three items to do, and they can usually be done together or at least two at a time. Same holds for gas stoves. Also, look at your pots - if they are the heavy bottom kind, they hold heat and the stove can be turned off before cooking is completed - the heat from the bottom will finish it. With electric stove esp ones with the ceramic top, they hold the heat for a while too.
I'm sure you know about how to bargain shop at the supermarket: buy what's in season for best prices, and if there is a farmer's market nearby, they may be even cheaper. Items that don't spoil, like tissue and most tin stuff, could be had cheaper at a wholesale shopping club - the key to that is that you are a member or have a good friend you can shop with. Also, you would need a pantry to store the extra. Go through your daily needs for food and see what you can change to cheaper alternatives. I do this as I have a three year old who has expensive tastes ; - ) I have adapted some stuff, and buy the items I can by the case or in quantities that I can cope with, then hide the extras - if he sees too many, he wants it all at once.
G. (in Jamaica)