For many people, paying bills by check through the mail is a trend of the past as many opt for auto-pay — a convenient system where bills are paid automatically on their due dates using the payment option on file.
Setting up automatic payments helps ensure you pay your monthly bills on time and avoid any late fees, possibly saving you money. But, if you are one of the millions of Americans using an auto-pay service, are you regularly monitoring how much you pay each month for utilities and other services?
Better understanding your monthly bills — and examining them to ensure nothing looks out of the ordinary — helps you keep your budget top of mind. Plus, reviewing those expenses can help you see where you can make changes to lower your monthly bills.
Read on for a few ideas on how to reduce costs around the house and how to build a budget (if you don't already have one).
- Consider refinancing your mortgage at a lower interest rate. By refinancing your mortgage — paying off your current mortgage with a new loan with a lower interest rate — you may be able to bring down your monthly mortgage payment, pay off your mortgage faster or pull money out for a remodeling project. Check with a mortgage lender to see if refinancing is a cost-effective option. Learn more about refinancing with WaFd Bank.
- Comparison shop. Each year before some of your policies automatically renew (homeowners insurance, renters insurance or auto insurance, to name a few), look around to make sure you are still getting the best deal.
- Review your home's energy use and take steps to reduce your usage. Take a closer look at how much energy you use at home by asking your utility company for an energy audit (often free or minimal cost). An energy audit may offer suggestions on how to make small changes around the house that could lead to savings in your pocketbook. This could be as easy as lowering your thermostat a degree or two.
- Lower your water usage. You can reduce water usage — and the associated
— by installing more efficient products, like faucet aerators. A few
- Keep your showers or baths short
- Turn off the water when it's not in use while brushing your teeth or shaving
- Scrape your plates instead of rinsing them off before loading them into the dishwasher (and run the dishwasher when full)
- Keep blinds or curtains closed when it's hot outside or when there is direct sunshine. Blocking the sunlight into your house will keep things cooler inside, reducing the need for more energy use to power fans and/or air conditioning.
- Weatherproof your home. Another way to keep energy use down is ensuring your home is properly weatherproofed. Keep cool air inside during the summer months and warm air inside during the colder months by ensuring there are no cracks or holes, especially around doors and windows. Use caulk on any areas where air may pass through.
- Decrease your water heater's temperature: Consider lowering your water heater's temperature to 120 degrees. This could save between 6 to 10 percent each year in hot water heating costs.
- Cut back on paper waste. Try to use more cloth napkins and towels that you can wash rather than paper towels and paper napkins. This will save you money and may be better for the environment.
Building your budget
If you haven't created a personal budget yet, it's never too late. Here are a few tips on getting started:
- Review and track how much you earn and how much you spend: The first step in your savings journey is better understanding your earnings and your expenses. Start by making a list of your approximate monthly expenses, making sure to break them into different categories so you can see where your money goes and where you could make cuts.
- Find a budgeting app or create a budgeting worksheet to document your typical monthly income sources and expenses: WaFd Bank offers MoneySync, a free online app-based budgeting tool where you can track your spending.
Need help managing your money?
We're here to help. Visit wafdbank.com to open an account or call us at 800-324-9375 to learn more. Interested in opening a savings account? WaFd Bank's savings account options require just $25 to open an account (only $10 if under age 18) and feature low minimum monthly balances.
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