This post is part of The One Hour Project, in which you can spend just one hour to put your finances in a better place without a big lifestyle change, through frugality or other financial choices.
One thing that continuously saps away personal finance growth is monthly bills, particularly those where you don’t actually use the service very much. Unfortunately, many people get into a routine of just paying the bills without really thinking about what they’re paying and why.
I challenge you to take an hour, sit down with your entire stack of monthly, annual, and other regular bills and go through them to see what exactly you can trim without changing your way of life. Here’s what you should do.
First, go around and collect your last statement from all of your regular bills, both online and otherwise. Make sure you’ve got everything in front of you before you start – the most recent statement from all of your regular bills.
Next, go through them all roughly at first, deciding in general whether any of them can be completely axed. Are you paying for a Netflix service you’re not using at all? Axe it entirely, or else move to a lower level of service. Paying for membership in a country club that you’ve not visited in six months? Axe that one. Got a subscription renewal for a magazine you barely read? Don’t automatically renew it out of habit.
Once you’ve eliminated whole bills, go back through the ones you haven’t eliminated and look for optional pieces that you can cut. If you use an optional service, don’t cut it, of course, but look for things that you don’t use as much. Do you have an unlimited text messaging plan but rarely text message? Axe it and pay per message. Do you pay for premium movie channels but watch them maybe once a month? Drop those channels. Are you paying for an internet service on your cell phone that you don’t use? Drop that service. Just look for little things that you don’t use but you pay for every month.
It will take a good hour to go through all of your bills with care, but if you can even eliminate $20 worth of monthly spending, you’re saving $240 a year. The first time I did this, I cut out about $200 a month (seriously – bye bye Netflix, bye bye to a gym membership, and so on), which meant $2,400 more each and every year.
If you don’t find anything, that’s good news as well – it’s proof that there’s not much fat in your regular required bills.