The One Hour Project: Cleanse Your Monthly Bills

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.

Lower Your Bills Without Changing Your Way of Life

1. Go around and collect your last statement from all of your regular bills

Do so 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.

2. Go through your bills roughly at first, deciding 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.

3. Go through your remaining bills 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.

Trent Hamm

Founder & Columnist

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 and still writes a daily column on personal finance. He’s the author of three books published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press, has contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and his financial advice has been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.