My theory on budgeting is it should be painless. Everything from rent to electric bills can be reduced by either comparing or negotiating rates. I’ve had quotes for the same rental insurance coverage level that varied by $600 annually. I’ve always paid hundreds less in rent than anyone in my building — no matter where I lived. I’ve had friends who compared home insurance and saved over $100 per month.

Here are Four Fixed Expenses You Can Reduce Now:

Electric and Gas

There are two ways to reduce utilities: reduce usage or compare rates. Depending on the state and city you live in, you may or may not have a choice of utility providers. If you do, compare your options. A quick Google search will reveal your choices. If you don’t have a choice of providers, you can do a few cheap fixes to reduce your electric costs. Change light bulbs for more efficient ones, but also consider using your own lamps versus track lighting in kitchens and such. Another quick fix for reducing electric usage is to check that the window seals. If your heater or air conditioner has to work harder to maintain a temperature because there are gaps near windows, you could spend hundreds of dollars more annually. A few dollars in caulk or rubber molding can save you this cost. If you have a landlord, they’ll do the sealing work for you. I regularly peruse energy.gov with recommendations for reducing utility costs from the US Department of Energy.

 

One of the most interesting ways I’ve been able to negotiate my cell phone rates is by getting on a shared plan with myself. Your cell phone company has all sorts of creative ways of categorizing rate plans. When trying to figure out how to reduce your rate, ask about all rate plans that may be available to you. Also, check into how much data you really use, so you know if you’re buying more data than you need, or not buying enough and paying overage charges. I check in with my cell phone carrier every few months to get a better plan. I always negotiate when I get a new phone. If they don’t negotiate with you, ask for the cancellation or retention department. Finally, if you work for a large company ask about discounts. I received a 20 percent discount on my bill when I worked for American Airlines.

Cable

You can save on your cable bill by both negotiating and cutting channels you don’t watch. For instance, I used to watch a show on Showtime that’s only on for 3 months per year. I kept the channel all year round. I could have only subscribed for just three months. So, I called up my cable company and cut the subscription. Then when I wanted the channel, I asked if there were specials or I qualify for free channels. I got a promotion where I received the channel free for the 3 months I needed. Instead of paying $120 per year for one extra channel, I paid nothing. I also talked to the cancellation department asking what they could do to keep me as a loyal customer. My bill was dropped by about $15 per month: $180 in annual savings.

For more ways to reduce fixed expenses, checkout article X and X.