Your Brilliantly Frugal Motto: EVERYTHING is negotiable.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #1: Electric
If you are able to shop for electricity in your area, start by shopping on powertochoose.com. You will need to know your average monthly kilowatt per hour (kWh) usage to know your TRUE rate. Find your average (kWh) by looking at your last few electricity statements to see what you used. You may have to dig around on your electricity provider’s website a bit to find the statements.
Now head over to powertochoose.com, enter your zip code, filter by your average kWh usage, companies with good ratings, and whether you would prefer a company with renewable energy or not. I would also suggest picking a fixed-rate plan to be sure that your rates will not increase. Now, look through the available plans, considering the kWh charge, any new customer signing bonuses, and your current rate charges to pick a new plan!
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Follow these ^ steps each time your electricity contract is set to expire to make sure you’re getting the best rate.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #2: TV
You’ve probably seen this a million times now, but it’s true. If you have cable, you need to cut right now. There is nothing on the cable channels that you can’t watch on a streaming service like Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, etc. Hulu even has a live TV option with live sports. Though, if you don’t watch live TV now, there’s no need to buy that ore expensive version of Hulu. Who has time for live TV anymore anyway?! Even when I had cable, I found myself almost exclusively watching my recorded shows on the DVR. Which is basically like watching streaming services with more steps and for more money.
If you aren’t willing to cut your cable, check to see if you can get a better rate with a competitor or at least check to see whether you’re actually using the channels in your current package. If not, you may be able to at least downgrade the package you’re subscribed to and save a little bit of money each month. When that’s not an option, call your cable company to see if they have any current promotions available. Sometimes they’ll at least give you free premium movie channels for 3 months.
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Review your bills, subscriptions, etc for ways to reduce your subscriptions or ask about promotions once a year for the best savings.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #3: Internet
The major internet companies often work together to keep options limited and prices high for customers. However, shop around once in a while or see if you can bundle services to reduce your bill. It may be worth switching between companies every once in a while when your contract is up to get the “new customer” promotional rates. If you’re lucky enough to have Google Fiber in your area, switch to Google Fiber. It is incredibly fast, reliable, and cheap.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #4: Credit Cards
If you have consistently paid on time, call your credit card companies and remind them of how long you’ve been a good customer. Ask for a reduction in interest rate. Even if they won’t permanently reduce it, they may give you a limit increase or 0% interest for a period of time. If they give you a limit increase, this can help your credit score (read more about that here). If they give you 0% and you have balances on other cards, consider transferring the balances to reduce the interest you will accumulate on the debt. Read more about credit cards here and how to focus on reducing your debt here.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #5: Student Loans
If your student loan payments are a struggle to keep up with or afford, consider switching to an income adjusted or an income-driven repayment plan. You can talk to your student loan servicer about your options. You will pay more interest in the long term, but may help you keep your head above water if you need the help. I have an income-driven repayment plan and focus any extra money I make in the month towards the one student loan with the lowest balance. Read more about paying off debt using the snowball method here.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #6: Cell Phone Data Plan
Get on a good unlimited plan! Do your research! I personally suggest switching to Google Fi.
Pros: Unlimited data. You can sign up for a straight unlimited plan. If you don’t use much data each month, you can sign up for a different plan for less. If you use less than 6 gigs per month, they will refund what you didn’t use as a credit on your next bill. In other words, you ONLY pay for what you use. And yes, they pay CASH on your statement, not “rollover minutes” or “rollover data”. Each line is only $20 per month. They use both Sprint and T-Mobile towers, so coverage is both good AND backed up. If one of them has towers down, Google will auto-switch you to the other towers. It auto switches you to open wifi when it detects it. It encrypts the connection, so you don’t have to worry about security. This keeps your data usage WAY down! I only used about 2-3 gigs per month now. It also includes free international data in over 200 countries.
Con: You have to use one of the few approved phones. Sign up here for a $20 discount on your first bill.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #7: Groceries
Always go shopping with a list and use coupons. The list will help give you an idea of what you will be spending before you even leave the house to go to the store. It can also help you be sure that what you will be spending will be within your grocery budget for the month. Lastly, it will keep you from placing random things in your basket while you shop and help keep down your overall cost.
Coupons of course help reduce your overall bill by helping you save on individual items. Thankfully, couponing is not as time-consuming or laborious as it once was. If clipping coupons from the paper sounds like a lot of work, you don’t have to do that at all!. You can find and print coupons on coupons.com. Additionally, almost every store has an app with digital coupons available. You just need to save the coupons ahead of time when you’re making your list and scan the barcode at checkout at the store. If you shop Target, use Target Circle. You can read more about that here.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #8: Gas
Use the GasBuddy app to find the cheapest gas in your area. I’ve been surprised a few times when I thought I already knew the cheapest gas station in the area only to find that a different gas station is a bit cheaper in the area.
Google Maps will also sometimes show the gas prices when you search for gas stations along your route.
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Check the app every single time you need to fill up and you’re low on cash for the best savings since gas prices change so frequently.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #9: Eating Out
Use a loyalty program every single time that you can. You’ll usually rack up points for free items later, get free items on your birthday, or coupons for discounted items frequently. The trick to this is to not eat out more than you normally would. You should go the same amount, just be sure to scan the reward code to keep free items later. Whataburger, Starbucks, and Chick fil a are good examples of fast-food restaurants with rewards programs. Most restaurants also usually give free items or coupons if you join their email list. Ask your waiter about it.
Brilliantly Frugal Tip #10: Car Care
Get your car regularly serviced. I know, that seems daunting or like a luxury when money is tight. However, I promise it will save you a ton of money in the long run. The trick to this is to set aside a little bit of money each month (put it into a savings account on payday if you have to so that you won’t spend it.) Most auto servicing chains like Jiffy lube or Kwik Kar always have coupons for oil and brake changes. Just google for those coupons in your area, print or show the coupon on your phone when you get the service for the discount!
Brilliantly Frugal Pro Tip: Follow Brilliantly Frugal on Facebook and sign up for the email list on our website for notices and alerts about how to save more money!