These People Managed to Shave a Collective $395 off Their Monthly Bills

All of your bills really add up, don’t they?

You pay for cell phone service. You’ve got cable and/or internet (gotta stay connected). Of course there’s car insurance. Then the power bill shows up every month like a bad penny.

Month after month after month. It never ends. After you pay all those bills, it’s no wonder you have no money left.

You may think you’re stuck paying through the nose, but you’re not. There are ways you can change things up and cut your costs.

To inspire you, we found four people who have found innovative and surprisingly easy ways to shave money off of all those bills.

Portland Man Saves $120 a Month on Cell Phone Service

A man looks at his cell phone while lounging on a sofa with his dog

Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder.

With a wife and two kids to support, Zak Wilson is a guy who has to stick to a budget.

But when it came to cell phone service, he could never find the sweet spot — reliable service he could afford. Every carrier he tried was either too pricy or too glitchy.

Wilson got frustrated with Verizon Wireless because it cost so much. He was paying around $180 a month for cell service for him and his wife.

He switched to discount carrier Republic Wireless. That was cheaper, but he got tired of the hassles — dropped calls and phone calls from strangers that mistakenly got routed to his phone.

That’s when he tried Twigby, a discount wireless carrier that’s making a splash in the competitive world of low-cost, no-contract cell phone service.

Twigby buys wireless service wholesale from the big wireless carriers and resells it to you. It’s on Sprint’s cellular network for voice calls, texting and data, and uses Verizon’s network as a backup for calls and texting.

“The cost savings is extreme,” said Wilson, a 43-year-old salesman and entrepreneur who lives near Portland, Oregon. “Now, for both phones, we’re paying maybe 60 bucks.”

Indiana Man Lowers His Bills by $1,265.42 a Year With This Tool

detail of a cell phone displaying the Trim app

Christine Culver poses for a picture with the Trim app she used to reduce her credit card interest rate. Culver tried a number of times in the last five years to lower her credit card’s APR with no success; so she tried Trim, a personal finance assistant that negotiated her APR from 15% to 13%. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

You’ve heard that negotiating your bills could save you a heap of money… but have you actually picked up the phone yet?

If not, no worries. You don’t have to.

Instead, use Trim, a digital personal assistant that’ll negotiate your bills for you. We’re not just talking your cable bill, either. It’ll also negotiate your internet and cell phone bills.

William Ellis, of Ellettsville, Indiana, uploaded PDF copies of his Dish, Comcast and Sprint bills to Trim. That’s all he had to do — Trim worked behind the scenes, eventually notifying him of his savings.

It lowered his bills by:

  • $385.20 a year on Dish
  • $800.18 a year on Comcast
  • $80.04 a year on Sprint

When Trim successfully negotiates on your behalf, it keeps an upfront fee equal to 33% of your first year of savings, and you keep the rest.

Trim reduced Ellis’ bills by a total of $1,265.42 per year — or about $105 a month.

Just sign up through Facebook (or with your email address), and upload your bills!

Texas Man Knocks $360 Off His Yearly Car Insurance Rate

Aerial view of traffic on an overpass

Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder.

Until Artie Januario’s recent cross-country move, he’d never considered shopping around for car insurance.

When he lived in Boston, one of his best friends was his insurance agent, so he just went with it. At the time, the 32-year-old paid about $95 a month through Liberty Mutual.

But then he moved to Austin, Texas, where he had to re-register his car, get a new license, secure new car insurance — all that jazz.

He decided he had nothing to lose and compared insurance quotes through The Zebra’s online search engine. It compares car insurance quotes for you, all online. It combs through more than 200 providers to aggregate your best offers.

In about half an hour, he had new insurance — and managed to knock off about $30 a month in a state that, on average, has higher insurance rates than the one he’d moved from.

California Mom Saves $1,700 a Year on Power Bills

From left, the Williams children Jesse, 18, Joshua, 22, Noah, 4, and Thomas, 12, play cards in during an Ohm hour without power in Visalia, Calif.

From left, the Williams children Jesse, 18, Joshua, 22, Noah, 4, and Thomas, 12, play cards during an Ohm Hour with the lights off in Visalia, Calif. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Tanya Williams recently earned an extra $1,700 in one year — more than $140 a month — and all she had to do was power down her home for a couple hours.

A few evenings each week, the 45-year-old stay-at-home mom rounded up her kids and shut down her home’s electrical panel. The house would go dark.

The family pulled open the blinds and, in the last glow of evening sunlight, played board games. Sometimes they propped up an already-charged laptop and huddled around to watch a movie. Or they’d head to the pool.

Hailing from Visalia, California, the Williams family signed up with an online service called OhmConnect. It rewards consumers in cash and prizes for cutting their energy consumption during specific times, called #OhmHours. These typically occur in the afternoons or evenings, when the energy grid is overworked.

OhmConnect users are notified via text or email when there’s an upcoming #OhmHour. That’s when they can take steps to reduce their energy usage by waiting to run the dishwasher, unplugging the Keurig, turning off the fridge or switching the A/C off. Just for an hour.

Earnings depend on the amount of energy you save and how often you participate.

Williams has since bought three smart plugs and a smart thermostat from OhmConnect. These automatically turn off certain devices and air conditioning during #OhmHours.

Now she doesn’t have to do anything when an #OhmHour swings around; her smart devices handle it for her, and she’s still able to earn money.

Let’s Tally It Up

So we’ve got a guy in Portland who’s saving himself $120 a month on his cell phone bill with Twigby. We’ve got an Indiana man who’s using Trim to save himself $105 a month on Dish, Comcast and Sprint.

A Texas man knocked $30 off his monthly car insurance bill with The Zebra. And a mom in California knocked about $140 a month off her power bill.

That adds up to $395 a month, collectively.

All you have to do is make the first move. You’ve got nothing to lose!

Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. He’s got bills.

This article originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder