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8 Ways I Save More on Bills Than My Neighbors Do

tommaso79 /
tommaso79 /

The average American household spends $5,577 a month on everyday expenses like housing, utilities, food, transportation and entertainment, according to Zippia. But expenses depend heavily on things like household size, neighborhood and individual needs. Many people end up spending more than the average because of this.

Check Out: 5 Unnecessary Bills You Should Stop Paying in 2024
Learn More: How To Get $340 Per Year in Cash Back on Gas and Other Things You Already Buy

With the cost of living so high throughout the country, and wages not quite keeping up, finding ways to cut down on household expenses is not just sensible — it’s also necessary.


GOBankingRates spoke with Jim Olenbush, a real estate agent and owner of, and Eric Bramlett, a Realtor and owner of Bramlett Residential, both of whom have mastered the art of keeping their monthly bills down.

Here’s how they go about it.

Also see Ramit Sethi’s advice on how to save $1,000 a year on your bills.

Sponsored: Owe the IRS $10K or more? Schedule a FREE consultation to see if you qualify for tax relief.

Cutting Energy Bill Costs

The average monthly energy bill in the United States is $146, according to SaveOnEnergy. However, certain states — like Hawaii, Connecticut and Texas — have notoriously higher energy costs.

In Texas, the typical monthly energy bill is $172, according to SaveOnEnergy. As someone based in Texas, this is one area where Olenbush strives to keep costs lower than his neighbors.

“For energy bills, installing a smart thermostat and setting it to lower temperatures when away has trimmed about 15% off my gas and electricity costs,” he said. “I also ensure all lightbulbs are LEDs, which saves me around $20 per month. Furthermore, I wash clothes in cold water and air dry when possible, reducing energy use.”

“When it comes to home expenses, we watch utilities closely,” added Bramlett, who’s also based in Texas. “Small things like washing clothes in cold water instead of hot can save $10 to $15 monthly on the electric bill.”

Bramlett said his household also primarily uses LED lightbulbs, which saved them over $50 on their last energy bill.

Explore More: I’m a Frugal Shopper — 7 Things I Never Waste Money On

Lower the Water Bill

According to the most recent WaterSense data, the average American household spends over $1,000 on the water bill in a year. But there are some simple ways to cut costs here, too. This includes fixing leaks, using water-efficient appliances and avoiding long showers.

“For water, fixing minor leaks saved [us] nearly 15 gallons per day, or over $100 yearly,” Olenbush said. “I installed water-efficient appliances, which saves another $150 annually. And taking shorter showers, five minutes maximum, reduces usage while saving on energy for water heating.”

You can use water-efficient dishwashers, washing machines, toilets, sink faucets and more. You can also use low-flow showerheads to reduce water usage and keep costs down. As an added bonus, if these machines are also energy efficient, you can cut costs on the electric bill, too.

Switching Phone Bill Providers

The average monthly phone bill is $144, according to JD Power, though some phone plans cost significantly less. Certain providers also charge additional fees, such as for data usage or late fees.

For Olenbush, this isn’t as much of a problem as it is for others because he has found ways to cut costs here.

“I switched providers last year and now pay $40 less per month for the same services,” he said. “I also limit mobile data usage, which prevents costly overages. Altogether, I likely save $500 annually compared to neighbors with the same carriers.”

If you’re trying to save money on your phone bill, review the details of your current plan and compare what you’re getting with other local or national plans. You might find that providers such as Consumer Cellular offer lower-cost options that can save you money while working with your lifestyle needs.

Shopping Generic Brands and Dining in

The average person spends between $250 and $550 on food each month, depending on their dietary needs, location and other personal factors. This is anywhere from $3,000 to $6,600 per year.

Food costs are significantly higher for households that regularly dine out, have larger families or live in more expensive areas. But for Bramlett, there are ways to save money on food.

“When it comes to saving money each month, I’ve tried just about every tactic out there over the years,” he said. “One thing I do is a strict no-dining-out rule on Mondays. I pack my lunch from home every week and save what I would have spent eating out — usually around $10 to $15 per week. Over the year, that’s $520 savings just from limiting restaurants to the other six days.”

Olenbush said he saves money here as well. “Doing comparison shopping, buying generic brands at the grocery store, and meal prepping helps cut household costs by around $150 monthly.”

Enjoying Entertainment Without Overly Splurging

Impulse buys can add up fast, so it’s hard to get a precise number on what people spend or save in this category. That being said, Bramlett manages to save money here and there while still enjoying the little things.

“My wife and I also do a monthly fun fund where we each get $50 to spend however we want, no questions asked,” Bramlett said. “Otherwise, we try to avoid impulse purchases. By saving the little extras, we put $150 per month away or $1,800 per year.”

Using Rewards Programs

For Bramlett, another effective cost-saving strategy he uses regularly is rewards programs.

“I take advantage of rewards programs wherever possible,” he said. “My grocery store card adds up to about $120 in savings each year, and putting everything on my cash-back credit card returns another $300 annually.”

Paying Attention to Monthly Statements

Having a budget and keeping track of expenses is vital if you’re trying to keep on top of your monthly income and expenses.

“Reviewing monthly pay statements closely allows me to budget effectively, as I know exactly what is being deducted up front each pay cycle,” Olenbush said.

This helps him with financial planning and keeping costs low.

How Much They Save Compared to Their Neighbors

While it’s hard to say for sure how much money they save compared to their neighbors, Bramlett had an estimate.

“Overall, I’d estimate our combined savings tactics put over $3,500 back in our pockets every year,” he said. “And from talking with neighbors and clients, I’d say we’re saving a good bit more than most around here.”

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This article originally appeared on 8 Ways I Save More on Bills Than My Neighbors Do