New Year’s Prep: Give Your Bills a Makeover

New Year’s resolutions get all the glory when it comes to planning out next year’s money. But, we’d like to highlight another less-talked-about way to help your money situation in the new year: lowering your bills.

The beauty of going this route is that you just have to make the switch to a cheaper option once, and then reap the savings month after month. Remember, though — savings are only really savings if you actually…well…save that money instead of spending it on something else.

It’s easy to think of bills as a fixed expense that you can’t change. But, believe me — you can. Don’t think it’s possible? Here are three different money-saving apps and websites you can use to give your bills a fresh makeover before the new year starts.

Bill Shark

Believe it or not, it’s totally possible to negotiate your bills. It can also suck to try to negotiate better deals.

We get it: Not everyone is comfortable playing the negotiation game. At the same time, if you’re unwilling to negotiate your bills yourself, you shouldn’t be penalized by paying high bills forever. This is where Bill Shark comes in.

Bill Shark is a unique new company that employs real, flesh-and-blood expert negotiators to haggle your bills with your service providers on your behalf – sort of like a personal consumer advocate. All you have to do is upload your bills through their online portal or take a picture with their app. They can then start negotiating on your behalf.

The service isn’t entirely free, but it has a consumer-friendly pricing model. Plus, if their expert negotiators can’t lower your bills for you, you pay nothing. Nada. And if they are successful? You’ll owe 40% of whatever savings they get for you for a maximum of two years. This amount will be due after they’ve finished their negotiations.

Say, for example, Bill Shark is able to permanently lower your Internet bill by $20 per month. This will save you $480 over a two-year period. The fee for this would then be $192, leaving you to come out ahead by $288. Pretty sweet deal, if you ask us.

Metromile

The cost of car insurance depends a lot on which state you live in. In 2017, residents of Ohio had the lowest estimated annual car insurance premiums at $926. Michigan residents, on the other hand, clocked in at a whopping $2,551 annually.

That’s a big chunk of change. And if you don’t drive very much, car insurance can cost you way more than it should. If this is the case for you, it may be worth your time to get a quote from Metromile.

Metromile actually charges you a per-mile rate based on how far you drive. It knows this because the company requires you to plug in a tiny device into your car’s OBD-II port (it’s not hard to find; we promise) that records and transmits your actual mileage to the company’s billing department.

Another handy money-saving feature of using Metromile? Since the device plugs into your car’s diagnostic system, if that pesky “check engine” light pops up, you can use the app to see what the exact problem is and research the cost before taking it to a mechanic.

Right now Metromile is only available in certain states: Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. But keep your eyes out for Metromile to expand into more states.

Lemonade

Lemonade is a new type of insurance company offering policies for urban homeowners and renters. It’s based on a different business model than typical big insurance companies.

Lemonade is a public benefit corporation, which means that while it is still driven by profits (a flat fee is taken out of your premiums), it also gives back any other excess “profit” at the end of the year to a charity that you select. Since the company doesn’t operate on a never-ending quest to drain the contents of your wallet, insurance premiums for your home or rental can be less expensive than traditional insurance policies.

Filing claims and getting paid is also much simpler with Lemonade. The company expedites this process and pays claims super fast.

How much can you lower your bills for next year?

We’ve given you three different options for lowering your bills and starting the new year with a fresh makeover for your budget. Yet, you’ve got plenty of other options as well. All you need to do is research ways to lower your bills and then commit to making this a priority.

Here’s what we suggest for maximum impact: Start by going through your budget one line item at a time. Ask yourself: Is there any way to lower this? By switching to a lower-cost phone carrier, for example, you could save $30 per month or more. Over the course of a year, that’s an extra $360 in your pocket!

Now, we challenge you: How much can you save on your bills in the new year? And how much of that can you save into your bank account for your future?

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