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Just like millions of households in America, the Great Recession hit my home like a runaway train. A few years ago, I had just sold a small business and took a job as the national credit manager for a franchised business. My better half was working for a marketing firm and I still was a landlord for a few investment properties. We were living a good life and then almost overnight we were both unemployed and I was selling off properties and barely making enough money to cover the mortgages. With a mortgage of our own, unable to land new jobs and drawing two unemployment checks, we made the decision that we had to cut costs before it dried up our savings. Our cost-cutting session started with a stroll around the house. We looked at everything possible and immediately found some opportunities. In the end, we cut our costs by about $500 per month by focusing on just five things.
Cable -- Saved $125 a month
I had never been happy with the cost, service or lack of customer service given to us by our local service provider. I was even less thrilled by the $165 per month bill that we were getting from them every month that inexplicably changed by $3 to $5 each billing cycle. This was my first stop on this fight. I began calling around and discovered that I could get satellite TV service for a mere $40 per month. This was a savings of $125 per month.
Home phone -- Saved $90 a month
As we walked back and forth through our home looking for things that could be reduced or eliminated, I kept passing that relic on the wall known as a land line. I didn't even think of it because everyone we knew called us on our cell phones. We were paying $90 a month for something that we almost never used. It had to go.
Cell phones -- Saved $165 a month
While sitting in awe of how we were throwing money away each month on our useless land line, the attention turned to our faithful cell phones. I don't think it ever dawned on us that we were paying an outrageous fee of $265 per month between our two service packages. We called the providers and they offered us a consolidated plan that would bring the bill down to around $190 per month. I called a pre-paid cell phone provider and found that they covered all the major cities that we traveled to and they would provide us with unlimited everything for a combined $100 per month. This was a monthly savings of $165 per month.
Auto insurance -- Saved $40 a month
While watching our overpriced cable service, I saw a commercial on TV. Maybe you've seen it. There's a little lizard claiming that he could save you a ton of money on your car insurance. Not believing this, I called. After being on the phone for less than two minutes, they told me that they could provide me with the exact same coverage for half of the $80 per month that I was paying. I signed up and promptly told my previous insurance provider that I was no longer in need of his services. He of course tried to sell me on service and that he could drop my rate to $55 per month. I canceled anyway and took my $40 per month savings.
Home owners insurance -- Saved $83 a month
After the phone call about my auto insurance, I began checking on my home owners insurance. I took out my policy and called a competitor and then another followed by another. I became extremely irritated. I was paying around $1,800 a year for my policy. Every single company I called not only would save me at least $800 per year, but they would include coverage options that I didn't have at the time. In the end, I saved about $1,000 per year and ended up with a much better policy.
More from this contributor:How to trim your household budget