The Affordable Care Act is close to 2,500 pages long - and not a very entertaining read. If, like most of us, you don’t have the time to examine the entire document, you’re probably wondering whether your healthcare bills are going to increase. Arguments have been made on both sides, but because of a number of factors - including required coverage of pre-existing conditions - rising costs seem likely.
To prepare for an increase, here are five tips to save money in other areas of your life:
1. Cut your grocery bill
The first place to make some spending cuts is on the food you buy. To begin with, pick up a few extras copies of the Sunday paper, and clip some coupons. Find out when your grocer doubles its value and shop on that day. You can also sign up for your grocer’s loyalty program to build up reward points and be notified of sales and promotions.
2. Refinance your mortgage
Mortgage rates are still close to their all-time lows. You can refinance your mortgage into a 30-year fixed mortgage at around 3 percent, and if you’re in a position to take on a slightly higher payment, try a 15-year fixed rate to save even more in the long-run. Just make sure you go with a qualified refinance specialist and that you understand all up-front fees involved in the transaction.
3. Reduce home energy expenses
If your household is comfortable at 75 degrees in the winter, chances are you can get by with setting your thermostat at 72 without an uproar. The same strategy is just as effective during the summer months. Adjust your thermostat by just three degrees and you can cut your energy bill by at least 20 percent. Make the adjustment by one degree at a time and your family may not even notice.
4. Cut back on monthly services
Do you really watch all the TV your paying for? Do you use enough of your cell phone plan to justify unlimited data? Do you need that premium membership at your gym, or can you get by with something less luxurious? Answer these questions honestly and you can save big on your monthly bills. Take the same approach with other bills, from large to small, and watch your savings accumulate.
5. Review bills for hidden fees
The recent recession caused many banks, credit card companies and insurance providers to sneak in excessive fees. Review your bills for fees you don’t recognize and contact your biller’s customer service department to get them immediately eliminated. If you run into opposition, threatening to go to the competition may produce the desired result.
Consider opening a Health Savings Account (HSA). You need to be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan to qualify, but with an HSA, you can contribute funds tax-free and use them for qualified medical or medical-related expenses. Your healthcare bills may go up in the near future, so it’s important to save where you can and prepare yourself now.