Don't pay bills via regular mail • You'll save a lot more than just postage. Cellphone providers, banks and other businesses give discounts on either interest rates or fees if you pay your bills online. AT&T gives you a $10 reward card if you sign up for autopay. Student-loan lenders such as Sallie Mae also give lower rates to qualifying borrowers who sign up for automatic bill pay. Say you've borrowed $30,000 at 7 percent interest, and get a .25 percent discount, you'll save $50 this year and $580 throughout the life of the loan. Car insurance discounts for auto-pay abound. Allstate lowers premiums 2 percent if you sign up, plus 10 percent more if you get statements via email. If your family pays $190 a month for coverage, that's $274 saved per year. And autopay helps you avoid late fees of up to $29 a pop. As a bonus, set payments to go out a few days after your paycheck comes, so you're never in overdraft.
Stop paying for long-distance phone calls • Remember the days of the surprise $36 call? Those days of huge phone bills are gone, and even better, via your smartphone or computer, free phone and video calls are the new normal. Granted, you have to pay for phone services or a Web connection, but long distance shouldn't cost a cent. Sign up for free Web-based calls with a service such as Skype (skype.com) and calls from one account to another are free (you can also video chat, if you like; it's easy to stick with voice only, though, if you can't always be bothered to look camera-ready). Just create a username and password (as you do with email) and add the Skype user with whom you want to talk. And if you're calling someone who doesn't have a Skype account, international rates are 2.3 cents a minute or even lower if you sign up for a subscription to the service ($2 a month to call any phone in the United States or Canada; $13.99 a month for unlimited global services).
An option to save on calls
With Google Voice (www.google.com/voice), U.S./Canada calls (and voicemail) are free, and international calls range from 2 cents to 15 cents a minute, depending on location.