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How to Avoid Unexpected Expenses on Household Bills

Is it just me, or does it sometimes feel like the only mail you get is bills? Between bills and bank statements, there are not a lot of exciting things happening in my letter box lately. Junk mail is sometimes the highlight of my letterbox trip (yes it’s that sad).

The monthly or quarterly expenses seem to roll around far too quick and out the door goes more of that hard earned cash. Although sometimes with the bills goes extra money that we should not have spent, due to unexpected expenses that we are sometimes unaware of.

How to avoid unexpected household expenses and cut your household costs


Sadly many big companies are a little sneaky with the way they update, word or package our services and utilities and that can end up costing us more than we expect. Here are some ways to stay on top of it:

New Services

When you sign up for a new service, make sure you read the fine print so you know what you are being charged for and any extra costs that may be involved. Also take this time to make sure the product or service is something that suits your household, so you can avoid unexpected expenses when you need to switch or upgrade due to it being the wrong fit.

Paper Bills

Many companies now charge a service fee if you elect to receive paper based bills. This can be anything from $0.50 – $3.00 on average. The alternative is a digital version of your bill available online or sent via email for you to download. Most of these companies that charge claim their fee is to encourage customers to be more environmentally focused, but more likely is that it is a way for them to earn some extra profit at your expense.

SMS Alerts

Like paper bill costs, there can also be charges associated with electing to receive alerts via text message to your phone, such as when your bill is due or usage updates. Make sure you check before signing up to receive alerts.

Excess Usage

These days many internet companies, for example, will shape your internet speed (slow it down) if you exceed your monthly download quota, rather than charging you extra. But not all of them will do this. Make sure you know before you exceed whether there will be extra costs. This caught us out many years ago and our internet company wanted us to pay about $500 in excess internet use. Insane! Thankfully I argued it back down to about an $80 bill. You might not be so lucky!

unexpected household expenses

Credit Card Charges

When paying your bills online using credit cards, you need to be careful to avoid unexpected expenses that come with using certain cards. Many bill pay services online will charge you a percentage to use your credit card, such as 1.5-3% of the total cost of your bill, which is added on top of your bill amount. American Express seems to attract higher surcharges than other credit cards so read carefully before you hit the pay now button.

Always Check Your Bills

Don’t fall into the habit of just assuming your bills are always correct and paying them without reviewing. You never know when a mistake may have happened, or when you are being charged for something you did not realise you signed up for. Make sure to give all your bills a once over to be certain they are accurate, with no hidden charges.

Plus if you want to save money on your household expenses, check out these great ways to do so and you could end up saving yourself and your household thousands each year with a few simple changes. It doesn’t take long either.

Check out these stay at home mum jobs for a way to increase your household income.

Do you have any other tips to avoid unexpected expenses?

Karin @ Calm to Conniption

Sunday 8th of November 2015

I think I buy things online to break up the yucky mail. ;) I think that it kind of backtracking though... We go on runs of bills and bad mail. Currently in the middle of one now.