Why Didn't I Learn This in School: Dollar, Dollar Bills

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Between extra fees, added costs and missed payments, managing your bills can be confusing.

But there's hope -- Understanding what you're paying for and knowing when to negotiate can help you save a lot of hard earned dollars.

Ever sign up for that cable-WiFi bundle only to get a bill 30 to 40 percent higher than the price that nice lady on the phone quoted? It's not just you. The average household pays for over 200 channels and only watches about 18. If this sounds familiar, call up your provider and negotiate for a cheaper plan, and look out for the added fees.

SEE MORE: 6 end-of-year tax moves to make now

Or better yet, if you already have a separate internet provider, drop your cable entirely, and hop on a streaming service which can cut your costs by up to 50 percent.

Another monthly money pit is your cell phone bill. While there are a lot of fees to get familiar with, data usage is the one that many people miscalculate. Typical usage is about two to three gigabytes, but if you're streaming movies and music frequently, you'll gobble up those gigs fast.

Discover 20 unusual ways to make a quick buck:

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20 unusual ways to make quick money
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20 unusual ways to make quick money

Dog-sitting, babysitting, or house-sitting

These jobs are always in high demand, and the best part: you can name your price and create your own schedule! Post an ad on craigslist, or use your friends' and family's connections to get your name out there. 

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Rent out your space 

List your apartment on Airbnb or another rental site, and make some easy cash by staying at a friends and renting out your place for the weekend.

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Share your space

Just as you can rent out your full apartment or house, you can also post a free room (or even just your couch!) on sites like Craigslist or Airbnb. This way you can split your living expenses -- and maybe even make a new friend!

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Sell your body parts

Now here's a weird one: Donate your hair, breast milk, or even plasma for a profit. According to Grifols, if you're healthy and weigh above 110 pounds, you can earn up to $200 a month donating your plasma to life-saving medicine. 

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Sign up to participate in medical tests and clinical trials. 

Universities constantly need volunteers to test new medicines and treatments -- and because the pool of willing participants is limited, there is typically a large compensation for being a guinea pig. 

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Participate in a focus group

Companies and organizations will pay you to join a focus group. These can be conducted in person, online, or via phone. You will most likely be reimbursed in cash or gift cards -- plus, you often get to test out fun new products! 

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Take online surveys

Similar to focus groups, you can get paid to give your time and insights on an online questionairre. Plus, you can do this from the comfort of your couch. 

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Bank on your sperm

Although we don't necessarily recommend this option, there is a very high demand for healthy sperm donors. Keep in mind some of the obvious drawbacks, but sperm donation is non-invasive and highly compensated. 

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Crowdfund your dreams

Crowdfunding allows you to raise monetary contributions from a large group of people who want to support your venture. Post your project or idea on a crowdfund site, like GoFundMe.com, and see the cash pile up.

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Become a tutor

If you're qualified, post an ad online or on a community board to tutor children on their school courses or for the upcoming SATs.

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Get a part-time job

Capitalize your free time (on the weekends or after work hours) by working a part-time job. A bartender, waiter, or Uber driver are all great options for an additional source of income -- and great tips! 

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Resell tickets

Take this suggestion at your own risk: If you're staying within legal limits, buy tickets low and sell high as an effective way to source additional money. (Just make sure to check your state and local laws first!)

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Rentafriend.com

You can sell anything on the internet these days... including your companionship! Get paid to go on a platonic outing for a few hours and enjoy your afternoon with a new friend. 

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Rent out your parking spot

Make sure to check with your landlord first, but if you have the option to park your own car further away, lend or share your parking space or driveway for the hour, day, or even month! 

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Keep a coin jar 

This one takes patience before a big pay out, but keep a spare jar or drawer for loose change that you usually toss anyway. It will keep it all in one place -- and those quarters do add up! 

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Make something to sell 

If you have a knack for arts & crafts, create jewelry or other handmade gifts to sell on sites filled with other thrifty vendors like Etsy

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Sell items online

This effective strategy requires low effort with a high return. Post photos of your used or non-used items on sites like eBay or Craigslist, and let the bidding begin! 

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Have a yard sale

Sell clutter you've been meaning to get rid of right in your front yard. This simple tactic is convenient, and guarantees a wad of cash right to your pocket.  

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Return past purchases

This tip may seem obvious, but is often overlooked: Take your recently-purchased items that are laying around back to the store for either store credit or a full refund. 

Recycle scrap metal and cans

Collect cans and scrap metal out your own garbage, basement, and street and bring to your local recycler to exchange your findings for money.  

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Most providers offer an online data use calculator to help you estimate your monthly data usage so you can pick the right plan and binge away.

And lastly, there's your utility bill. Do you want to save up to $60 a year? Try stabilizing your water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Couple that with a programmable thermostat and you can save nearly four times that amount.

SEE ALSO: 5 simple tricks for waking up earlier every day

Also, unplug unused appliances and switch out your incandescent bulbs for LEDs. A 60 watt LED can cost as low as $5 and can last five times longer.

And while it goes without saying, always pay on time -- unless you really love late fees and bad credit.

So, don't let your bills blow you away, because sometimes trimming your charges can be a lot easier than changing your plans for the weekend.

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