Most people understand the need to save money, whether it’s for the long term or for a rainy day, but knowing you need to do something and doing it are altogether different things. Most people also know they should eat more vegetables, but those tater tots just look so good! Potatoes are vegetables, aren’t they? What if there were ways to reduce the money you spend, and therefore increase the money you save, without changing the way you live? It would be like a diet where you could eat all the chocolate you want.
The hidden gem that will save you money without changing your lifestyle is ending payments for things you don’t use. Many people are stuck in a loop of paying for things automatically without thinking about the value they get out them. This is low hanging fruit for getting your budget on track and doing all the things you know you should be doing financially. All it takes is asking yourself when was the last time you used the services you have to know what can go and what you need to keep. Here are a few areas to think about to get the ball rolling.
- Your Telephone Land Line: The cable companies are pushing bundled packages that include telephone, cable and internet services. If your primary phone is your cell phone, you can save as much as $60 per month by dropping the phone service. I spoke with one couple who was paying for a land line in a bundled package but didn’t even have a phone.
- Premium Cable Channels: You may have signed up for the premium cable channels when you had cable installed. Maybe they came free with the installation, and the free period is over. Whether it’s because you don’t have time or you’re using Netflix to stream your favorite movies, you’re not watching those premium channels. Going to a less expensive package could save you $30 per month. Dropping TV and phone, leaving just internet, could save you a net of $80 per month if you substitute Netflix and Hulu (total cost $20 or less) to get all your favorite shows.
- Cell Phone Services: Service contracts often include things that you don’t need. For example, the latest deal from Verizon is 20 GB of data for $80 per month. That sounds great, but do you really use 20 GB of data in a month? Check your statement to see how much you really use, and then see if you can make any easy changes. If you turn off your data when you are not using it, you may be surprised at how little you use. If your data is on, your phone uses it even if Wi-Fi is available, and Wi-Fi is available in more and more places these days. Consider adjusting your data to what you actually use and using data only when Wi-Fi isn’t available. A 3 GB plan at Verizon costs as little as $45 per month.
- Cell Phone Carrier: Companies like Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T spend a lot on advertising, but they are far from the only games in town. Several small providers offer better deals and use the same networks as the big 4. Consumer Cellular and Ting were rated the highest for value and service by Consumer Reports. You can get a reasonable amount of phone time, unlimited texts and 3 GB of Data for $35 per month at Consumer Cellular.
There is well over $100 of savings in just these examples. Think of what is possible with that extra money. An extra $1,200 per year in your company 401(k) plan could double if you aren’t currently participating and your company matches your contributions. Give that 20 years to grow at a reasonable rate of return and you could more than double it again. All without changing how you live day to day. It’s worth having a look at your monthly statements to see if there is any low hanging fruit (or vegetables) in your regular bills.
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