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  • Mary Beth George

Reducing Monthly Expenses

As we pay our bills each month, it’s easy to robotically write checks or submit online payments without giving much attention to what we’re paying for, especially as life is busy. But given our dynamic technological world, I have found that it pays to keep on top of our accounts and services. I recently discovered this with three of our accounts that hadn’t been looked at in several years. In my defense, being a military family, we have never before lived anywhere longer than 3-5 years so the need to update products and services hasn’t been an issue. Now that we’ve been in the same place for over 8 years, I decided I should probably take a look at things. By paying attention and making a few phone calls, I saved our family $70 each month!

First was our cell phone bill. We had a plan with a set amount of data, and while some months when college kids were not at home and not connected to wifi we ended up paying overage charges, but other months we had more than enough data. I called the cell phone provider to see if there was a plan better suited to us. It turns out the plan we were using wasn’t even a plan they carried anymore. The updated plan contained unlimited data and was $42 cheaper each month! WHAT?!? That phone call took me about 15 minutes and saved $500 for the year. And no more lectures to college kids about watching data usage!

Next I decided to review our home communication services (tv, phone, internet) bill. I noticed it had increased by almost $10 in the current month. We’ve been considering dropping our telephone landline for quite awhile and have also talked about possibly switching from our cable tv to a tv streaming service but hadn’t decided on which would be best. As it stands, our services qualified for bundle pricing so when I had last checked on dropping the landline and just paying for internet and streaming service, the price was about the same. So we just put that decision on hold. However, this month when I saw the price increase, I got on the phone to see what had changed and check out our options. Full disclosure here: it turned out that our services and equipment were all vastly outdated, as we hadn’t changed anything in the 8 years we had lived here. Oops. I was given numerous options and ended up dropping the landline, upgrading all of our equipment and internet service and decreased the monthly bill by $20.

Next on my list was our home security monitoring system which was connected to our landline. I wanted to see what happens when the landline disappears. It turns out the system can be converted to a cell line at no charge to us, and by the way, since we’ve been loyal customers they dropped our monthly bill by $8. That phone call took less than 5 minutes.

Be sure to ask for available discounts offered to military, teachers, first responders and seniors. Also, many companies offer a discount if you sign up for autopay or paperless billing. (Just be sure to review the bill online each month to check that all charges are correct.)

Periodically review membership and services that are being paid for but going unused. We pay for a Sunday newspaper so I can get the coupons. Originally I could save between $10-15 per shopping trip, so the monthly subscription of $8 was well worth it. But recently the coupons are more sparse and are not for items I typically buy. If I still want to use coupons, there are plenty of free online sites I can use so we could probably not renew our paper subscription. We had been paying for a radio streaming service in the car for long work commutes but now that we’re retired, there are no more commutes. There’s another subscription that can go away! And what about that gym membership? The $10 per month fee seems like a great deal, but only if you’re actually using it!

Individually, the savings may seem insignificant but can definitely add up! Especially when a budget is tight, every dollar counts and can add towards paying off a debt or saving for retirement. A few minutes spent reviewing accounts and services can give you the little extra cash you’ve been looking for!

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