My how things have changed. Inflation is at an all time low but our household budgets are swollen with monthly obligations that did not exist twenty years ago. It is amazing what we spend on things like cell phone plans, gym memberships, and the hated cable/satellite bill.
What happened? When did it become the norm for our kids to troop around the neighborhood with $700 devices in their pockets?
We automate our savings, like 401(k) contributions, because then it just happens without having to think about it. Unfortunately, the same thing can happen with expenditures. We add obligations like Netflix or a gym membership and years can pass before we ever evaluate the purchase again. In the meantime, we probably lost the Netflix password and bought a Stairmaster, but the monthly payment continues on because it’s on auto-pilot.
Maybe it’s time for some Spring cleaning. Here are some ideas that can help you free up wasted money:
Change Banks. Drastic but effective, this step can really clean things up. You may not realize how many bank drafts there are on your account until you switch financial institutions, and maybe you could save some money on bank fees to boot!
Cut the cable. Two years ago I got fed up with cable and satellite TV and shut down the feed. With three kids at home, I was in dangerous territory: a mutiny could have been close at hand. Boy was I wrong! Little did I know, my kids were rarely watching live TV so they barely noticed. The children taught Shelly and I how to use our Roku and we have never looked back. By the way, we get all of the local stations in HD over the air via antenna for free, and it’s a better picture than satellite or cable.
Ditch the home phone. Years prior to cutting the cable, we ditched the home phone. As long as you don’t mind that the siding salesmen and political pollsters will not be able to call you during dinner anymore, I strongly recommend cancelling your home phone service.
Manage your cell phone bill. I admit, the cell phone bill is my Kryptonite. We have been loyal AT&T customers for almost twenty years and I am confident our loyalty has gone completely unnoticed. A client was telling me the other day about how another carrier will buy-out our phone contracts and lower our monthly bill. I have not checked it out yet but probably should.
Shop electric providers. In Texas, we can choose our electric carrier. It’s a real pain but you go to www.choosetexaspower.org and choose a plan that you think will work. Check out Dave Lieber’s article for tips: http://www.dallasnews.com/investigations/watchdog/20140208-watchdog-heres-the-best-way-to-pick-an-electricity-company-in-texas.ece.
Gym membership. This is where I happily spend too much money. We have a family Lifetime Fitness membership that costs $160 per month but a healthy lifestyle is important to us. We’re keeping this one.
What other wasted money have you found in your regular monthly drafts? Let me know. Going through this process is almost like picking up dollar bills off the ground…..except it’s every single month.