How I Saved $2,000 in Unnecessary Charges on My Bills (and You Can, Too)
Here's How I "Made" An Easy $2000 This Morning In Just 4 Hours
A few weeks ago I lay wide awake in bed around midnight thinking about our finances. My wife and I are now in decent financial shape, after downsizing to a smaller home, paying off our vehicles, and agreeing to live within a budget each month. Still, I felt we were coming up a bit short of our goals each month to the tune of at least a couple hundred dollars. That might not sound like much, but at our income level the difference might let us take a nice vacation or have a romantic dinner at a nice restaurant each month, both of which we enjoy.
Where I Found the Lost Money
Spectrum Internet Bill: Saved $480 Per Year
Time Spent: 1 Hour
So I decided to try and find where the holes in our money bucket were. I started with our internet bill, which is with Spectrum. We were paying $89 for broadband, and having seen recent promotions on TV for $49 I knew this was too much. Analyzing the bill I saw they were charging $10 for phone service (which we did not even use), plus $5 for a wireless router, (I already had one), and $25 for an extra "speed boost." I called customer service and after about half an hour on hold was able to cancel these extra features and pay only the $49 per month promotional rate. (It is often easier to communicate with Spectrum through online chat, however they will only remove certain features by phone.) I have not noticed any measurable difference in internet speed since removing the "speed boost" and according to Speedtest.net am getting the same 180 Mbps download and 12 Mbps upload speed as before.
Home and Car Insurance: Saved $550 Per Year
Time Spent: 1.5 Hours
I logged into my car insurance account online and began to go over our coverage with a fine-tooth comb. I noticed that the deductible on our two vehicles was only $250. If one of us were to break a windshield for example, that's all we would pay, out of pocket. However, knowing that insurance companies tend to raise your premium when you make a claim, it can be beneficial to pay for things like windshield repair out of your emergency savings instead. I called State Farm and requested that our deductible be raised to $1,000 on each vehicle. This along with reducing some coverage on the oldest car saved $250 per year on our auto policy. In addition my agent asked if she could give us a comparative quote on our home insurance, which we had through Allstate. By canceling the other home insurance and bundling it with our auto policy and with a personal liability policy, I was able to save us another $300 per year.
Switching Cell Phone Providers: Saved $600 Per Year
Time Spent: 1 Hour
I've used AT&T as my wireless carrier for the past 20 years because their coverage is better than any of their competitors in our area. I once switched carriers, during a previous budget cutting frenzy, only to be disappointed and return to AT&T. When I discovered that Consumer Cellular (yes that's the one with commercials showing senior citizens talking on their big button phones!), actually uses the same network and towers that AT&T does in our area, and charges about half as much for the same amount of data and unlimited talk. I was able to get unlimited talk and text on two lines with 10 Gigabytes of shared data for just under $60, using our existing Galaxy S9 smartphones. (Note that if you may have to have your phone "unlocked" to use them on another carrier.) You can request an unlock code from your current carrier or take them to a phone repair store for unlocking.)
Miscellaneous Items: Saved $370 Per Year
Time Spent: 30 minutes
Among the miscellaneous items that I found sucking our wallet dry were an unused XM Radio subscription that was costing us $200 per year along with a roadside emergency service through AAA that was costing us $100 per year. The AAA membership was redundant since my company credit card offers free roadside service to all cardholders. Finally, a $70 per year Good Sams RV club membership was found to be charging itself to our credit card, despite the fact that we'd sold our RV years ago.
Do a Yearly Tune-Up
I recommend that you take a few hours each year, or better yet, every few months, to look over budget items such as the ones mentioned above. Check your credit card and bank statements every month for charges and debits that you do not recognize or agree with. Watch out for stealthy subscription services which can self-renew, even if they are no longer needed, such as computer antivirus on PC's that are no longer in use.
There you have it, an easy $2,000 per year saved in less than four hours one fine morning! I doubt that our situation is unique. If you think that you may be able to keep that kind of money in your wallet then why not start right now?
Disclaimer: Reducing home or auto insurance coverage can have serious financial consequences, so be sure that you understand the risks before doing so.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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