When it comes to money, I believe in looking for ways to save money before you look for ways to make more money.
And when it comes to saving money, I believe in examining recurring charges before one-time purchases, because the same amount of effort will pay rewards month after month.
But it pays to remind myself of that from time to time, like I did on Sunday.
Ditching $20/month cell service.
I have an iPad 2 with built-in Verizon service. I like the feature of being able to turn the Verizon service (which costs $20/month) on and off a month at a time.
My plan when I bought the iPad was to turn the service on when I traveled and then turn it off when I was at home, which is most of the year.
Can you guess how that worked out?
It got turned on and stayed on. And while it was sometimes convenient to have it, it wasn’t $20/month worth of convenience.
Now it’s not hard to turn the service off from your iPad. Except I had forgotten my password. And the Forget Your Password? Feature wasn’t working for me because I no longer had access to the email I used to sign up, which is where they send your password.
Yuck, yuck, yuck.
It was going to involve calling an actual person, waiting on hold, jumping through some hoops. I hate that kind of stuff, which is why I had put this little task off.
But last Sunday I sucked it up and made the call. It took about 15 minutes including wait time to get it all handled and the service is now turned off. And our credit card bill will be $20 a month smaller.
Since I was on a roll, I called our cable provider and made a change too.
Kicking a premium cable channel to the curb.
Late last year, my dad lent us a Netflix disc with the first few episodes of Homeland on it.
That disc was like a gateway drug.
My kids and I became hooked on Homeland, so I called the cable company to change the HBO channel we had in our package to Showtime, so we could get caught up with the series.
That was a good move. We spent a lot of time over winter break indulging in Homeland marathons.
But that was two months ago and now Showtime is going unwatched and we don’t miss HBO either. So while I was in the cancelling groove, I made a 5 minute call to the cable company and cancelled Showtime, to the tune of $15.99/month plus some of those endless and confusing taxes on the cable bill as well.
How Small, Recurring Charges Add Up
For me, it’s so easy to ignore little costs like these and procrastinate doing something about them.
But while the individual, monthly amounts were small, over the course of a year, that $20/month Verizon service and $15.99/month premium cable channel was costing us $432.
That’s not a small amount.
That’s why recurring charges can be budget busters. And even when you eliminate them once, others may sneak in.
It’s not about getting rid of things you are using and that are providing value to you or your family, it’s about eliminating the things you’re not using, or are, but not enough to warrant their continuing costs. This makes more room in your budget for things that are a priority.
Good candidates for this kind of review are
- Gym memberships
- Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
- Cable subscriptions
- Netflix and Hulu-type entertainment subscriptions
- Phone bill add-ons
Can you think of other recurring charges that fit in this category? Do you hate making customer service calls as much as I do?