Many times when you think you are spending too much money, you start looking into what you spend going out, on holidays... but what if money is still tight? One sneaky area people don't always think about is monthly or regular expenses. Yes, you need electricity, heat, gas at home, and probably an internet connection. I will argue on the cable and the gym membership, but let's say you have one of those as well. Time for a review.
Monthly memberships (gym, magazines, sorority or alumni association...)
Do you use them all? Do you watch enough TV to justify your cable package? Do you go to the gym regularly? Can you afford a $100 membership and delay your debt payments or the date of your financial independence?
Some fees look normal, like a monthly banking fee, or the unlimited local calls fee on your mobile. But do you know some banks offer free banking? You may not be making enough local calls to make up for the cell phone fee?
My cellphone provider loves to add fees that people don't want or need, like an ''sos'' fee, that is a kind of concierge service to help you when you need. I don't think they do a better job than Siri at problem solving, but unless you ask, they will charge you $3 per month for it. And every time you change your plan, here is the fee popping up again.
You may also have an insurance on your cellphone, in case it gets stolen. Review the terms, it is likely that unless you get hurt in a violent mugging, you won't get the price back, and with depreciation you shouldn't get much at all. Some of those fees are redundant with your credit card cover and your home insurance. Keep only what you need.
You can easily change companies nowadays, using friendly calculators to estimate how much you will save by switching provider, and then they do the switch for you. $20 less on your electric bill is $240 per year that you are overpaying at the moment. If you are happy with your provider you can call them and ask for a better bundle, saying you are considering switching and want to know if they can make an effort.
Mortgage or rent
Again, time to go look for a bargain, or negotiate. As a tenant, you can try to negotiate your rent, to be frozen or even decreased at the end of your lease. If you have a mortgage, look for deals to refinance and get the best interest rate you can. Those are big items that save a lot of money if you are able to get a better deal.
The list goes on.You can get a fee free credit card, a card that has no ATM withdrawal fees, stream movies and watch TV shows online, keep the supermarket cards you really use or share the membership with friends and neighbors, review your personal insurance premiums, car insurance, breakdown cover, travel insurance... to make sure you are getting the best deal around.
Review ALL of your monthly expenses, and keep the ones
- you absolutely need (or ditch them)
It is easy, I promise. You shouldn't have to talk to your utilities company for more than 10 minutes to slash your rate. Comparison sites are user friendly as well, some even offer cashback on the switch. And just like that, you find even more room in your budget.
If you are already comfortable with your budget, you can transfer automatically the savings you made with those steps on a savings account. You won't miss the money since you are already spending it monthly. You can also set up a new debt repayment.
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