If you’re a regular reader of this blog, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I’m a fairly frugal fella'. That is to say, I try to be as frugal as possible when it relates to things that don’t bring a whole lot of joy to my life or to those that aren’t aligned with my personal values. That’s why I like to track my spending, as I’ve outlined in other posts, so I can easily identify when my spending habits go awry. I try to remind myself that every dollar spent is a vote toward the type of world I wish to create and the type of person I want to become– then I adjust accordingly.
In an attempt to cut down on some of my monthly costs, my wife and I decided to revisit some of the subscriptions we’d been paying for for quite some time. By doing so, we were able to save a decent amount of money for only 2 hours worth of work.
Reviewing Monthly Subscriptions/Bills Can Save You Big
I believe it’s good financial practice to revisit your monthly subscriptions or expenses at least twice a year. Doing so always helps me to find some extra cash without losing a whole lot in the process. I think of it like the adult version of looking through the couch cushions for a quarter. The thing is, over time, those quarters add up. Let’s take a closer look.
1) Internet Bill: $120 Savings!
We recently moved to a new state and initially signed up with an internet company that forced us to use their modem, which came along with an additional monthly cost of $10. In total we were paying $55 dollars each month for their service.
Given that my wife is super-techy, she can’t stomach the idea of using another company’s router for security reasons. After a couple calls, she found a new company that allowed us to use our own router. Conveniently, their monthly bill was equal to that of our old company costing us $45/month, thus saving us $10 on the router fee. As an added bonus, they offered us double the internet speed for the same price bumping us up to 300Mb/sec!
Another trick these companies use is to lock you in for a discounted rate in the first year, then jack up the price in subsequent years. Once again, by tracking your spending, you’ll be able to pick-up on this price increase and call to re-negotiate the discounted rate. I did this for the past 3 years with our old company who offered me a discounted rate after mentioning that I'd be taking my business elsewhere otherwise.
The same process would apply to your cable bill, however, given we haven’t paid for cable in close to a decade, this wasn’t an area that we addressed. For more on how much you could be saving beaucoup bucks by ditching cable and opting for an alternative streaming service check out this post.
2) Automobile Insurance: $10 Savings!
I’ve been a loyal customer of Geico for the past 16 years. From what I’ve found, they offer the best prices in town and have superb customer service. To be honest, I’d be hard-pressed to switch, but I decided to give them a call to see if I could leverage my impeccable driving record and the fact that I’ve never made a late payment to negotiate a better rate.
Instead of taking the approach of the disgruntled consumer who had found better rates elsewhere, I decided to follow the advice of my office mate, an avid practitioner of jiu jitsu who says, “If you throw flowers. They throw flowers. If you throw stones. They throw stones.” Deciding to go the flower route, I buttered the Geico representative up a bit by raving about their customer service. I explained that I was reviewing my bills and was hoping to cut down on my monthly costs, so I was interested in seeing if they could do anything to help me out. Now it wasn’t much, but they were able to add me to their affiliate discount program, despite not being affiliated with any of the companies they had listed, which saved me a small percentage which panned out to roughly $10 for the year.
Now $10 might not seem like much, but given this call took roughly 10 minutes, that’s an
hourly wage of $60. Not too shabby if you ask me!
3) Cell Phone Bill: $60 Savings
Given that my wife and I love to travel, we have both opted for GoogleFi plans which are reasonably priced and allow us to use your phones internationally at no additional cost. I decided to get on the horn with a customer service representative to make sure we were getting the best deal possible.
What I found was, we were both on separate plans as opposed to being on a combined family plan. With the click of a button, the representative switched us over to a family plan which saved us $5 per month and had no impact on the amount of data we could use. Essentially, everything would stay the same, but we’d be saving $5/month in the process.
For more on how you could be saving big when it comes to your cell phone, check out this post.
4) Spotify: $60 Savings
Boy do I love me some Spotify! I’ve been curating different gym, commuting, and party mixes for the past 5 years using their services. It’s also my go-to for podcasting while on my daily commute.
Despite using this app frequently, my wife and I have been shelling out $15/month for their family plan. Given that I’m the primary user of this app with my wife only signing on occasionally, we decided to switch to their individual account which is only $10/month. My wife still signs on to my account through her phone, which can be a pain if we are both trying to use an app simultaneously in different locations, but this doesn’t happen enough to warrant the extra $5/month price tag.
$250 Savings Without Much Sacrifice
As you can see, $10 dollars here and there add up quickly. In about 2 hours worth of work, we were able to save $250. That means we were making $125 per hour by sitting on our couch making a few phone calls while indulging in some YouTube videos. The fantastic part is, we didn’t end up sacrificing a whole lot in the process. In fact, we were able to get faster internet with better security for the same price. Our lifestyle was barely impacted with the exception of not being able to use Spotify simultaneously.
You might be thinking that $250 isn’t all that much, but let’s take a look at what this process would yield us if we repeated it over a 10 and 20 year span of time and invest it wisely in a no-load index mutual fund like VTSAX:
$250 Turns Into $3,500 in 10 Years
$250 Turns Into Nearly 10k in 20 Years
How can you Save Without Sacrificing Quality of Life?
I like to treat frugality a game of sorts where I am continuously trying to maximize joy for the least amount of money. I’m not advocating that you cancel the subscriptions that bring you happiness just to save a buck. If you love your meditation app, that’s fantastic. You should keep it. However, there might be ways of cutting down on your monthly expenditures without making any sacrifices.
As you saw above with our internet, you may be able to save money while getting more in return by being a proactive consumer who compares competitor costs on a biannual basis. Remember, these small savings compound over time having a major impact on your financial situation down the road.
How about you? What tips do you have for maximizing joy while minimizing expense?