To improve your savings, start by focusing on your expenses, especially those that are recurring in nature. These are the ones that slowly chip away at your savings. Even if they are small, they add up over time. Address these leaks first.
Cutting down on an occasional candy bar won’t cut it, but bringing lunch to work instead of eating out everyday will make an impact!
Let’s explore some more ideas to cut down on recurring expenses.
Here’s a recurring expense that’s hard to get rid of! Cellphones have become indispensable and they take a big bite of your earnings. Prepaid plans are becoming extremely popular and for a reason. They have the potential to put money back into your pocket!
Explore prepaid options. See if you can find one that fits your usage patterns.
Here are some prepaid cell phone deals:
Virgin Mobile has plans starting at $25 with unlimited text, web and email with 300 anytime minutes and no contract. This could be an option to consider for smartphone users.
T-Mobile has Pay-As-You-Go plans starting at 10c/minute. If you are not constantly on your cellphone and use cellphone only for talking and occasional texting, this is a money saver!
AT&T with its GoPhone prepaid has plans with no monthly fees wherein you pay $0.10 per minute with no annual contract. Plus, you also have the option of rolling over unused minutes, if refilled before end of the plan.
Annual savings? $620!
If you have broadband (high speed internet), it makes a lot of sense to switch to a VOIP phone like Ooma. Ooma is a VOIP (Voice Over IP) device that sits between your broadband router and your home phone and uses the internet to transmit voice. You make and receive calls as you normally would with your regular phone.
What about monthly fees? $3.47/month! No that’s not a typo! Those are mandatory taxes and fees in my area. Yours might be slightly higher or lower. Domestic calling is free and unlimited!
I use Ooma and I don’t even pay a penny, not even the taxes! No I’m not a deadbeat! When Ooma introduced this first they didn’t think this through and offered their plans totally free including taxes! I simply bought into that. They discontinued this and charge only for taxes (and the device of course!).
On call quality, honestly I can’t find any difference between a regular phone and my Ooma phone.
Annual savings: $240!
Depending on how much you watch TV, you can either eliminate cable altogether or move to a lower plan. Replacing cable with free over-the-air transmission isn’t as hard as you think. Many have done it and don’t regret doing so, including yours truly!
Here’s are some excuses and frequently asked questions on cutting cable!
1. If I cut cable, what’ll I do with my TV?
See next point!
2. I just bought a HDTV and I don’t want to lose HD channels by cutting cable!
You can still watch HD channels! Buy a rabbit ear for $10. This can pick up over the air channels and lot of them are broadcast in HD! Or you could get a streaming device like Roku HD and watch streaming channels in HD
3. What is ROKU and is there a subscription fee?
ROKU is a streaming device that sits between your broadband router and your TV and which comes with tons of channels. Each channel is specific to a category. For example, there are international channels, channels that focus on classic movies, channels that focus on sports etc.
You can subscribe to a channel and watch shows on demand. The subscription is either free (Crackle by Sony) or might have a fee (Hulu Plus). There are tons of totally free channels and all are on-demand with little or no commercials.
4. I subscribe to Netflix, what are my options?
You can watch shows and movies streamed by Netflix on your flatscreen. In order to do that, you’ll need one of the following devices that hooks Netflix to your TV. XBox (with Live), Wii, PS3, Apple TV or Roku.
Of course, if your TV is already internet-enabled, you wouldn’t need any of the above!
I bought Roku and hooked it up to my TV. It comes with its own remote, so I still got my dose of aimless-channel-surfing fix! There were tons of free shows and movies!
I have Netflix, so I get to watch Star Trek whenever I choose!
Annual savings? $620
If you subscribe to a print publication, do you take time to read through it or do just browse and toss? If it is the latter, is that worth the annual subscription fee you are paying? A number of publications are available for free on the internet. If you only care about the content and not how you get it, that’s another reason to cancel subscription.
I used to subscribe to Wired. It used to have good content, but lately the quality has been going downhill plus the content is available online if I so desperately wanted something. I ended up canceling it.
Annual savings? $20
If all you are addicted to is Starbucks coffee…
Consider this: a cup of joe at Starbucks is what $4? A jar of pure colombian coffee at Trader Joe’s is $3.99 and it lasts me for a month! Something to think about. photo
Thankfully there is no story!
Annual savings? My health!
Not a recent one, but I did switch to pay-per-use and I’d work twice as hard since I felt I was paying through my nose! (When in fact, it was the reverse!).
Annual savings: $300 approximately
This is probably the simplest! If you are using incandescent bulbs, replace them with CFLs and be amazed when you see your electricity bill! A 13 watt CFL bulb gives the same amount of light as a 60 watt incandescent. You do the math. And CFLs last up to 10 times longer.
When I moved to my new house, I was appalled to find 100 watt, incandescent bulbs with dimmable switches everywhere! Dimmable CFL bulbs are more expensive than the regular CFL bulbs.
I started by replacing the dimmable switches to a normal light switch and currently in the process of converting all the incandescent bulbs to CFLs.
MoneyCone Tip: There is a ocean of difference when it comes to CFL brands. When in doubt, use Philips CFLs.
Annual savings? I don’t have a basis to compare, but I’m sure it would be much higher than with all incandescents!
If you are a sports fan, don’t cancel cable. If you love your iPhone, don’t switch to prepaid. If you make regular use of your gym, don’t cancel your gym membership.
The best tip on how to simplify your life would be to cut recurring expenses – watch the savings grow and one or more bills to *not* worry about!
Be happy, not miserable.