In an effort to reduce money being spent unwisely in our household, I’ve found quite a few ways to reduce drastically on the money spent on everyday services without losing much quality, if any. I’m a big fan of personalization, and tinkering with and tweaking software and services has always been fun for me. So why not tweak the services in my life so that we can keep more of the money we make?
Cable TV + Phone through Verizon
The initiative was our cable bill. We had the triple-play package with Verizon: internet+phone+tv. I honestly didn’t see paying for the phone after some time – we all have cellphones. I tried multiple times to get rid of it to save money. They said there’d be no savings if I got rid of it. We did take on the Starz movie package to get Encore Westerns. Our entertainment from tv consisted only of: Encore Westerns, soccer (my husband and me), and cartoons (Nick, Boomerang, etc. for my son and I.) Everything else I watch can be caught online, or we can do without.
So when our contract ended and our cable bill jumped to $180 it was time to do something different. They could (would?) barely do anything to reduce our bill. So Verizon lost our money. I called to cut everything out of our service but internet. The guy I spoke with last week said our net service would be $59.95. I even thought that was a lot. Then when I cut the tv and phone, the woman I was with got us a 1-year $39.95 year internet service – AND increased our speed to 25/25 from 20/5. I’m very happy with that deal.
I love Verizon. We also love soccer, Westerns, and cartoons. But I love my money savings more. Cutting Cable + phone: SAVINGS: $140 a month
Replacement for cable:
* Netflix @ $10 a month – streaming+1 DVD rental at a time. We’re enjoying a free trial this month. We can see some cartoons and some Westerns. Downside: My husband LOVES “The Virginian”. We won’t be able to get that anymore.
* Network stations online to view recent episodes of things I do watch on ABC/CBS/NBC – free. Downside: must pay attention to see them when they’re posted online, since the episodes usually won’t stay up there for free for long.
* Future: possible Google TV box or Hulu — still reviewing these options
* To replace soccer, we may look into online subscriptions, which still won’t be nearly as much as what we were paying
Replacement for home phone:
* Our personal cell phones
I don’t want everyone having my cellphone number (creditors, doctor’s offices who will give your number out to creditors if you don’t pay on time, online forms). Getting a free Google Voice number helps. I’ve been using my Google Voice number to call out from my cellphone (so they won’t see my personal cell number in their caller id) and using it for incoming calls. I can allow Google voice to ring my cell, or just let all calls through it go to voice mail. Alternatives to Google Voice: Ringcentral.com – I also have a free number through them. My Google voice is not in my area code, but my Ring Central number is. So I use that number around the area I’m currently living in, giving it out to those who I do not want having my personal cell.
On to XM Radio, a luxury no matter which way you look at it. We got XM when we purchased our truck, and it was really so little a quarter (about $43) that we just kept it. $43 every 3 months for radio!! I’d love to have that money in my pocket now that we spent on it.
I’m pretty much the only one who has been enjoying XM radio recently, and I only use it to listen to Spa radio (new age), classical stations and NPR. Sometimes on the road our family will listen to 80’s music together. All of the music genres I like can be cached to my BlackBerry through Slacker radio for free, then played in the vehicle. I’ll put a charger in there so I don’t drain my BlackBerry’s battery. For NPR I can listen to it when I’m at home, via my computer, or download the podcasts and put them onto my MP3 player when I go out for exercise (usually walking/light jogging). Savings: $14 a month.
Website through a Hosting Company
My website was costing me $5 a month through ASmallOrange. Not a lot of month per month, but wow – $60 a year! When we’re struggling for ways to buy color ink for our printer so our son can print off something for school, that $60 sure is a lot of money.
I looked at the space my website was using. The entire site was about 700mb – less than a gig of data. WordPress and Blogger offer at least that much for free. And I wasn’t really doing much with my website. So I moved what I could to WordPress, and let the rest go. There were a lot of old pages I didn’t maintain any longer (nor intended to!) and I was paying $5 a month for that? Nope not any more. Savings in moving small website to WordPress/Blogger: $5/month or $60/year
This is one where I believe we’re still paying too much. My husband can’t get out of the habit of calling his home country constantly and they never stop SMS‘ing him, incurring international SMS charges whether he wants that message or not. We have an unlimited SMS plan, plus he’s paying for an international SMS plan so he can save money.
I say get rid of the SMS all together, but he won’t tell his family to stop messaging him. 😀 It’s an Asian thing; he doesn’t want to ask them to stop. It’s not like they don’t all have Facebook – they can chat with him there or even email him for free. We have to work on this. I’ve recently installed IM+ on my BlackBerry and can chat for free there. So I have to see if I can convert him to something like this.
Additionally, my husband’s cell is on the fritz. You can’t go get a smartphone these days without buying a data plan. Can’t happen anymore. I’m lucky to have a BlackBerry Bold with WiFi capability, so I can have some phone fun while I’ve got access to WiFi via my home router or through hotspots when I’m out.
A data plan is $30 a month. Why do we want to pay $30 more a month when we’re cutting things like tv trying to save money? No. No. No. Freaking no. I won’t let him do it. So we have two options that I see.
I asked him “What capabilities do you need on your phone?” His answer: phone, sms and camera. So we have two options. Buy him a nice unlocked smartphone with/without wifi capability, or buy a decent cellphone (non-smartphone) and get him a small digital camera to carry around. He liked both of these ideas. We may pay $200-$300 up front now, but savings will be $30 a month/$360 year over the life of the contract for that phone.
Garbage Pickup through the County
Not a high tech thing, but if you recycle regularly you may be able to reduce your garbage bill through your county. Our county put out a newsletter with this info: we can reduce our yearly bill by over half – from $231 to $91 – if we go on their bag program. We still have unlimited recycling, but need to reduce our garbage by half. We’re nearly there right now without hardly trying. We get 26 large bags (holds 2-3 kitchen garbage bags) for $91 for the year. If we go over that amount, we can buy more bags for $3.50 each. Even if we buy a bag a week, it’s still under that $231. It’s a no-brainer way to save, and you also help take care of our earth by reducing the amount of garbage and increasing the amount you recycle. Savings: $11 a month
That’s about the length of the reductions I’ve done this past week. TOTAL MONTHLY SAVINGS: $197 a month! I can write more (like how our electric bill came down to ZERO one month this winter!) but I will probably save that for a less techie blog.