Are You Spending More Than Necessary? 5 Places to Shave Monthly Costs
If you're looking for areas where you could cut your costs, here are five spots to start your chopping.
Like millions of Americans, young and old, my wife and I moved to a new home last year. The experience was thrilling, and yet it overwhelmed me.
I’ve never been a fan of change, and moving is a huge change.
Our plan involved taking inventory of our possessions and relocating as little of them as possible. Everything had to be carefully evaluated to determine if it should be kept, given away or sold. (Even my comfy old recliner.)
As part of the process, we also evaluated our finances, rebalanced our priorities and constructed a budget. We quickly realized our old knickknacks and keepsakes weren’t the only things we could live without. We decided we could relocate without some of our old bills.
Here are some costs you may want to analyze, whether you’re moving on to a new home, a new marriage, a new career or a new life in retirement. Even if you’re staying right where you are, it’s always wise to assess expenses.
A co-worker and I recently engaged in a conversation about our cellphone plans (mainly because we like to boast about our talents at haggling). When I realized he was paying $100 less each month for a better data plan with the same provider, I was astounded. That’s $1,200 a year! If you’ve never switched your carrier, or if it’s been awhile, you should know that it’s much less complicated than it used to be. You can shop for a better deal on your own or use a website that compares rates for you — and you should be able to keep your phone number. You also may qualify for preferred pricing through your employer, or through an organization like AARP. Even if you decide to stay with your current provider, you might be able to use another company’s offer to negotiate a better deal.
There’s no shortage of insurance companies, agents and brokers who want your business. So, it can pay to shop around occasionally to be sure you’re still getting a competitive rate on your homeowner’s or car insurance. Like cellphone plans, there are websites that will do the work for you. Don’t just settle for something cheap. Make sure you have the appropriate coverage accompanied by solid service and support. It also makes sense to review your life insurance policy to ensure it’s still providing an appropriate level of coverage for you and your family with a premium you can afford. Your financial adviser likely can help you assess your needs and assist you in making this important choice.
It’s easy to get in the habit of going to the drugstore on the nearest corner to pick up your prescriptions. But there can be big price discrepancies among pharmacies. If you have several prescriptions, or just one but it’s pricey, it might be worth comparing costs at the big pharmacies (Walgreens, CVS), the big box stores (Target, Walmart), local grocery stores and independent pharmacies in your area. Websites such as GoodRx.com and SingleCare.com can help you find pharmacies near you that offer the best prices. Those websites offer coupons and discounts that may cut costs even further. CVS pharmacists also have a custom search tool that helps them look for savings on individual prescriptions.
Everybody talks about cutting the cord, but cable is a hard habit to break. One of the things you're paying for is convenience: You can get most of the channels you want in one place. If a problem arises, you can call the cable or satellite provider and a technician will either talk you through a fix or come to your home and resolve the issue for you. If you switch to a streaming service, you must determine who carries the shows you like, and you may need more than one device or service to get the programming you want. If you’re not a techie-type, it can be a challenge making everything work. You also may have to update your hardware (your TV, antenna and/or over-the-top box) and your internet connection. And it may take awhile to settle on the content providers you prefer. (Choose too many, and you might not save any money on TV programming.) Still, if you're willing to put in the effort, dumping cable can save you hundreds of dollars each year.
Be honest: Do you even know how much money you spend on monthly subscription services? There’s a monthly subscription for just about everything these days — from Stitch Fix (clothes styling) to Spotify (music streaming) to HelloFresh (meal kits) to Amazon Prime (shopping and entertainment). The costs can add up quickly. It’s tempting to sign up because of a low initial cost, but it’s also easy to forget how many subscriptions you’ve racked up over a long period of time. Scan your bank statements and make a list of all the subscriptions you currently have. Then rank them in order of most to least useful and start trimming.
It's easy to stick with the companies and services you know, even if you suspect they’re costing you more. Life gets busy. Changing providers can be time-consuming and frustrating.
As an incentive to get you started, don’t think about how much money you’ll save this week, or even this month, if you cancel a subscription service or switch to a different cable or cellphone provider. Think in terms of a year, or five years, or more. That money adds up. The savings could make the difference in whether you reach your primary goals in life, whether it’s buying a house, starting a business, putting your kids through college, or retiring with enough money stashed away to live a long comfortable life.
It’s a matter of controlling what you can. And it’s up to you to make the first move.
Investment advisory services offered through Hobart Private Capital, LLC, a SEC-Registered Investment Advisor. Insurance services offered separately through Hobart Insurance Services, LLC, an affiliated insurance agency. Securities offered through Cape Securities, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Hobart Private Capital and Hobart Insurance Services are not affiliated with Cape Securities.
This information is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide any investment advice or provide the basis for any investment decisions. You should consult your financial adviser prior to making any decision based on any specific information contained herein.
The appearances in Kiplinger were obtained through a PR program. The columnist received assistance from a public relations firm in preparing this piece for submission to Kiplinger.com. Kiplinger was not compensated in any way.
Kim Franke-Folstad contributed to this article.
About the Author
Director of Financial Planning, Hobart Financial Group
As director of financial planning at the Hobart Financial Group (www.hobartwealth.com), Corey Sunstrom focuses on helping clients meet their goals. He has a Masters in Trust and Wealth Management from Campbell University and a bachelor's degree in business administration (finance and marketing) from North Carolina State University.