Xmas / New Year - Time to Review Your Finances

by Simon 26 Replies latest social family

  • Simon

    It's that time of the year again, when most people spend too much buying too much crap for people ...

    It's also a good time to take advantage of the few days off to look at your finances and make sure you're not being "gouged" by the big companies that, well, like to extract as much money from people as possible.

    For us, one of the biggest culprits was telecoms.

    Think about it: years ago you just had to buy a TV and probably paid to have a phone line. Nowadays you have cell phones for everyone in the family and a million and one TV channels (all showing crap or repeats of crap) and extra for movies and pay-per-view. You can easily be paying hundreds of dollars per month.

    It can all add up, quickly. Especially if you are paying $20, $50, $100 more than you really need. That money, with compound interest, would really amount to something come retirement time.

    So my tips:

    Many cellphone companies have subsidies for the phones tied to a 2yr plan. But when your phone is paid off, they don't automatically reduce your payments - you can easily save $20 per month by switching the plan and a 2 year old device is perfectly fine to use - there are so many about that many dev advocates are now talking about optimizing tools and frameworks to work with older devices which should reduce the need to upgrade even more. We have a system of hand-me-downs where I'm at the back of the queue and have the shittiest beat up phone ... but then I'd still use my Nokia 3310 if I could ...

    TV Cable packages. All those channels. Ours kept creeping up ... they add channels, bundle things so you kind of need to pay extra to get just the things you want but before you know it, you're paying for hundreds that you literally never watch. I really despise how they bundle to make you pay for dross. So tough-justice TV tip: cancel them all. Switch to the very basic package and pay for just the add-on channels that you definitely watch regularly. If you find you keep switching to a channel you don't get in order to watch something you miss, make a note each time and then decide if it's really worth the $x a month to get it.

    We find we're watching more and more streamed TV now - just waiting for Amazon Prime video to be available in Canada and already have Netflix. They are both great value and have fantastic original content shows. We're not ready to cut-the-cord completely with TV but definitely save by cutting down and just paying for just what we really watch on cable (AMC, HBO). I'm sure the "full cable" package is great for people who want to watch Ice Hockey, but I don't - I prefer to just pay for the cheaper sports channels ( which happen to show my favourites: F1 + Soccer).

    When it comes to movies, think about whether you really really need to see something when it just comes out. Some things are worth paying the movie-premium for (because, big big screen and sound) but only for really good movies. When they come out on disc and pay-per-view you pay a premium to see them sooner. Just wait. In a month or two, they often appear on TV or Netflix and you get to watch them as part of your normal fee rather than paying extra. Once you hold off for a month or two, you have the regular stream of movies becoming available to watch as before. If you really do want to see something, look at things like Google Play - coupled with a ChromeCast it can save some money (and also enable streaming from elsewhere).

    For telephone, you may decide you can also ditch the land-line completely but if not, compare the cost of the cable company with a Voice Over IP (VOIP) phone service. We just bought an Ooma which cost us $89 and will then be ~$4 a month for the government-mandated emergency service fees and taxes. Much cheaper than the $18 a month the local cable company was charging. It works great quality-wise and will pay for itself in no time.

    Even if you don't switch, it's worth talking to your provider - it's really amazing what deals they can suddenly offer "for being such a loyal customer" when you call to cancel something. Funny they don't think to reward the loyalty ahead of time ...

    Anyone else have any money-saving tips?

  • blondie

    We are both retired now, but small pt jobs....when we were planning, I was stunned how often we ate out for convencience sake. We started packing our lunches. Then budgeted only enough money to go to a nice restaurant twice a month. We had been spending $200 to $250 monthly. Now only $80 a month. It's adding up. We bought a 2005 Prius for in town and work and cut our gas bill in half.

    We only go to movies on Sunday mornings $5 each or wait till budget theater $2.50 each or wait a couple of years or check the dvd from the library.

  • nonjwspouse

    The eating out this is a huge culprit, and so frequently missed as a money eater.

    We stopped regular movies a long time ago. We catch matinees, or $1.00 movies, or wait to see them at home.

    We find free or low cost entertainment downtown. ( free weekly music concerts, etc)

    If I must do the fast food thing, or even a sit down, I always carry around a cooler and pack drinks in there. I order a cup of water at any sit down restaurant. It helps with the bill!

    Cable TV is a massive money eater! Antenna, plus netflix, plus any internet sites that have the shows is plenty.

    New, better insulated windows, and home insulation has paid off in lower utility bills from now on.

  • rebel8

    For $15, I bought a digital antenna that gets me about 20 channels. We watch Netflix and HBO GO for everything else. I still have way more than I can possibly watch, and am spending way less.

  • Finkelstein

    Yes that's right Rebel8 most populated cites in North America and elsewhere broadcast cast HD tv on air for free, you just need an appropriate antenna, for local stations I might add.

    I too have gone over to using the inter-net in my home for land line phone service, Ooma was my choice.$4.00 a month.

    To save money on your Cell Phone service you might want to convert to a Pay as You Go (Rogers here in Canada) plans which are generally a lot cheaper than a monthly contract plan, relative to how much Data transfer you use.

    I found I wasn't using Data very much because so many places have WIFI now. You have to own the Phone that you want to use on these plans but the saving are huge over a year or two. ie. $25.00 per/month.

  • Lostandfound

    In U.K. The drag is that to get good wifi you have have a phone line. Ours is BT and its tv add ons is biggest expense apart from winter heating, every month. Will review all contracts and cut back as Simon suggests.

    We get Tesco to deliver and find we can order without walking round store adding extras.Groceries that is and fruit, veg, meat. Standard delivered is as good as my wife would select from shelf.

    Two of our daughters just switched cars and because of low emissions on replacement cars the Road Tax is only £30 a year instead of around £140.

  • Simon
    To save money on your Cell Phone service you might want to convert to a Pay as You Go (Rogers here in Canada) plans which are generally a lot cheaper than a monthly contract plan, relative to how much Data transfer you use.

    Yeah, we've used the PAYG phones from Petro-Canada in the past which worked well when we just needed them to have a voice phone (and they run on the Rogers network) but they are not quite so good for data and now I have 2 late-teenage boys it's not enough of a saving for the inconvenience.

    I'll check them out again though as things like that change constantly. There's also 7-11 that have cheap mobile plans (with non-expiring minutes - $100 per year) plus Presidents Choice (well, one of the supermarket brands).

    The drag is that to get good wifi you have have a phone line

    Not sure I understand - your local WiFi is all about your router, that is independent of the internet connection which could be phone line or cable. A phone line is unlikely to be the best,

    Are you talking about the WiFi that the provider bundles? Maybe worth looking at buying your own router instead.

    Our cable co. provides a WiFi cable modem but I use my own ... it's more secure and when it needs switching I don't need to re-connect every device in the house.

  • scratchme1010

    Anyone else have any money-saving tips?

    I love your money saving tips. I think they are practical and realistic, based on the actual way people live. Many times I see people talking about canceling services and IMO that's not realistic since it's pretty much something that people want/need to have.

    So I guess my tip is have a nice attitude about money and be realistic about the lifestyle you want/can have vs an attitude of complacency and/or keeping up with the joneses.

    Money is to be respected, and it also has to flow for it to grow. The right attitude about money and the business part of life is something that I as an ex-JW had to learn.

    Prepare, save and plan for retirement

    Increase credit car payments; use debit when possible

    Pay your student loans, avoid defaulting on them and use the advantage of disbursement if/when necessary, but pay them off.

    When it comes to technology and electronics, it's not wise to have the absolute latest (ask anyone who went ahead and got a Samsung Note S7)

    Buy clothing that can be reused (ass opposed to trendy clothes that go out of style in three months)

    Save to buy a house instead of renting

    Stop credit diarrhea and borrowing money

    A trip to the mall doesn't have to involve a large latte and other things that people normally don't plan to spend additional money on

    Keep track of your expenses for one or two months, record every penny spent; that can give you a realistic idea of what your actual budget should be (You'll be surprised!)

  • prologos

    For those in Canada with kids. rethink your RESP. If you contribute 2500 per month, the government gives you 500, may be 600 yearly grant. 7200 total max until college, but your friendly banker might charge 2% plus on some plans. 12 000 taken away in fees, vs. 7200.- in government gifts. shop around for a better deal. research the sites. very involved, a law degree helps. Registered Education Savings Plan's contributions can be delayed for a year and still get the grants retroactively.

  • Incognito
    Much cheaper than the $18 a month the local cable company was charging. - Simon

    Sounds as though your cable phone service was already a reasonable amount.

    We had been paying about $45 through Bell for only the most basic package including some N-A long distance so when Rogers offered a $19.95 package which included more features, we never looked back. After 2 years, the cost has increased considerably so we are now considering Ooma. It's nice to receive positive feedback on Ooma voice quality as we don't know anyone using it. We had previously tried MagicJack but the quality was terrible even though our cable internet bandwidth far exceeded MJ requirements and the router was programmed to give priority to VOIP.

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