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?