Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A few steps taken...

I have finally taken a few steps toward lowering my expenses and I wanted to share those in hopes of inspiring others that may be going through the same thing.

First I looked at all my bills on one page. Actually, I looked at the them online on a really cool, free budget website that I found. The website is called Mint. This website is amazing! It allows me to import my bank information, credit card information, retirement account information, loan information and create a budget. (Don't worry, it is completely secure!) Seeing all the information together really helped me get an idea of exactly how much debt I'm in. It also shows your net worth. I'm at a starting point and accepting it for what it is. I looked at all my expenses and managed to cut a few things out. Below is a list of adjustments I have made so far.
  • Cancelled my Netflix and will now use Redbox whenever we want to watch a movie. $1 a night movies and they have locations all over the place. This was a no brainer for me, but still hard to cancel Netflix because I have had them for over 4 years now.
  • Cancelled my water delivery service. I have replaced this by buying a Brita Aqualux Pitcher (Amazon price $29.22) for keeping cold drinking water in the refrigerator and a Culligan Faucet Water Filter (Amazon price $18.81) to filter bulk water used for things like making tea, cooking, etc. I heavily researched the best and most affordable options and found those two from Amazon at a great deal. (The links for each item are for the actual items I purchased.)
  • I shopped around auto insurance quotes using a quote search engine (of course it was irritating getting all the phone calls but worth it). To my surprise, Allstate gave me the cheapest rate for the same insurance coverage I already have! Two years ago I got a quote from them and they were higher. I will now save almost $200 a year on my auto insurance and get better service from what I hear.
  • I'm still working on my cell phone bill. This is a frustrating one because we are still under contract with our cell phone carrier and my husband and I both have a BlackBerry. He really does need his for work but I could do without mine. I'm trying to see if I can purchase a regular phone off ebay and switch it so that I can take the $30/month fee off for the data plan. I'm also looking into trying to get a lower minute plan but I don't think that's going to be an option.
  • I have started keeping the heat/air off and dressing appropriately for the conditions in my house. There is no need for me to wear shorts and a tank top in my house and to have the heat on. Duh! I am also the electricity Nazi right now. I'm on my husband and my son about every light on in the house and the t.v. (They really love me right now!)
It's really hard giving up some of these things but it has to be done. I was lucky enough to be able to cancel Netflix online and not to have to deal with the insurance company. The water delivery company was a different situation though. I called them up and told them I wanted to cancel my service and they start giving me the script that they have memorized to keep you from going. "I'm sorry to hear that ma'am. Is there a problem with your service?" I told them no and that I'm just trying to cut back my expenses. He starts telling me that they will allow me to receive only one cooler bottle instead of two a month and this will save me 50% and is a really good deal. I don't remember what else he said, but I'm pretty sure that it was something that hypnotized me because I just said "okay". This is not like me! LOL It reminded me of the episode of FRIENDS where Chandler tries to quit the gym but he just can't. So anyways, today I have to call them back and try to "quit" them again. A lot of these companies make it so hard to close your account! It really is frustrating! I'm not going to let them wear me down though. I will succeed today!

Let me know if anyone else has any suggestions on how to cut your expenses.

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