Sure the title of this article may sound like a scam ad, but the essence of this is doing simple things to save money. As Benjamin Franklin said, "A penny saved is a penny earned." As Mustachians we understand that a penny saved is not just a penny earned but a penny that will then continue to keep earning for us.
Mr. Money Mustache once wrote an article challenging us to save $100 in a week. Some things he did was to check his receipt from the store and he found they had charged him the wrong price on some items and got those fixed, money saved that he wouldn't have normally done. In a similar manner today, after some inspiration from Camp Mustache and the Travel Hacking workshop I decided to call up my credit card company and discuss the annual fee of $95. I remember having done this once before and getting a statement credit plus some bonus miles if I spent enough on the card. This year wasn't disappointing at all, I am getting a statement credit of $95 and an additional 1000 points for every month I spend $1000 on the card. Don't let anxiety over calling your credit card company keep you from making that call.
For me I may never get the extra 1000 points because we barely spend any money beyond our mortgage, food and supplies. For those few items most of our food is done on debit with Winco because they have the best prices on food and reward points just don't make up for it. Our mortgage can't be paid on credit cards anyway, and supplies are often bought at Costco and we use the Costco AmEx card for that. The biggest thing is getting rid of the $95 yearly fee, and even though it is 6 months in they were still willing to work with me.
Recently I have been going through and trying to minimize monthly expenses that I have that may be wasteful. This led me to look at my cell phone bill and realize that I am paying for things I am not even using. With our T-Mobile plan we have 5 lines, including three family members, and we pay $117 a month for. I used to commute by train and would use quite a bit of data as I VPN'd to work. Since we moved I ride my bike to work, but I still kept the data plan because I didn't really think about it and perhaps thought maybe I would still use more than the basic amount of data. With recent changes to our plan we all have 1Gb of data included without paying anything more. Last month I went online and looked at how much data I have been using for the last 6 months, and since we moved I have barely crossed 500Mb. Why am I paying for 2Gb more data when I don't even use the basic amount that I am given? I made the change online and got a text message telling me the change was made.
This month I got the bill and I was still being charged for the extra data package, and they sent me another text saying that the change has been made now. As it turns out making the change online was my mistake, they will not make the change until the next billing cycle and since I made the change on the first day of the billing cycle that means I still pay for another month. I called them up and talked about this problem, and after a brief look at my data usage they realize that I really don't use much data at all and offered to credit my account for this month, saving another $10. This took all of 15 minutes and this is a recurring $10 every month until I no longer have a cell phone, so we'll just say that I really saved $120 for a years worth of extra data that was going to waste.
Our AAA membership also came up, and although I have used it once in the year we have had it, I didn't see the value in paying the extra $40 for Plus membership. Again I called up AAA and reduced my membership down to Basic. I still get the free jump start, changing tires, and tow into town, and of course their door lock service. What I don't get is the 100 miles in any direction, but I figure if I'm out of town that I wouldn't know where to take the car to anyway so I might as well let the driver take me somewhere.
If I didn't get the cell phone discount through work then AAA would pay for itself by giving me 15% off my phone bill which would be greater than their annual fee. Currently I also get my insurance through them for both my house and car, but I'll do my due diligence in comparing insurance prices when my annual renewal comes up in December.
This leads us to doing some retrospect, are there other yearly or monthly fees that we are paying, or as Mr. Money Mustache had, items we are being overcharged? So far I have cut the gym membership which we quit using once we moved to our new house. We pay an HOA monthly dues which includes our internet ($30 for 100mb up and down, no complaints here), and gym house usage plus seasonal pool all within 100 feet from our house. HOA is $120/mo, saving $70/mo from not having Comcast, and another $60/mo for gym memberships gives us a total savings of $10/mo, or about $120 a year. I'd love to spruce up my numbers by just saying I'm saving $720 because of the gym, but I'll keep it more realistic at $120.
Total Annual Savings: $375
All of these things together took me maybe one hour of calling, writing, and checking things online. $375 for one hour of work is pretty good pay, that's CEO level pay there. All of these savings are going into our retirement accounts and will become our employees making more for us. What else can you think of that may be costing you extra for services you don't use?