This blog post is a bit out of the norm for me but I thought it would be great to share these ideas with my audience. At the beginning of each year I go through all of my monthly expenses and check to see if there is any way I can reduce the cash that is flying out of my wallet. My intention is not to reduce the quality of the services, just reduce the costs. The link to the Samsung product is an affiliate link, the other links are just direct to the site.
- Home Security Services
If you have your home protected by one of the major players like Vector or ADT, there is probably room to negotiate your rate down. There are many internet based providers offering services for as little as 10.00 a month. You can also purchase a product like the Samsung Smart Things Home Monitoring Kit ,this kit will allow you to monitor your home from your smart phone and even control lights and other devices. If you want to stay with a primary provider, I suggest you call them up and tell them you are shopping services and have found online services that are much cheaper than what they are charging. If you have been a customer for a long time use that to your advantage as well. I was a customer for 10 years and I had been paying a monthly maintenance fee of $6.00 that I never used. I was able to drop my payment from $90 a quarter to $57 just by asking for a better price and I removed the monthly maintenance fee.
- Credit Cards – Cash Back
This suggestion comes first with a warning, if you struggle to pay off your credit cards each month, then skip over this one. If you do pay 100% of your credit card balance each month, then you should try to pay as much as possible with credit card to earn rewards. I find the cashback cards are the best. You earn anywhere between 1% and 6% back on your purchases and use you apply the rewards as a credit to your account. I have been using Chase Freedom for years, I usually get a credit of about $250 once every 3 to 4 months. I pay for everything I can on the card, food, gas, garbage collection, cell phone, cable, etc.. If the service provider will take credit card and not charge a fee, I do it. Chase Freedom selects a few premium categories each quarter where they will pay 5% back, the rest is usually 1% or 2%. I am moving from Chase to American Express Blue Cash Everyday card, they offer 3% back on groceries and 2% back on gas, my two biggest monthly expenses. Also if you are a senior and your card has an annual charge, you can ask if they will waive it for you.
- Pest Control Services
My provider was coming in every two months and charging me $60.00. I contacted the office and was able to change to quarterly visit at a cost of $75 per visit, reducing my annual spend from $360 to $300. I will let you know if I start seeing any new bugs.
- XM Radio
This one drives me completely insane. Each year I get a renewal invoice for $204.00 for the annual service for one car, my wife’s car. I have to call up and tell them I want to cancel my service, they then transfer me to the cancellations department. I explain that I just don’t see the value in paying $17 a month for this service. After a bit of back and forth they make me an offer of around $99.00 for the year.
- Home Warranty Service
I used to think this was all just a scam, we have a 25 year old house and something always seems to be breaking down, especially the heat and A/C. I signed up with First American Home Warranty service 3 years ago. I pay $500 once a year and they cover a whole list of items in the house. You just pay a 75.00 service fee when you call for service. I used to get turkey sweats whenever the A/C or heat went out, assuming it was gong to cost me hundreds of dollars to fix, now its just $75 and the service provider resolves the problem.
There are many services online that will review your insurance costs and provide quotes from other providers. I don’t have one that I can recommend but you can easily find them on the web. I have been with the same provider for 10 years, each year I go back and ask if there is someway he can save me a few dollars and he always finds something. This past year I let him know that my son’s car sits at the house most of the year while he is away at school, he lowered my payment by $200 a year. Life insurance is another one you should check every couple years. Especially if you are in your 40’s or 50’s. If you are in good health you might be able to get a new policy at a cheaper rate that carries you out more years. One note here, don’t cancel your existing policy until you have the new one in place. Again I don’t have any specific sites to recommend but you can find loads of them on the web.
Finally I am not an expert in any of these areas, I have no official training or certifications, I am just sharing with you my experiences. Please obtain professional advise if needed before making any decisions or changes. If you have suggestions to add, please comment on the post and feel free to share it with others on your social networks.