Budgetary Considerations

With all the talk of the economy in the news this week, it's hard not to be looking for ways to cut back or save, even if you still have a decent job and don't need to sell your house (at a loss) any time soon. Our budget isn't what it once was because I haven't done any freelance work in nearly a year, so I've been looking for ways to stretch what we've got.

Of course we’ve already made the usual adjustments. I cook at home more. Our version of entertainment is cheap (around $10 for a family of four) or free. Treats such as Cold Stone ice cream only happen once in a while and only when we have a buy-one, get-one-free coupon. I only buy things—including groceries—that are on sale (preferably 50% or more off).

But I needed to find ways to do more.

And, (drumroll please) I saved us more than $300 a month this week, without giving up anything!

A couple weeks ago a man from the cable company was walking the neighborhood. Normally I wouldn't talk to a ‘door to door salesman,’ in fact, I wouldn't usually even open the door! But I was expecting Hubs when I heard the knock and the first thing he asked was I liked my service and if I had any problems with it, so I decided to have a conversation with him.

I told him I liked everything fine, but wasn’t happy that my bill had gone up another $40/month recently and that all of a sudden we had ‘premium’ channels that I’d never requested. He said he’d take care of cancelling the unwanted programming, but it was the next thing he said that was really interesting.

I learned that by switching away from my home phone provider and adding telephone service to the cable internet and TV we already get from them, I'd be saving $100 a month! Forty dollars of the savings would come from lowering my cable bill (it is actually cheaper to have all three services from them than just the two) and $60 savings from eliminating the separate phone service.

Usually I don't like messing with my phone service. I suppose I’m a little brand loyal and it seems someone is always hawking a ‘better deal’, but when you add it all up, it doesn't really add up. (At least that’s what I learned in college when my roommate pretended to be me and switched long distance carriers without my authorization. It wasn't a better deal at all!)

I also took a look at our mortgage numbers and called to see if there wasn't something we could do to make that work better for us. Because I wanted to be sure we could always make the payments, we'd chosen to have a fixed rate so we could count on the payment amount. It turns out though that the variable rate attached to the mortgage is dropping the fixed rate and taking on the variable rate, I saved 2 percentage points and around $200 a month!
If we keep making the same payment we were making before, that will go to principle and we'll increase our equity and pay down the debt quicker. We will need to watch the interest rates and adjust accordingly, but they’d have to go up by at least those two points before we’d be back where we started. And this was all done with one phone call; no refinance paperwork, no appraisal.

Those were just two small changes that don't impact us on a day to day basis at all--no sacrifice, nothing to give up--but we'll be seeing big gains. It feels good to be one tiny step closer to 'the virtuous woman,' "She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night." Proverbs 31:18

What have you come up with to make the money you already have last longer and go farther? Do you have creative ideas for entertainment, gift giving or some of those other budget categories that aren’t necessities but are hard to avoid altogether? Tell us about it!

1 comment:

michellewaite1 said...

Good job on the savings. We are almost ready to save $300 a year by eliminating diapers and pull-ups. We might have bought our last. I already explained to Christian that by elimanating these costs we can get 10 nights camping or an annual pool pass. That inspired him to cut off the water a little bit earlier.

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