If you're looking at your monthly budget trying to find places to save money, you may want to consider these wallet-friendly moves, because breaking up with your cable TV company, your insurer, and your wireless carrier could all contribute hundreds of extra dollars in savings to your personal bottom line.
No. 1: Cutting the Cord
I recently joined the ever-growing number of former cable TV subscribers, and I'm disappointed that I didn't cut the cord sooner. Why? Because I'm saving a ton of money, and I'm discovering that I don't miss watching real-time content. I've even discovered some new favorite shows that I'd previously never considered watching.
My path to cutting the cord is likely similar to the path taken by many fellow cord cutters. In the past, I had negotiated with my cable operator for a lower bundled price; however, after my cable bill steadily increased to nearly $200 per month, I'd decided I'd had enough.
This time, rather than engage in a pricing back and forth with my cable company, I took the leap and ditched cable TV altogether. Instead, I bumped up my Internet package to 105 Mbps, installed Netflix and Hulu on my wife's and children's tablets, and called it a day.
Sure, I no longer get prime-time comedy in real time, and I have to be more careful when scrolling through my Facebook feed, but most of my shows are available not long after they run -- I'm OK with that. The only thing I don't like about cutting the cord is that I'm taking a big risk when it comes to sports, specifically, New England Patriots football.
I attempted to install an over-the-air HD antenna so that I could get local sports coverage; however, in rural New Hampshire, the only station I was able to pull in was public television. That's fine for my Downton Abbey fix, but it's not going to keep me up to date on how well Tom Brady's back-up is performing against Miami.
Overall, I saved nearly $100 per month canceling cable TV, even after including the upgraded Internet service; so at this point, I suppose I'll use some of those savings to buy gas to visit my friends on Sundays this season. I just hope they haven't cut the cord with cable, too.
No. 2: It's true... 15 minutes can save you money
Geico's "15 minutes can save you money" slogan can lower your car insurance payment, even if you're spending that 15 minutes calling a Geico competitor. Because the auto insurance market is incredibly competitive, and carriers are continuously elbowing each other to win market share, you could be spending more on car insurance than you need to, especially, if you haven't renegotiated your car-insurance coverage in the past three years,
Although car insurance costs vary widely based on driving record, age, and where you live, studies peg the average annual cost of car insurance at $900 per year. If you're paying more than this amount, then calling around and shopping prices may save you hundreds of dollars per year. Those savings could be even greater if you bundle your homeowner's insurance with your car insurance plan. Companies like Liberty Mutual and State Farm, for example, offer their customers multi-plan discounts.
No. 3. Rethinking your mobile contract
Last winter, financial services firm Cowen & Company reported that the average customer of one of the big four cellular phone companies pays more than $90 monthly. Traditional monthly plans that lock customers into multi-year contracts may get you a nifty new phone every couple of years, but they're not your best option if you're trying to cut costs.
Instead, budget-minded consumers can consider shopping online for a used smartphone, buying an inexpensive new phone instead of the latest wizardry, or purchasing the latest and greatest device with cash up front, or via an installment plan, and then activating it with a carrier. There are a number of reputable places that sell pre-owned devices, including Verizon, which sells pre-certified, pre-owned tablets and phones online.
After acquiring your device, you may be able to save more money by shopping around for a voice, text, and data plan that makes sense for you and your family. If you don't rely on YouTube videos for content when you're out of range from your Wi-Fi, you'll probably be OK with between one and two gigabytes per month.
Unsure how much data you're using? Consult your previous bills, so that you pay for only what you need.