Birthdays, Banks, and Fatal Attraction (Or 5 Ways To Save Even More $)

by Scott on October 10, 2011

My little boy turned four last week. He was born in October of 2007, which was probably the last time the word recession wasn’t tossed about on a daily news feed. It made me reflect back on how much had changed. Back then I had a thriving investment practice that had grown for six years straight. I didn’t live a life of excess, but I certainly wasn’t worried about budgets or negative cashflow. I didn’t flinch at buying a new vehicle that could not only accommodate all of us, but also fit one of those un-godly infant car seats. Nor did I hesitate to pay the health insurance bill that was as much as my mortgage…..OK maybe I did hesitate while also trying not to puke into the envelope before sending it out, but I still paid it.

Wishing for a new bike and a change in fiscal policy.

Just a few months later everything would be different. Markets crashed, businesses failed, and I was forced to focus more on surviving than thriving.

Today my wife and I run our household much differently. Cashflow is carefully managed, budgets are kept, and every purchase has a purpose. One of the most important things I recommend to clients is to track their spending and audit their expenses. It’s something we did recently and I thought it would be helpful to share some areas where we were able to save money.

1.) The phone bill: I hadn’t looked at home phone bill since we moved in almost two years ago and realized we were paying for services that we weren’t really using (honestly I would kill the home phone if it wasn’t required via our cable/internet provider). A few small changes in our calling plan saved us $17/month.

2.) Subscriptions: There have been a few magazines I have been getting forever and automatically renew thru my Amex. When I saw one of them renewed $80 for the year I almost threw them all in a pile and burned them in protest. I canceled, got my money back, and then got besieged with emails trying to get my business back for a quarter of the price. Bad way to treat a loyal customer. Total savings was $100/year.

3.) Insurance policies: It’s always a good idea to shop around at renewal time. I switched to a different company last year and got a pretty good on my home and auto. My life insurance is due soon so I’ll be shopping that around in the coming months. Life companies often drop term rates as mortality rates fall (ie we are living longer) so it is good to check those out every few years, especially if you have recently dropped some weight or quit smoking. Total savings TBD.

4.) Bank fees: I’m an out-going Bank of America customer (a number of you are nodding your heads knowing where this is going). What started out as a good relationship has slowly gone bad, and now I feel like I’m stuck with Glen Close in Fatal Attraction. Fees I never had befor,e or don’t remember agreeing to, started popping up, and they could never seem to get accounts linked correctly to satisfy the minimum balance. We moved over to a new bank with a $100 new customer credit and at least a $20/month savings…. and no boiled rabbits.

5.)Use coupons:  I get no credit for this but my wife turned us into a couponing household. Not the type that has 27 bottles of yellow mustard stored away, but one that saves real money on our weekly groceries. It took an investment in the Sunday paper and a definitely a few hours of time each week checking out deals and getting organized, but she has knocked $400 off our monthly grocery and supplies bill. $400! Seriously, well worth the effort!

So there are a few examples of things we found in auditing our expenses and trying to save some extra money. It is always a good idea to keep costs in check, even when times are good. I love to hear ways you have saved money over these past few year, or some of the changes you have made, or even how the recession has affected you. Be sure to leave a comment below.

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