Thursday, July 22, 2010

Money Tips for Busy People- Cheaper Things

"Penny," you say, "I like your blog and think that what you do is great. But lets be realistic now. What you suggest just takes too much time, and I'm a busy woman."
Not to worry, readers. Even if you don't have time to do everything from scratch like I do, if you want to save money and take control of your finances, there is definitely a way.

This is the first post in a series- Money Tips for Busy People.

Same Things For Less Money

The first step in reducing your expenses without much time to space is to just get the same things you've always had, just for less money. For each of these ideas, I'll share how much money you can save in how little time, and if it is a one time deal or needs to be repeated.

Shop Around

People know that going to the first store you see probably will cost you more money than if you decide strategically where to shop, but they usually don't think about shopping around with things other than one time expensive purchases or with grocery shopping. You're able to save yourself a lot of money in so many areas just by shopping around.
Companies usually want to keep you as their customer, so if you bargain with them you have the upper hand. Call competitors to the companies you currently use and ask them for their best offers for the services that interest you. Take note of their offer and the name of the sales rep who offered it to you, and then call your company up.
Tell the company that you want to close your account with them and switch to a different company because you can get more for your money there. In most cases, the company will offer you a better deal to entice you to stay, but if the second company's deal is still better, let the original company know what you've been offered and there's a chance that the company will top that offer in the hopes of retaining your loyalty. If they don't, well then just switch to the new company for that better deal.
This method can work with phone and cell phone companies in addition to cable, internet and various types of insurance, to name but a few of the options.

Time Spent? Less than an hour
Needs Repeating? No
Money Saved: Limitless

Canceling Services You Don't Need

Wouldn't it be silly if you routinely paid for something that you didn't want, need, or even have any use for? People don't realize it but often they do exactly this.
Take a look at your bills. You may find charges tacked on for things you never need, perhaps things you hadn't realized you'd agreed to or have since changed your mind about.
Review your bills. Note if there's anything you don't want or realize you can do without. When I did this. I found out that on my internet bill I was paying 10 dollars a month for a wireless network technical support service when I needed them at most once a year. Should I need tech support, I can pay a one time fee of 30 dollars, a much better deal, especially as I never used tech support often enough to make it worthwhile to pay monthly for that service.
Other services we'd ended up canceling were cell phone internet service (which we never used) and cell phone insurance (we were paying more than it cost to replace the phone).

Time Spent? Under 20 minutes.
Needs Repeating? No
Amount Saved- Limitless.

Plans That Suit Your Use

Take your bills out once again. Are you paying for a plan that doesn't match with your needs? Perhaps you're paying many more minutes than you monthly use. On our house phone, we were paying a high base charge but less for each call, but based on our usage, it was more worthwhile to pay a lower base fee and a higher price per minute.
Most companies offer various types of plans. Chose one that will allow you to pay the least while still doing the same as before. Perhaps it is more worthwhile for you to switch either to or away from a flat fee rate.
Call up your companies. See what they have to offer. Based on your usage, you may see how worthwhile it is to switch.

Time Spent? Up to half an hour per company.
Needs Repeating? No 
Money Saved: Up to hundreds per month.

Avoid Late Fees

Make sure you aren't getting any extra charges and interest tacked on to your bills because of failure to pay on time.
Set a reminder, either on your phone or computer (or even on a print calendar that you check often if you're less techie inclined). If you routinely get your bills on the first of the month and have until the fifteenth to pay, set a monthly reminder for the 10th so you don't forget about it.
Perhaps it may be worthwhile for you to set up automatic bill payment if you have an especially hard time remembering these things, but keep in mind that there are downsides to this, like making it harder to contest the bill, should issues arise.

Time Spent? None extra time aside for a minute to set up the reminder.
Needs Repeating? Yes
Money Saved- Exponential.

Sure, there are plenty of ways to conserve and cut your bills even further, but if you have no time and you need to reduce your bills, start off by just paying less for the same exact product.
P.S. Have no time for even these one time phone calls? Perhaps schedule these call during a lunch break, day off, sick day, or while your kids are napping.

Next in this series- Save Money on Food- in a snap!

Have you managed to cut your bills simply by making a few phone calls? What did you do, how long did it take you, and how much money did you save?

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