Revamping Your Budget For Corona with Recurring Expenses (And How I Am Saving a Lot on my Phone Bill)

Let's face it, 2020 changed almost everyone's lives. And with 2021 we're still feeling the changes. Some of these changes will be permanent and some of these are just temporary. But no matter what, we're in the thick of it right now.

When it comes to budgeting, our life changes should be reflected in our budget. But sometimes we might forget to change some of those things. 

I've already mentioned how I think it is important for people's mental health to let their grocery budget grow to be able to manage their corona quarantining and lockdowns. While some months I've stayed within my previous budget, if my grocery budget goes up by $150 one month, I'm not gonna feel guilty about it at all, because it's a conscious choice I am making to buy some ready to eat foods and lots of short cuts in the kitchen, including disposables. 

Other expenses might also be going up because of Covid and that is totally reasonable. With more time spent at home, and more need to entertain your children, you might decide to increase your budget for crafts and games or electronics, and that is good. Expecting your 2021 budget to look like your 2019 budget is not a reflection of reality.

But not every expense needs to go up now. Some expenses can go down. Some will go down automatically, because if you aren't going out to movies with friends anymore, your entertainment budget probably has shrunk. If you aren't driving to work anymore since you're working from home, your gas bill probably will automatically go down.

Then there are the things that you might not have thought about. And to be honest I didn't think about it either. Recurring expenses are things that just come off every month, you get billed monthly on your credit card, and you might not be thinking if these are actually things that you need. I'm trying to think which things might fall into this category, and the first thing that came to mind is EZ Pass. Do you pay monthly for it? Are you actually driving places and use it, or have you been staying at home? Do you have a yearly pass for museums that aren't even open now? Do you still need it? My pool pass ended up being a waste because it was barely open, and even though my pass wasn't monthly but counted visits, it expired after 6 months and I barely used any of them. That won't be happening again.

But it really was my last post that got me realizing that I was paying every month for something that I wasn't even using.

My cell phone.

I mean I do use my cell phone a lot. All the time. All day long. But I still was paying too much for it.

After my last post and realizing that the sales representative was trying to overcharge me for a plan I didn't need for the house cell phone, I thought that maybe I was paying too much for my cell phone service as well.

I called the cell phone company and asked to speak to the customer retention representative. They transferred me to someone else and after waiting 20 minutes I was put through to the TV service retention representative. I told them I needed for cell phones and that took another 40 minutes on hold before I actually spoke to someone. Good thinking on their part- you have to be really dedicated to actually want to wait on hold that long to speak to someone. Most people just don't bother canceling their service if it means an hour on hold.

Once I finally spoke to a representative I told them that I was considering switching phone companies because I don't like being lied to. That I had spoken to their sales person and asked for the cheapest thing but they lied to me about what is cheapest at least a few times, and I had to tell them straight out that I know there's a plan for $2.85 a month for them to admit that, and then said that it wasn't worth it, not knowing what I even wanted it for. I then told them that I had asked if there was a cheaper plan for my phone and was told that I couldn't get any cheaper, but I know there definitely is cheaper that they aren't telling me. 

He told me that I have the cheapest plan, that I pay only $11.50 per phone for 200 gb of data and unlimited data for a total of $34.5 for all three phones. I said can I get any cheaper than that, for less data? Because I am paying so much every month for my cell phone- its ridiculous how much I'm paying, I'm just going to go to a different company that charges less.

Then he told me that I can change my plan from 200 gb to 100 gb of data, same unlimited minutes, but its $1.50 less a month. But since I have 3 phones with 200 gb, changing the data would save me $4.50 a month. Ok, that is very little, but still worth it, I guess. Before I changed to that, I asked him how much data I actually use.

One phone uses 3 gb of data a month. Next phone? 2.7 gb. Third phone? 2.8 gb. 

Mic drop.

"Sir, I don't need 100 gb of data a month. We only are using 3! What do you have that is less than 100 gb a month?"

"Oh, we have a plan that is 15 gb a month and it's only $5.70 a month."

Duh. Why was I paying twice the price?

There was a one time fee to switch to this plan- $17 per phone. 

Instead of paying $35 a month for all three phone lines, I'd be paying $17. But after just one month on this cheaper plan I already pretty much would have paid that off. 

I realized something. Its not that 200 gb a month was always a bad plan (ok, probably 100 would have been more reasonable). But our lives have changed with corona. While I use my phone constantly, its almost always through wifi, since I'm not really leaving the house much. I do use the 4g internet occasionally, like during a blackout, or on the few times a month that I leave my house to grocery shop and for appointments. Which is why I use so little 4g now.

It may be that once corona is over and our lives go as back to normal as they ever will, I'll find that a phone plan that uses more data will be more worthwhile. But at this point in time, and for the foreseeable future, my kids and I won't be venturing out of the house that much, so there really is no point to pay for so much data in my plan.

I did ask, if I wanted to switch back to a more expensive plan if there was a transfer cost, and was told that the cost is very minimal if at all, depending on which plan on switch to.

Done deal.

I'm now happy to be saving $17.5 a month off every cell phone bill. Without losing anything. Without changing anything. Just my bills.

If your life circumstances keep you at home more than you used to be, your cell phone plan may be one way that you can knock things off your budget.

I'm now trying to think whether there are any other monthly bills I'm paying that I'm not using their service, to see if I can cut back there too. Ideas welcome.

Have you changed your budget because of corona? In what ways have you raised certain amounts of the budget? What costs were you able to lower because of the pandemic? 

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Wow. Good for you! Now you have me thinking about looking into seeing if I can lower my own cell phone bill! Thanks.

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