Now’s The Time… to Manage Your Recurring Bills

If your family is anything like mine, your nights and weekends are freer than they’ve been in a long time. Like so many families, we tend to run pretty hard, with each of our kids involved in sports, music, church, or other activities. Now that so much is on hold, I’ve been enjoying the extra family time, and I’ve been knocking off several items that have been on my long-term to-do list. 

Financially, this is a great time to review all of your monthly bills. A few phone calls could end up saving you a lot of money. 

If you’ve lost your job because of the pandemic, many companies are providing relief—from mortgage providers to those providing automobile loans to credit card companies. Call them to see what they can do to ease your financial burden. Just be sure to understand the terms. For example, if payments could be suspended, will interest continue to accrue?

If you’re still gainfully employed, there’s money to be saved as well. Here’s where to look.

Which bills to review

I hate monthly bills and am hesitant to take on obligations that require ongoing payments. Cash flow is king. The more monthly financial commitments we take on, the less that’s available for enjoyable things like vacations and important things like saving and investing.

Of course, many such bills are unavoidable. So, at very least, we should be intentional about managing them. And it’s amazing how much can be saved just by asking or shopping for a better price. Here are some of the most common monthly financial commitments to review periodically, especially now when we have more time on our hands.

Insurance. If it’s been a while since you’ve asked other companies for a quote for you home, vehicle, or liability insurance, now’s the time. Since our oldest child now has his learner’s permit and will soon have a driver’s license, I called our insurance company to see how much our rate will increase. The short answer? A lot! So, I’m using that impending change as motivation to shop around and see if other companies offer lower-cost policies. 

It also reminded me that we have a $10,000 deductible on our homeowner’s insurance. With several neighbors experiencing storm damage to their roofs in recent years, I wonder how long we can dodge that bullet. So, I’m comparing home owner’s policies that have a lower deductible.

Phone service. Do you still have a landline? Is it time to drop it? And how much are you paying for cell phone service? Some providers have a tool on their web site where you can see if you’re on their most cost-effective plan based on your usage. 

If you are paying a monthly lease charge for one or more phones, be sure to know when those lease payments should end. With some providers, you have to make a decision at that point about paying off the phone. If you don’t let them know, you may end up paying more than you need to. And does your provider offer a discount if you put your monthly payment on auto pay? Check to see. 

TV. This includes cable and streaming services. We’ve been on Spectrum’s lowest cost cable service in order to get local channels, and we subscribe to Sling TV, mostly for sports channels. We also subscribe to Netflix. 

Between Spectrum and Sling, we’ve been paying $67.94. However, at the beginning of this year, Sling upped its price by about $5 per month and I just noticed that Spectrum has bumped its price up by almost $10 per month. So, I did a little looking around and it looks like a $50 per month subscription to YouTube TV would enable us to drop Spectrum and Sling, saving us about $34 per month. I just signed up for a two-week free trial for YouTube TV to check it out. Which services to you subscribe to?

If you subscribe to Netflix, did you know it offers an $8.99 per month plan? You can only watch on one screen at a time, so if you have multiple people in your household who tend to use the service at the same time, that might not work for you. But if you’ve been paying $12.99 per month, you might not have realized a lower cost plan is available.  

Home security. We’ve been long-time ADT customers and with some degree of regularity, the company tries to up our monthly monitoring cost. I’ve found that a simple phone call is all it takes for them to keep the rate as it has been.

Health club. Do you belong to a health club? If so, how often do you go? Especially now, with the weather getting nicer, maybe you could exercise outdoors and drop your health club membership. 

On its own, each monthly bill may not seem like a very big deal. But added together, they amount to a lot of money. Take a little time to review your monthly bills, give each service provider a call, and see if you could save some money. My guess is that you could save a lot more than you might think.

Take it to heart: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” – Luke 16:10-12

Take action: Make a list of service providers that charge a monthly fee and then set a schedule to review/call one per day over the next week or so to see if you can get a better deal.

Read more:  Getting in Shape With a ‘Fiscal Health Day’ 

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