In January I really started noticing my excessive spending. I haven’t been updating my budget like a good Doobie, so I hadn’t included any wiggle room, so I was going way over. I didn’t have a lot of room to expand my spending categories, while still saving what I wanted to, so I decided to see what fixed costs I could cut:
Cell Phone: My contract is up at the end of February. I’m thinking of switching to Ting or Straight Talk, and giving it a shot for three months with my existing phone. I’ve definitely noticed that my phone is slower, and losses battery quickly, but I could spend a lot of my train time reading my kindle (library books or Prime rentals?)
Taxes: Our house is a two family, and the couple we bought it from didn’t live here when they sold it. Our town has a homestead exemption, which reduces your taxes, if you live in the home. Because the sellers didn’t have the exemption for this house, we couldn’t grandfather into their exemption, but we did file as soon as we could this year. I expect the tax portion of our mortgage payment will go down at least $50 a month once the new tax year starts (first payment is due in July). I’ll have to call the mortgage servicer on this to let them know once we officially have the exemption. I will probably continue paying the same amount on the mortgage, with the extra going to principal.
Car Insurance: I haven’t driven my car in two weeks. The reason for this is twofold: 1) My car needs some fixing, particularly new brakes, so I don’t feel too comfortable driving it now, particular in snowy conditions (and it’s harder to do the needed fixing in said conditions, as we don’t have a garage) and 2) My man brings me to and from the train (in his fuel efficient car) to save the $4 a day in parking charges. In spite of this, I still pay over $70 a month ten months out of the year for car insurance! The good news is that the two months I don’t pay are February and March (first and last months of the policy). The bad news is I called the insurance company, and they said they couldn’t reduce my rate any further, and that it was so high because of an incident in May 2012. But that incident will drop off in May. I asked if they could reduce my rate in May, but she said I’d have to wait until the next policy year. Two things I got from this: 1) it doesn’t hurt to ask and get the information, and 2) I will likely be switching my insurance company in late May.
Credit Report: I’m signed up for freecreditreport.com. It’s not free, y’all. But I’ve really liked tracking my progress, and it cost me $10 a month. Lo and behold! The charge was $20 this month. Apparently I had been reduced down to the $10 fee for a promotional period of two years (the last time I went to cancel), and that period is up. So I called to cancel, and thought, “I don’t really need to spend $10 a month on this anyway.” They offered to further reduce to $5 a month going forward for another time period. I gladly said yes, and added a notice in my phone calendar to cancel/renegotiate to keep my rate before it goes up again next time.
Credit Cards: I have a trusty Capital One card that was my first ever credit card. I went to cancel it in college, and was convinced not to because of the potential effect on my credit score. I’ve put another reminder in my phone to call and either: 1) get my annual fee waived, or 2) cancel. I have one charge on this card a month, which gets paid off monthly (so don’t even bother trying to reduce my interest rate instead of waiving the fee, C1), and the card has no benefits to it (no cash back or miles, nothin’). This one will save me the annual fee that surprises me every. single. year.
Proactiv: Sad news–in spite of the fact that I’m over 30 years old, I still have the skin of a teenager (and I don’t mean I don’t have wrinkles). I’ve cut this one out before, and my skin immediately started getting much worse, so I’m resigned to using it, oh, I don’t know, FOREVER. That said, I have plenty of product from my last two or three shipments, that I can live without paying for it for a few month, and sign up again when I’m running low.
That’s all the cuts I can think of now (I’m in a two year contract on my cable, and getting a pretty good deal if we want to keep it), but I’m open to any other ideas! I’d also like to work on my grocery and food budget, but that one may be a little harder to plan, organize and execute.