When Matt and I got married, I was barely 20 years old, we were both in college, and living on love and pizza rolls. Growing together through those very lean years, we adopted, and still keep a relatively frugal lifestyle. It’s not always easy, but we do our best to live below our means, avoid debt, shop around for the best prices, and over all, try to make wise choices with our money. Unfortunately though, there are some things you have to constantly research and re-price. So many companies just inch your bill up little by little so that, before you know it, your payment is significantly higher.
Here are some areas where you can most likely save some money instantly if you make a phone call or two.
Our homeowners bill comes out of our escrow account. For some reason, since we moved into our current home in 2010, I have felt like our rate has been a little high even after shopping around.
When we received our updated statement and renewal letter with yet another yearly premium increase, we bit the bullet and did some shopping around again.
We called the company that currently holds the insurance and realized they increased our coverage (and our bill) without our knowledge. We were paying insurance for a house that is valued at twice what we own! By adjusting the coverage to acceptable amounts, we were able to initially lower our bill $81 a year.
Further, we checked the rates if we combined our homeowners with our car insurance and, even with the increased coverage, we ended up bringing our bill down $165 per year by switching to a different company altogether.
Have your coverage sheet available and start making phone calls. It’s SUCH a pain, but the savings is worth it over time.
Check and see how your coverage is set. You might be overinsured on your outside space alone with a small yard with no other structures. Are you paying for flood insurance when you’re not in a flood zone? Knowing your policy is going to help you when trying to lower your costs. You could very possibly be paying for coverage you don’t need.
This one causes me so much irritation. We have been with our car insurance company for over 10 years. We really like them – and our bill is extremely low. However – we pay our premium in full every 6 months, and every 6 months without fail – our bill goes up about $15. We call every every time to try to bring it back down. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Another way car insurance can hit your pocketbook is, oftentimes, many of us can have too much coverage on our cars. Take a look at your vehicles and your policy and decide if you might be able to just keep liability on an older car without much value. Can you save cash in the bank and then opt for a higher deductible with a lower premium? I know our car insurance company has incentives. Are you a member of AAA? A graduate of Penn State? Do you have a really short commute? All of these things can lower your rates!
If it all overwhelms you (like it overwhelms me), have someone that you trust who is knowledgeable (i.e. my loving husband) look at your paperwork and help you navigate it. I know it can be overwhelming.
Medical coverage fees are sky rocketing. I remember when we used to pay a small monthly premium, our copays, and that was it…the good old days.
Now with high deductibles to meet before insurance companies will even cover a percentage of your costs becoming the norm, we have to find the loop holes.
First – If you’re a generally healthy person who usually goes to the doctor just for checkups, it might be worth checking into a high deductible plan, or an HSA. Oftentimes, companies will put a sum into your account for you, and all of your contributions are tax deductible and carry over from year to year. That’s your money.
Secondly – Does your company offer incentives? Do you ignore them? DON’T! This year, just by getting yearly physicals and blood work, my husband’s company put a large sum into an HRA (Health Reimbursement Account), and with high medical bills this year, many payments went out before we ever saw a bill. I am so thankful that something so simple yielded such a benefit to us!
Check your company’s health insurance incentives and PARTICIPATE!
Thirdly – Does your company offer an option to contribute to a Flex Spending Account? With this type of account, you can usually have money taken out of your paycheck and loaded onto a debit card. This is pre-tax money that reduces your taxable income. We usually take out enough money per month to cover our deductible and swipe it for anything from co-pays to eyeglasses.
One annoying thing with a Flex Spending Account is that they often want to see itemized receipts for your purchases. Every year it gets a little easier – with apps and the acceptance of cell phone photos of your receipts – It’s definitely worth it at tax time and at the beginning of the year before your deductibles are met.
Cable, internet and phone bills are frustrating. You get a great promo price, can’t remember what you agreed to, lock yourself into a 2 year contract, and after one year, your bill doubles and continues to increase.
We have limited options where we live – but since we rarely watch TV, we were considering canceling our gold package. We’ve been out of contract for over a year with out satellite provider and they are giving us a decent cable package for a huge discount to keep our business.
Unfortunately, saving money takes work on our part and requires us to know exactly where our dollars are going. If you do the hard work now, that extra money can save for vacations, Christmas, or lingering debts. It’s worth it when your bills are paid off and you can start paying yourself instead with the cash!
What are your favorite ways to save money?
If you want to know what plan we used to get and stay out of debt (minus our mortgage) since 2009, check out the The Total Money Makeover!