Over the years one of the biggest mistakes that I've made that has cost me hundreds of dollars was becoming passive when it came to some of my regular expenses that I had to pay. There are a lot of regular expenses that we just pay every month without even thinking about it – just because we have always been doing it – or because we've become comfortable with the company we're currently using. Either that or we don't even realize that there is an alternative.
Today I want to look at a few expenses that we don't always revisit or look into saving money on – because we don't realize that we can, or we don't think we'll end up saving much. Not looking into those expenses is a mistake that could cost us hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Expenses To Regularly Revisit
Here are a few of the expenses that I've recently revisited and found that I could save a bunch of money.
- Homeowners Insurance: I thought that I was getting a pretty decent deal with our homeowner's insurance, but recently we had our rates go up by over $100, when our home value has continued dropping. How is that possible? I'm currently looking into finding a better deal, and I'm confident I can save anywhere from $100-200 a year. If we needed to I'm sure we could reduce the amount of coverage or do other things to save.
- Auto Insurance: The last time I switched insurance about 2 years ago I ended up saving a LOT. I saved about $1000/year over what I had been paying – through a family friend. Just goes to show you, trust but verify. I just rechecked our rates last month, and we could save, but only about $20/year – so not really worth it for the hassle.
- Health Insurance: You can try finding lower costs on health insurance, and often you may not realize that you can find a better deal by buying your insurance individually. Several folks at our company found that since our company was so unhealthy they were able to find cheaper rates on their own. That wasn't the case for us as we're part of that “unhealthy” group at our company. You can also ask for a discount when paying your hospital bills.
- Cable or Satellite TV: The last time we switched from Comcast cable to Dish Network we ended up saving around $20/month, along with getting more channels and Amazon gift cards. Over the year we saved hundreds by switching. When your initial signup deal expires, consider switching.
- Cell Phone Bill: Last time we switched cell phone providers we moved from AT&T to a pre-paid plan with Virgin Mobile. We went from paying $40+/month for one cell phone to paying about $15/month for two phones. Since we're not big cell talkers we were able to save a ton of money and get an extra phone!
- Internet: I hadn't checked on switching internet providers for a couple of years because in the past we had locked in a pretty decent deal for high speed internet that I wasn't seeing anyone beat. Well apparently things have changed because now we could save anywhere from $10-15/month by switching from our DSL to cable internet. Don't take for granted that you still have the best deal!
- Property Taxes: Sometimes we don't realize that we can ask for a better deal on something we HAVE to pay – like property taxes. If your home's value has changed or is wrong on the government records, you may be able to appeal and save on your property taxes. Look to your county tax assessor or auditor's office for details on how to appeal your property taxes.
- Mortgage: One thing that may have changed in the past few years due to the economic slowdown – is the rate you can find on a refinance for your mortgage. We refinanced last year and found that we could save almost $200/month on our mortgage for about $2000 in closing costs. The closing costs were paid back after just over one year, and now we're saving every month.
- PMI: Are you paying PMI on your mortgage, but have since reached 80/20 loan to value ratio? If so, ask to have the PMI removed!
- Life Insurance: If you've significantly improved your health, quit smoking or lost a bunch of weight, you may want to look into your insurance again and getting a reduction. I may be doing this once I'm done losing weight.
Last time we revisited all of these costs we ended up saving thousands of dollars a year. What could you do with a few thousand dollars extra? I know we could certainly use it.
Are there other expenses that you would suggest that people re-examine every so often? Tell us what they are in the comments. Also – how much did you save last time you re-examined regular expenses?