Jan 21 2008

I said, “That’s too much!”

I’m already so encouraged by the folks that have already sounded off in this week’s Better Budget Challenge. This week, we’re trying to negotiate our way into lower bills.

Here’s my responses:

Credit cards

I called all of our credit card companies–both active and dormant accounts. Most interest rates they couldn’t lower. That was fine–they were already at good rates and we don’t carry a balance (anymore).

However, one card still had a 22 percent interest rate. Sheesh! I asked for a better rate, and they promptly dropped it to 9.99 percent fixed. Yeehaw!

It’s not saving me any money, but it makes me happy.

Checking and savings accounts

I called our bank and found out our exact interest rates. We were earning .2 percent on our checking account, and .45 percent on our savings. Yippty-do. I asked if there was anything we could do to get better interest rates on them–I even said, “I’m probably going to move my money to an online account like ING.” But, there really wasn’t anything they could offer, as expected.

Some people can get better rates through credit unions. We’ve looked to joining some out here, but it seems we aren’t eligible for any. (Pittsburghers, know of any that welcome just about anyone?) 

So, after hem-hawing about it for a year or two, my husband and I are going to switch to ING Direct for our main banking purposes. We’ll be able to get 4.1 percent interest on our savings and 3.11 percent interest on our checking accounts. At least that will keep us closer to the inflation rate, instead of our money losing value each year.

Cell phone

There’s nothing I can do to decrease the costs of my cell phone, short of getting rid of it altogether (definitely don’t want to do that–I have no landline). However, my contract will be up mid-April. I looked into pay-as-you-go plans, but I use enough minutes each month that it’s cheaper for me to have a regular plan.

It will also be cheaper for me to stay with the same carrier (AT&T). The people I talk to most on my phone have that carrier, and I have a 12% discount that has carried over from my college years.

I might be upgrading to a new phone, but then again I might not. Mine works fine. Plus, I’d have to pay the $18 “upgrade” fee.

Does anyone know of a plan that has about 450 monthly minutes and costs less than $40 including tax? 

Cable

Our $20/month cable plan is as low as we can get it. I’m thrilled with it, even though our TV isn’t on all that often.

Insurance

Our car insurance is pretty good. We have a lot of coverage, and it’s about $84/month with a $500 deductible.  It’ll be time to renew our coverage in May. I’ll have to do some research and self-evaluation on this, but we might increase our deductible to have a better rate. We’ll be able to cover that in our emergency fund.

Right now, I’m getting quotes on renter’s insurance to see if we can do any better than $120ish for the year.


What about you? What bills have you tried to lower? Is every single fixed expense as low as it can possibly go? Tell us about it and post your links in this week’s challenge!



10 Responses to “I said, “That’s too much!””

  1. For your cell phone, have you looked into SERO from Sprint? It’s a Sprint Employee/Friends/Family type program. I believe it’s around 30 bucks a month.

  2. Thanks for the tip on SERO. I haven’t heard of it before but I’ll definitely check it out.

  3. The only thing left for us to contemplate is our home phone. It is used mainly to phone a relative and to receive phone calls, otherwise, I could do without it. I’m debating whether I can use my prepaid phone along with email instead.

    T Mobile has some good deals usually for the minutes you are needing. They often run a 1,000 or 1,500 anytime minute deal for $39.99/month + taxes. (It’s the taxes that I don’t want with a monthly phone bill of any type, they are crazy ridiculous!)

  4. Lyn-

    You might look into those online phone programs, such as Skype.

    For me right now my AT&T cell phone bill is $40.20 per month including tax.

    If I can get the SERO plan (which I’m considering) in April, I’ll save $5 or so per month. Worth it to me!

  5. I totally agree that $5 is worth it. I am dropping my text messaging plan to save $5.

    Good Luck!

  6. Wow! Your bills or REALLY low! 84$ a month for insurance? I’d fall on the floor if ours ever goes that low!
    Our auto alone would work out to be about 200$ a month if we paid monthly, that is for an SUV and a Diesel, plus additional insured 1 million on the Diesel and I thought we were getting a smoking deal!

    We have all our insurance at one place car, home, life, flood, and they offered me a discount to switch to yearly billing. Maybe you could do the same for your auto insurance. Worth a shot, right?

    Take Care

    LJ

  7. Yeah our car insurance is really low. We are paying to insure one car, and we’ve got it through Geico. They were a few hundred less than any other competitor we tried.

    We have our renter’s insurance policy with a different company, but I’m looking to group them together when it comes time to renew.

  8. If you’re looking for an invitation for ING to get the $25, I’m happy to pass one on!

  9. I’ve been really happy with our TMobile plan. I pay $50 a month after taxes, and have 1000 anytime minutes and free nights & weekends. That also includes a $5 text messaging feature (it’s worth it to me because my husband’s pay-per-use phone has free texting). That doesn’t sound any cheaper than your current plan, but you should check it out if you’re wanting more minutes.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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