Every so often I check our bills to make sure that everything looks right. This morning I went ahead had to make a phone call to our cable company to cancel our cable bill and check on our internet service.
I also needed to adjust some of our home association dues to reflect the higher rates.
Automating Bill Payments
We use Capital 360 (formally ING Direct) for our joint checking account and to take care of most our bills. Setting up the schedule for bills and their payments took less than an hour. We only need around 15 minutes a month to pay bills.
The process to get everything ready was fairly straightforward:
- We took copies of our bills and organized them in a pile to be added.
- I entered the companies billing us, addresses, contact numbers, due dates, account numbers, and bill amounts with our bank’s payment center.
- You can set the bills up to be recurring, where it will pay it automatically for you or you can manually enter a payment.
If a bill changes from month to month (like the gas or electric bill), I just login and change the amount. The bank takes care of the rest. With the online bill pay system up, it’s very easy for us to maintain.
You can open a checking account with Capital 360, simply click here to get started and get a $50 bonus!
Calling the Cable Company
I noticed that I had to adjust our cable bill this month, so I went ahead and called them about the services. By chatting with them, I was able to upgrade our internet service and get a promotional discount. This will save us almost $200 for the year, not a bad return for a 15 minute call.
Thoughts on Reviewing Your Bills
I’d like to know how you handle your monthly bills. Have you noticed one of your bills increase without notice? do you call to get it lowered? Have you switched services?
I personally think that having a lower price is a better deal, but sometimes retailers have rebates offers that give huge discounts. One popular item you can save big on (through taking advantage of the rebate) is your cell phone. You can be surprised at how much they’re willing to knock down the price. Of course, retailers don’t give away money for no reason.
- Most people are too busy (or lazy) to complete the rebate forms. Get way to get customers to buy a particular phone. Most of the time we’re on top of rebates, but we dropped the ball years ago on some phones we got through Cingular.
- It’s a wonderful way to get information on the demographics of their customers. Most times when you send in the rebate form, you also have to fill out and share some data about yourself.
Here are Some Tips to Optimize Rebate Programs:
If you’re willing to put in the effort, you can maximize your return on rebates.
- Read the rebate conditions. See if you will get actual money back or a coupon for another of their products. It still happens time to time. You also ant to see how much paperwork is due. Is it simply mailing a form out with receipt or does it involve more legwork?
- Send the rebate through certified mail or get a delivery confirmation. You don’t want to do the process more than once; it’s time consuming and you may be past the deadline by the time you get around to it a second time. Having delivery confirmation proves that they did receive the paperwork.
Lynnae at Being Frugal takes great advantage of rebate programs from Walgreens and Rite-Aid. Her tactic involves being organized and only buying what she needs.
I have a system to make sure I get the products I need and never forget to submit my receipts for reimbursement. On Sunday afternoons, I sit down with the paper to make my grocery list. While flipping through the ads, I pay special attention to the Rite Aid and Walgreens ads. (If you don’t get the paper, ads for both stores can be found online at the store websites).
If you’re interested in maximizing your rebates, please check out the rest of her post.
Thoughts on Rebates and Discounts
I’m curious to see what you think. How often do you use rebates? Who has the best rebate programs?
I signed up for The Scrooge Strategy from Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich back in 2009 to save some money. I had gone through his Save $1,000 in 30 Day Challenge on his site and it was a huge help – I was able to save around $500 and cut our recurring bills by $200/month. I figured that his paid subscription course would help me achieve bigger savings than the small subscription.
Happily, I was right and I saved enough money to reach my goals with the course.
Who The Scrooge Strategy Was Designed For
I will say upfront that the Scrooge Strategy is about big wins from a bit of effort. Nothing is impossibly hard, but you’re expected to put some thought or take some action on each tip. If you’re looking for easy stuff, then this course is not for you. The course is NOT cutting back on lattes or saving pennies every day – that’s not Sethi’s style or focus.
Instead if you’re looking to save a good amount of money for a relatively small amount of work (like getting on the phone with your cable company or sitting down to plan the next big milestones of your life), then the Scrooge Strategy will help you save big. What’s even better is that Ramit includes actual scripts and templates that you can use.
Finding Value in the Scrooge Strategy
Some of the tips didn’t apply to me or I already had applied the principles in my life. Do does that mean that the program has no value? Definitely not. There is a lot of information that you can use and they provide a lot of value.
Here are some of his posts in the subscription that really helped me with my finances:
- 7 tips to save money eating out at restaurants
- Making a big-ticket purchase
- Cut your cable costs and get them to pay YOU
- Call sheet: Unearthing perks with 2 phone calls
- The Two-Headed Savings Approach: Focused saving
Thoughts on Scrooge Strategy
The price has gone up from when I signed up for it a couple of years ago, but there is a free 7 day quick-start so you can decide if this course can specifically help you with slashing your monthly bills. I welcome any feedback from people who’ve completed the course. What tips helped you the most with your expenses? How much did you save with the Scrooge Strategy?
I’ve been catching up on some reading lately by visiting my local library a couple of times this month. My mom got me into the habit of grabbing books as way to learn and relax and I hope to pass it on to our daughter. It’s been fun taking her there and grabbing some books to take home and read with her. Sure, she’s only at the eating the book stage, but it’s still fun 🙂
More Than Just Books at the Library
I’ve noticed that libraries have changed quite a bit and now offer so much more than what I was used to as a kid. Besides visiting our local branch to borrow books and other media, there are some other ways you can use it.
Many local libraries open their doors for a variety of classes and programs including reading clubs, yoga, and computer/office courses. Mr Money Mustache and his family use it to build skills and nurture hobbies:
It’s a place where the whole community of people interested in learning gathers together, secretly avoiding the TV and the shopping mall that gets the attention of everyone else. Local experts come in and give free talks in the conference rooms.
People stop by to donate their recent issues of magazines after reading them. Volunteers raise and donate money and books. Surplus library books get sold off for a buck each. Little display tables get set up with currently applicable themes.
There was a “peak oil” display recently with some articles, magazines, and books all laid out, free for anyone to sign out and read. And there is free wi-fi access throughout for those who want to just tune in and read on their laptop or phone.
Many libraries offer job assistance centered events and programs. If you’re looking for employment, it’s worth taking a look. In our local branch it’s completely free and imagine that is the norm for other libraries around the country.
Arts & Crafts
During the summer I noticed that my library had several activities planned for the neighborhood kids. This month our library system has poetry contests for teens. You can try out and develop new skills at the library for free or cheaply.
Thoughts on Using Your Local Library
How often do you use your local library? Do you just borrow books or do you take advantage of activities offered there? I’m also looking at grabbing a good read next time I visit – any recommendations?
Photo Credit: surlygirl