November 11, 2009

Bills I Pay Too Much For

Looking through my monthly expenses I see a few bills that seem very high. For each of these bills I've looked at ways to cut them including disconecting them entirely. But after considering ways to cut them I have not taken action. Honestly a large part of the reason we don't cut or get rid of these bills altogether is simply that we choose to keep paying because we value the services. But I could reduce some of the bills by selectively reducing services or otherwise, so in some cases I simply haven't taken action due to pure laziness on my part or preference for status quo. So we have reasons for not cutting these bills. I'm not saying they're great reasons but its the logic behind it. I should also state that if our financial situation were different then I'd take quick action to slash this kind of spending substantially. I outlined that kind of thing in my Backup Financial Plan in Case of Job Loss.

So here is a breakdown of the expensive bills and why I haven't reduced them...

Home Security $40/month

We have a contract with a home security company. Getting the system with the contract was a choice that we wouldn't make again. But right now we're locked into the contract. If I were to do it again I'd shop around and try and find a service without a contract. We could disconnect our current service entirely and save the $40 a month but we'd just be billed the remaining months on the contract so it doesn't save us anything.

Ways to save:
None readily apparent

Comcast cable $114 / month

My wife and I enjoy watching certain NBA and college football programs that are ONLY available on paid TV. My wife and I also like HBO. We could probably live without HBO but enjoy having it. So part of the reason our cable is high is a conscious choice on our part to pay more for something we enjoy. But I am pretty sure if I called Comcast and tried to negotiate a discount that I could get some money knocked off at least temporarily.

Ways to save & reasons we don't:
Disconnect cable altogether($114) : we like cable for programs and entertainment
Drop HBO ($15) : preference for HBO and status quo
Negotiate lower rate ($ ? ) : laziness

Internet & Phone bill of $87 a month

Our home landline phone bill is $87 a month. About half of that is for our high speed internet and the other half is for our home phone. I could potentially drop that internet down to a slower DSL speed and save maybe $10-20 a month. But my wife has a home based business and she wants the higher speed. So convincing her that we should downgrade our service isn't going to work since she has business income dependent on the internet connection. We could possibly disconnect the home phone altogether and live with just cell phones. But we have our home security system tied to the phone and our cell phones signals aren't very reliable at our home. Our home has low reception for cell phones which I've seen across multiple carrier companies.

Ways to save & reasons we don't:
Drop from fiber optic to DSL ($10-20) : don't because wife uses net for home business
Change long distance carrier ($5) : laziness & status quo preference
Disconnect home phone ($40) : preference for landline & low cell phone reliability

Cell Phone Service $90 / month

My wife and I share a cell phone plan with 2 phones on a family plan. We both use our phones a fair amount to call each other. We also use our phones for all our long distance calling. Between the two of us we probably make about 500 minutes of long distance calls a month. My wife also has a smart phone with a data plan that costs about $25 just for the data plan. We could also potentially drop our cell phones entirely and get cheapo pay as you go plan where we only use the cell phones for occasional or emergency needs and then use the home phone for long distance.

Ways to save & reasons we don't:
Cut service entirely ($90) : we prefer having service
Drop wifes data plan ($25) : her phone requires data plan for data access & she likes it
Get pay as you go & use home phone for long distance ($60) : we prefer convenience of cell phones

Auto Insurance about $110 a month

Our auto insurance is with Amica. When we shopped around last about 18 months ago we found that we could get auto insurance with another company for about $100 less per year. However my wife has been with Amica for years and she's been very happy with the service. So we choose to stay with Amica and pay a little more for the better service. We also pay a bit more for more than the minimum liability requirements. Our state only requires something like $50k liability coverage but we get the max $100/$300k level. We pay a little more for that extra liability since we feel its worthwhile insurance. We also have two cars covered and we could potentially live with one car shared between us and cut the bill roughly in half.

Ways to save & reasons we don't:
Switch to another company ($8) : We prefer Amica
Lower coverage ( ? ) : we prefer security of better liability coverage
Get rid of one car ($50-$60) : we want the convenience of two cars

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