Bills to Review Annually

Money is a precious resource that buys time, other necessities and freedom.  On a day off from work, I decided to continue the fight for the money that I earn.  I have traded my time to earn funds and it’s time to make each dollar that I am making go further than before.  We have had a few topics on this before, but today I wanted to list out the order of my operations, as I work to make my money go further.  I do have one question.  Are you willing to fight for your money?

the why

Is anyone else singing in their head, “I work hard for the money…”?  From the introductory paragraph, we sometimes need to work extra to make sure we keep as much money as possible that we earn, in order to put that to the best of use possible.  We already know ways to save money on a snack/lunch (thank you bananas!), how to make a few dollars with our exampled side hustle reports but this goes further.  Remember, NOTHING MATTERS MORE THAN YOUR SAVINGS RATE!  You can be making all of the money in the world, but if you have a low to negative savings rate – you will go no where when it comes to financial independence/freedom.  As you scan your income to see how you can boost it – always recommend doing this in as many ways as you can, it still never hurts to think of ways to reduce your expenses when peering down the expense column.  There are expenses that you don’t have to think of every day, but should look into at least once per year, in order to make every dollar count and we want to bring those to light.

the bills

1.) Auto Insurance – Currently, I pay $638 per year in auto insurance.  This is bundled with my home insurance, the next topic, as well.  However, you must make every dollar count and this is one expense that you need to look at, on at least an annual basis.  I drive a (now paid off!) Honda 2010 Accord and have had only one violation in the last 3 or so years.  My car is now 8 years old and I am placing around 8,500 miles on the car per year, which that mileage per year is trending downward due to renting cars for client visits instead of driving the good-told Honda.  I am concluding that my car is fairly old and that over $50 per month is too expense for the ~700 miles I am driving per month (if that).  Therefore – this bill is going to be high on my list to review.  Given that I am a CPA and a member of the AICPA & OSCPA, there may discounts related to these items at other companies.  Who does everyone prefer or recommend, by the way?  I will be happy to listen to all recommendations here!  I am looking to spend around $500-$550 per year in auto insurance.  I remember on my previous car (Sigh…the Celica) when I switched auto insurance carriers – I was paying close to $60 month, made one phone call and switched to another provider at an average price of $28 per month – talk about 30 minutes of my time being worth it.  The main point – fight for auto insurance to be as low as possible, and have the coverage that you need.

2.) Home Insurance – Another bill, jointly with auto insurance above, that should be reviewed annually!  This is one that Bert has also had his heart set on, by evidence of his tweet:

I know Bert is excited to make moves and reduce expenses in these two areas.  Pumped for him to drill down some dollars, to flow more into paying down his debts or investments.  However, the phone calls and quotes are easy to pull online and honesty is the best policy when filling them out.  Does anyone have recommendations in regards to home insurance to keep these prices in check?  The reason I ask is that the price from 2016 to 2017 jumped almost 14%!  That does NOT sit well with me and currently I am at $730 per year, which I can only “safely” assume will increase next spring time.  Recommendations and tips are appreciated!

3.) Natural Gas/Gas Provider – Currently/through December 8 of 2017, per my recent bill, I was paying $5.39 per MCF usage.  I went to this site, for the state of Ohio, to negotiate and find different providers (your state may have a different, yet similar, site).  This is definitely an expense that one can & should take a look at, at least annually, as you may be able to save money and is critical in the “colder” states up north!  I signed up for a 6 month term at $2.79 per MCF to stay with my current gas provider.  I did an analysis of December 2016 – May 2017, as my new contract is for 6 months.  The analysis showed me how much money I am expected to save, based on my new contract on the next six months, versus the prior year’s same-six month period.  Based on the information below, I am estimated to receive a savings of $68.22 or 36.25%!  That is awesome and I will gladly take the savings, especially during the cold winter months we have on our hands.  Also, I will note that it has been far colder this year than last year, equating to even more future savings.

4.) Electricity Provider – Further, given deregulation of utility providers, you can also switch/negotiate this as well.  I was paying, on average, $0.0579 per KWH.  The deals that were out there were around $0.0475.  However, my usage wasn’t that significant and it appears that there would be a few strings attached to signing a new contract with a different provider, I chose not to switch.  I will re-visit this come May of 2018, as the summer months with air conditioning, would be very good timing to do this.  No savings here, but this is something we should all look at on an annual basis.

Bill review conclusion

We all waste time, whether that is binge watching on Netflix, reviewing endless social media accounts or simply watching time pass.  Instead, pick up the phone or the website address and start making your money go further than every before.  You cannot “afford” to not do this!  We work so hard, trading in time, increasing stress and all of the above, for us not to care about this topic!  How would you feel, knowing that after you worked 60-70 hours per week that instead of keeping 5% of it, you can keep 10%?  Maybe that number actually can go from 5% to 25% if you tackle all of them the above?  I use 5%, as that is the average (woof) savings rate in the United States at this moment per a Motley Fool article and is actually in the low 3% range per the St. Louis fed website (OUCH).

To fully conclude, fight for your money friends, fight long and hard but enjoy your life during the meantime.  Sacrifice a few minutes to enjoy the fruit from that fight for a long time to come.  Please provide suggestions and tips below, as we (the community) can all benefit from them to save as many green backs as we can!

Truly Yours,

Lanny

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17 thoughts on “Bills to Review Annually

  1. Well Done Lanny! I am really bad at reviewing these bills and you bringing them up will make me finally review. I don’t think I have looked at rates in probably 4 years! Ouch.

    I know I can do better than what I have right now.

    Thanks again for bringing this to my attention!

    ADD

    • ADD –

      Thank you for the comment. Honestly, I am sure an article was out there that helped spark my reminder part of my brain : ) These bills can creep up if you don’t pay attention, and lifting the hood to see what’s going on is important, it’s your money!!! Go get em ADD.

      -Lanny

  2. Unfortunately our utilities are a monopoly. I really cannot negotiate. I need to check out auto insurance next time around. I have been with progressive for almost 6 years now. We are yet to club our home insurance with car insurance. That’s something we would like to do. Nice article Lanny.

    • Geek –

      Woof on the utilities – locally provided with only one service, right? 6 years is quite a long term stretch, which is nice! Go combine or talk to them to see what you can do – you’ve been long-term customers, so that should do some justice in the conversation.

      -Lanny

    • TDK –

      Nice name, by the way! I went to the same, my zip code doesn’t work! Yes – analyzing and staying on top of expenses is extremely important, I hope people don’t get me wrong – as I think making extra income is always key as well! Goal: Reduce expenses and change trajectory of cash to be used for assets that produce income. Repeat.

      -Lanny

  3. Nice list of suggestions and good tips – thanks.

    One item we’ve encountered to be successful or to help get results: use social media. You made a great point about the amount of time people spend on social media – why not apply it to reviewing / reducing bills?

    When we’re looking to get a better deal or negotiate a lower rate, we turn to Facebook often. If you’ve submitted your request and/or are unhappy with the service you’re getting, we usually do start by calling or going directly to our service provider’s website. From there, if we don’t receive a response or are still not satisfied, we make our case on the company’s Facebook page or similar platform.

    Overall, we’re being polite and professional, but you’ll sometimes find that companies have their “A-Team” customer service / retention reps on the social media platform – not always in the call centers, etc.

    Thanks again for the post.

    • M@BD –

      Have you had great success with going to social media? Obviously being polite, professional and really wanting to better their company’s efforts to retain customer is what it’s all about. Very interesting perspective on companies more than likely having better individuals/higher performing individuals on social media vs. call centers, as that is the new trend. VERY good point, actually. Thank you BD, appreciate it!

      -Lanny

  4. Hey Lanny,

    I’m completely with you – it all comes down to the savings rate!!!. I know a lot of people who make excuses for not saving all the time. I know that a high savings rate doesn’t fall out of the blue sky, it requires discipline, hard work, maybe a structure etc…i have a recent blogpost about this topic:
    https://dividendsolutions.wordpress.com/2017/11/16/halftime-report-nov-2017/

    And because it’s not easy to get to a savings rate of about 40%-60%, you have to fight for your money, no doubt about that. I started saving at an early age, but i was a little bit lazy when it came to “fighting for my money”. Three years ago i changed that and checked all my contracts, cut expenses, got rid of insurances i didn’t really need and that set free a lot of cash. I know i have to do it again soon and check everything. But i has to wait until after the renovation project is finished. I’m a litte bit running out of energy;-)

    Greets
    DividendSolutions

    • Solutions –

      Pumped that you are ALL OVER THIS!! How fun is it to unlock new cash flow? Then, changing the aim of that cash to investments instead of expenses – ah, getting me pumped up over here. So amped that tomorrow, I am going to wake up even earlier than I do, to get a fresh start at hopefully opening up more cash. Fight, fight, fight some more.

      -Lanny

  5. Reviewing recurring bills periodically for savings opportunities is a great practice. It just takes a lot of discipline to do. Also have to watch out for the recurring subscription fees that hit your credit card. Sellers of services love them since most people just let them ride without much thought. I eliminate/never sign up for those so I have to make a decision the next time an amount is due. Tom

    • Tom –

      Ooph with the subscription fees – which one are you referring to typically? I know the girlfriend used to have those monthly makeup packages sent a few years ago, glad she finally nixed that, for sure. Talk soon Tom.

      -Lanny

      • Lanny, I have had a few recurring charges over the years. McAfee virus protection, a couple of personal finance newsletters. Wall Street Journal subscription My wife got a cooking magazine she liked etc. etc. It is pretty easy to opt out, but a lot of times when you sign up you may not know you are signing up for the recurring charge. I also find on the auto renewals, they stick you with the highest price since they figure you aren’t paying attention.
        Manual renewal prices are typically one third less. Tom

  6. I definitely need to start doing this more often, well doing it is more like it. I’m sure we’re overpaying for both our car and home owners insurance. Frankly there’s no reason to be doing so either with the ease of getting quotes thanks to the internet. My end of year list just got a little bit longer.

    • JC –

      Yes, do it often and make it count. Agh, lets find out if you are overpaying or not and do something about it come on!!!!! Add it to the list, handle it and take it off the list. You’ve got this.

      -Lanny

  7. Great list! Another one is Internet and cell phone providers. Sometimes there are better deals out there especially when you’re not attached to a contract or a plan.

  8. I like the idea of performing a bill review at the end of the year, which can go hand in hand with a goal and financial review.

    I have few monthly expenses but they include rent which will we plan to live here for 6 months, gym which I really enjoy going, and rental expenses. I will be going through my monthly expenses for my rental property to see what can be cut. Thanks for the inspiration!

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