Thursday, June 14, 2012


Of the many ways to save money, one of the most overlooked is frequent budget review.  During a  recent reassessment of our budget, I discovered troubling developments with a few utilities and services, partly due to altered usage and partly due to spiralling rates.  After placing several calls, changing a couple services, combining others, eliminating one, and acquiring some new equipment, the net results will save us upwards of $260 the first year (more in subsequent years.)  We now have better quality equipment, broader coverage and faster access to certain services.
There was definitely research involved.  First, I made enquiries about the various service packages each provider offers, noting rates and details for only those plans and packages suited to our needs.  I spoke with service representatives about possible add-on costs we might incur when making the changeover, such as contract pay-outs, new equipment costs (if any) and the accessibility of suppliers and installers.  Once the pertinent data was organized on a simple table, it was easy to see which plans offered us greatest value.

Our decisions made, I contacted current service providers to ascertain the end of billing periods.  By doing this, we were able to use up service already paid for, without incurring charges for a new billing cycle.  Many utilities today can be switched on or off simply by calling customer service  a day or two before service ends.  Others require up to thirty days notice.  Check your contract or call a service representative to be certain of your responsibility, to avoid added or pro-rata fees on your final bill.

If deciding to cancel a service, don’t burn bridges.  You may not need or want their service now, but at some point in the future there could be no other choice.  If you feel it necessary to voice your discontent, be concise not contentious.  We’ve received some very good offers after calmly explaining reasons for terminating a service, so be open to unexpected opportunities and,  if you’re willing to barter, have your comparison sheet at-hand.
Paying bills and balancing household accounts are relentless routines few people enjoy.  But, there are tremendous benefits to frequent budget analysis.  This is especially true during changes in life – like a new job, an addition to the family, or shifting travel requirements – when customary monthly expenditures can change dramatically.  By staying atop these variances, you can decide, in a timely manner, which are short-term fluctuations requiring endurance only, and which are permanent trends requiring adjustment(s).  Pricing and researching the many options may be time-consuming, but efforts pay off.  More than money is saved when paying for better-suited services, equipment, and/or plans.