September always brings wonderful memories of a new school year, the excitement of fresh new beginnings, new teachers and new adventures. It is the time of year where routines and schedules fall back into place, homework begins, and new calendars get cracked open and marked up with goals, commitments, and to-dos in the year ahead. The start of a school year is not just for students, it also provides an excellent opportunity for adults to purchase new annual calendars, sync family schedules, and set new goals months in advance of the traditional New Year!
While your children are hitting the books, take the time to set your own goals for the year and think of September as “Savings September!” Jumpstart your goals by making a phone call to each of the following service providers and perform an annual review with each. Doing so, will put money back into your pocket! Let’s get started:
Cell phone service: Cell phone providers have been forced to reduce their monthly charges to their subscribers to keep up with the competitive marketplace. Call and review your cell phone statement with your provider. During the review, you may discover that you can obtain the same plan at a lower rate or even a better plan with an additional usage allowance (great for family plans). Reviewing your bill with your provider may also uncover costly overage charges that you may be incurring if you or a family member is exceeding the monthly allowable minutes or data usage.
Cable / Internet Package: Similar to cell phone providers, cable, Internet, and phone companies have also had to lower their monthly charges to subscribers to remain competitive. Research a bundle package that combines your home phone, Internet, cable, and security system. Having a bundle package provides discounts that reduce your overall monthly bill. Additionally, evaluate whether or not you really need a landline and make certain that all of the channels that you are paying for, you are watching. With the increased use of cell phones and streaming TV, landlines can be eliminated along with loads of extra channels that may be watched via a cell phone or a computer.
Gym memberships:Fitness is extremely important on so many levels, but it can become very costly depending on the gym that you join. If your fitness goal is to jump on an elliptical, run on a treadmill, or pump a few weights, you can join any gym at a relatively low membership rate and obtain your fitness goal. If your goal is to train with a trainer, attend a spin class, or stretch and relax at a Yoga studio, take the time to track how many days per month you actually go and make certain that the monthly fee is worth it. You may find that you can adjust your workout by walking or running outdoor (for free) and supplement spin classes, yoga classes, or strength training by purchasing a punch card. Punch cards can cost significantly less than monthly dues. Additionally, check your benefits package with your employer as many large corporations are paying portions of gym dues as part of their Wellness Programs.
Homeowner’s / Auto Policy: Have your agent(s) review your policies annually. You may find that your mileage allowance on your car is too high, your deductible can be adjusted, or just combining home and auto policies with one provider can make a significant difference to the overall amount you pay annually.
Mortgage: If you have a mortgage loan, equity line of credit or both, be sure to take the time to review annually. There are several things to consider with an annual review. First of all, if interest rates are lower, refinancing to a lower rate can save you money on a monthly basis as well as save interest over the life of the loan. Secondly, if you have a first mortgage and an equity line of credit, credit card debt, or student loans, consolidating these loans could provide a lower overall interest rate and allow for substantial monthly savings. Thirdly, if you purchased a home and put less than twenty percent down, you likely have mortgage insurance. With home values increasing in the Bay Area, this may be an ideal time to review your mortgage, eliminate costly mortgage insurance, and save a substantial amount on your monthly payment. For a complimentary mortgage review, feel free to contact me at the number below.
Let’s face it, the majority of your service providers are rarely going to pick up the phone, call you, and suggest that you obtain a new and improved plan at a lower rate. Being proactive and taking the time to review each plan can create substantial savings over a year. Make this annual update plan part of your September goals and start saving money today!
For these and many more financial tips and money saving strategies, look for my new book “Digging Out” that will be available for purchase this fall.