Mid-Year Financial Review

This year is just clipping by! It is hard to believe that it is August, over halfway through the year, and on the fast track to the holiday season. Before we know it, retailers will once again be decking the halls. But, before we start stringing lights, let’s focus on the here and now and take the time to do a mid-year financial review.

Mid-year is the perfect time to reevaluate annual financial goals, review recurring monthly service expenses, and research and update plans to lower the overall monthly expenses associated with these services. Here are a few steps and tips on reducing the cost of monthly service contracts that can add up to significant savings on a monthly basis.

First of all, gather all of the statements that you pay a recurring monthly fee to and stack each in a folder. The folder should include the following monthly bills:

  •     Cellular Phone
  •     Cable / Internet / Phone
  •     Mortgage
  •     Insurance (Home / Auto)

Next, schedule the time to call one provider each day for a week. For example, one day phone your cell phone company, the next day call your cable /Internet/phone company, etc. Each call will take approximately 20 minutes to discuss and compare the existing plan, to a new and improved plan, and make the appropriate changes with a representative. Scheduling one call per day will allow you to focus on one plan at a time and will help avoid phone tree call burnout.

Here are the details to discuss with each servicer:

Cell phone service: Cell phone providers have been forced to reduce monthly fees to keep up with the competitive marketplace. When you call your cell phone provider ask the representative to first review your usage for the last six months. If you are burning through your minutes or wireless data allowance, you may be incurring steep overage charges. Find a new plan that will eliminate the costly overage fees and provides enough data coverage to meet your average usage.

On the flip side, if you are not using your full allowance of minutes and/or data, find a lower cost plan that will meet your average usage. Calling your cell phone provider and reviewing current options available will typically result in a new plan with a lower monthly cost and better coverage. Saving $20 a month on a new plan adds up to $240 per year. Well worth a 20-minute call.

Cable/Internet/telephone provider: Similar to cell phone providers, cable, Internet, and phone companies have also had to lower their monthly charges to subscribers to remain competitive. If you do not already have a bundle package, take the time to call your provider and research a bundle package. A bundle package provides discounts that can significantly reduce your monthly bill. While discussing current plans with the representative, be sure to review your cable package and determine if you truly need all of the channels that you are paying for. If you are not a big TV buff and rarely sit down to watch a show, it may be time to pursue a more cost-effective package that provides basic cable or an on-demand service like HULU. Eliminating movie channels, sports channels and every other trendy channel can greatly reduce a monthly bill.

And, finally, evaluate whether or not you really need a landline. Many individuals use their cell phones as their primary contact number and are able to eliminate the cost associated with a landline.

Mortgage: The Fed recently lowered interest rates and with that news, it is the perfect time to review your current mortgage and determine if a better rate is available. Take the time to talk with a mortgage professional, review your current mortgage and explore current options.

One half-percentage lower in interest can translate to substantial monthly savings. It is also an excellent opportunity to consolidate a first and equity line of credit, potentially remove mortgage insurance, or take cash out for home improvements. There are mortgage programs available to help meet each individual’s financial goals. For a complimentary mortgage review, please contact me directly (jbrydges@rpm-mtg.comor 925-552-3863).

Insurance: Be sure to review your home and auto insurance policies too. Having both policies with one insurance provider, or increasing your deductible, can also provide significant discounts that equate to lower monthly / annually payments.

This month take the time to get your finances sizzling with savings! Service Providers will rarely call you to offer a lower monthly fee (even if a better plan is available). Be proactive and take control of your financial future.  There is no better way to be cool this summer than to be financially fit!