Budgeting

9 Ways to Lower Cell Phone Bill

When you look at your budget, you might find that your cell phone bill is a major part of your monthly expenses. Yes, we all need one and most people need a reliable one with good service for various reasons. So, I won’t tell you to get rid of yours but here are some ways to cut back.

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  1. Lower data usage. This is one of the easiest ways to cut back on your cell phone expense. Maybe you don’t need the unlimited plan. You can use Wi-Fi often. You can also go into your settings for each app and turn off background refresh when not using. This is a setting that is easy to click on when you add the app to your phone. But, it means that the app is constantly running and using some data. Even just your e-mail could be using a lot of data by refreshing constantly.
  2. Sign up for a family plan. A family plan paid by different individuals is generally much cheaper than an individual plan. Make sure you trust the person to pay the bill. Pay your part of the bill on time and be willing to help out when the plan goes over on data usage. This is also a great way to have enough people on there to justify the unlimited account.
  3. Sign up for paperless billing or automatic pay. With most carriers, signing up on automatic payment will save you a little money each month. My account is currently shared with my parents and my mom’s card is on the automatic payment. But, I go in before the due date every month and pay my portion of the bill. Then, she only gets charged for her portion. We save $5 a month by using autopay.
  4. Look for extra charges. Don’t pay for insurance on your phone. Invest in a good case and treat it like it’s $500 (it kind of is). If you are worried about something happening to your phone, pay yourself $20/month to have money set aside to buy a new phone. If nothing happens, then you can pay cash for your next phone.
  5. Don’t buy the newest phone. Really examine if you need a new phone. My mom recently got the new iPhone X. Her previous phone was not going to be supported anymore with Verizon. She had had an iPhone 5 for a few years but had had a flip phone before that. It makes sense for her to buy the best phone because she will keep it forever. But, if you want to upgrade just to upgrade all the time, maybe you don’t need the best phone.
  6. Pay cash. Most carriers don’t really charge a different rate if you pay installments or up front for the cell phone. But, if yours does, make sure to pay cash for your phone. Saving up before buying the phone, can lower your monthly expenses.
  7. Don’t pay late. I really hate late fees and avoid them at all costs. Get ahead of your expenses and have the money set aside at least one paycheck before the due date.
  8. No-contract phones. When my teens started, I put them on this great plan called Ting. They use T-Mobile and Sprint towers for service so the service was decent. But, we only paid for the number of calls, text and data used. We could cancel it at any time. But, they learned how to be careful with their usage. If they went over a certain amount, I had them pay the bill. We used it as a great way to teach them about money and paying their own bills.
  9. Change carriers. This one is hard. But, if your cell phone carrier if your cell phone bill is making it hard for you to reach your other goals, you might look into switching carriers. It’s not that painful, I promise. Look at reviews and ask around. My specific area doesn’t always have the best reception, so I have to be careful which carriers I use. Otherwise, I could have very spotty data coverage at my house.

Add up all the long-term costs before you buy. If you’re shopping carriers, you should add up the cost of the phone plus the cost of the service for the year. That puts the total amount in your face instead of just the month-to-month payments.

Remember, your budget is all about the numbers! If you can lower your cell phone bill and make it a smaller part of your budget, you’ll have more money on hand to hit your goals each month—whether that’s throwing more at your debt or saving for your future.Cutting back on your cell phone bill is just one of the many things you can do to free up some extra cash in your budget.” Dave Ramsey

Comment below if you have other ideas to save your cell phone bill. If you need help getting started with your budget, just start somewhere. E-mail me at erin@e3accountingsolutions.com if you have questions.

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Budgeting

Saving Money at the Warehouse Store.

I really like going to the warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club to buy some things. I mostly buy freezer stuff and paper goods. There are many ways to save money at these stores but you have to be careful or you are actually spending money.

  1. Don’t overspend. Only buy what you can use. Freeze some. Share with a friend. You spend all this money and then you also need to have room to store the purchases. I always have a very set budget when I go to these stores. I think of it as the $10 store. I round the price of each item to the nearest $10 and then add it in my head. You can also take a calculator and calculate the actual price. Then, I put things back if I don’t have that much money in my budget.
  2. Don’t waste food. It can be so tempting to buy the big bulk items but you should always carefully consider the needs of your family. My family drinks two different kinds of milk. So, at Costco where you are required to buy two gallons at a time, we don’t even always drink the two gallons before it goes bad.
  3. Check price per unit. On the internet, there are lists of prices per unit at other grocery stores. Make sure that you are buying at a lower price per unit. Just because it’s bulk doesn’t mean it’s cheaper. This is why I only buy a few things regularly. I know the price at the grocery store. Usually, there needs to be a good sale to beat this price. But, I watch the prices and make sure I’m getting a good price.
  4. Shop sales. Buy things when they are on sale or a coupon is offered a few times a year. If you shop the sales at the regular grocery store and stock up, you could save significant money over paying for the membership and purchasing in bulk.. Confession: I’ve never been a great coupon/sale shopper. I just try to buy things when they are on sale as much as possible. In regards to shopping at Costco, I just prefer to get a good price all the time. I do stock up when they have their coupon events, also.
  5. Evaluate your membership every year. Both places offer cash-back if you upgrade from the basic membership. But, you should be making sure that this option is saving you money. When I purchased diapers and gas, the upgraded membership almost paid for itself. The basic membership would have cost more at the time. Now, I don’t live that close to Costco or go very often. So, I don’t see as much savings and it’s just better to pay for the basic membership. You can also shop at Costco with a gift card and no membership. They will charge you an extra 5% on many items. But, if you have a friend that you could give money to give you a gift card, that could be an excellent option. Maybe they’d take you with them when they go, and you could just pay cash.
  6. Danger of impulse buys. These stores really love their samples, demo tables and special events. Watch out for these items. When I take my kids, for instance, I often leave with a bunch of these sampled items and then realize that I overspent on those things. They don’t generally sample items unless their margin is high. This means their profit on this item is a high percentage of the purchase price. I don’t even like to talk to the special event people because they pressure you to purchase when it’s really not that great of a deal. I usually come home and look it up online or even on Amazon if it’s something I am actually interested in.

Be very careful about your spending at the warehouse stores. At the regular grocery store, the profit margin is cents on most items. But, the warehouse stores can get away with several dollars because the items are in bulk. Don’t get sucked into paying for a yearly membership just so you can save a few cents here or there.

Budgeting

5 Tips for Shopping with Kids

I like to shop at the store in the daytime when I need things. The stores are less crowded, quieter and I can get more done in a shorter time. But, it wasn’t always that way. Sometimes, it was very hard to shop with my small children. One of my daughters didn’t doesn’t like shopping and got upset almost every time we went. Online grocery shopping wasn’t available at the time so one of us shopped at night or early on Saturday mornings so we could beat the crowds. But, here’s some tips on shopping with kids.

  1. Don’t. Whenever possible, try to shop without your kids or with less of your kids. I tried to plan trips to the store around my kids being in school. Taking one child to the store was much more manageable than taking four. I also found the trips were quicker if I just waited until they were in bed and my husband was home.
  2. Plan ahead. I found that shopping with my kids was even harder without a list or a plan. Wandering around the aisles of Target trying to remember my list was pretty hard when I had my kids with me. The longer I was at the store, the more likely to have somebody get upset.
  3. Schedule. This is a big one. Plan around your child’s schedule. If you know your child feels tired after school, let them have a break before dragging them to the store. Also, don’t go to the store during naptime or mealtime. Neither of those will help you get in and out quicker or for less money.
  4. Talk. Find a way to get the child involved. Giving them a way to help with the list, really helps get it done quicker. They get the satisfaction of helping, too. If you can’t involve them, let them talk to you. Connect at the store by listening to their stories or playing a silly game.
  5. Don’t get frustrated. It is so easy to get frustrated or even embarrassed. If you are getting very frustrated or upset, you can leave. You don’t need to leave, but you could. Sometimes, I wish I could help you poor mamas because I know it is so hard. I just want to buy you a candy bar. “What other people think of you is none of your business.” (Jody Moore) Don’t worry about what other people think about you, your parenting, or your child. Just stay focused on helping your child and getting your shopping done.

You can do this. Even when the shopping trips don’t go as planned, you’ve still got this and you’re doing a great job. Keep on trying and I promise this will eventually pass.