How one call saved me $400 a year

Well, folks, it turns out that when you start working for a financial wellness company, you start paying much closer attention to your finances. While I’ve been in financial planning for years, it wasn’t until I joined the SmartPath team that I became genuinely motivated to make a game out of saving money and stretching my budget.

The more I heard Alok talk about Financial FUEL, the more I wanted to know what my Fuel was. I decided to get into the numbers. I knew some costs in my budget were fixed, like my rent, but I took a thorough look at the expenses I could change in my budget.

I learned two big things:

  1. There’s usually an option to only pay for what you consume.
  2. Costs that I thought were fixed, actually were not.

Two of the ways I cut my budget was by adjusting my phone bill and my Audible subscription. I have a basic, single phone plan through Verizon. Month after month, I noticed that I had rollover data. In fact, for the last three months, I’ve used less than 2GB monthly, but my plan gave me 5GB per month. I figured there had to be a cheaper plan available where I didn’t have to pay for data I wasn’t using.

I called the following providers to compare plans: Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Xfinity Mobile, and finally back to Verizon. These calls helped me discover the “prepaid” plan. I didn’t know this type of plan existed! In fact, it took several probing questions before a representative mentioned this was an option. What we hear about on commercials and network provider websites are “post-paid” plans.

Prepaid plans generally provide unlimited talk/text and a set amount of data. Once you use up that data for the pay period, the internet slows down if you’re not using WiFi. I also don’t have to worry about overage fees. This worked perfectly for me. I now have a 3GB prepaid plan and spend $25 less a month on my bill. That’s $300 a year!

You can also save money with many carriers by signing up for auto-draft, usually this is a $5 discount.

Now let’s move to my Audible subscription. I love the service because commuting in Atlanta traffic can feel like forever. I noticed that I had a decent amount of unread books in my Audible library. Why was I paying a monthly subscription when I wasn’t really using it?

I checked out their packages and noticed that if I pay one annual subscription fee, I could save money (about $30 for a Gold plan and $46 for a Platinum plan). That didn’t solve the problem of wanting fewer overall credits, though. I picked up the phone to see if I could lower my monthly subscription further.

I spoke to a representative who told me about their cheaper Silver plan, which by the way, isn’t listed as an available plan on their website. I went with the Silver plan, which costs $14 every other month for six credits a year. That saved me another $95 a year!

Another Audible tip: You can return books that have been purchased with credits in the last 365 days. I got a few additional credits returning books I tried and didn’t like.

I’m well on my way to finding more Financial Fuel in my budget to help fund my other financial goals. As you start looking in your own budget for extra Financial Fuel, here are some key takeaways to think about:

  • Set your intention: Know what you generally want before you call. I wanted a lower monthly bill. This guided my questions. When I was upsold plans or fancy new phones, I politely ended my search and moved on to the next phone network provider to continue comparing plans.
  • Explore plans/pay arrangements that reflect how much you actually use. These were two examples in my budget. Where can you apply this in your budget?
  • Ask questions. Audible’s cheaper Silver plan isn’t listed as an available plan on their website. I only found out because I called and asked questions. The costs you think are fixed might not be.

Final thought. Your Financial Coach is here to help you stay on track and encourage you forward - use us!