It wasn’t long ago that I thought the only way to have more money was to beat the game that is corporate America. I figured my life would just have to improve on an annual basis. That’s assuming that I earned and received a raise that at least matched the current inflation rate. Typical raises are around 2% and that’s not great when compared to projected inflation…
Since this was the plan, I tried my best to kill it at work… I worked my ass off, got promoted a few times and charged up the corporate ladder. Investing a ton of my time to try and get a higher percentage with each promotion. Hell, that’s life, right? Improving my life 2% annually wasn’t going to cut it. When we got serious about becoming debt-free, I knew I had to find a way to super-charge this shit. Waiting on corporate to help me wasn’t an option anymore.
Back then I was a pretty big Dave Ramsey fan. We were deep in Baby Step 2 and I was looking forward to getting out of debt, fast. Dave talks a lot about getting a 2nd job but, honestly… I was putting in a lot of time with my main hustle and I wasn’t interested in getting another gig. I’d rather hang out with my wife and dogs as much as possible and not find another hustle.
So, I was screwed right?
Not exactly… When you can’t make more money, you have to look at the money you already make! After some investigating it became clear that I was getting screwed for being a loyal customer for so long… If you’ve been with your cable, cellular or insurance company for many years, I’m sorry to say but, you’ve been losing money.
5 Easy Places to Find Money
I was a loyal customer with my insurance provider for over a decade. I’m sure my insurance agent loved me, hell I bet the company loved me! “I was a valued and loyal customer”. The best part about being a “loyal customer” is when your insurance company takes more of your money and offer new customers lower rates! How neat is that?!
I spent a few hours shopping around with different providers and tinkering with different levels of coverage. After investing just a few hours I was able to save about $750 a year, or $62.50 a month. We jumped on the Progressive wagon and so far, we have been really happy. My plan is due to renew in November so, I’ll attack this one again in October. Who knows, maybe I can save more!
Cell Phone Provider
Damn it, here we go again… I was with the same cellular provider for well… ever! I had been with ATT for as long as I had a cell phone. The amount of money we spend on our cell phone plan a month makes my brain hurt. If my grandparents were still alive, they would be appalled by this “normal” bill. Imagine telling someone that you spend $197 a month to talk on the phone and watch videos of dogs on skateboards. In our defense… Our bill is high because we have to have an unlimited data plan plus hot-spot data. Living out in the sticks forces us to use a ton of hot-spot data. Cable and DSL internet haven’t found their way out here yet.
This switch required far less time. I think the whole process took me 10 minutes, maybe less. We joined with T-Mobile. They crushed ATT’s prices and offered us a better plan. Unlimited data with 20 gigs of hot spotting for $140. They also pay for a standard level Netflix subscription. This switched saved us $69 a month.
Sweet mother Mary. Our Dish bill was growing like a cancer. What was once $65/month had grown to $111/month. We noticed it was going up but, it was such a slow increase that we didn’t notice just how bad it was. The plan we had was the lowest level offered so, what the hell do you do with that? So, let’s just cancel it altogether. Easy peasy. After a 5 minute phone call, I was convinced to keep the service at a rate of $53/month. Ha! They sold me, hard! So, in the spring we will drop the plan totally and take that extra $53 but, for now… Add another $58 to the pot.
Wait, we financed our cell phones?
This part is super embarrassing to admit. I had NO idea that we were paying for our phones on a monthly basis. Seriously, here I am running a personal finance blog and at one time, I had no idea our phones were financed. My wife and I were paying $53/month for 2 Iphones! A 6s and a 6s Plus. Those aren’t even freaking new models! I think they just released the IPhone 16 or something.
A bit of research and I found out we owed just a few hundred dollars on each phone. So, we added them to our debt snow ball and knocked it out in short order. Paying the phone off is just step 1. Step 2 is realizing that we don’t need a new phone every year, and when we do need a new phone, we will buy an older model with cash. Who the hell finances a freaking phone? Listen, I’m not getting all preachy… I was doing it and I didn’t even know! So, who am I to judge? I’m just saying, there’s a better way. Ego aside… Add another $53/month to the wallet!
Damn, we eat a lot
The last way we saved a ton of money was by paying attention to the money we spent on food. If your online bank allows you to export a monthly statement to excel, do it. Well, sit down first and then do it. If you’re not tracking your monthly food spending, prepare to be shocked. For us it wasn’t abnormal to spend $300-350 a month on dining out and another $300-400 on groceries. Holy. Shit. Not only did we eat well, our dogs did too! We had a subscription to Chewy and my wife was ordering some high quality food. The dogs were eating about $110 worth of dog food a month. You know… I don’t think the dogs ever thanked us. Sometimes the older one pee’s in the basement… I’m not sure if she started that after we canceled Chewy…
We now shop only at Aldi’s and only dine out once every other week. We budget $400 a month for groceries and $100 for restaurants and we spend about $65 out of that $100. Also, we still feed the dog’s high quality, grain-free food. It just comes from Tractor Supply now and it only costs about $60 a month. We don’t have children so, I won’t ever feed them crappy food, and we love em… even if they pee in the basement sometimes.
This section was a lot more work, we had a lot of bad habits that led to over-spending and it wasn’t a simple 15 minute phone call to save a bunch of cash. Once we did the research and had a tangible number attached to that monthly food bill, we buckled down… fast. It was a kick in the teeth but, it did the trick. Ok, add another $290ish to the bank.
The Final Score
5 changes and we were able to pocket $532.50/month. $532.30 A MONTH!! At the time, that would have been an 8% raise (post-tax). Within my organization, to make an additional 8% post-tax, it would have taken years. That’s assuming they don’t actually follow through on their constant threats to freeze our salaries.
For the most part, the changes were pretty easy and they didn’t take a lot of time. Just commitment to the process and a long-term view of our lives. I’d bet that eating less shitty Chinese food is probably better for that long-term view anyway.
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