Monday, January 21, 2008

Better Budget Challenge #3: That's Too Much

This week, Kacie at Sense to Save asked us to take a look at what expenses we could elminate from our budgets. As I've mentioned before, I've examined and re-examined our budget endlessly. Believe me, I have considered getting rid of Netflix and cable TV and cutting back on our Internet. But the truth is, we're about as bare-bones as we're going to get unless we meet some financial crisis in the future. BUT, I can share how I did cut our expenses to get here.

Cable
Our cable bill is $93 a month. Yikes, right? However, it includes:
Television - $15
A few years ago, we were paying about $35 a month for about 40 channels. Or something. And the cable company decided to introduce digital cable. Which required rental of some kind of converter box and whatever else, and would just about triple our bill. Uh uh, I don't think so. So I called and, after asking, "So, do you have anything cheaper than basic cable." Oh, you do? So we have a "limited basic" package, 22 channels for $15. Just right for us!
Internet - $45
SuperDad insists on having cable Internet, and this is what it costs. The end.
Local phone service - $33
I've tried and tried to shop around for this, to see if we could get a cheaper deal anywhere, and have even switched three or four times, but the bill is always within a dollar or two of this no matter what. It seems to be mostly taxes. :(
I realized we could "bundle" these services. I think for $99 we could get the Internet and phone and a bazillion TV channels, but we've decided we just don't really want those channels. I'd rather save the six bucks, honestly.

Utilities
This one is a biggie. We live in a big old house with big old windows. Our gas/electric bill is $243 a month. That's down from $293 the year before. We did the following things this year to lower it:

  • Sealed our windows with plastic film and bought thick curtains (from the Salvation Army for $3 per pair) for over that.
  • Bought new air conditioners.
  • Bought a new fridge.
  • Put in energy-efficient light bulbs, as we could afford them.
  • Started being much more diligent about turning off lights and unplugging appliances.
  • Living at more uncomfortable tempeartures. We've been keeping our house at 66 degrees this winter. If you come over, bring a sweater, I'll make you some hot tea. I can't remember what we kept it at in the summer, but I can tell you I don't have as much tolerance for heat. I'm guessing 72 or so. Maybe 74.

I had hoped our bill would go down further than this. Maybe next year.

Car Insurance
Our car insurance is $93 a month. I know we could pay less for this, but this is one thing we are not willing to compromise on. We've had great customer service from our insurance carrier, and we have decided they are worth it.

Netflix
Worth the $18. Just worth it.

That's about it for our monthly expenses. Over and over, I've considered cutting Netflix and TV, but upon evaluation, that $33 just doesn't speed up our debt repayment enough to justify it.

10 comments:

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Kacie said...

Things look pretty good! I don't think it's worth eliminating your Netflix, either. Movies/TV shows can be a good thing to have--especially in the winter.

Have you tried calling Netflix to see if they can give you a better rate on your plan, though? If you're paying $18/month right now, that's what, the 3 at a time deal?

Right now, Blockbuster is charging $15.99 for their 3-at-a-time (though that doens't include online viewing, of course). Maybe you could try calling Netflix and see if they could give you a better deal so you don't switch (even if you don't intend to switch, just don't tell them that).

If you decide to call them, let me know how it goes. It's worth knowing either way if they'll bargain with ya.

BTW, if you like Netflix just to have your regular assorted movie (and not the really hard-to-find ones) it might be worthwhile to upgrade your TV plan to digital cable. If that means you'd get On Demand, you'll have access to movies from your TV at no extra charge. (I blogged about this a week or so ago if you're interested).

If you like the On Demand movies, you could cut back your Netflix to a less frequent plan.

That's awesome that you sealed up your house and your utilites are reflecting that.

Just some ideas I'm throwing out there. Ultimately, you're doing what works best for you, and that's important :)

Mellissa said...

If I were you, a great way to get your cable bill lowered (even if only for a little while -- usually anywhere from a month to a year) is to call and ask about promotions. They offer a lot of fabulous ones over the phone that they never advertise in print. You want to keep on top of those however as most companies don't notify to let you know a promotion is ending. They usually roll right over.

zdoodlebub said...

Boo! I'm still alive!

Just a word on the energy efficient light bulbs. We have them but I won't be buying them again. Mercury, you know. I know it's a tiny amount, but we've got the autism rhetoric in our day-to-day bidness, so...

The risk of dropping and breaking one (which I've been know to do with regular light bulbs) isn't worth it to me (and the hazard clean-up bill that it would entail).

Tenille said...

I totally know what you mean - if they were full of gluten, the wouldn't come into this house either!

~M said...

I curious whether you've looked into borrowing movies from the library instead of using Netflix. Just a thought.

Tenille said...

Yep, we did that quite a bit before we had Netflix, but the library's selection is pretty seriously limited, so we've blown through that! ;) We're high-need users. Hee.

We DO use the library, and perhaps abuse the inter-library loan system when it comes to books, but it wasn't so much keeping up with our TV-watching needs.

That probably says some stuff about me that isn't very good... :)

Netflix is at the very top of the list of things to cut if ends ever stop meeting, and should never make itself too comfortable in our budget.

CeliacChick said...

Hi! Just found your site today. I think the way you should rationalize Netflix is to reason that it is SAVING you money.Going to the movie theatre is $10 a pop...so you and your hub would be at least $20 and then the babysitter fee...sooo one movie out would be more then a whole month of Netflix!!! Enjoy!

Tenille said...

CeliacChick - that is SO true! We really cut back our cable ($14/month plan) and decided to go with Netflix instead. That way, we only see what we want and WHEN we want. We love it.

Anyway, welcome and thanks for commenting!!! :)

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