Where’d your money go? Revisiting recurring monthly expenses
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Where’d your money go? Revisiting recurring monthly expenses

In the digital age of set-it-and-forget it expenses, the cost of living can creep up on you quickly and quietly.

Before you know it, you’re racking up sizeable monthly charges for everything from streaming movies, music subscriptions, and accessing online publications to storing data, software, and being a member of a physical or online gym that you haven’t used in, well, let’s just say it’s been a while.

While extracting yourself from monthly expenses is not quite as easy as setting them up, there are things you can do to re-evaluate and revamp exactly where your money’s going.

  1. Conduct an expense audit

At the start of next month, review statements for every account you have—savings, credit cards, and checking.

Create a list of recurring expense and then break it out into two separate lists of  ‘needs’  (e.g., rent, car loan, etc.) and ‘wants’ (e.g., entertainment, subscriptions, etc.).

  1. Take a hard look at your ‘wants’ list

Review your ‘wants’ list to identify services or subscriptions you’re not using and cancel them immediately.

For things you’re using or benefitting from, reach out to the company to ask how you can cut cost versus cutting the service completely. You may be surprised how quickly a company can find ways to reduce your monthly expenses. Before you make the call, be clear in your own mind whether or not you’re willing to live without the service. Knowing that you’re open to cancelling will give you more leverage in any negotiation. Very often when a company reduces your rate it’s for a limited time. Be sure to note the expiration date in your calendar and call in advance (a week or more) to renegotiate and make sure your expense doesn’t automatically revert to the higher rate.

Should you decide to do without a service or membership, be sure to ask if you’ll be charged a penalty fee for early. You may not be able to get them to waive the fee, but you may want to hang in until the end of your contract, so you at least have the option to get your money’s worth. NOTE: If you decide to hold off on cutting the cord, be sure to put a reminder (or three) in your calendar to cancel a week before it’s slated to renew.

  1. Explore your options on your ‘needs’ list

While you can’t forego the things on your needs list, you may be able to restructure or renegotiate your monthly payments.

For example, while you can’t renegotiate insurance mid-contract, you can shop for new options at any time. Let your carrier know that you’re looking and what it will take to keep your business. Even if you can’t find a better rate, ask about modifying your policy to increase your deductible and reduce premiums.

In a similar vein, you may be able to restructure loans to reduce your monthly outlay. While moves like this may cost you more in the long run, if you’re struggling to meet monthly expenses, this may be a viable option.

  1. Ask about fees

Regardless of which category an expense falls under, it’s worth contacting the provider once a year to inquire about any fees you may be paying. Often these get rolled up under total charges and are easy to miss. As a paying customer, it’s well within your right to inquire what you’re paying for and why.

 

NOTE: Whenever you make a change to any recurring charge, ALWAYS ask for written confirmation and retain the information. This may be all you need to dispute future charges.

 

DISCLAIMER: This article is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, investment or legal advice. 

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