9 Things You’re Paying Too Much ForSunday, August 18, 2013 Mary Anne Velasco
Bills are something you can never get away from, but that doesn't mean you have to pay more money than others each month. You can apply coupons and discounts to almost everything; you just have to do your research and ask. Take a look at these nine things you're probably paying too much money for each month and what you can do to save.
According to a U.N. Telecom Agency Report, there are six billion cell phone subscribers around the world. That's 8.6 out of every 10 people. That means cell phone companies are making a lot of money off of service charges. If you want unlimited data, your bill can quickly add up to more than $50 a month per phone. Look for discounts through your employer. For instance, many employers have deals with cellphone companies to get anywhere from 5-25% off your monthly bill. Additionally, you can save money by putting several cellphones on one plan and then splitting the monthly costs between users.
Lots of people over pay for cable TV because they have channels they never use. Get the most basic plan and then add each channel you want individually to keep your costs low. If possible, don't subscribe to cable TV at all and instead get a Netflix subscription or watch your favorite shows online for free. Cable TV isn't really worth the money unless you watch it all the time.
People spend way too much money on clothes simply because they want to own name-brand items. However, it really doesn't make sense to pay $150 for a pair of pants when there is a cheaper brand that looks nearly the same for around $35. If you must own name-brand clothing, then shop at discount and bulk stores. They are able to charge less money because they are selling items off of surplus. Of course, if you're really looking to save money on clothing, you should shop at second-hand stores. You can get some amazing deals, especially if you can find gently used items. In general, a good rule is to never buy any piece of clothing unless it is on sale.
Car Loan and Insurance
Car loans are another place where people often pay too much money. This is because they don't try to get the lowest interest rate. You have to be really careful when you buy a car not to get ripped off. Dealerships make it sound like you are getting a good deal by enticing you with a low monthly payment, but sometimes they don't clearly explain how long it will take you to pay it off and how high your interest rate is. It could make a $20,000 car cost you $25,000 or more.
Additionally, car insurance rates vary widely from one insurance company to another. And, it's not just based on your age and location — it's also based on your make and model of car. So, you should shop around for new car insurance every time you buy a new car to make sure you are getting a good deal. You should also look for discounts, such as bundling your car insurance with your homeowners insurance. It's also common for seniors to get a discount.
Health Insurance and Prescription Drugs
The cost of health care is outrageous, even if you just go to see your doctor once or twice a year. This is because insurance companies have to charge enough to compensate for people that need a lot of care. Prescription drug costs are just as bad, especially if you are trying to get medication that isn't routine. For instance, it's really hard to find affordable drugs for gout and many other less common illnesses.
There's nothing wrong with going to the movies, but it costs a lot more to see a movie on the opening weekend than to wait until it's in a dollar theater. Additionally, you can save even more money if you are willing to wait until the video comes out on DVD so you can stream it from your computer on Netflix. Redbox is also a very affordable way to rent DVDs. If you go to the movies every weekend, you're paying too much money.
Home Heating and Cooling Costs
Most people assume that there's nothing they can do about the cost of their utility bills. However, you can save money by being more responsible with your furnace and cooler usage. For instance, in the winter you should set your thermostat lower when you're away to avoid heating your home when no one will be there. The same is true for the summer — set your thermostat higher when you're away so your central air system doesn't waste its energy on an empty house.
Daycare is very expensive. As a matter of fact, if you have more than two kids, it's usually better to have one parent stay at home to watch the kids. However, if staying at home isn't an option for you, check with your daycare to see if they offer a discount for multiple children or if you qualify for a subsidized rate. Many daycares are supplemented by the government and are allowed to give discounted rates based on need. You never know if you qualify unless you ask.
Additionally, childcare rates vary from one daycare to the next, so you should see where the most affordable options are. Sometimes hiring a private nanny is more affordable, too, especially if it's a teen from your neighborhood.
Don't assume that you are getting a good deal on your monthly services because chances are that you're not. Some people blindly accept the costs and add it to their budget, but if you're smart you'll ask for discounts and shop around.