It is almost comical the trouble I am running into saving money lately.
For instance, I was shopping at a favorite second-hand store when I found a great purse. I was so excited to find something that was the right size, reasonably priced and in fairly good shape that I quickly paid for it and moved onto the next store.
Guess what I found there? It was the exact purse, in better shape, and at a cheaper price. I reviewed my options: I could purchase the second purse and take the other back for store credit, but I was just too tired and driving back to the other store seemed like a huge inconvenience.
Not a day later, it happened with coffee. I spotted the same cans of coffee that I just grabbed earlier at the grocery store for $4 cheaper at a drug store. Again, I just didn’t want to make the effort to cash in the savings.
I’ll admit these are trivial purchases and represent a small loss of savings, but they illustrate just how easy it is to give in to what is convenient. In a way, it is an inconvenience for me to stay informed of what’s on sale and wait to purchase, rather than just buying what we need at any time, regardless of price. The time it takes to read the circulars, plan meals, make a shopping list, and stick to it at the store, represent big savings for my family. Savings we need to hit our financial goals.
The inconvenience versus savings debate extends to two budget items my husband and I are discussing: reducing our garbage service and canceling our landline phone service.
Should we keep a service we don’t fully use because we might use it someday? Or is it wiser for us to save the money now, and pay a little extra should we need to dump an extra can of garbage once a year?
When considering whether to keep or reduce these services, we kept a few things in mind:
How much do we really use it? We have unconsciously moved most of our phone calls to our cell phones. Not only is it easier for clients and children’s schools to reach us, but we can be mobile. Before we had the cell phones, I hated being stuck at home waiting for a business client to call.
I made a point of unofficially keeping track of the minutes we spent on the landline. During a month, we had spent barely 30 minutes on the landline. In contrast, our cell phones shouldered more than 5 hours for the two of us.
Will we be inconvenienced when this service goes away? Thankfully, we get good cell phone service in our house, but some of our friends do not. Giving up the landline would mean they could not call for emergency help. Our hesitation to cut the landline also centers on the ability to call for emergency help. What if our cell phones aren’t charged to make that call for help, or an extended power outage prevents us from recharging the phones?
What will you save? The fear of not being able to call for help almost makes it worth keeping the landline. However, when you add up how much we save when we cancel – $375 per year – it makes me rethink how hard it would be to religiously charge our cells.
How much will it cost to reinstall? It is wise to consider reinstallation fees too, should you change your mind someday. There is usually a charge to install a service. For instance, to reinstall our basic phone service, it would cost about $17, not including taxes and other fees. In contrast, to reinstall my father’s high speed Internet, it would cost almost $100 for the professional installer to bring him back up to speed. But by canceling the service he barely uses, he would save almost $40 a month, or $480 per year.
Can you face making the decision? I’ll admit one of the biggest inconveniences of canceling or reducing a service is talking to the provider. These people are understandably reluctant to lose any customer and they often don’t make it easy. When my father reduced his cable services, he said he had to stick to his guns and insist they do as he ask. He was finally able to secure the reduction in services, thanks to a bit of perseverance on his part.
My husband and I are still mulling over what to do with the garbage and landline, but I believe we are close to making a decision on the garbage. The $120 we save over a year is certainly a smaller savings than that of killing the landline, but we would not miss much if we only have our garbage picked up every other week. And, that is $120 we can save or spend on something else!