Don’t Make A Long-Term Commitment If You Don’t Have To

monthly phone contract killing me

Many people have large contractual or recurring monthly expenses in their budget. Cell phones, gym memberships, club memberships, cable/satellite TV, and data plans for tablets are just a few of the ongoing expenses you may face. These can really add up and you often end up paying even when no one is using the service or membership. While many places try to force you into a lengthy contract or make you think you have to pay every single month, there are also many alternatives to that ongoing monthly bill. Here are some ideas for getting out from under those monthly payments without giving up the services you love entirely.

Cell phones

If you don’t use your cell phone that often or you only need one when you travel, for example, a pay-as-you go phone might be the answer. There are many plans on the market that don’t require a contract. You pay when you need more minutes, not when the provider says you must pay your monthly bill.

Data plans for cell phones

Because I work from home, I’m always near a computer. It doesn’t make sense for me to pay for a data plan on my cell phone when I only need it when I travel. Instead, I keep a pay as you go phone where the money I add to the account can be used for data, talk, or texting. When I hit the road, I just add more money to my account to cover my anticipated data usage. It saves me a fortune over paying to have that data plan active all the time.

Data plans for tablets

Many people buy a tablet and then sign up for the data plan and the attendant monthly bill. However, if you are near a Wi-Fi hotspot most of the time, you’ll likely only need that 3G data plan when you’re traveling. In that case, look into monthly alternatives. For example, the iPad allows you to sign up for data on a monthly basis. Sign up before you travel and don’t renew when you get home.

Gym memberships

Some gyms still try to rope you into a contract, but many more are offering monthly plans. This is great for someone who likes to exercise primarily outdoors and uses a gym only in the cold winter months. If your gym doesn’t offer monthly plans, try wellness centers sponsored by local hospitals or locally owned gyms.


Netflix has the option to suspend your account for up to 90 days. If you know you’ll be going out of town for a while or, like me, you don’t watch as many movies during the busy summer months, put your account on hold rather than paying for something you can’t make good use of. Your queue remains untouched and you can still add to it while you’re suspended, you just can’t receive DVD’s or view streaming.


Many, but not all, cable and satellite providers allow you to suspend your service for up to six months. Your package remains unchanged; you just don’t pay a bill while your service is on hold. If you don’t watch much TV during the summer re-run season or you only really need service when your favorite sport is in season, suspend your service and save the money.

Monthly services

There’s often no need to keep a landscaper on duty year round, so look for one that will allow you to pay monthly rather than yearly. Similarly, many exterminators try to hook you into yearly contracts but treat only once per year. These contracts often cost much more than the cost of an a la carte treatment. Rather than paying for the contract, look for someone who will let you pay only when they treat. If you’re paying monthly or yearly for any services, check to see if you need them year round and, if not, look into pay as you go options.

Veterinary services

I used to pay monthly for a veterinary plan sold by PetSmart. It seemed like a good deal until I got smart and researched the prices of local vets in my area. I found one who charges great rates and gives my pets very personal and loving attention. When I figured up the yearly cost of going to the new vet versus the annual price of that contract, I realized how much money I’d been wasting. Now I only pay when my pet needs something and it’s saved me money.

These are just a few examples of things that you can still enjoy even without the monthly payments and contracts. If you only pay for what you need, when you need it, you’ll likely save a lot of money over just blindly forking over that monthly payment. It may mean some hassle when you have to switch providers or figure out how to suspend your account, but it can be well worth it. Of course, if you find that you’re just not using a service at all, you’ll save the most money by simply canceling it altogether.

(Photo courtesy of skippyjon)

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5 Responses to Don’t Make A Long-Term Commitment If You Don’t Have To

  1. Monkey Mama says:

    I’d also add debt payment to the mix. I strongly believe in not signing up for any financial commitments that I can’t drop immediately. (The exception is our mortgage – but we will always need someplace to live – as a renter I’d choose month-to-month to keep it flexible). The less debt and long-term financial contracts you have, the more financially flexible you can be. I always say that it’s not that I have a problem with luxuries. I just prefer luxuries without commitments. Our gym membership can be dropped at any time without penalty – same for any service we pay for.

  2. Shum says:

    I do not have a contract with my cell phone company. When my cell broke, I will not call cell phone company for a new phone. I just go to internet, search for unlock phone (GSM phone), and buy one I like. Never have to sign a contract. There are plenty of unlock phone to choose, price ranges are vary..

  3. Gail says:

    Absolutely! I can’t believe how many people are locked into multiple plans then have those financial bumps in the road and can’t afford it all. It costs the earth to get out of them. When I go too sick to work, I remember it cost us $170+ to get out of my cell phone plan but that was cheaper than keeping it until the plan finished. I was home with a land line and didn’t need the cell–I had formerly been traveling extensively for work.

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