Saturday, January 17, 2009

Money saving tips for you and your aging parent

Last week I decided to thoroughly research our phone, cable and cell monthly bills. The bills constantly increase. So, I set out to explore all options and see how much I can save our household....and then help my aging mother with similar saving tips.

1. I called our local/long distance carrier and got on another plan that includes unlimited local and long distance calls. Simple and easy to do. Saved $20/month there.

2. I called our cable company. We decided to cut back to Basic cable. At first we thought we'd be missing our favorite CNN, Weather and other channels. Then we realized we could watch most of that stuff online with their streaming video.
Saved $40/month.

3. We investigated our current cell phone usage. I no longer travel as a consultant but now work from home. My husband only used his cell phone for emergencies. So, we switched from a major carrier to pre-paid cell phones and were able to keep our current cell phone numbers. Saved $80/month.

Savings for these small changes = $140/month which is $1,680/year.

Based on our findings, I advised my mother to swap out her cell phone coverage with major carrier and switch to pre-paid cell, saving her about $50/month. Her phone and cable is provided through her inclusive contract with her retirement community, so no savings there. But, I plan to review each of her other expenses: auto and renters insurance, Blue Cross supplemental, prescription insurance, etc. My advice is to sit down with your aging parent at least once a year and check every vendor/supplier to determine if you can reduce costs in anyway.

The other thing I shared with Mom was Suzy Orman's great advice. Say the following sentence to yourself before you buy anything. I guarantee it will put a halt to impulse spending.
"Before you purchase anything, ask yourself if you need it or if you just want it".

My mother was surprised and said she had never heard anything like this. I suggested she say use this line before she buys anything. For those of you who follow my blog, you'll recall she has shopaholic tendencies. It will be interesting to see if this strategy will help her.