Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Taking Advantage of Discounts

959b176d7a237c76fc19ff89cdfc6904.jpgPreviously we talked about shopping your Cell Phone service, Internet service, even your Auto/Home/Health insurance.

Sometimes switching companies doesn’t yield you any savings. At that point, turn to your current providers and see if there are any additional discounts or perks that you could be taking advantage of and are not currently receiving?

Example: Some cell phone providers (Like T-Mobile) offer perks or freebies weekly. Free tacos, backpacks, free Netflix subscriptions, and other swag are some of the other cool things that they have offered in the past. AT&T has a program called AT&T Thanks where customers can score varying freebies and deals depending on what type(s) of service they have with AT&T.

Some Auto Insurance companies offer discounts for good students (High school and/or college), safe driving/accident-free, defensive driving courses, and low mileage discounts. It’s worth a call in to see if you can score any extra discounts!

What about services that you can’t shop around?

Utilities are a big one- We can’t shop utilities here in San Diego. SDG&E is the only name in the game here.

BUT- there are ways you can save and even earn money!

Did you know that most local utilities (in San Diego county that means SDG&E) will come out and inspect your AC/furnace for free at the beginning of each season? They can let you know if your furnace or AC is running in tiptop condition, and they can also check to see if your pilot light is lit and safe to run your furnace.

If you are in a lower income or you have a medical condition that requires continue with usage of electricity, SDG&E and other utilities frequently have a medical baseline or low-income program that you can apply for to save money on your utilities.

Other ways that you can save money on your utilities include signing up for services like Ohmconnect, which help you conserve electricity during peak demand hours, which not only helps you save money, but you’ll be saving extra electricity as well.

We’ve been members of them connect for upwards of five years, and we earn about $100 a year cashback from home connect, in addition to the money that we save on our SDG&E bill. You can learn more about Ohm Connect Here.

 

 

 

Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Shopping Around to Save!

683459ee810703fe032903d2443bf58d.jpgToday I’ll be sharing some ways to save money that takes a little more work but can definitely pay off in the end.

For some of us, this may seem like too much work, and that’s ok. Just because it’s something that my family does, doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

Insurance: Most companies offer a discount if you have more than one kind of policy. Example: State Farm offers a Multi-line discount. If you have your cars and another type of insurance (homeowners/renters/condo insurance, or a life insurance policy).

Some insurance companies serve a specific audience- for example, USAA is an insurance company for active duty or retired military. Because they serve a specific audience, they offer very competitive rates.

When you shop for insurance, have copies of all of the policies that you want to compare. That will help you see apples to apples. You can’t compare and try to save money if you don’t know what you’ve got. This is also a great time to go over all of your coverages and see if you need to increase or decrease coverages.

Due to state and federal regulations, you usually can’t shop for health insurance unless it’s open enrollment or you’ve had a qualifying life event (married, divorced, had a baby, retired, lost your job, etc.). Luckily, Tis the Season for open enrollment! We purchased insurance through the state exchange a few years back, before we had employer-sponsored insurance. It was not too difficult to navigate, and there are discounts available for a lot of people!

Cell Phones: This is my least favorite activity, but it can a money saver. Once again- have a copy of your contract or a copy of a recent bill that outlines everything your plan covers before you get started. If you are looking for a pre-paid plan, Tello has some great money-saving plans!

Internet: I hate dealing with our internet service provider. I always feel like they are trying to upsell me, no matter why I am calling in. We’re looking at changing our plan soon. The big kids school recently sent home information regarding a program that Cox offers called Connect2Compete. For those families that have qualifying social service(s), Cox can provide internet service for $9.95/month! That’s a great deal.

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear your success story! Share how much you’ve saved by shopping around for your insurance, cell phone service, or internet service.

Money Saving Tips for Newlyweds!

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There is so much stress involved with a wedding, here are a few tips that can help you start off your marriage stress free.

Combine, combine, combine. There is no reason that you need to pay extra (sometimes double!) on the following:

Car Insurance. If you are with separate companies, call each one before the wedding and get quotes. Which company will provide you with the best coverage at the best rate? Most likely a company that offers longevity discounts (the company one of you may already be with) or a company that caters only to specific clientele (such as USAA).

  • Remember, your liability limits should be the same for every car in the house.
  • Whether or not you opt for “full coverage” (meaning Comprehensive and collision coverage to protect your vehicle against fire, theft, vandalism and collision with another vehicle or building/structure) is up to you.
  • If you have a loan or a lease on your vehicle, the lender will require to to carry both of these types of coverage.
  • If you use public transportation to travel to and from work, tell your insurance company that you use your vehicle for pleasure only.
  • If you drive less than 10,00 miles/year, let your insurance carrier know- most companies offer a short mileage discount! 

 Renters/homeowners/condo-unit owners’ insurance

  • Remember to combine your home insurance as well, especially if you have not lived together prior to your marriage. You’ve got all those get wedding presents! Insure them!

Cell phones/landline/internet coverage/cable.

  • If possible, change to the same carrier and get a “family plan” with unlimited mobile to mobile for your two numbers, at least! Most carriers offer a discount for the second cell phone.
  • Do you both have cell phones? Think about why you have a landline. If you’ve received less than 20 calls on your landline in the last month that were actually people you wanted to talk to (not phone solicitors or surveys), consider canceling your landline. You’ll have around $300/year, if not more.
  • Most companies that offer cell phone and internet coverage will provide you with a discount if you “bundle” your services. Ask your carrier!
  • Cable- If you have high speed internet service and a Netflix subscription, cancel your cable subscription. Between Hulu, CBS.com, and YouTube you really don’t need cable. And really… As a newlywed, you won’t be watching all that much television.

Finances: This is a major one!

  • Budget- Your financial intake should be more than your output. Make a list of all of your monthly bills and make sure that you include budget lines for groceries, gas, savings, and a date night! Join Mint.com if you are having trouble with your budget or don’t know where all your money is going. Stick to your budget. This is really hard. You can use a website like Mint.com to help you make a budget (they’ll even do a pie chart for you too)!
  • Combine bank accounts. If you do not want to do this, at the least put each other on your accounts as a co-signor (for emergencies!).
  • Saving money is important. If you get cash as a wedding gift- DON’T SPEND IT ALL. A lot of relatives and friends give you money so you can start your life together. Save some of it for your future!
  • Talk honestly about the debts you bring into the marriage and make a plan to get debt free! Debts include car payments, credit cards, student loans.
  • One person should be in charge of all of the bills and balancing the checkbook. YES- You must balance your checkbook! Be willing to trade duties and both of you should be aware of how much money you have as a couple, where your debts stand and the plan to save.
  • Make a list of all of the bills and when they are due each month. Put them on your family calendar (don’t have one? Get one! We use a desk blotter style calendar that we hang on the wall next to the computer) every month. If you are a digital family, use iCal or Outlook, and make a reminder 5 days prior to the due date.
  • Get life insurance! If you are young, it’s pretty cheap. If you get it from the same company as your auto insurance, you’ll get a discount on your car insurance, in most cases.

Misc.

  • After the gifts are opened, and thank you cards are sent, gather up all of your old pots, pans, and whatever else was replaced with your wedding gifts and hold a yard/tag/garage sale. Someone will want your old towels, sheets, pots and pans. Use the money you earn to pad your savings account.

After Hubs and I got married our car insurance went down over $100/month between the two of us, our cell bills went down about $30/month.  That little “extra” each month gave us a chance to put more money in our savings account!