Tag Archive for save money

Review Your Regular Bills for Hidden Savings

Paying BillsNow is a good time to review your regular bills. Make a list of the bills that are paid regularly, such as electric and gas bills, internet and TV, cell phone, trash service, home and auto insurance, etc.

Start with the monthly bills and select one. Review every line item on the bill. Do you understand everything that you are being charged for? Are there items on the bill that you don’t need or use anymore? Are you being charged to rent a piece of equipment that you don’t have anymore?

For internet, TV service, and other similar bills, if you have had the same service package for a year or more, call the customer service center and ask if there are any discounts or different packages that may be available.

I recently called my internet and cable TV service and found that we were eligible for a free upgrade to a much faster internet service. The customer service rep did the upgrade while I was still on the phone. While that call didn’t save any monthly money, I felt it was a very worthwhile call. I am thrilled with the faster internet speed. As well, she gave me another number to call because it appeared that we were also eligible for a lower-cost package. I’ll be calling that number soon!

Go through each of your regular bills one by one, slowly and in detail. If you find a charge that should not be there, make the call or send the email and get the process started to get it eliminated. While it may only be a few dollars of savings, keep in mind that a few dollars each month adds up. Saving $5.00 a month is a savings of $60.00 a year. What would you do if someone handed you $60.00 at the end of each year?

Credit card bills should be reviewed each and every month as they arrive. Did you sign up for a monthly “club” that you haven’t used in 3 months, but are still getting a $19.99/month charge? Did a company accidentally double bill you for something? Are there charges you don’t recognize? Even a $.25 charge that you didn’t authorize should be investigated. It may be a test charge by a card thief to see if the card is good as well as to see if they are able to make undetected charges on your account.

A periodic review of your regular bills helps to prevent money being completely wasted on services or items that you no longer use or need.

Even better, as soon as you discover and remove an unnecessary charge, set up an automatic monthly transfer of that amount to your savings account. You won’t miss the money and your savings account will start growing effortlessly.

Take a look at The Fat Dollar’s post on Automatic Investing for more ideas on increasing your regular savings.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net and patpitchaya.

The Real Cost of Your Free Music

“Congratulations, your generation is the first generation in history to rebel by unsticking it to the man and instead sticking it to the weirdo freak musicians!”
– David Lowery

Emily White wrote a post on the NPR blog where she matter-of-factly states that she has 11,000 songs in her music library, yet has only ever purchased 15 CD’s.  Her music came from swapping with friends, file-sharing, and ripping the music from the hundreds of albums at the college radio station where she was a DJ.  In her own words “As monumental a role as musicians and albums have played in my life, I’ve never invested money in them aside from concert tickets and T-shirts.”

Free Culture, aka free music, right?  Not according to David Lowery of The Trichordist.  His open reply to Emily is so succulent and informative, that it should be mandatory reading for anyone who believes they are saving a few dollars by ripping or downloading someone else’s music.

David’s blog post Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered has as of 6-20-12 received over a half million visits.  The post already has over  553 comments.  Clearly, this is something that strikes a chord (sorry, pun intended) with many of us.

I invite you to read both Emily White’s post as well as David Lowery’s reply.  Regardless of who you think is right, I think you’ll learn a few things about the music industry that you hadn’t fully considered.

Here at The Fat Dollar, saving money is a core concept.  However, saving money by depriving someone of well-earned income is not part of our philosophy.  It’s not fun to cause pain to someone else.  And saving money while having fun, well you guessed it – that’s The Fat Dollar way.





The Microwave Muffin Experiment

I found a recipe for baking microwave muffins in one of my favorite muffin recipe books (Another 250 Muffin Recipes by Esther Brody). Finding the recipe made me wonder what a microwave muffin would taste like and how much money would be saved by using the microwave instead of my regular gas oven for baking.


The calculated cost savings were $.24 total for this batch of muffins.  I was not impressed with the texture and color of the microwaved muffins. For me, the savings were not worth it for this particular recipe.

The muffins were perfectly good, though.  All of the muffins were eaten within the next two days. I just personally prefer the moist-tender crumb texture and the slightly crisp crust-top of an oven baked muffin.

I baked part of the batter in a regular gas oven so that I would have a good comparison of the difference between baking methods.  For more detail, including the recipe I used and more photos, see The Fat Dollar article Using the Microwave for Baking – Is It Worth the Savings?

The experiment did show me that regular use of the microwave instead of a regular gas (or electric) oven could result in substantial savings over the course of a year.

For example, if we assume that we could save $.25 in energy costs just once a day, in a year we would save $91.25.  That is a simple way to save money and conserve energy, all while spending less time cooking.  Now, that’s the Fat Dollar way!

I invite you to share your experience with baking in a microwave.  Any success stories?




Impulsive Spending – Get it Under Control

Impulsive spending can wreck havoc with your budget.  A British survey by the energy company npower, showed that men spend about $41.00 per week on impulse purchases, while women showed a bit more control with spending of $30.00 per week.

An impulsive purchase is a purchase that is unplanned and is often for the purpose of making the buyer feel good.  Usually the purchases end up unwanted or unused.

Even if you fritter away only $25.00 a week, you have wasted $1,300.00 in a year.  What could you do with $1300.00?

Learning to reduce the amount of impulsive spending can make a big difference in your financial future.

Read The Fat Dollar’s article Impulsive Spending – Or How Not to Spend Money