This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com
We want to add to our preparedness fund, but the budget is tight.
I mentioned in an earlier post we cancelled cable and found several free or lower cost alternatives. It’s been a couple of years and we do not miss it at all. I actually wish we had done it sooner.
How to Find Extra Cash by Reviewing Your Bills
Now we are reviewing every bill line by line to see if we can either lower them even more.
I always thought the rent statement would be the same every month as long as you pay it on time, until this past month when I looked at my statement online and found it to be $100 over what I expected to pay. You can believe I was at the leasing office the very next day to find out what was going on.
The office manager kept saying I did not pay my water bill on time and it was all for past months’ bills. I asked for a line by line printout of the charges. When I looked at it closely, I found the office was charging us a late fee of $60 ($10 for each day it was considered late) plus the actual water bill of $40. I told the manager I never got a bill for the $40 water bill and I asked him to check their records again. He did not believe me at first, but grudgingly checked. Just as I thought, I was right: they got behind in sending the bill, instead charged it directly on the account and started accruing late fees. They took off the $60 late fee and I paid the $40 water bill that was legitimately owed.
I am glad I checked the rent statement online and found out the error before it got any worse. If I had not gone over the charges line by line, I would not have known they had made a mistake. Even with their online billing system, landlords make mistakes too, so always question bills that don’t seem right.
Internet and phone
One bill that got a lot of scrutiny was the bundled internet/phone bill.
One reason we went with one provider was the “bundled” plan offered a hefty introductory discount. After one year, the monthly bill went to the regular price.
As a result of our line by line scrutiny, we decided to cut out the phone service. We looked at the minutes used for a few months. It turned out we did not use the home phone that much, and instead used the cell phone for most calls. Total saved: $20
The most interesting part was the internet bill. After comparing our bill with the posted rates on the company’s website, we realized we were being overcharged $10 per month because the company was charging us for a higher bandwidth than what we actually had. Amount saved on the internet bill: $10.
Total saved: $30 per month. Now the company owes us several months worth of credit on the internet service for overcharging us.
Next came the electricity bill. We compared months were we spent a lot versus months that we did not spend so much on electricity. We decided to increase the temperature in the summer so that the air conditioner doesn’t turn on frequently. Similarly, we are keeping the temperature around 65 degrees this winter and just bundle up instead of turning on the heater.
Total saved: around $20 for adjusting our habits.
In Texas, we can shop electricity providers as soon as our contract ends. We usually have at least a six-month contract. As soon as that period ends, we once again compare rates and change providers.
So if you are looking for extra cash, it may be worth your while to check every bill you get for accuracy, and review your expenses to see if you can eliminate some of them.
Our cell phone plan contract ended and we shopped around to see if other carriers offered better deals. We found out our carrier already had the best rate for our usage and coverage.
However, we did find a way to cut down the bill by going to a lower data plan. I called up to check on our monthly usage and found we were barely using data. I asked the rep for alternatives that would be a better fit and she suggested a lower plan that was closer to our usage patterns.
Total saved: $30 per month
If you try this yourself, review a few months worth of bills and take note of the changes month by month. Don’t do it when you are rushed, but when you have time on your hands to concentrate. Get your partner and the family involved so you can discuss changes in advance.
© Apartment Prepper 2016
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