Planning matters

Don’t Let Sneaky Expenses Haunt Your Financial Goals

As we edge toward a new year, you may be thinking of budgeting for the holidays and taking inventory of your expenses to see where you can trim costs for the coming year. A great place to start is by reviewing your fixed expenses that come in the way of monthly subscriptions and services. In today’s digital world, it’s simple to sign up for a “free” month of an online service and forget to cancel it. But those expenses can haunt your long-term financial goals bit by bit. What subscriptions and services should you cancel or downgrade?

  • Gym Memberships: During COVID, gyms were closed and gym enthusiasts had to find alternate ways to get their daily exercise in – purchasing home equipment or taking it outside. With gyms opening back up again, many gym goers may have found their alternate workouts are sufficient and don’t plan on going back to the gym, or don’t feel safe going to the gym yet. If this is the case, don’t forget to cancel your membership. Even gyms with a low monthly fee can add up to more than $100 / year, so it’s worth the time to end the membership if you aren’t going to use it.
  • Books/Magazines/Newspaper Subscriptions: As any Apple News reader or Audible listener knows – it’s easy to get prompted to subscribe to an additional service to be able to read beyond the headline. Check to see what you are currently subscribing to and consider Libby as an alternate. Libby is a free app that connects you to your local library’s catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines. Borrowers can ‘checkout’ (download) up to 25 books at a time for free. And, if you are a newspaper lover, check to see if there is a special rate for a digital only version of their material – this is a better for the environment and your wallet!
  • Landline Phone: Hanging on to your landline phone but never use it? With cell service expanding locally, the global need for a landline is becoming less and less. Plus, landlines are becoming increasingly expensive while wireless costs are decreasing. If you aren’t ready to give up your landline number there are options like Google Voice, where you can ‘port’ transfer (for a one-time $20 fee) your number to your cellphone so you can get rid of your landline service without missing a call.  
  • Cellphone Plans: There is a cellphone plan available to fit every budget and every situation. Do you have a large family – try a family a Family Plan. If you are a bare bones user – try a basic plan with limited talk and texts. Like the flexibility to switch plans and not be tied down to a long-term contract – try a Prepaid Plan.  
  • Meal Delivery Services: Hello Fresh and Blue Apron are two of the more popular meal delivery services. These can be a convenient way to get full meals delivered to your doorstep and eliminate the hassle of shopping, but the costs add up to an average cost of $60 / week for two meals. You get much more bang for your buck, by trying online ordering and curbside pickup (or delivery) for free or a nominal fee.
  • Cable Package: Do you find yourself only watching a handful of the 100 + channels included in your cable package? Are you also paying for a streaming subscription service like Hulu or Netflix? Take an inventory on what you are really using and then prune back the rest. Call your cable package provider to see if they are running a promotion that you can switch to or downgrade to a basic package for a lower monthly cost. There are also free streaming platforms such as Pluto TV, Peacock, and Roku Channel available that you can stream shows on support devices and eliminate the need for cable.
  • Apps – Digital services in the forms of apps on your smart device are something you should review monthly. Yes, the fees associated with some apps can be as low as $0.99 to $3.99 per month which doesn’t seem like a lot but adds up over time. If you’re an Apple user, checking your purchase history is – open the Settings app. Tap your name, then tap Media & Purchases, then tap Purchase History.

Keeping an eye on where your money is going and understanding how much is costs you to support your lifestyle are all parts of your financial plan. We’re here to help and guide the way, so if you have specific questions, please bring them up during our next meeting together.

Written By Mandy Peterson