January Project: Reviewing Your Recurring Expenses
As we settle into a new year and have ample time inside our homes, it’s a great time to review recurring expenses that automatically hit our bank accounts or credit cards. Since many bills are paid automatically, outdated recurring payments and service fees don’t necessarily stand out. Here’s how to review these to ensure you are maximizing the value you are receiving and plugging up any spending leaks that might be happening.
Scrub your subscriptions and recurring charges.
In a world where everything seems to be packaged in a cute box, wrapped with a bow and sent to you as some sort of ongoing subscription, all of the latest automatic charges you’ve added throughout the year can easily add up to unexpected and expensive totals. Digital services are even easier to add on and forget, since there’s no tangible reminder to help you keep track. While most folks find that the majority of their subscription fees come from simply failing to cancel a service before a free trial period ends, they all add up and can pack a big financial punch.
One type of fee in particular that clients are noticing more frequently comes from apps on smart devices, which can be a real money pit. Sometimes apps require you to become a member and pay a monthly fee that seems small at the start. But these can add up significantly over months and years. Many apps also have in-app purchases that can lead to an unwelcome surprise at the end of the month, especially if you have kids or grandkids using your phone or iPad.
Sweep out old service agreements.
Even if you’re looking over credit card bills regularly for fees and services you don’t recognize, it’s also important to look at familiar vendors to make sure you’re still paying what you agreed to. Whether it’s your cable, cell phone, water delivery or home security bill, companies can be sneaky, finding ways to raise rates over time in small increments that don’t raise red flags. Know what you’re paying and know what else is out there that might help you pay less.
Shake out loans for lower rates.
While you’re combing through monthly bills, take some time to compare your interest rates. Whether it’s on car loans, home loans or credit cards, getting a better deal may be as simple as making a phone call to ask. As always, our team is here to help you evaluate options and strategies to ensure you are maximizing the value of your hard-earned money.
Written By Cynthia Boman Thompson, CFP®