How small changes led to over $2,000 in extra savings last year

When was the last time that you really looked closely at your monthly expenses? I asked myself this very question early last year. To find the answer, I decided that I needed a “personal finance day” off from work. The day was so productive that I promised myself to do it at least once a year as I found several money leaks and missed passive income opportunities. My only regret is not doing this sooner!

Here's what I changed:

1. Monthly cell phone bill
$119 > $87

Have you reviewed how many minutes, texts, and how much data you actually use? Dropping to 450 minutes, 1000 texts, and 2GB of data has more than met my needs. Tip: always look for free wifi!

Annual savings – $360

2. Opted into the less expensive health insurance plan
$269 > $203

Have you actually taken the time to talk through the minute differences in health insurance plans at work? I never did and it turns out that they are VERY similar. Don't be afraid to ask your HR manager or health insurance rep; this is what they are paid to do.

Annual savings – $792

3. Increased car insurance deductible
$63 > $55.25

I increased my deductible from $500 to $1,000. Isn't that what an emergency fund is for?

Annual savings – $93

4. Cancelled gym membership
$45 > $0

I've busted my ass a lot harder with videos like Insanity than at the gym watching Boy Meets World on the treadmill. Bonus: the extra 20 minutes saved in the morning driving to/from the gym!

Annual savings – $540

5. Pen Fed gas rebate credit card
$80 > $76

If you are disciplined with credit cards, you could be earning something for every dollar you spend. This card yields 5% cash back on all gas purchases with no annual fee.

Annual savings – $48

6. American Express Blue Cash Preferred credit card
$250 > $235

This card yields 6% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 with a $75 annual fee. This only includes big box grocery stores, so I've had to stick to Kroger, Publix, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods.

Annual savings – $105

7. Switch to Ally high yield savings account
$20 > $89.84

As much as I love my local bank, my old savings account offered a measly ~.2% interest and Ally offers ~.85-.9%. While less than 1% is certainly nothing to be excited about, it's not a bad place to park an emergency fund.

Passive income – $89.84


Readers: What money leaks have you discovered in your monthly expenses?

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Discussions — 9 Responses

  • artofbeingcheap January 8, 2014 on 8:38 pm

    A lot of good stuff here that adds up to quite a bit when you put it all together. The only comment I have is your phone bill still might have some room to come down a little bit. Have you checked out Republic Wireless?

    • Cashville Skyline artofbeingcheap January 8, 2014 on 8:53 pm

      Thanks, Andy! I haven’t checked out Republic Wireless. What’s their coverage like throughout the U.S.? My job requires quite a bit of travel and often to smaller cities. Verizon has kept me covered 90% of the time.

      • artofbeingcheap Cashville Skyline January 8, 2014 on 9:23 pm

        I’m in the same boat as you and work a lot in rural areas. They primarily use the Sprint network, but allow you to roam on the Verizon network for free when there is no Sprint. I wrote a review about it here:

        • Cashville Skyline artofbeingcheap January 8, 2014 on 9:49 pm

          Interesting. Thanks for sharing your review!

  • impersonalfinanceroboto January 9, 2014 on 7:11 pm

    Awesome way to save man! I cancelled my gym membership about 5 months ago, and it was something I should have done a LONG time ago… and insurance is definitely one of the best ways to cut costs. I tout HSA qualified HDHPs for 85% of the population until I’m blue in the face. Way cheaper premiums, more tax advantaged, but higher deductibles. Keep it up in 2014 bro.

    • Cashville Skyline impersonalfinanceroboto January 10, 2014 on 8:27 am

      Thanks, buddy. I miss the cable TV from the gym, but that’s about it!

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