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9 Week Financial Challenge – Week 4
Recurring monthly charges can really add up in a budget. Each charge by itself seems irrelevant, but together these charges create havoc on a budget. It is time to get serious and cut monthly expenses.
Whippersnapper Finance created a 3-part process to evaluate and to cut monthly expenses. Utilizing this process, we cut $10,000 in monthly expenses last year. We sincerely hope this easy process will help you cut expenses and assist you in taking another step towards financial independence.
This article is part of our 9 Week Financial Challenge Series. The challenge is not a one-week boot camp that “fixes” all our problems. No, we know that does not work. This is about long-term financial wellness.
Though not required, we do recommend starting the series at Week 1: Achieving Your Financial Bucket List.
There is a free workbook to assist you during this challenge (almost 30 pages of goodness). Please sign up via email to receive the 9 Week Financial Challenge Workbook. Do not worry. No spamming of emails from us. Promise. Remember the workbook is free and it really helps.
Week 4 – Cut Those Pesky Monthly Expenses
This week we are going to look at reducing expenses. This is an area where we can all improve, but it takes work. Specifically, we will review:
- ANNOYING FEES
- SERVICE AND MEMBERSHIP EXPENSES
Last year, we eliminated $10,000 in membership and services expenses from our budget! After completing this article, we recommend reading Save Money on Everyday Bills and Cutting Household Expenses Start Here as both articles give more details regarding the process used to save big money.
Being nickeled and dimed by those annoying fees is just crappy.
If you get a late fee (and it is not every month!), always call and ask for it to be removed. ALWAYS!
Do you need a little practice preparing for the phone call? Try this script.
If the company won’t remove the late fee, move your business. Of course, the best way to reduce late fees is autopayment.
In our opinion, the worst offender of tacking on fees is the financial industry. These fees are frequently disguised as service offerings.
Regardless, never pay to have a banking account. NEVER!
It is important to annually ask your bank if there is a new service that might be better for you. We have been surprised that the bank will offer a new interest rate on savings, eliminate wire transfer fees, or throw in a safe deposit box. It NEVER hurts to ask.
What is the worst they will say? If you feel that your bank is not working for you, look around. There are many interesting new entries into this industry that are changing the landscape.
Use the Fee Worksheet in the 9 Week Financial Challenge Workbook to identify those pesky fees. Look to renegotiate better rates and/or possibly change vendors.
Service and Membership Expenses
Step 1: Create a List of All Services and Memberships
Use the Service and Membership Worksheet in the 9 Week Financial Challenge Workbook to create a list of all the services and memberships. Our list had over 20 services and memberships that ranged from magazine subscriptions to a country club membership.
Here is a partial list of services and memberships to consider:
- gym memberships
- country club memberships
- lawn service
- cleaning service
- car/property/umbrella insurance
- movie/tv/sports viewing services
- computer anti-virus subscription
- newspapers & magazines
- sprinkler system service
- cell phone
- credit cards with fees
- dry cleaning
- computer gaming services
- sports clubs
- car music services
- identity thief protection
- season tickets – sports/performing arts
- home delivery services
- warranties especially if automatically renew
Step 2: Eliminate Services/Memberships No Longer Used
Focus on eliminating the services and memberships that are used inconsistently or are truly no longer needed. These are likely easy wins.
We had some big money tied up in memberships that we barely used including a country club membership.
Some memberships are clearly to keep up with the Joneses.
It is a good reminder that we need to be careful about what we let define us.
In the workbook, use the List of Services and Memberships to Cancel worksheet to help identify and prioritize cancellations.
We recommend only picking 3-5 services and/or memberships to address at a time.
It is not always easy to cancel memberships and seeing a list of numerous difficult phone calls to make can be depressing. Complete the first group of cancellations and then go after more opportunities.
Maybe, more importantly, we need to remember not to be pressured into signing up for additional services. Also, be careful with free trials as we often forgot to cancel those trials.
Step 3: Renegotiate Services and Memberships
The worksheet List of Services and Memberships to Renegotiate will help prioritize the action plan.
We strongly encourage everyone to start by focusing on cell phones, insurance, and home entertainment services. We saved over $2,000/year by focusing on these three areas.
The worksheets really help visualize the number and amount of fees, services, and memberships that are draining our wallets every month. We need to cut monthly expenses to regain control and improve our budgets. Reducing expenses is sometimes just about stopping wasteful spending.
- Make a list of fees and develop a plan to eliminate
- Never pay for a bank account
- Don’t be fooled by fees disguised as service
SERVICE AND MEMBERSHIPS
- Use the 3-Step Process
- Make an extensive list of all services and memberships
- Stop paying for unused services and memberships
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate
- Keeping up with the Joneses is a bad reason for a membership
- Be careful in signing up for free trials
Keep focused on executing the plans created in Week 1. This is the time people typically quit. Do NOT quit!!! The hard work will start showing up in your bank account next month.
Below are some other articles you may find beneficial including the two recommended earlier. If you have a question or thought, feel free to use the comment section or email us directly. Pin this article for later reference.
You got this!