Finding Money in the Electronic Cushions

There is the old joke that when you want to find some spare change for something you look under the cushions of the couch and chairs and head out to the car and look under and around the seats. With so many transactions happening online these days, the chances of carrying around pocket change to lose in the furniture or car are much smaller. But it is still possible to find those “change” types of money.

The Applications

Photo of water running out of a series of pipes next to each other in a wall courtesy PixabayIn another blog I wrote about reviewing phone and tablet applications to see which ones you use and which you don’t in order to save some money. Given the nature of non-free applications to give a free period and then start charging, it is possible to reallocate money that is disappearing $2 – $5 at a time each month from apps you no longer use. But the smart phone isn’t the only possible culprit.

Entertainment Costs

Over the last 5+ years I’ve seen in their annual reports that Comcast is losing more and more customers who are unplugging the TV cable subscriptions. However, the TV entertainment isn’t going away but is moving to streaming instead. This is shown by the fact that the Comcast number of internet subscribers continues to rise.

While it may not seem like much to pay a monthly fee for internet, as well as the subscriptions for streaming one’s favorite shows, these can add up to much more than what the TV package was costing. If you haven’t done it recently, review your entertainment services. If you are getting internet service, do you really need Gig downloads or higher? The claim is that higher download speeds will allow streaming more, but the reality is that most streaming content is compressed at some level resulting the ability to watch good quality programs without having to have a huge digital pipe. Consider lowering that access speed to save money.

Streaming services can also be places to save money. Review on a regular basis the programs you watch and which services must be subscribed to in order to view them. Determine if all of the streaming services are required. I once did an experiment to add up all the programs I watched on a particular service, as well as the cost for that service. When I calculated the cost-per-program, those programs seemed really expensive to watch. Much more than if I had purchased them later on DVD.

Pick the Package Carefully

Often media companies will offer discounts for different packages for a period of time. They are great to take advantage of if you can. When that discount expires, though, the bill will go up to the standard rates. If auto-billing and auto-payment are the method used to pay for this service, one might not even notice that the price has gone up. If you get a discount deal, add a reminder to your calendar the month before it ends so that you can decide if you’ll keep the service after that. If you do want to keep the service, then call the company to ask for another discount deal.

When you are considering media packages, don’t forget that satellite radio subscriptions may also fall into that category. You might find a cheaper subscription that still allows you to receive the stations you listen to most often. Want to get wild? Cancel it altogether and use the media player built into the car’s entertainment system to play your own music and downloaded podcasts.

Convenience Costs Money

I’m sure the phrase, “time is money” is familiar. To that I would add the corollary that convenience is money. By working a little harder at something or giving up a little convenience, it is possible to save money. One homeowner was surprised how much the landscaping company charged to mow the lawn all season. Instead, she chose to cancel that and buy a mower and mow the lawn herself. It had the added benefit of keeping her in better shape physically as well. Finding savings does not always have to be so drastic as mowing the lawn oneself. Instead, list and think about all the little conveniences you’ve chosen to spend money on and determine if any of them can be let go in order to reallocate money elsewhere.

These money savers are not really hard to implement. It just requires spending an afternoon every couple of months, or as little as once a year, to review all of the discretionary spending you do and revisit these decisions to purchase to see if they are still relevant. And you even have an incentive to do so: some extra money to spend on something that is a higher priority currently.