Although your New Year’s resolve to make better lifestyle choices might — like mine — already be ancient history, it’s not too late to make some minor changes that can make a major difference with your everyday bills!
When we first got internet service at our house, I used an advertised deal. I think that’s probably how most people start. With a deal. And then when the deal period runs out, of course, the cost jumps up. But this time I did something different. When my deal ran out, I called and asked if they had any other deals they could offer us. And guess what? They gave me an even better deal than the last one we had! I have done this twice now, and each time our price just keeps getting better. [Here’s the catch: The answer might be no! But, “if you don’t ask,” my mother always said, “the answer is always no.”]
2) Cell Phones
When our teenage baby-sitter signed up for her first cell phone plan, she excitedly told us that she was only spending $10 a month for unlimited texting, calling, and WiFi data usage on her smartphone. When I asked her if she was really only spending $10 a month (expecting to hear that there was some kind of catch), she admitted that her bill was actually…. are you ready? Eleven whole dollars a month including the taxes and fees. With no contract! So we signed up with Republic Wireless, too, and have been happy with their phone choices and their coverage. They also have plans that include unlimited data for a very reasonable cost. [Here’s the catch: Sometimes the phone service can be a little more glitchy than with the big name providers. Also, only certain phones work with their plan – which means that you can’t use your iPhone with their plans.]
3) Health Insurance
We are in an odd category of people. Between my husband and I, we hold three part-time jobs… which means that until recently, we haven’t been able to get family health insurance through work. But we made too much to qualify for any subsidies through Obamacare – which made those options very pricey! Then we found Medi-Share, a medical bill-sharing co-op. For around half the cost of the state options, we qualified for a family plan with a reasonable deductible. They have strict standards for qualifying – which that means that the general health of the members in the plan is higher, and thus the overall costs are lower. While it’s not technically insurance, but rather a co-op, it still acts like insurance. It’s something to consider for families who have to pay out-of-pocket for their health insurance premiums! [Here’s the catch: You have to sign a statement of faith and agree to make certain health choices in order to join. Some services may not be covered. Go to their website to find out details!]
We know lots of people who already do this, but it saves so much moolah that it’s worth mentioning! Instead of paying for cable every month, we only use Netflix and Amazon Prime. Between the two of them, there are very few shows that we can’t watch. (Although we sometimes wish that Dora and Olivia weren’t quite so readily available!) And if you pair one or both of those streaming platforms with a blu-ray player and/or a smart TV like we did, then you’ve got all of the TV content you could want right on your big screen. Plus, we don’t have to watch commercials, and we don’t spend our time flipping through the channels trying to find something “good” to watch. We just pick our favorite shows and watch them together. (The side product of this is that our TV-watching has become more intentional and much less random!). [Here’s the catch: We miss out on some sports games – unless we go to a friend’s house to watch!]
5) Online Shopping
My next sentence is going to sound gimmicky, but I can promise you it is not a gimmick! We get between 2% and 10% cash back on most of our online purchases (including ones at Kohls, Target, Groupon and Expedia) through Ebates. We just signed up on their site, installed a little button in our browsers, and now we automatically get cash back when we make online purchases. And although Ebates doesn’t usually offer much back on our Amazon purchases, we use Smile.amazon to send a percentage of our purchases there to our favorite charity. So we are either saving or giving money when we shop online… win, win! [Here’s the catch: Ebates sends e-mails with coupons in hopes of getting you to shop more! As long as you only use Ebates for your planned purchases, and not for spur-of-the-moment-coupon-splurges, you will save money.]
I’ve mentioned my love-affair with Aldi in a previous post… but just to re-cap, you can save big on groceries at Aldi! There’s no clipping coupons, no buying bulk, and no membership fees. Just cheaper-than-normal food prices! They have a growing selection of organic and gluten-free foods, and their produce quality and variety is much better than it was 10 years ago. [Here’s the catch: Aldi sells their own brands – not name brands. So if you can’t live without Tollhouse or General Mills, you’ll still have to make a stop at your local grocery store. Fortunately, the Aldi brands are very tasty – you’ll just have to give them a try!]
7) Doctor’s Visits
I saved one of the best for last. What if I told you that you could video chat with a doctor about almost anything – including pink eye, the flu, rashes, and ear infections – at any time of day, and in under 10 minutes and $50, get the prescription you need?! Yeah. It’s true. You don’t have to load up all the kids, wait for an hour, and then catch a new sickness from the germ-y waiting room anymore! Through American Well, you can use your computer, tablet, or even your phone (with the AmWell app) to video chat with a licensed doctor. We have used them for everything from sinus infections to Lyme’s disease. It’s especially handy when you are travelling away from home! And our insurance now includes them as one of their in-network providers, too. [Here’s the catch: They can’t do everything! We still go see our family doc for well-child visits, allergic reactions, broken bones, etc.]
There you have it. A few small changes you can make on the everyday stuff… so you can start saving for the stuff you really want!
None of these companies asked us to advertise for them. We just like them and wanted to share!