We recently received a bill for our annual post office box rental. We actually have a nice, secure mailbox at our house with a lock and key. All of our important mail comes there. We set up that post office box ten years ago when we were living in a temporary rental while building our house. The only thing that comes to the PO box is junk mail, and for some strange reason, a copy of Ebony magazine every month. Why on earth do we still have this PO box? It’s because of habit. Are there things you do out of habit that waste money?
Are You On Autopilot?
It’s very convenient to set up automatic payments. It actually saves money because you don’t have to worry about late fees or interest if you forget to pay a bill. However, there might be some things that you need to review and decide you’re getting your money’s worth before auto allowing that payment.
Subscriptions-We subscribe to two publications, Money and a mountain biking magazine my husband enjoys (never paid a penny for Ebony). Between the two, they cost $20 per year, which I think is worth it. However, some people (my parents) have been on subscriptions to a newspaper and magazine for decades. Weekly magazines and daily newspapers can cost hundreds of dollars a year. If you have a stack of unread magazines from 12 months ago, it might be time to cancel the subscription. You can find most information online or at the library anyway.
Car and Homeowner’s Insurance– Every year, I’ve shopped my policies only to find the cost of homeowner’s going up every time, even though we’ve never filed a claim. Last year I finally went with a more expensive car insurance company that offered an umbrella policy, which also gave better rates on the homeowner’s policy. It was kind of a wash, higher auto but lower homeowner’s plus the extra liability coverage. Recently, I got a flyer in the mail from Geico and thought, why not? I’ve seen the little lizard on the commercials, but never called for a quote.
Geico is owned by Berkshire Hathaway and gives a discount if you hold stock in that company, which we do. They also give discounts to teachers and about a million other organizations. They offer umbrella policies, and are just getting into the homeowner’s market. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they could do all of my policies, plus save me almost $700 a year! I was a bit nervous to go with a company new to the homeowner’s market, but as of now, they contract those out. The actual policy is with Traveler’s, a company I’ve used for years at work. If you are renewing automatically without looking around for a better deal, you could be doing yourself a disservice.
Free 30 Day Trials– Have you ever signed up for credit monitoring, Netflix, or other online services free for 30 days? They make it easy to sign up, but like breaking into Fort Knox to cancel. We got stuck with a membership to a site for legal templates that I used for some work contracts. It took a couple of billing cycles before we finally got it cancelled. If there is a small monthly fee, it may not seem worth your time to cancel, but if you aren’t using the service, you might as well flush that $5/month down the toilet.
Memberships-Are you on a monthly installment plan for a gym or social activity? Maybe season tickets for the minor league baseball team seemed like a great idea at the time? I’m all about saving money if you get a discount for paying for a year in advance, but if you aren’t using whatever you signed up for, then cancel it. It might cost more per activity, but if you only go to the gym twice a month, a punch card might be a better idea.
I bet many of us have been guilty of wasting money out of habit. Just because you’ve always done something doesn’t mean it’s the best way. Going back to the post office box, we actually decided to keep it. My husband is always a bit paranoid about people knowing where we live, and he likes using the PO Box for the return address on Ebay sales. I guess if some disgruntled buyer of my daughter’s old shoes wants to do us some harm, at least he or she won’t have our physical address. It’s really not worth the argument, and I still get my free copy of Ebony!
What things have you put on autopilot and forgotten? Do you continue to buy things you don’t use because you’ve always done it?
If you do use this link to get a quote from Geico, I receive a small commission. This post was written before I knew I could do that, so my opinion stands, regardless. Geico saved me lots of money, and if you’re paying too much, give them a try.