How to control and optimize your budget

Believe it or not, many people are just throwing money out the window willing each and every month.  You might say.  But Drew, how or why do people allow this?  Well, some could be due to laziness.  Possibly due to they do not know any better.  Or, maybe they have so much money rolling in, they really do not care!  Whichever one it is, this needs to be addressed.  I will go through some common ones below.

1. Bank Fees.
Do you know how most banks make their money?  Well, aside from interest on their loans (which they may or may not resell), they make an obscenely large amount of $$$ from bank fees they charge to their customers.  They make money on overdraft fees, over limit fees, NSF (non sufficient funds) fees and ATM fees.  You really should be able to eliminate all of these fees by doing the following:
1. Opt out of overdraft.  Instead, setup alerts to be sent to you via text message or email.  Some banks also allow you to link your savings account to your checking account in order for you to avoid this fee.
2.  Opt out of over limit fees.  Contact your credit card issuer and tell they you would like to opt out of being able to charge over your limit.  You’d rather have the charge declined instead.
3. ATM fees. This seems simple enough.  Use a bank with plentiful ATMs so you are not charged a fee.  Or, do what I do and open up an account with an online bank who refunds all ATM fees. Some of these online banks include Fidelity, Scottrade, Penfed, Discover Bank, and USAA.

2. Insurance Premiums.
When is the last time you looked or priced out you home owners, renters or automobile insurance?  My guess would be never.  You’d be surprised on how much $$$ you could save if you go through and price out each insurance policy.  I always recommend going with a reputable local independent insurance broker.  Since they represent you and not the insurance company, they are able to shop your policy around to multiple insurance companies in order to get you the most competitive pricing.  Also be sure to go over your deductibles and optional insurance “enhancements”.  Nine times out of ten, your deductible is set too low and you are paying for enhancements that you really do not need.

3. Utilities.
Do you look at your utility bill or just pay it each month?  Chances are, you are just paying the bill each month, and the utility company loves you for it.  How about we change things up a bit in YOUR favor?  Since deregulation, customers of utility companies (business and residential) are now able to bid out the utility (electric or natural gas) portion of their bill.  While you are still stuck with paying delivery, you could save up to 50% in reduction of the utility expense.  You could lock in a yearly rate or go month to month.  Either way, chances are you will save money over the utility company.

4. TV/Internet/Telephone.
Have you checked your TV/Internet/telephone bill recently?  After the one or two year promo, they usually zonk you over the head with their sky high regular rates.  You should, first, always look for a triple play bundle IF you intend on keeping TV and telephone services.  With that being said, and now the ability in being able to keep your home telephone number, consider contacting your TV/telephone/Internet provider and seek out a lower rate.  Usually, just inquiring for a lower bundle rate is enough to see a reduced rate.  If not, you can always switch to a  competitor such as Verizon Fios, AT&T U-Verse, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DISH or DirecTV.

Alternatively, you can just get rid of TV and opt for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and use your cell for telephone.  However, that comes with limitations and may not be for everyone. I will cover the pluses and minuses of this plan in another post soon.

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