Why are you here? I am not asking for your take on the meaning of life or your grand purpose in life (although I am always happy to listen if you want to tell me). Rather, I want to know why you are reading this article at this very moment.
Are you here to learn? To be entertained? To share your views? Perhaps a combination of all three elements? Although I hope that you come here for a combination of all three elements, a desire to learn and to save money should be your primary motivation. Indeed, if you are coming here solely for entertainment, I shall be flattered but I shall also direct you to some writers who are far more entertaining than me (or so I am told by my friends and family).
So, if you are here to learn how to save money, how often have you actually taken the time to adopt the ideas that we have shared on this site? Have you actually cut your costs in some meaningful way, or found some interesting way to make your money go farther? I suspect that for most of us, we have not followed through with nearly as many of the easy suggestions found on these pages as we should have. Accordingly, I have a challenge for each and every person who reads this article.
Each day for the next five days, I want you to undertake the activities described below. I do not believe any of them will require more than fifteen minutes per day but each can result in material savings to you. You can do these things on your lunch break, after your kids have gone to school or at whatever time suits your schedule, but do them. I also want you to come back here each day to let us know if you have been successful.
Monday: If you are reading this article, you have an internet connection. Have you ever tried to negotiate with your internet service provider? If you have not done so recently, you need to do so today. About one year ago, I called my ISP and announced that although I was happy with the service I was receiving, I was thinking of switching to a new provider that would not cost as much. I then asked whether my current ISP could offer me a better rate. In less than 30 seconds, my ISP had slashed my monthly bill from $60 per month to $30 per month. With a five minute phone call, I had saved almost $500 per year.
Tuesday: If you are reading this article, you also pay money to your electric company. Call your electric utility company today and find out whether you can negotiate a better rate than the rate you are currently paying. One of my friends did this recently and was able to substantially reduce the amount she paid per kilowatt hour. Even if your utility will not negotiate with you, explore any money saving programs that you might be able to exploit. Last year, I agreed to allow my utility to cut the power to my water heater on an intermittent basis that would not interfere with my water temperature. As a result, I save about $200 per year in energy costs. The phone call required only ten minutes of my time.
Wednesday: If you own your own home, contact your mortgage holder to explore refinancing. If, as I suspect, you have already done that, you should still explore moving to a biweekly payment schedule. If you pay biweekly, you will more rapidly pay down your principle and you will save a huge amount of interest by the time you have paid off your loan.
Thursday: Go to your bank and determine whether you can get a better rate on your savings account deposits. Our bank offers promotional rates which revert to its ordinary rates after a period of time, but if we go in to our bank periodically (roughly each quarter), we ensure that we get the best rate possible.
Friday: Call for competing rates from insurance companies. Insurance companies rely on customers to stay with them over time and make a lot of money by increasing premiums each year. Since the first year’s rate is usually attractive, it pays to shop around for new car insurance and homeowners insurance.
I hope that if you do each of the things identified above, you will have saved or gained a significant sum by the end of this week, but do not stop there. Read through the articles that have appeared on this site and look for other steps that you can adopt and make a plan for saving money that stretches beyond this week, beyond this month, and all the way to the end of this year. And don’t forget to come back and let us know each day this week whether you have saved any money.