As promised, here is my post on how I added a smartphone data plan to our monthly budget. I am not going to lie to you and say that you couldn’t do all the thrifty things I am going to mention in my post and just save the money. If I tell you how to save an extra $30 a month, which is how much the data plan for my phone costs, you could just use the savings to have an extra $30 a month. But, to me the whole point of being thrifty is so I can have the things I want. What I do is try to save money on things that I don’t care about but have to have -like groceries and electricity – so that I can have money for things I want.
Thirty dollars isn’t a lot of money and you can easily come up with an extra thirty bucks just by being a LITTLE frugal. I don’t go to extremes with being frugal. I want to live a little too so my tips are going to be things anyone can do. If you want to learn more about saving money I would encourage you to stop over to the Frugal Mommies board here on JM. To me being frugal isn’t about doing without, it’s about making smart choices.
Here is what I have done or am doing.
Dropped my landline: This may not be a good solution for everyone but this is one thing I am doing. I have changed my cell phone plan to an unlimited plan. Because of this, I don’t need my landline anymore. The unlimited plan and data plan added about $50 to my overall bill. By dropping my landline though, I only added $20 to my overall monthly budget. If you aren’t ready to do without your landline, there are some other things you can do to lower your phone bill like switch to voice over IP (like Vonage) or bundle your phone service with your cable service.
Cut my grocery bill: I have been working on this for a while now. You may have seen a few of my posts about saving money from couponing and strategic shopping. Believe it or not, I have been able to cut my grocery bill almost in half. This has saved me an extra $50-100 a week. I only needed an extra $20. Cutting your grocery bill is a little trickier than just changing a calling plan or discontinuing a service but it is totally worth it in my opinion. I am now able to spend the extra money I save on cool stuff I want instead of just wasting it on food. I don’t want to turn this post into a couponing post, but if you are interested in cutting your grocery bill stop on over to the Frugal Mommies board and we will help you get started.
Eat out less: If you are already really good about this, this tip won’t help you much, but if you go out to eat or pick up pizza on a regular basis this is one easy way to trim money from your budget. For my family a trip out to eat can cost anywhere from $20 to 50. I only have to give up eating out once to pay for my smartphone.
Reduced my energy bill: This one I have just started working on. I have never made an effort to reduce my electricity usage. I just assumed that you had to use electricity and there wasn’t really that much you could do to trim your bill. I am not willing to sit around my house sweating or freezing to save money. I like to be comfortable. What I am doing though is easy. When we leave a room the lights get turned off. Now, this is probably common sense and it won’t save you a ton of money but it will help. Light bulbs aren’t really big energy wasters, but big screen televisions and computers can use a lot of electricity, depending on what kind you have. We have 4 televisions in the house and three computers. Up until recently, I never turned off the computers. I just kept them on all the time. Each computer and television costs me about two cents for every hour I use it. This is just an estimate. If I turn all the computers off at night I can save about fifty cents a day right there. If everyone turns off the TV when they aren’t watching it we could save another fifty cents a day. That doesn’t sound like a lot but I think I can easily trim $20 off my electricity just by doing these little things.
Lower my bills on my other monthly expenses: I have done this before, but haven’t done this recently. Every so often I like to review all my monthly expenses like my cable bill, auto and home owner’s insurance, etc and shop around for the best price. I have found that if I call them usually they will help me lower my bill by either cutting down unnecessary services or offering me a special promotion. I haven’t done this yet, but this is something I plan to do next week.
*As part of Best Buy’s sponsorship of JustMommies Astrid, HeatherW and I have received a smartphone for free. We will be sharing our experience with our phones with you over the course of the next few weeks.