Is there a bill you pay that you absolutely detest? Occasionally, I'll get an attitude about paying one bill or another. (Ha! Paying taxes on April 15 is one bill that comes to mind immediately, for example.)
I recognize that there is a reason I have the bills that I have to pay. For the most part, each represents a service that I decided was valuable and want in my life. But the more I manage my money, the more I scrutinize each of my bills and re-evaluate whether I really am using my money in the best way.
Counting the cost
For me, there is one bill that's really starting to get under my skin. I'm a saver. I am super attached to my stuff and can hardly bear to get rid of it. I have been saving my stuff for — Well, I was going to say “years,” but it's more accurate to say “all my life.” I still have stuff from my childhood.
The problem is that I can't really enjoy my stuff because, for the last three years, most all of it has been in storage. I haven't gone back to look at exactly how much we've spent storing our things, but I figure it's on the order of $3,600.
When you stop to consider how much you're really paying for an expense, you really start to think about what you can do to get rid of it. I mean, $3,600! That's money that could have been applied to pay off our little Munchkin car earlier, to beef up our emergency fund, or to take a little vacation.
It doesn't end there
I talked to some of my friends about this too. It turns out that there are a lot of people who feel that way about a few of their bills. Do any of these expenses send you into a dither?
Laundry — A dollar for the washer and $2 for the dryer — per load. That's what my friend in the city pays to wash her clothes because her apartment doesn't include a washer/dryer setup. Ouch!
Dry cleaning — Terry's work situation includes wearing a suit almost every day. We would love not to pay close to $200 every month for this expense. Another friend hates her dry cleaning bill so much that she refuses to take some of her clothes into the cleaners altogether, like the bridesmaid's dress she bought for her friend's wedding.
Auto insurance — One of my friends rarely uses his car because he lives so close to work; and he hates to pay the insurance on it while it sits there every day. But isn't that the case with insurance anyway? This is one expense you keep paying and you hope you never need.
What can you do about it?
The point here is not to complain, though. It's to remember that those gut feelings may mean that your spending isn't really in line with your current priorities or with what you value most. If my friend decides his auto insurance bill is intolerable, he might be prompted to shop for a better rate.
Thinking about my storage bill doesn't make me want to get rid of all of my stuff, but I do think I could reorganize it and hopefully downsize to a smaller unit. I'm also going to look into some other dry cleaning establishments and see if I can whittle that expense down some. By reevaluating these bills, I think I could free up at least $50 more a month. I think I'll look around and see what other expenses I could grumble about!
Do you have an expense you'd like to reduce or eliminate? How can you do that? How much money could you save if you did?