Did you know that you could be paying quite a chunk of your money each month to unnecessary fees in your many household bills? We are not just talking debt, but the everyday bills. You know, the things like cable, cell phones, internet, insurance, etc. Of course, debts apply too.
Fees are a sneaky way for companies to make more money. Many fees are unnecessary and avoidable for most people; you just have to identify and call the company to eliminate or reduce those extra fees. When you end up adding it all up, it can be quite a chunk of change that you begin to save each month. Not all extra fees can be changed, lowered or eliminated, but the amount the can be is worth spending the week to find and call the company on.
Some common fees are:
– Paper billing fees. Go paperless and stop the fees from receiving a paper bill.
– Fees on cell phones for totally random and unnecessary services like ringtones and weird extras.
– Equipment rental fees, either you purchasing the item (from a place like Amazon) which will pay for itself in a handful of bills, or finding out if it can be reduced.
– Customer service fees are sometimes added to bills to cover the cost of calling customer service, but this is the cost of doing business and you shouldn’t have to pay additional for it.
– Administrative fees are sneaky little fees that many businesses slip into your bill. They could quite possibly be negotiated/dropped.
– Any fee that has any name on your bill that you just don’t know exactly what it is for.
– Any fee that seems to be “legitimate” is worth calling and truly discovering the legitimacy.
– Also, comb through medical bills the same way. Last time Cassie had a baby, she brought her own thyroid medication to the hospital, which is super cheap. The hospital refused to let her take her own medications (from a legitimate nationwide drugstore) and said we were required to order from the hospital’s pharmacy. When we got the bill, they were charging more for one pill than the drugstore charged us for the whole month – even without using insurance! It was a total ripoff and so I called and talked to them about this and a couple of other ridiculous charges. This last time she had a baby, we brought the medication again, gave it to the nurse and told them to have their pharmacy verify it instead.
The Task This Week
It’s quite simple really, find your bills (paper or online) and comb through the charges and identify any fees. Call the company associated with the bill and have them go through each fee and charge with you to identify any unnecessary fees and see if they can drop them for you. If it is questionable, oftentimes a manager can remove it for you.
Note that if you receive a paper bill, it may be “shortened” to save paper/space. You may be able to view the detailed charges online or call the company to get a detailed listing of fees and charges.
In addition, let this task also challenge your thinking and understanding of the “one-time” fees in future dealings. Like fees associated with a new cable install, or new cell phone plans just to name a couple of examples. There are many fees in the “set-up” of new accounts that are ridiculous! When you are going through the process with a sales rep or customer service, have them lay out every fee and the necessity for it and if there is any way to avoid this fee. Make them accountable for it and find out if it is truly necessary, or rather avoiding it to the point of taking business elsewhere. Once we started paying close attention to the ongoing monthly fees and then the setup or one-time fees, we really became aware of just how many charges there are and that can add up to be quite the chunk of change. We challenge ourselves to make sure that we are not paying any fees that we do not need to be.
Of course, there are some fees that only “add up” with usage that are easily avoidable and can save you hundreds over the course of a year over your bills. ATM Transaction fees, late fees, returned check/payment fees, over-limit fees and more that happen just due to poor planning and negligence. But that is why we also have you do the last two tasks from this challenge, you should be able to avoid these already.
We hope that this task this week will help drop your monthly expenses by a bit, but also “enlighten” you to the world of fees and how to avoid or watch for them in the future! Put the money in your savings account instead and watch those hidden fees be of benefit to you instead of these big companies!
Need to catch up? Come join us on this challenge from the very beginning by clicking on the 52-Week Take Back Your Finances Challenge and sign up to start receiving your automated challenge from the very beginning!
One final thing…we also have a Facebook Group where you can engage in discussions, receive encouragement and talk to others that are participating in the challenges too for more ideas! Head to the Be Intentional with The Thrifty Couple Facebook Page HERE and ask to join us there! You can also invite friends and spouses too!
Disclaimer: We are not licenses financial planners. We are only a couple that have been just a hair-breadth away from bankruptcy and found our way out of debt with a goal to now help others. Please make sure to consider any advice given on our site and in this challenge as tips we have used ourselves; they may not work for everyone. If you have questions please make sure to contact a licensed professional.