If you’re like me, you get used to your bills. Complacent about them, even. Your monthly budget accounts for the debts you have in place, and you stop thinking about ways to reduce or eliminate them. You just keep paying them, month after month, without much thought as to when or how they’ll be paid in full.
Where Money Goes to Die
My parents, for example, have been paying $325 a month for a storage facility to house their extra belongings for the past 30 years. It’s a huge warehouse that they first rented to hold fixtures from a business they used to run. Then, it morphed into a spot for anything we didn’t want in the house, but couldn’t bare to part with. “Let’s just put it in the warehouse” became a common declaration in our household. It seems ridiculous, I know, but my parents just got used to the monthly bill and kept paying it rather than clean out their crap. They’re finally closing the warehouse down now, but they could have saved over $100,000 if they had done it decades ago. Over $100,000 essentially wasted!
Hit the Reset Button
Every so often, say, twice a year, take a close, hard look at your family’s bills and existing debts. Then, hit the reset button (metaphorically speaking, of course). See where you can cut costs, and what you can do without. Shake things up. See what you can pay off altogether, and which debts you should be putting any extra cash towards. Just don’t stay complacent about your current situation without re-examining it periodically. Make sure you have a plan and are on the right path to achieve it.
Break Bad Habits
Re-examing your budget and bills is a good way to identify and stop bad habits. Do you really need the complete cable package, or can you do without the movie channels? How about that long distance plan on your ground line…can’t you use your cell phone instead? And there are hundreds of ways to lower your monthly gas and electric bill. All of these small things can add up to big savings…towards retirement, towards student loans, towards your mortgage.
Whatever you do, don’t just blindly hand over your money for goods and services that you no longer really need. Never continue to pay bills and debts simply because you’re used to them. Of course I don’t mean to default on your financial commitments, but rather make sure your dollars are going where they need to go to achieve your financial plans. Don’t get lazy when it comes to your finances. It’s your money, and you should make sure it’s being used efficiently!