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Spending 30 minutes to save $30+ dollars

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With my recent move, I’ve been spending a lot of time with getting everything “set up” with the new place. Although I’m basically all set up now, I was a bit surprised when I opened the mail to find my first trash bill at my new residence.

Just to provide some context – I moved basically 2 neighborhoods away. I’m still very close to my old residence and still using the same trash provider as the old residence. So imagine my surprise when I opened my trash bill to find it had more than DOUBLED!

  • At my old residence, we had twice-weekly trash pick-up AND once-a-week recycling, for a cost of $35 (for a 3-month period of time).
  • At my new residence, I only have once-a-week trash and recycling, for a cost of  $95!!!! (for the same 3-month period of time).

I literally could not believe the discrepancy. I was being charged significantly MORE for LESS service (since I’d only requested once-a-week trash instead of twice-a-week like at the old house).

It was quite the ordeal when I tried to call to inquire about the huge cost difference. First, I clicked through the menu to talk to someone in billing. When the person wasn’t able to adequately answer my questions (why are there all these extra fees and surplus charges? why is the base rate so dramatically different?), I was transferred to someone in sales. The person in sales didn’t do much better of a job with explaining things. For instance – I was told the rate at my former residence was negotiated through the HOA so the discrepancy was due to the fact that I’m not currently in an HOA (but that’s not true – I’m still in an area governed by an HOA!). Then I was told that many of the extra surplus fees at my new place actually go to pay the HOA (what the what???). Then I was told the base rate for recycling also included a recycling fee because recycling in the area is down so they had to charge an extra fee to still be able to offer the service. I asked what would happen if I canceled recycling all together and was told I’d still be required to pay the fee (HUH????) Made no sense.

So I got pretty fed up and said I was going to call around to check rates at other companies. At this point, the sales person finally started loosening up a bit. I was told that if I found a cheaper rate, that they would price-match it for me. Interesting…..  So then I explained my position:

“Okay, then. How about this. Can you price match YOURSELF??? Because this is what I’m planning to do. I will call around. And I will find a cheaper rate somewhere else. And then instead of going through the whole rigamarole of calling back here and spending another 30-minutes trying to negotiate costs, I’m just going to simply cancel my service and go with the new place. OR – you could price-match your own rate that I have at my previous residence. That’s a form of price-matching, right???”

AND – IT WORKED!

It took a few more minutes of the salesperson calculating and figuring things out. But in the end, they were able to match my old rate for a one-year period of time (and I’m not really concerned beyond that because I’m only in a one-year lease at this residence anyway). Instead of $95/3-months, I’ll only be paying $35/3-months. That amounts to a huge savings – $60 off my bill, basically saving me $20/month (since trash is billed in 3-month cycles).

It was kind of a pain of an ordeal to be transferred around, receive sub-par confusing answers that didn’t make sense, etc. But in the end I got what I wanted….a lower bill! That’s a win in my book!

Has anyone else negotiated down the cost for trash or another “utility” service? 

I, personally, was unaware that trash companies would price-match like that. It didn’t come up until way late in our conversation, too (I’m sure because they don’t want to do it unless they think they’ll lose out on the customer??). But that’s a good little tidbit to know!

No Spend Month has Begun

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We are all in and ready for No Spend October. Volleyball ended yesterday. Gymnast continues to train once a week, but I believe he’s on the cusp of quitting. It should be a very quiet month around here as far as extra-curriculars go. Seriously, the least commitments we have had in the 7 years since Gymnast started competing. I know it won’t last, but I’m going to enjoy it for what it is!

Food for the Month

I visited Walmart Sunday to grocery shop and spent right at $100 of our food stamps. I stocked up on eggs, almond milk and some fresh produce. My goal is to use no more than $50 more dollars for groceries during the month of October. We have plenty of food stamps left to cover that.

I have created a meal plan for each week along with a list of items to pull out of the freezer each week to make sure frozen meat isn’t an issue. (The meat still being frozen can completely derail dinner plans. In the past would send me out the door for take out. That is not happening this month!)

I plan to cook a fresh meal every day except Sundays. Leftovers will be used for lunches. And Sundays, everyone will be on their own. (Today Princess cooked breakfast for dinner for she and I and Gymnast; Sea Cadet cooked Tilapia for he and History Buff.)

Household Items

I purchased two containers of laundry detergent ($7 each) and 2 gallons of vinegar ($3 each.) Before you ask, we use vinegar in our laundry and for most of our household cleaning. The chore chart for month has been posted, and I double checked that we have the supplies for our typical day to day chores.

I did splurge just a little bit Sunday while out picking up groceries. I purchased 4 mums (seasonal plants) for our front stoop. They would have been $16 but I was able to use Sea Cadet’s discount at his job and got them for right at $10.

Entertainment

The kids and I have spent a lot of time talking about fun things we can do this month for free. We seem to have a steady stream of teenage visitors every weekend, so I don’t anticipate any problems with boredom.

Between video games, a free Redbox movie voucher I’ve been holding on to for this month, board games and long evening walks, I think the time will go by quickly. History Buff and I have each set a daily “steps” goal to work on our health. I’m grateful for the cooler weather and the company on evening walks.

We like to walk downtown with the dogs. Everything closes early so if we go around 7pm we have the sleepy street to ourselves. It’s something I did alone a lot this summer, it’s nice to have company now.

We also have a family goal of having all Christmas presents for Texas family (grandparents, 3 uncles and 1 aunt) before we drive down in November. We will spend some time creating those gifts. My goal in doing this is to save the cost of shipping. I’m hoping we have enough craft supplies around for what people want to make, we typically do. I know Princess has already started knitting and has a large stash of yarn, especially since I don’t knit too often anymore.

We are Ready

I believe we are set. Barring any emergencies, I am very hopeful that this will be a very successful month for us on all fronts. In addition to the obvious financial goals of saving a substantial amount of money by not spending any extra and only paying minimums, I have some additional more personal goals for our family this month as well:

  • Eat dinner together as a family at the table at least 4 nights a week. Our crazy busy after school schedule and Sea Cadets twice weekly night classes has kind of derailed that since school started.
  • Walk at least 30 minutes every day. I return to the doctor this month after being on medication for diabetes for 3 months. Increasing my exercise is my next step to improving and regaining control of my health.
  • Take one day off a week. I tend to work 7 days a week. It’s time I started giving myself a break. My plan is to have an electronics free day, one day per week. Saturdays seem to be the most conducive for this since I do weekly prep on Sundays. I’m interested in seeing how a gadget free day will affect my productivity the rest of the week.
  • Start my day earlier. Since I have now taken on homeschooling two of my sons, I need more hours in the day. I’m planning to start my week days 2 hours earlier then normal to allow for more time to work with them, specifically Gymnast. Wish me luck as this cuts into my sleep time. But I believe it will balance out since we won’t be out late this month with sports, etc.
  • Go on dates more. No this is not a reference to my boyfriend although that is going very well. I intend to spend more one on one time with each of the kids through the week. Seeing as we will be home most days after 3pm and don’t typically crash until 9pm or later, that gives me plenty of time to spend some quality one on one time with each child several times throughout the month. I always call one on one time dates…with my kids or my friends.
  • Catch up on some reading. I have stacks of books I am looking forward to reading. Most are self help or money related. With less drive time, and hopefully more free time, I hope to spend more time catching up on my favorite past time. My plan is to work this into the school time. We will either read aloud or go sit at the library or just have some quiet reading time.

I am looking forward to what I hope will be a relatively uneventful, peaceful month. By removing the temptation to shop, no need to be out all the time and a plan in place, I think our No Spend Month is going to be a hit. Have you ever done a no spend month? What were you biggest takeaways? Do you make it a regular occurrence?