Reality Check: Downgrading Monthly Services

Earlier I shared about saving money on rent, and I looked for other ways to save money with little effort. I focused on my monthly bills, because I realized I was paying for services every month that I wasn’t using.

Mobile Phone:

I like having a mobile phone for emergencies, and I also use it to call long distance. I always signed up for the cheapest monthly plan I could find, and the most recent one was about $40 after tax. I knew I wasn’t using anywhere close to the number of minutes available.

I decided to look into prepaid phones, and I found the Pay-As-You-Go prepaid plan from T-Mobile. There is no contract — you just buy a prepaid phone and the number of minutes you want. If you start by adding $100 worth of refill minutes, the cost will only be 10 cents per minute, and the minutes won’t expire for a year. The phones are inexpensive too, but I don’t think they are of any lesser quality. The wireless service in my area is better than what I had before.

I signed up for T-Mobile’s prepaid plan 9 months ago, and I’ve used about 50 minutes per month. This has cost $5 per month (much nicer than the $40 I was spending before). I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but if you use your mobile phone as seldom as I do, it would definitely be worth switching over from a monthly plan to a prepaid plan.

Savings: $35 per month, $420 per year


Home Phone and Internet:

I am including these together because where I live, you must have both for an internet connection. We have the cheapest possible home phone service that is available. Since we use the mobile phones for long distance, I requested that the long distance service be disabled on our home phone. We weren’t using it, but they were charging us $3.50 a month for it to be available.

I also called once a year or so to ask if there was a lower-priced internet service, just to make sure we were getting the best value we could. At one point they had raised the price to $40, and when I called, they lowered it back to $20 for the same speed and service. 

Savings: $23.50 per month, $282 per year


We don’t have cable or satellite. We don’t even have a rabbit-ears antenna, because it won’t work here. As nice as it would be to say “we don’t watch tv”, trust me, if we had it I would watch it a lot. What we have instead is a Blockbuster subscription that costs $18 a month and lets us watch movies when we feel like it. Also, if you haven’t heard, a lot of shows are online. I can watch The Office anytime, so I don’t feel deprived.

Savings: $32 per month, $384 per year

Total Savings:

It took a few phone calls and research on my part to lower these monthly costs, but now that I’ve done it, I benefit from it every month.

Total Savings: $90.50 per month, $1,086 per year

Isn’t that incredible how it adds up?  Maybe these tips will work for you too, so you can save money off your bills and keep it for something better.

Series: A Study in Brown

Series: A Study in Brown, 2008
Artist: Lane, age 1 year 11 months
Media: Brown eye pencils (Trish McEvoy #8 and Clinique #04 Black Coffee) on laminated wood shelf
Temporary Exhibition

The Tempest
20080429 - Tempest

The Elephant
20080429 - Elephant

Herb Parade

I figured if the Dervaes family can grow their urban homestead on a 1/5 acre city lot, then I could probably fit a few more herbs on my patio. As if I needed a reason to have more plants.  It’s getting a little bit crowded out there.

Garlic chives
20080426 - Garlic chives herb

Chocolate mint.  I need to find a good recipe to use this.
20080426 - Chocolate mint herb

Spearmint (Southern iced tea necessity)
20080426 - Spearmint herb

20080426 - Basil

I love the baby basil leaves with their spring green color this time of year.
20080426 - Basil 2

Somehow this red salvia came home with me as well.
20080426 - Red Salvia

20080426 - Lavender herb

Italian Parsley.  I use this one a lot.
20080426 - Italian parsley herb

I can’t wait to use these herbs to cook some frittatas. I especially love the recipe for Kuku-ye Sabsi. I’ve made it several times using whatever fresh herbs I had, and it’s unexpectedly delicious.