I think once in awhile (at least annually) it is good to see what our fixed monthly expenses are and if we can decrease them. So I reviewed our monthly fixed expenses (I do this monthly) but sat down and thought of ways we could reduce them.
An evaluation of our monthly expenses
I currently use a work phone, so my cost is $0. I forwarded my old phone number to my current phone using Google Voice (I have no affiliate relationship with Google). Therefore I am able to have 2 phone numbers (my work and my old personal number) on one phone. My wife has retained her phone which runs us between $70 to 80 a month on Verizon. She uses an iphone 6 and has not updated it in 3 years.
I did some research and it looks like Project Fi from Google is the way to go. If we changed services, my wife would have to get a new phone. The cheapest is the Nexus 5X for $249. Then her monthly fee would be between $20-30 a month depending on data usage. So we would save approximately $50 a month. This would mean the phone would be paid off in 5 months, not to mention the $150 we could get for selling the iPhone (so really the phone is paid off in 2 months).
Seems like a no brainer. So what are the hassles. One is leaving the Apple world which means we could not FaceTime with parents and siblings. This is probably the biggest problem. The other issue would be moving contacts over, but if you are using gmail a lot of the contacts are already saved. Monthly savings would be $50 after 2 months to pay for the phone.
We lived without cable for 3 years before moving to California. We would use Amazon Prime ($110 a year) and Hulu ($120 a year). For some reason when I moved to California I started using cable again. Currently I pay $100 for 200mbps internet speed and local channels (plus HBO). If I cut cable, the cost is $75 for 100 mbps. I am going to make this change with a plan to then switch to Sonic.net (I have no affiliate relationship with Sonic) when our Comcast annual contract is done (in June). Sonic costs $50 a month ($40 for the first year).. Total savings = $50 a month.
We signed a one year contract with our gardener when we moved in. He has been taking care of the house for 10 years and the other quotes I received were comparable. One guy actually asked me what appliances I had inside the home, implying I was rich….Needless to say, I did not go with that guy and realize that my house does not afford me stealth wealth.
So come November, when is contract is done I am going to probably take over mowing duties myself. We already have a weed whacker and with the purchase of a leaf blower and lawn mower (estimated costs totaling $200-300) then I can do it myself. Currently I am spending $285 a month so total savings $285 a month. If I find that I am not doing a good job and prefer spending the time with my son, then I will pay someone but negotiate a $150 monthly rate. In that case my total savings will still be $135 a month.
Currently this is worth the money. I go 3-4 times a week during lunch and likely would not be working out otherwise. Still,I am contemplating buying a electric bike so that we can go down to 1 car and bike to work. The distance is 3.6 miles (all with sidewalks) but it is a 778 foot elevation. Going to work (downhill) should be easy. It is coming back up that I am concerned about. That is why I want an electric bike. I am not badass enough to bike up 800 feet. At least not yet. The upfront cost of an electric bike is between $3,000 to $4,000. I would keep my car at first, but if I sold it I would make approximately $8K and save $1,000 on auto insurance. Not to mention gas, etc.
So if I buy an electric bike, then I will consider that as part of my workout. I also am considering picking up either jui jitsu or kung fu again (both things I have done in the past and enjoyed) which would count as the other part of my work out. If these things happen, then I will cut my membership which will save about $80 a month.
My other fixed expenses are what they are for now
We have solar and our monthly electric bill is low (as is the gas). Water bill is relatively low. Then there is the mortgage. This is our biggest expense and likely delaying financial independence. This is why buying a house sucks. Still, I am paying off approximately $25,000 in principle a year due to my 7-year arm. Currently the plan is to stay a minimum of 5 years and then we can reevaluate where we are, how big our family is, etc. Finally, my student low payment is $500 a month but I am increasing it so that I can get rid of all of my non-mortgage debt.
So all in all I can save $315 to 450 a month with just the above changes. There is some up front cost with the bike and cell phone, but in the long run will pay off.
What about you guys? Do you ever make changes.