In one of my previous posts on budgeting, I recommended ranking your expenses in order of priority. This way, if you find that you need to make cuts to your budget, you can simply start with the least important and work your way up. Hopefully, cable and internet bills were near the bottom. I know in the 21st century it is hard for some people to imagine life without cable and internet, but it is possible. Even though phones are a little more of a priority, I’m including them in this post as well because most people have more phone than they absolutely need.
If your budget allows for what you’re currently spending in these categories, great! But if you aren’t putting enough into emergency funds, retirement funds or other priorities, these categories may be what’s holding you back. If you’ve been eating ramen noodles for the last two months so that you can keep your premium cable package, you should re-examine your priorities.
Because of the near monopoly that cable companies have created, cable is likely the largest of your three categories. If you really think about the amount of cable you use, I’d venture to say that it is also the category that is providing you the least value (bang-for-buck). I’d also venture to say that it is the least necessary of the three. The good news is that with good internet service, you can sign up for a few streaming services and completely ditch your cable company. Or you may have to consider giving up all forms of paid TV for a while.
More and more, internet is becoming less of a want and more of a need. Especially if you telecommute, internet may rank fairly high on your priorities list. However, if you find that all or most of your internet use is for entertainment, you could probably cut your internet in a budget pinch. Almost all public libraries offer free internet access for the times that you would need internet access. You be the judge of how much of a necessity internet is to you, but watching crazy cat videos all day probably shouldn’t outweigh saving for a rainy day or a car savings fund.
Having a phone is probably the most important of the three categories. It is probably also the category with the most wiggle room. First, realize that having the latest iPhone and unlimited data plan are not necessities. You might even have to settle for an old school flip phone for a while. Again, if these luxuries fit comfortably in your budget, great! If not, consider sending them to the chopping block. If you still have both a cell phone and a landline, one can probably be eliminated.
If you haven’t shopped around for phone plans for a while, this is a great place to start. If you’re currently on a contract, you may even find that switching plans right away is worth the termination fee. Some companies will even refund the termination fee from your old cell phone company for switching to them.
Don’t just shop around at the 4 or 5 big carriers. Several smaller prepaid phone companies offer significantly lower plan prices. These companies piggyback off the big carrier’s networks, giving you the same coverage. I’ve personally used Net10 and Total Wireless and have been very happy with both.
I realize that cable, phone or internet may be harder to give up or cut back on. However, remember what these bills may be holding you back from. You might be surprised how quickly you learn to live without some of these services. You’ll also appreciate the extra breathing room in your budget.
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- While I do strive to only write accurate information and dispense valuable advice, I am not a licensed financial adviser. All information is based solely on my personal experience and personal research and should be treated as such. Find out more.