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Seven things that you pay too much for

Cable TV

Do you pay for 200 channels of cable or satellite TV and only watch a few channels? Could you conceivably watch those shows online instead? Do you actually like those shows or do you watch them out of habit?

Regardless, paying for cable television is expensive. In fact, if you are paying the average of $78 a month, you are shelling out a whopping $936 a year. If you are paying for a triple-play style package you’re probably burning money to the tune of $160 a month, or in annual terms $1,920.

Consider paring down your cable to just the most basic service. As for all those shows you are missing, watch them online at places like Hulu and Netflix. If you are paying extra to watch just that one show, do the math to see if purchasing a season pass in iTunes, Google Play or Amazon would be cheaper.

Computers

Buying a computer can be tricky. There is a lot of technical jargon mixed with useless marketing lingo. Before you even walk into a store or check online, consider what you are going to do with your computer. Are you simply web browsing, checking your email, YouTube and Facebook? You’ll be fine with almost any computer in the $400 to $650 range. If you pay more than that you will pay for hardware and features you’ll probably never use. Just remember to let your computer perform its updates.

Software

Unless you specifically need some specific, obscure feature in Microsoft office, there is no reason to pay for it anymore. Google Docs, OpenOffice and LibreOffice are all very capable, free alternatives to Word, Excel and PowerPoint. They will also handle Microsoft format files as well. We can personally vouch for all three productivity suites listed above as we have used all of them at one time or another for years.

Food

The average American throws away $40 worth of food a month or $480 annually. Take time to plan out each meal at the beginning of the week. This will help you make a better shopping list. Are you visiting the coffee shop every day? Five dollars a day equals $150 a month or $1,800 a year. Eating out for lunch? You can do the math. If you’re not careful, your eating expenses will take a big bite out of your monthly budget.

Cell phone plan

Thinking about getting a new smartphone that is $299 on a two-year contract? Stop. Don’t do it. You’ll be shelling out way more money in the long run.

Your best bet is to buy the phone outright and then take it to a prepaid carrier like Straight Talk or Net10. It will cost more upfront, but you will more than make it up in the months to come.

If you are thinking of buying an insurance plan for your smartphone? Save yourself the money and buy a case like an Otterbox instead.

Extended Warrantees

According to Consumer Reports these are not worth it. Skip them. Same goes for insurance plans on smartphones. See above.

Money

Yes, using or borrowing money costs money. This comes in the form of fees and interest.

Do you regularly overdraft your accounts?

That’s money down the drain right there. Don’t pay off your credit card at the end of the month or worse, only make minimum payments?

That’s more money gone. Avoid taking more debt. After all, debt causes depression.

If you are having problems remembering to pay your bills on time, schedule reminders in Google calendar or use a service that includes bill reminder features, like Mint.

From cable TV, to food to money itself, we could all find ways save a little more. Keeping track of your finances is a good way to detect where you might be hemorrhaging your hard-earned greenbacks.

Dollars and Sense is provided by the Oregon Society of CPAs



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