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Recurring expenses: something to avoid

October 1st, 2016 at 05:48 am

Aside from essential recurring expenses like one's mortgage, gas for the car and utility bills, I have long tried to avoid discretionary recurring expenses at all cost. It's the kind of expense that's easy to lose sight of when you're watching your costs and the bills will keep coming forever.

I thought I had done a pretty good job of avoiding this kind of expense, but I realized recently when tallying them up that I do have a fair amount. These include:

1. My Amazon Prime subscription which I think cost me $99. I think this one is probably worth it because not only do you get a channel full of free entertainment on the Amazon channel on Roku (I really likee the Transparent show), but I also get free shipping (or shipping credits if you don't need your purchase in a hurry).

So, not including the one-time cost of the Roku device at I think $80, my TV watching is costing me just $8.25 a month, SO much better than the high cost of cable or satellite. That being said, I settle for not seeing certain shows I'd like to see and watch exclusively free content on this channel and others.

I don't like being made to buy a "bundle" of channels, and the only way I would return to cable is if they let you buy channels a la carte.

Plus, for years I've belonged to an online forum sponsored by a major credit card where you give your opinion just 4 times a month and you get $10 in Amazon gift cards each month. It's much easier to achieve than all the Pinecone and Tolusa surveys, so I've stuck with it.

2. Cell phone: I don't have a contract but have to buy a minimum x number of minutes annually or you lose your previously saved minutes. This is a lot of minutes and I never use them all. The minimum purchase comes out to about $9 a month but at this point, not working, I can't justify keeping this active when my current year expires in February. I STILL have not gotten into the addiction of cell phone use; i just had the phone for emergency purposes, but now I'm driving so little so will drop this unless i get a job.

3. Ancestry.com: This is a new "addiction" for me although it's been a few weeks since last time I was on it. I've done as much research as I could fairly easily. I will let this subscription lapse in late November; the good thing is that the results of all your research and the "tree" that you've built is saved, so when I'm ready to return, I can. The bad news it would be very hard to try to save all this info for my own records. You can't print out screen. I'm sure they do this intentionally. You'd have to manually copy all the info. Which I might try to do.

4. I did recently renew a subscription to my local newspaper. In fact, I paid $80 for 2 years to save $5 because I read this paper cover to cover and I like knowing what's going on in town. Some might not consider this a recurring expense, per se, but when i think about an expense like this, i tend to pro-rate it to calculate the per month cost. I'm paying for the whole year, just all at once instead of in increments, so to me it's a recurring expense...or worse than a recurring expense because you usually can't get a refund if you decide mid-stream you no longer want the product.

5. Angie's list: I decided to renew this one becus it's only $10 for the year and it's the first place I go if i need to have a home improvement/repair done.

6. Magazines: I used to get a lot of magazines here, like 3 or 4 at a time, but I didn't renew most of them when I was last out of work. Right now, I'm only suubscribing to one, Better Home & Gardens, becus it was so ridiculously low priced, I figured why not? I could do without it though.

What discretionary recurring or subscription expenses do you have, and do you think it's worth the cost?

13 Responses to “Recurring expenses: something to avoid”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    Let's see...besides mortgage and utilities and healthcare...

    CSA $600 per year
    3 Phones about $60 per month
    Car share $17 per month membership (plus whatever usage charges)
    4 bus passes about $150 per month
    Our share of Netflix and Internet about $30 per month
    Amex card $75 per year for 6% grocery rewards
    Daycare and after school care $1095 per month during school year, $1190 in summer
    Swim class for kids is $180 every few months, but it doesn't auto-renew, so we skip sometimes.
    Spirit airlines club $70 I signed up for once to save a bundle on a flight; have a note to cancel before renewal
    Instacart membership $130 for unlimited deliveries per year; I will cancel if they don't work out some bugs in their service within these 12 months

    It really is hard to remember them all because they're so scattered and sporadic!

    NT has Amazon Prime thru work, otherwise we'd probably get this. And people let us use their Hulu Plus and AMC logins; we don't use often so I probably wouldn't pay for those.

  2. Jenn Says:

    Cozi - $50/year. An online calendar for family activities w/ notifications and reminders. I think it can be had for free but I HATE being bombarded with advertising.

  3. rob62521 Says:

    I am with you...dislike buying a bundle of channels, especially so many we don't watch. But, we watch a lot of television, so I guess it is worth it. Just wish we could pick the channels we want. I know some satellite company says they are offering that, but so far cable isn't.

    DH has a couple of subscriptions, one is to Consumer Reports and one is to Civil War Times. Otherwise we get our magazines at the library. He's a history buff and wants to keep them to look at them again and the CR -- we use it to keep abreast of stuff. I figure we aren't going hog wild.

  4. Dido Says:

    My solution to the phone has been TracFone. Now, it's not really a smartphone...the once existent web service no longer works and it was never as good as a real smartphone. But I got an iPod Touch for that, a one time $150 expense, so I can use apps, Facetime, etc, as long as I am near wireless that I can log into for no cost. The Tracfone cost is fairly minimal. If you buy the time/minutes online (as opposed to the 400 minutes/one year card in the store), when you buy the card, it offers you the chance to buy a second card at a discount. So I renew two years at a time and if your phone has triple minutes, as many do, that is enough to basically satisfy all my cell phone usage and I spend about $180 every TWO years, or $7.50 per month.

  5. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    For the ancestry.com stuff .. have you tried the Snipping tool? (Find it by going to the icon on the bottom left corner of your screen and typing Snip into the search bar.)

    My recurring expenses...
    Netflix - 10.71 - only have due to DH wanting it. One of these days I may use it .. I used to watch stuff on there.

    Internet/cable - 55.xx -- Internet we defintely get use of. Cable ... I can count on one hand the number of times I've turned on the tv since we moved in here. DH maybe watches it a few times a week. So .. meh. (Cheaper right now than Internet alone, so for now, I'm leaving it alone.)

    Phone - Ting. Averaging 40 - 50 / month for two phones.

    Health club - 41.83/mo = not worth it since I don't use it, but am paying it out til I can cancel in March. (Checked when I was getting married about how much it would cost for the cancellation fee - $400. It made more sense to pay it out in increments rather than one big outlay.)

    Health Club 2 - $10/month will be joining on Monday. No contracts. Will see how useful it is.

    That's all I can think of right now.

  6. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Oh also for tv - what about Sling? You can't completely ala carte choose your channels, but it's pretty close to that.

  7. Bluebird Says:

    Have you tried taking a photo of your Ancestry screens? You could then print those.

  8. snafu Says:

    If you don't use your cell phone, am I correct in presuming you primarily use a land phone? Would you consider making your cell phone your primary use instrument? While DH remains on his former employer's plan to b 'available,' our son insisted we drop our land line and gifted me an unlocked smart phone to facilitate my choice of provider. Initially the smart phone was a learning curve but it's important to keep current as change is happening at break neck pace.

  9. PatientSaver Says:

    FrugalTexan,, I didn't see any snipping tool, but i did do a screen grab of my basic tree (thanks, bluebird), and then while looking for the snip tool I did find a way to print all the data for each individual. It was a little tedious but I did print out data for the 25 or so most important (most complete) bios I have so far. So if I never return to Ancestry (and I know I will), at least I have all the dates and other details which I would have if I wanted to join somewhere else or continue research on my own.

    The only thing I didn't do was print out all the supporting documents, which again, are very nice to have; I will have to do this also at some point soon, before my subscription expires end of November.

    I will have to try Sling TV

    Dido, I do use Tracphone minutes and they are always tripled. The phone is an Android ssmartphone but it takes a while for it to turn on, and if i leave it on all the time, that means i have to commit to recharging to every day or every other day, which I dislike. I often have trouble connecting to my email when I'm in a place (like my office) that has a connection.

    It's annoying that their instruction manual is as brief as it is.

  10. Dido Says:

    PS, agreed about the Tracfone hassles. I just make it a habit to plug in devices at night--once it is a habit, it is no longer a hassle. Also I have one charger at home and another at work (when I am employed).

    I really like the iPod Touch for internet access/email. Yes, the base model is $199 (I have the $249 model), but--having originally been reluctant to make the initial purchase and avoided it for a few years--I now am very glad I have it. From what I understand, they are not likely to make any further models of the iTouch, so I even have considered buying an extra to have just in case. I like it for the internet access--anywhere I can log in--at home, at a Starbucks or Panera, etc, etc--I am not paying for minutes beyond what my home internet service already costs.

    And it's a multipurpose device. I am remembering a principle of Alton Brown's (of "Good Eats" fame): don't buy specialized gadgets; buy gadgets/devices that serve a number of purposes. For me, in the kitchen, it's my Instant Pot. Otherwise, it's the iTouch. I use it for keeping track of various things via apps (weight, other health measures, how well I am sleeping--various apps judge your sleep stages by your breathing rate measured via microphone). For people who have an iPhone, I can FaceTime them instead of Skyping or message them with much more readable text than the Android device. It serves as a pedometer/GPS to track my walks and I listen to audiobooks or music on the device while walking, which makes me more likely to do it. It even can serve as a Flashlight! Plus when I am connected to the internet I can access all the documents I have stored in the cloud. It's the Swiss Army knife of devices, which is why I have become a devotee despite my initial hesitation to make the purchase.

  11. MonkeyMama Says:

  12. MonkeyMama Says:

    Anything that we pay is worth the cost at our current income level. Though of course we try to limit our expenses, I am also very focused on not having commitments or contracts. I can't think of any expense, except our mortgage and property taxes, (and utilities), which we would be required to keep/pay in the event of job loss. Nothing that we would lose by dropping an expense?

    Our recurring expenses are netflix/hulu $18, gym $15, cell phones $30, $10 land line, and yard service $80 (a splurge as long as income is above a certain amount).

  13. debt-free by thir-ty Says:

    Our recurring expenses are Netflix (11), Hulu (6), Cell Phones (180), Verizon Triple Play (80), EZ Pass (70 - not monthly, but 6 or 7 times/yr. depending on toll road use), Amazon Prime ($99), and DH's DC United season ticket ($350 - it's a yearly expense, but we always do the monthly payment plan).

    I think we'll also be adding medicine for both us and the pets. Not sure of the cost yet, but I take 4 allergy meds daily and DD2 (the 4 legged kind of kid) takes a daily pill for incontinence in addition to their monthly flea & tick/heartworm.

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