Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saving the Moola: eliminate bills you don't really need or want

Jason and I live pretty simply. Our monthly cost to live is far less than what we earn in a month, so we're on track with the whole "live below your means" idea. But lately, particularly this year when we've really cracked down on everything, it has seemed we're just paying too much!

Last year, it was our cell phone bill. We had a contract with Verizon. The contract included two phones and their most basic plan. We had no texting and limited calls each month, and our bill was more than $80! Since we also had a landline, this seemed crazy. Why do two people need three phones? The second our contract was up, we canceled and switched to Metro PCS and one cell phone.

Yes, one cell phone. We don't have a data plan - that's right, no internet on our phone. For those of you who have it and love it, that's great, but we will probably never understand the lure of having the internet on you 24/7. In fact, we don't even see the lure of having a cell phone on one's person 24/7.

Our phone bill is less than half the cost now, and it's a flat fee each month. We can text all we want, and we often text/email back and forth. We have unlimited calls per month, and that's been the best part of all! We use this phone both for work and personal uses, and it's very handy to know we can talk as much as we'd like or need to, any time of the day.

This year, one cost we eliminated was a second car. This happened in February, and we're so glad we don't have to worry about maintaining a second car, especially since we never used it.

In March, we really got crazy. Our DVR sat filled with shows. The TV was never on. Why in the world, we thought to ourselves, are we paying for cable? Our bill was steep. We called and canceled the cable, once our contract with AT&T was up. The shows we love are available for free online: Last Man Standing, Make It or Break It, The Sing-Off, the Suze Orman Show, Cougar Town.

We even considered selling our TV, but we decided to keep it for family movie nights. But since we watch it only once per week for that purpose, it's currently stored in the office closet. When we need it, we pull it out and hook it up. It seemed silly to keep the TV as the focal point in our living room when the TV is not a focal point of our lives.

When we canceled cable, our AT&T bill still had two components to it: a landline and internet. Because we work from home, we can't cancel the internet (otherwise, I really think we would). We kept debating the landline issue back and forth: one of us wanted to cancel right away, and the other thought we should still keep it (to protect the crazy-minded, I won't tell you which one of us wanted to keep it... hehe, I think I just gave it away!). After a lot of prayer, we both came to the same conclusion: the landline needs to go. Not just for money sake. The landline drives us bananas. Besides the fact that the only real human who calls us on it is my mother, as she was the only other human to know that number (and she knows she really should call us on our cell), we received tons of calls from solicitors.

We canceled our landline and haven't looked back since. Now, our AT&T bill is much smaller and much more easy to swallow. We could afford to keep all those other things - landline, cable TV - but we weren't using them! We were paying for services that not only did not we need, but we didn't want them either. We have one phone between the two of us now, and so far, it hasn't been an issue.

And we'll proudly admit and share: part of our decision in canceling our cable service involved God (most of our decisions do). Most of the shows on TV do not honor God. And by most, we mean 99.99999% of them. God doesn't say to love Him with 99.99999% of your heart. He says, if you do that, you are not honoring Him. Either you give your whole life to Him, or you don't give it at all. When we realized we weren't giving our whole lives to Him, in terms of our money management, our time, etc., and one reason was a television, we got our act together real quick. We're not going to let something like a television, a television, people, get in the way of loving God.

Whether or not your goal is to honor God, you should still eliminate bills in your home you don't want or need. And you should evaluate each item in your home, whether it's a TV, a computer, etc., to determine if that item is really bringing value to your life. Our goal is not to just do everything everyone else does but if everyone else is doing it, then surely we must, too. As of this writing, we own nothing made by Apple. We have a simple cell phone. We do not have a TV set up in our home.

We're going to live like no one us now and forever because we don't care what anyone else is doing. We care what we're doing. We care about what we're teaching ourselves. We care about what we're teaching whatever future children we may have (if we have any). We care about being responsible to the planet and to God. We care about cherishing ourselves and our family.

We hope you feel encouraged to break out of the mold of normalcy and join us in being weird. And share with us! What bill have you cut from your life? Do other people think you are weird, and how much do you love that?

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