“Don’t let a little thing like a recession come between you and your pinot!” – Me.
I don’t buy the idea that wine lovers – real wine lovers – are going to “trade down” during the current economic downturn and buy cheap wine, or worse, no wine at all. I think many of you are like me: I’d rather slash spending in other areas so that I can continue to enjoy the wines I like.
So, in an attempt to help you do just that, here are 3.5 relatively simple ways you can save yourself some cash. Cash that you can then redirect, judo-style, toward sating your wine lust.
Tip #1. Re-evaluate your cell phone plan.
I’ve been on a 900 anytime minute plan with AT&T for the past 9 months. When I got my iPhone I was sure I’d need every one of them, but I did stick a note in my calendar to check my usage patterns after 6 months just in case. Well the 6 month mark came and went, but I finally got around to it this week.
AT&T doesn’t make it easy to glean the info you need to make an informed decision. They show your total minutes in their billing summaries, not your total anytime minutes, which is what you pay for. I’m sure the same can be said for Verizon and Sprint and T-Mobile. So be sure you find the line that shows your total anytime minutes used for the past 6 months or so, and write them down or enter them into a spreadsheet.
Being a data geek, I made a chart.
Basically I found that I could save myself $20 a month on my calling plan with virtually no fear that I would incur any overage fees. After pressure from Congress, AT&T followed Verizon’s lead last October and stopped requiring that you extend your contract when you change your rate plan. This means you won’t be penalized for switching to a lower priced plan. Take full advantage.
Three months worth of savings will net me a top-of-the-line, absolutely stellar Russian River Pinot like Lynmar’s ’05 Quail Hill. You might do even better.
Tip #1.5: If you are an AT&T customer you can save another $2.95/month by opting out of the Roadside Assistance program. Totally superfluous if you already have AAA.
Total Monthly Savings: $22.95.
Bottom line: Worth a look.
Tip #2. Report Your Credit Card Lost or Stolen
This one is a little tricky. Depending on your credit card company, it may even be more trouble than it’s worth. But when we recently were forced to replace one of our credit cards I was deluged with emails and letters about automatic payments that weren’t going through…many of which I had completely forgotten about! This allowed me to pick and choose which services to let expire and which ones to keep. I figure I saved around $40 a month canceling autopays for services I no longer use.
The caveat here is that some credit card companies will allow autopayments to continue to be charged to your account even if you cancel a credit card! Be sure to ask the customer service rep about their policies before you make the switch.
Hey, and while you’re on the phone, ask your credit card company to lower your interest rate. I think you’ll be happily surprised with the results.
UPDATE #1: Here’s some insider’s advice for how to ask for the rate reduction:
This script works better. Call and tell them that you have X number of cards and you are going to pay off all of them but one. Obviously you are going to keep and use whichever one offers you the lowest interest rate. If they tell you no, tell them you are thinking about cancelling and would like to speak to retention. If retention, who’s job is to keep you from closing, or saving, your account then there is nothing to be done. If you can afford to pay it off, do so. Don’t close your account…
We continuously get people calling in saying “I pay my card on time in full every month, I deserve blah blah blah”. Guess what pal, you are the worst type of cardholder to a credit card company. We make no money off of you. We want someone who carries a balance and pays interest every month. You’d be surprised how fast credit card companies will call your bluff and close your account if you are one of the on time and in full types.
Total Monthly Savings: $40.
Bottom line: Terrific way to put an end to rougue autopays that eat away at your disposable income, provided your credit card company isn’t ethically challenged.
Tip #3. Be Smart About HDTV Accessories
I have a friend who already has his “economic stimulus” check spent. He’s going to be getting himself an HDTV. By most accounts, HDTVs have come down in price about as far as they are going to for the foreseeable future, so it’s a pretty good time to buy.
It is not however, and nor will it ever be, a good time to blow 80 bucks on a High Definition (HDMI) cable at Best Buy. Independent tests show that these outrageously overpriced cables ($50-80!) are the exact same quality as those that you can buy for $10 or less online at Monoprice.com and Amazon.
Instead spend that money where a higher price actually gets you higher quality. Like on the wonderful Moshin ’05 Family Reserve (scroll down to locate it) for instance.
Total Savings: $40-70.
Bottom line: A no brainer if you are in the market for a HDTV or HDMI component.
Let me know about any money saving tips you’ve found success with in the comments. I’ve got more wine to buy!
And if you find these tips useful and feel like thanking us, I’d be mighty obliged if you were to join our inaugural vintage mailing list. It’s free!
In the comments Dave recommends checking your Satellite/Cable bill and your phone bill. Movie Rental services like Netflix might save you some cash vs. HBO and Showtime, and eliminating your landline and going completely mobile might be an option to save cash as well.
Thanks Dave! And keep the tips coming!