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In an effort to help in cutting expenses, I just changed our cell phone provider. Here in the part of Ohio where I live, Verizon is the logical choice for a phone provider as they are the most prominent and basically lack any dead spots.
I’ve been with them since the beginning – from GTE Wireless, to the transition to Alltel, to the transition to Verizon. It just made sense. However, although the pricing is Ok, it’s not great.
Last week, I just moved us to Total Wireless. We’re still using the Verizon backbone and their Bring Your Own Phone program meant that, in a nutshell, nothing changed for us. The exception is we went from sharing 3 GB of data to sharing 8 GB.
Isn’t this a good thing, Jim?
Absolutely. Not only are we getting more than twice as much data and the exact same coverage, but our bill also dropped a little more than $20 a month.
So by doing very little (just swapping out the SIM cards in the phones and activating), we now magically have another $20 a month that I can put to better use elsewhere.
Our wins from cutting expenses
The new phone plan is just the latest in my mission of cutting back on or eliminating unnecessary expenses.
Let’s start with the good – here are a couple examples of savings we’ve made happen…
Cutting the cord
We were one of the forerunners in the mission to cut the cord. We’ve been using a Home Theater PC (HTPC) for almost a decade now.
In other words, we have a computer that acts as the hub for everything in our living room (similar to a cable box, but insanely better!). The incoming coax from the cable company connects to our computer and then the TV acts as a computer monitor. The HTPC software we use is the interface designed to fill the screen and give a fantastic experience.
We have access to all our digital movies, music, and more. And, of course, we can watch TV complete with a guide and the ability to schedule and record our favorite shows.
The only reason we kept our basic cable service was because the cost of Internet by itself was actually around the same price of combining the two.
However, Time Warner’s recent merger with Spectrum ended up being a thorn in my side. I’ll skip the drama, but I had seven separate calls to them recently to decide how to adjust my service as the price went up.
I ended up getting pretty ticked off and decided to cancel everything but the Internet with them.
I kept everything the way we had it with the only difference being that we now have an antenna in place connecting to the HTPC instead. Works awesome.
These changes have eliminated some heartache and saved us around 25 bucks a month. Not too shabby.
As a side note, if you’re considering cutting the cord, check out Untangle.TV. It’s a free site with no registration required that helps you figure out what you need to do to cut the cord, save some money, and still get the important shows or channels that are important to you. Great idea, nicely implemented, and it only takes maybe 5 minutes or so to run through.
I don’t believe all states offer this, but here in Ohio, we have the ability to use a different utility company… sort of. The main companies are still responsible for providing the gas or electric to us, but you can choose a different company to be your supplier.
I don’t really get or care why they do it this way, but if you dig into it, you can actually save a great deal of money by choosing a different supplier. And hey, we’re all about cutting expenses, right?
The HR manager at my office and I go back and forth a couple times a year discussing the latest offers and figuring out the best deal. Though most people just stick with what they have, we’ve saved a bundle by using other supplies.
Currently, the two utilities we seem to be doing very well with our natural gas and electric. It varies, but I would venture to guess that I save about 25% off my utility bills by keeping an eye on this.
So cutting expenses seems like a great idea, right? You can save some good money doing this!
True, but here’s the problem…
The biggest problem with cutting expenses is that you can only go so far with it. In other words, it’s a finite mission.
You can cut out big expenses like cars or even better, you can downsize your house. This is definitely going to help get your further ahead financially. In fact, it should also make a dramatic difference expediting the path to financial independence.
But eventually, you’re going to run into a limit. You can only cut out so much… and then what?
I enjoy the idea of cutting expenses – it makes me feel like I got a little win on something. However, it’s not going to get me to where I need to be because it’s limited.
So then, what’s the other side of the coin?
For the win…
The good news is that making more money doesn’t have a cap.
And the even better news is that it can exponentially help your finances grow. So, I could spend a few hours a month cutting expenses trying to find ways to save $20, $30, or even $50 a month.
Or, I can spend a few hours a month trying to find a new rental property that will help me net $500 a month. And in the process, I gain an asset that I get to keep along with a number of other great benefits.
Hmmm, this doesn’t seem like a hard decision… I’ll take the rental property any day!!
The good news is that my sole focus isn’t on cutting expenses. In fact, with the exception of possibly downsizing the house, I’m spending most of my free time building up other income streams.
And the best income streams are the ones that can be a little more passive or fun. Here are some of the ideas I’ve got cooking up…
A few ideas…
I’m building up a cash flow stream through buy-and-hold rental properties. If you haven’t done anything with real estate before, it can seem a little scary, but so far, I haven’t found anything too difficult with it.
We have three units (a single-family and a duplex) and I’m currently trying to pick up another one.
It’s very important to do some learning beforehand to get a better foundation and then you just do it. You’ll make mistakes, but the key is to learn from them. BiggerPockets is an excellent resource to get a good real estate education with most of their content being both free and easy to understand.
And just because I like rental properties, that doesn’t mean it’s the only option out there. There are so many things you can do with real estate, it’s crazy – buy-and-hold, flipping, wholesaling, commercial or residential, tax liens, REITs, and tons more. It’s really a matter of learning about the different options and going down the path of the ones that are the best fit for you.
Although I personally think real estate is a great focus to have when building wealth, it’s not the only avenue out there. There are so many side hustles that can be done with just a handful of extra hours a week.
This blog is a great example of another side hustle. I spend probably around 10-15 hours a week on this site (sometimes more, sometimes less).
This is going to be a long road, but over time and as my audience continues to build, the income should also continue to grow. A few years from now when I quit my job, I hope this site will provide some nice supplemental income.
It’s very unlikely that you build a blog and it just takes off. It takes a loooonnnng time to gain a following, cultivate relationships with other bloggers, and refine your writing to be what your readers want.
As I write this, I’m just shy of two years in and I’m finally starting to feel like I’ve found a good place in the personal finance web space. Regardless, the low cost-of-entry makes this something worth considering.
If you’ve thought about writing a blog, check out my Blogging for Money and Fun post to get a better idea of what to expect.
Have you ever considered writing a book? I did and I’ve written and published a couple of technical books. The first book is now out of print, but the second book continues to generate royalties for me every month. It’s not anything I’m going to retire from, but it’s nice to get that deposit every month with no further effort put forth.
In fact, I recently decided to start writing a third book in the personal financial area. I just got started and have some great ideas, but I’m going to take my time with it since I have so many other side hustles going on right now. But once it’s done, the royalties should flow in every month like they have for my other books.
Once retired, I also plan to write a children’s book at some point, which I think will be really fun to do.
The great thing is that the simplicity just from when I published my first book compared to publishing my second book is tremendous. It has become so easy for anyone to publish a book. Check out CreateSpace for one great avenue to make this happen. They’re a subsidiary of Amazon and make it very simple to publish both print-on-demand (POD) and Kindle books.
This isn’t an area where I’ve done a lot, but it can be a great side hustle to earn some passive income.
Come up with a great idea or invention, take it a little further, and then license it out to another company or companies, and let them pay you to use your idea. Many people have realized just how possible this is through the Shark Tank show on TV.
You need to be careful to protect your ideas or inventions through different types of patents, copyrights, or trademarks. You also want to make sure that you keep your ideas to yourself, document them carefully, and require that anyone that’s going to learn of your idea sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
There are tons of books out there that can get you on the right track for this.
I have a couple ideas of my own for inventions, but I haven’t done anything with them yet. We’ll see if I can make anything happen with ’em at some point.
Cell Phone Apps
This is another idea that is possible to make a little money from. If you have a great idea for an app, you can either build it yourself or you can hire a developer to do it for you.
I don’t know enough about this area to know the best strategy to use with your apps to earn money (freemium version or free with ads?).
Like the others side hustles I’ve mentioned, I have one idea for an app and briefly talked with a developer, but I have yet to make it happen.
I’m also curious to find out just how long it will take to recoup the money I put in with a developer if the app has an average performance in the market. That will help determine if it’s even really worth pursuing.
These ideas are only the tip of the iceberg, but the point is that building up other income streams can be a better payoff than cutting expenses. If it takes about the same amount of time to make more money than you could possibly save cutting expenses, isn’t it worth it?
Do you agree with putting your focus on making more income than cutting expenses?
Thanks for reading!!