Upgrade Update: What's in your bills?
Well, several of you have written in with your feelings about the satellite package upgrade.
I found them very informative. There seems to be an even divide among people who couldn't do without TV and those who have taken the (arguably healthier) route of going out and becoming more active in the outside world.
Wait... there's an outside world? That must be what the Travel Channel's always talking about!
Kidding aside, I'm inclined to agree with Shtinkykat that two people who are less able to leave the house -- and home all day -- are more likely to consider entertainment a necessity. Of course, that could be pure rationalization on my part.
That said, I still don't feel comfortable adding to the budget, even at "just" $12 a month. So I've decided to find the $12 in our budget.
I spent 4 minutes on the phone with a very helpful lady from Qwest. She put a block on outgoing, long-distance calls. (I would have settled for a no-charge plan with higher per-minute rates, but with the block there's no charge for adding/removing a service.)
I feel stupid for not checking the bills sooner. At $20 a month -- $25 on a particularly chatty month -- I just assumed I was getting a "good enough" deal. Then, I noticed we had paid a whopping $9 for 11 minutes of calling. It went something like this: $3.99 for the low-usage long distance plan, $1.99 interstate fee, $1.99 intrastate fee, $0.55 for calls, and then taxes. That rate was a little too close to a dollar a minute for my comfort zone!
And now that we have cell phones that work inside the house -- cheap ones, at that, since they're part of a family line -- there's really no point in the long-distance plan.
So in under 5 minutes, I was able to trim $8 from our monthly budget. That's almost $100 a year.
I think this is an excellent reminder to scrutinize bills more carefully. You can save a surprising amount with some indignation and a phone call. I may just spend the last part of this month poring over our bills and see where else we can cut. It might be an interesting game! (Plus I still have to find $4 more for the upgrade.)