It seems that almost on a daily basis I get emails telling me that I can save money by changing my internet company, my cellphone carrier or my cable TV provider. Most of the time I don’t have the time or energy to review these offers. Occasionally, one of the offers will intrigue me and I will look deeper into the offer to determine if making a change makes sense for me. All too often I find that when I analyze the offer and factor in the gimmick rate, it is not worth the time or the hassle to make the change. That being said, there are times when the savings are real and in those situations, I have no problem making a change. Unfortunately, because people are continually inundated with offers and with life as busy as it is, most never make a change. Many people believe the status quo is fine and just want to keep things as is. This may work for your cellphone or cable TV; however, it doesn’t necessarily work when it comes to the area of personal finance.
When it comes to the area of personal finance, change can be extremely important to not only make sure you are not over paying for something, but to ensure you have a product or service that best suits your current needs. After all, something that may have worked for you 10 years ago may not be effective for your needs today. Therefore, since we’re in the dog days of summer, this is a good time of year to relook at your situation to determine whether changes are needed.
I believe there are a few areas regarding personal finance that you ought to spend some time on to determine whether a change is warranted. The first of these areas is your banking relationship. We all know that banks and the services they have provided, along with the cost of those services, have changed dramatically over the last 10 years. The services you use from your bank today may be totally different than when you first began your relationship. Therefore, why not relook at your banking situation to analyze the services you are using and the fees that the bank charges you. You may find that by shopping around you can significantly lower your fees and at the same time, have better services. For example, 10 years ago you may have written more checks than you do today, or you may use your ATM differently than you did in the past. Looking at your banking relationship and making a change may be a win-win situation for you.
I know many of you may be thinking that making a change with automatic withdrawals and direct deposit is a hassle. I don’t disagree with you; however, the issue isn’t how much of a hassle you are going to have but rather, how much money you can save, and whether you will have better services that will ultimately make life easier for you. You may find that for a couple hours of aggravation you may save hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year. As far as I’m concerned, that is a good return on your investment.
Another area that has dramatically changed over the last decade is charge cards and how you use them. In the past you may have carried a balance on your charge card where today you don’t. Therefore, at one time the interest rate you paid may have been the deciding factor, while today the points and the perks may be more important.
Many of you will say you’ve had your charge card for decades and you think that somehow your loyalty will be rewarded. Trust me, it won’t be. The bottom line, you should have a charge card that suits your current needs, not one that was right for you 10 years ago.
I’ve always been a believer that you should seek competitive bids for your homeowners and automobile insurance on a regular basis. Not only will you find that you can significantly lower the cost of your insurance but also, better coverage. Once again, I’m a believer that you should not have loyalty to your insurance company. They don’t have loyalty to you; why should you be loyal to them.
When you do shop your auto and homeowners policies around, don’t forget to ask about the discounts. You may qualify for discounts from one company and not another. Don’t make the assumption that every company offers the same discounts, because they don’t.
I wish things wouldn’t change as fast as they do but it is what it is. It is important to your financial affairs that you have products and services that best suit your needs today. I’m not one who believes you should make changes for change itself; however, if making a change means you are in a better situation at a lower cost, why not? I always say the money you save looks better in your pocket than it does anywhere else.
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