Over the last six months, I’ve been hunting for ways to decrease my monthly spending. I’ve minimized my car insurance without giving up coverage (savings: $6/month), decreased my rental insurance (savings: $5/month), and negotiated a lower cell phone bill (savings: $35/month).
I love hunting down these small savings amounts, because every dollar I save is one dollar less per month I need to spend on living, and one dollar more per month I can send to savings or investments. But I’d hit a bit of a wall with my expenses lowering. Other than our variable expenses, I couldn’t find anywhere else to cut.
It was about this time last month that my husband brought home his benefits re-enrollment form, and a light bulb went off in my head. My husband works for a company that is larger than mine, and so the benefits were probably cheaper than my current plan. I looked into it, and not only could we drop my plan completely (except for disability), but we could add me to his plan (which also offered more perks) for much less money.
A few forms later and I was enrolled in his health plan. I even included a small, inexpensive life insurance policy for myself.
The total savings amounted to $28 per week, or $112 per month, or $1,344 per year. Since that amount was no longer coming off my paycheque every week, I’ve essentially given myself a net income raise of $1,344, which is good, because I haven’t had a raise in awhile.
What I Plan to Do with the Extra $1,344
Ha. Just kidding!
Obviously, I’m going to save it.
$12 per month is going towards boosting my monthly house fund contribution.
$100 per month will be going towards boosting my car maintenance fund. It’s been lagging behind for the past few months after repairs and we’re going to need new winter tires next fall. Those cost a pretty penny, and I’d rather be prepared than have to dip into my emergency fund.
Any excess money that doesn’t get spent on car maintenance will roll over into an impromptu new-to-me car fund. I’ve ranted about the inadequacies of my vehicle several times on this blog. Here’s a brief rundown of the problems I have with my 2007 city golf.
- It’s a manual (I refuse to drive it on Halifax’s downtown hills)
- It’s front-wheel drive and low to the ground, which is inadequate for my husband’s 5:30 am winter highway commute
Having a car that is fully paid for is a huge asset to me, especially because I want to keep my month-to-month expenses as low as I possibly can. Because of this, I am in no hurry to replace my car and I’m willing to live with these drawbacks as long as possible. That said, the car is eight years old. Eventually, problems are going to start cropping up that will be very expensive to fix, or it’s going to die completely.
I don’t want to be caught needing to replace the car without any money in the bank to do so. So I’m starting to save now. Even if it’s only a small amount, it’s better than nothing.
With a little budget sleuthing and I’ve managed to boost my monthly savings from 30% of our net income to 33%, without changing my spending habits or giving up any luxuries. I’d count that as a win.
When was the last time you reviewed your work benefits package? Are you taking full advantage? I want to know!
Photo Credit: Mari Helin-Tuominen