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Measuring Finances
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This and That:
Learning Financial Responsibility

Watch Your Bills

Over the past few years, I've observed that people don’t pay attention to slowly accumulating smaller charges that occur on a regular basis. The base argument (and trust me, I’ve been there) is: “But it’s only 15.99 a month”.
The point is that you sign up for one bill at a time and before you know it, 10 bills of $20 a month add up to $200 a month.

Go ahead, take an inventory of your monthly bills and see what number you come up with. Start with identifying all the small things on your list: magazine and newspaper subscriptions, movie rentals, gym memberships, book clubs, cable or satellite TV service, telephone service, Internet access, utilities, golf club membership, monthly bowling, biweekly hair salon, weekly nail service, … the list goes on and on. A lot of things aren’t really obvious because they don’t appear on any recurring invoice. And worse yet, many companies have gone to “e-Billing” which eliminates the paper trail and the associated visibility for you entirely by making you actively go look at your bills online.

To combat this, you can create a simple list and add up the numbers. Try to normalize things to monthly spend. That means, if you have a quarterly membership fee, break it down to a monthly charge by dividing it by 3, even though you may not pay it every month. The point is that you want to gain visibility of all your recurring expenses and prioritize them to identify the ones you can get rid of. Remember: the level of impact that not having the item or service will have on you determines Want vs. Need. And clearly separate emotional attachment from financial viability or attached value. Many people perceive items to have a much higher value than they actually have from a numbers perspective.

(read on ...) 

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