the fine print

I have to admit I’m one of those people who never looks at her phone bill. I’ve long had my wireless packaged together with my wifi, landline and cable (the triple play in Verizon parlance) and that universal bill is auto-deducted from my bank account each month. I went paperless way back when but rarely check my itemized bill online because I can never remember my login information.

Then I read this article: 12 Things You Need to Stop Paying For. The top item on the list, books, is a non-starter. I line my walls, my floors, my office with them. I don’t consider money spent on books to be a waste. In fact, I hope someday other like-minded people buy my books in high volume. I don’t own any original art not created by my children, but I do have lots of books. They are works of art, and in some cases, serve as a makeshift side table.

However, the second item on the list caught my attention: Cable TV.

We have hundreds of channels even though the kids only flip between three stations, and I have even fewer I routinely watch. While I can fall into the couch cushions like any other slug, it’s more important to me to read. I have a couple friends who use Apple TV, and that seems like a more streamlined approach to rotting the brain. So I ordered an Apple TV device and promptly called Verizon this morning to discuss my account.

I was fully prepared for the hard sell. “Stay with us and we will x, y, z your plan.” But I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did the customer service rep help me downgrade to a double play (wifi and phone) package, she found me other savings. I was paying for unlimited games on the computer? My computer is off limits to games. A phone protection plan? That dates back to the 90s. It isn’t even offered anymore, but I was grandfathered in to pay it. Virus protection? Isn’t that why I have a Mac? All in all, the Verizon rep with a midwest accent helped me trim nearly one hundred dollars off my monthly bill. Then I went over to Verizon Wireless where they saved me an additional forty-five bucks by switching me to a smaller data plan (I wasn’t coming close to using the plan I had) and eliminating some nebulous line access charge I was being pinged $15/month for.

I can’t believe I waited this long to make these budget friendly moves, but I tend to default to sticking with what I know.  My communications bill should not cost more than my health insurance, and with these changes, it no longer will. The lesson: read the fine print. Know what you’re paying for. Change is scary, but it’s empowering to make informed choices.