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Financial Day Off


I first heard about this idea in the book "Shift" by our boss and company founder Gary Keller.   While some people think the book is focused on the Real Estate business, I think it is one of the best business books of all time.  One full of neat strategies and tactics to implement.  There are always Shifts and cycles in business and you need to capitalize on the changes in the marketplace.  It's a great book to keep on the shelf and reread as the business cycle changes.  I was reminded of the idea when I heard it on the Rodney Anderson show, so also want to give him credit for embracing the idea.  I'm sure people like Clark Howard and Dave Ramsey would also agree with the concept.  The concept is to take a day off, even a day off from WORK, and review your finances and bills.   You can save a lot of money.

"One of the easiest ways to build a positive personal P&L is to re-establish your monthly expenses at a dramatically lower level. If you cut your burn rate to the bone, you suddenly will find the freedom to say 'no' to work that drains you and doesn't build your reputation. And perhaps you can say goodbye to the stress that might be paralyzing you.

Create like an optimist. Spend like a pessimist." -Seth Godin

Get copies of all your bills together.  The might include:

  • Credit Card Bills

  • Cell or Mobile Phone Bills

  • Security Company Bills

  • Home and Car and Life Insurance

  • Electric Bill

  • Cable - TV - Internet - Phone Bills

  • Natural Gas Bills

  • Tax Appraisal for your house

You should also pull out your bank statements, 401k statements, and any other stock or investment account statements.

Then review, analyze, and if possible shop around for alternatives services, and if there is not an alternative to shop, call the current service provider and ask if you are getting all the discounts for which you qualify.

Credit Cards

Determine your current annual fee and interest rate if you carry a balance.  Do you really need a card with an annual fee?  Call your current provider to see if you can get the fee waived and/or lower the interest rate if you carry a balance.  Never close an account if you decide to move balances as this can hurt your credit score.  Check out Credit Karma if you need to shop annual fees and interest rates.   If you are carrying a balance, make it a goal this year to reduce or pay off that balance and switch to using a debit card.   If you travel internationally make sure you have a credit card with a smart chip.  You may want to ask for the CHIP and PIN technology to be added for extra layers of security.  You also want a card that has super low or even NO foreign transaction fees.   While you're here set up an alert online with your credit card company to alert you for certain transactions.  Perhaps a minimum charge amount or charges at gas stations.   This can help quickly alert you to fraudulent activity.  Also review your bill for any recurring monthly charges that you can eliminate.  Have you signed up for any kind of subscription you can do without?  

Cell or Mobile Phone Bills

This can be a big one.  What are you paying for service, text, web connectivity on your phone.  Are you still under contract?  If you are often in a place with great WiFi, such as your home or office...Check out Stream Wireless. You might also try Republic Wireless that have plans starting at $5/month and $25/month for unlimited service.  If you are off contract and need a nice GSM phone check out the MotoG.  Then choose your carrier and pop in their SIM card.  You might also try Google devices on the Play Store.  You might also see if FreedomPop will work for you.   Consumer Cellular has a great reputation and some great plans so check them out too.   If you Text a lot, check out Google Voice that could make many if not most of your text FREE. Have an 800 number and need to reduce the monthly expense? Check out Kall8.

Security Company Bills

If you contract with one of the big security companies try SmithThompson....typically they have no contract and provide service at $16.99/month.  Please give them my name so I can get a month FREE discount.  That's not why we recommend them.  In my business I set off a lot of alarms and they always seem to be the ones who call and call quickly.   If you are a do it yourselfer, you might also try SimpliSafe.  After you self install the system they have had rates as low as $14.99/month.

Home and Car and Life Insurance

Call your current company and ask if there is a way to lower your bill and ensure that you are getting all the discounts for which you qualify.  If you were ever in the military, call USAA for a second opinion.   If you were not in the military check with Joe Dávila at Mainstay Insurance who can shop multiple companies to get you a great deal.  They're home insurance experts and can also be reached at 972-778-8201.  As an alternative call Erin McKee at McKee Insurance Services at 972-956-0200.  Erin is another great independent agent who can shop rates with different companies and is an expert in unusual insurance situations.   You can ask Joe or Erin to also recommend TERM life insurance for you, or if you want to shop online check out zanderins.com.   If you have any kind of life insurance other than term....such as whole life or ones with residual value or savings plans, it is probably time to switch. If you are in Texas and want to shop sample rates, check out the Texas Department of Insurance shopping tool at HelpInsure.com .

Prescription Medications

We all get in the habit of shopping at the same place, but this can cost you if you take daily maintenance drugs or even one time prescriptions. Check out this the lowest med app on your smart phone. Another great website to try is GoodRx.com. You can also see this report from Consumer Reports. Call around....check CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, CostCo and even think about moving them around time to time when you get a new prescription. Many stores will offer you a significant coupon to move prescriptions from one store to another. Call your doctor's nurse and ask them if there are any alternatives to the medications you are taking now that might be cheaper or ask your pharmacist. Ask them if they have a list of FREE or low cost generics.

Electric Bill

Get your current bill.  You want to see what rate you are paying for each Kilowatt hour or KwH.   If you are still with one of the big legacy companies you're likely paying too much.   There is a new company in Texas called Griddy. You may have heard their advertisements. They offer wholesale rates.  Check out Griddy.  If you sign up with them using this link, we'll both get a $50 credit.

I've also seen low rates with
Stream Energy.   Stream is one of the largest electric companies in Texas and now also serves several other states.  If you are in Texas you can also checkout the website Power to Choose, but we always suggest being careful choosing the absolute lowest rate provider if you've never heard of them. Sometimes they're being run out of a personal apartment and gamble on rates, which could cost you in the long run.

Internet - Cable - TV - Amazon - Netflix - Phone Bills

This is a tough one.....seems like not many people want to live without home cable and internet service.   First step is to review your bill.  Can you get rid of any boxes you are no longer using.   Can you cancel movie or other channels you no longer watch.  Can you just ask for a discount to the current price your current company is advertising?   Don't like that alternative, usually you have two choices of main providers....you could consider switching to the competitor in your area to save money.   If you are a very light internet user and don't need cable tv, try FreedomPop.  You might also checkout DirectTV or DISH Network to save on these costs.

I notice many of my younger customer no longer get wired landline phones and just go mobile.  Some people think they need a hardwired landline for the security system, but call your security provider and see if they can switch you to wireless.  If you still want a wired line that works over the internet you can try Magicjack or Ooma for probably 1/3 to 1/10 the cost of your monthly landline copper bill.

You might also consider signing up for a service like Amazon Prime, Netflix, or Hulu to cut your cable bill.

Natural Gas Bills

Typically you don't have a choice here....but if you are in a state like Georgia, NJ, or Maryland, check out Stream Energy rates vs your legacy city or state gas monopoly.

Tax Appraisal for your house

We field a lot of call about tax appraisals.  More often than not this is not a great way to determine the MARKET value of your home.  This value is how the taxing authorities calculate the taxes due on your home.  If you are in the DFW Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex area, call Bruce Lynn at 214-675-6992 or visit our RedTigerTeam.com website to ask us to calculate the current market value of your home.  Compare this to your tax value and make a determination if you want to challenge the value with the authority.  Tax values normally are mailed to you in March and April and challenges must be filled by May 31st each year.

Bank statements

Check your current bank statements for monthly fees.  Don't see monthly charges, then call your bank and ask if there are any monthly fees for debit cards, credit cards, or just your regular bank account.   If there are fees, ask if they can be waived and under what conditions.   If this doesn't work try on online bank like Ally, CapitalOne360,  or a local credit union.  Also review your bill for any recurring monthly charges that you can eliminate.  Have you signed up for any kind of subscription you can do without?  

401k & Retirement

Have you looked at your investments in these accounts lately.  Might be time to reallocate.   If you are buying company stock in your 401k, you may want to rethink that or at least the percentages.   Now many 401k providers also allow you to adjust your contribution amounts automatically every six or 12 months.  Always contribute enough to get your company match.  That is if they will contribute 3% if you contribute 3%....that's 100% ROI.   Probably no way to beat that return investing on your own.   If this is one of your main savings plans, consider increasing your contributions by 1% every six months or a year.  You might be surprised that you never miss it, especially if you get cost of living increases.

Stock or Investment Account

Take a look at these.  Do you need to invest cash, or sell non-performing stocks.  If you have an advisor and have not visited with them for an account review lately, today is a great time to do that.   If you're at a full service brokerage and don't use full service, consider transferring your account to someplace like Schwab, Etrade, or Scottrade.   You could literally save hundreds on each and every trade.

Wills & Estates

If you don't have a will, it might be ok if you are single and have no money.  If you are married, have children, and have any assets, you need a will and all the other documents that go with it.   If you live in the DFW Metroplex area we know three great attorney's who can assist you drafting the right documents.  This is not a time to go cheap, but it probably costs you a lot less than you think.  Sometimes you do get more than you pay for.  Hesitating on this?  Think of your kids gaining control of all your assets without your supervision.   Now get on the phone to Brooks Lynn, Barry Irwin, or Jay Stevenson and get your will done.

Virtual Assistant

Don't have time to do all this yourself?  Why not get a virtual assistant to do it for you.  For somewhere around $6-$9/hour you can have your own VA do it for you and all the other tasks you don't like to do or don't have time to do. Check it out here at IncreaseLeverage.com