Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gearing Down, part 5 -- Communications

Keeping in contact is an important part of our lives, and generally it costs money. Cell and landline phones, Internet access, cable TV, all have their associated monthly bills. And when you have a sudden reduction in your income, you have an urgent need to make those bills smaller.

Unfortunately, it may not necessarily be possible to shrink them as rapidly as you like. In the past decade, we have seen a strong shift from a month-to-month pattern to the long-term contract. This is particularly true with cellular phones, and was a big part of the shift by which they went from luxury goods to ordinary goods. Instead of having to make a large lump sum payment for the phone and then pay monthly connection fees, you got the phone free or at a much reduced cost, in return for making a legally binding commitment to maintain service on it for the next year or more. If you want to back out, you have to pay a hefty cancellation fee.

However, it may be possible to drop features and reduce the cost of your connectivity. For instance, you could go to a lower service tier with fewer minutes, especially if you don't use most of your minutes already. Similarly, you may want to examine your cable bill and determine whether you can go down to a package with fewer channels, especially if you seldom watch most of them.

Also, you may want to look into the possibility of a bundle discount if you're getting all of those services from the same company. Frequently you can get phone service, Internet and TV together for the same price any two of them would cost separately.

Obviously, if you have to move, you may have to disconnect the services that are tied to your location, even if it means paying a penalty. But you may want to keep your old cellular service, since that way your family, friends and associates won't have to learn a new number to get in contact with you.

As a result of these complexities, communications can be a difficult expense to reduce. Howwever, with some thought you may be able to pare it some.

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