Sometime ago, the Simple Dollar wrote a series of one hour projects to improve our finances. I found it inspiring.
So I did what he suggested and cut off some waste in my finances, or rather things which I could do away with, without affecting the quality of my life in any way.
a) Cancel one credit card
Ever since I got my first credit card so long ago, I have always paid the bills in full. My cards have never carried any balance. Since 2006, I have been carrying two cards for which I pay yearly subscriptions. I have now received a card with a life long waiver of fees, so I have cancelled one of the earlier ones.
b) Earn points by paying bills using the credit card
Many of the bills which I used to pay by cheque, I have now converted to paying using the credit card. In addition to the accounting trail, I also earn points which I would not have gotten otherwise. And I use less cheque leaves now.
c) Convert the car into a NGV car
Petrol and diesel are a lot cheaper in Malaysia than in most other countries. Despite this, my fuel bills were getting a little heavy since I have commute almost 150 kms daily. In addition, the Gomen is making frequent statements that the country has no choice but to live with a higher pump price. We are all expecting another jump in fuel prices.
So I spent about RM 6,000 fixing a NGV kit so that the car now runs on petrol or NGV. Though there is the inconvenience of having to fill up daily, and NGV stations are not that common, the savings are adding up.
I should recover the cost of the fit out in about two years, and then it would be savings all the way.
d) Cancelled Club Membership
I have been a member of a club for a number of years, though I hardly ever used or use the facilities. I discussed this with my wife and then cancelled the membership.
These changes have had zero impact on my lifestyle and I am now happily encouraged to go deeper.
The plans for 2008
a) Phone Bills
I am one of those silly consumers (whom telcos just love) who do not study the plans available. In fact this has caused a lot of tension in my household. (I’ll write about this later.)
I have now researched the plans and it looks like some of the plans will reduce our bills substantially.
b) Cable TV
This has just been cancelled. The children spend all their time watching cartoons and I hardly have time to watch cable anyway. In a week or two, my household would have forgotten all about cable.
I spend a fair amount of money on this. I am now on the lookout for the generic versions.
With my newly reawakened enthusiasm for exercise and this conversion to generics, I am confident that the 2008 bill for medication will be substantially lower than 2007.
The net financial impact of all these may not exactly be the stuff that fortunes are built upon. Like an old school friend once told me about waste, “Even if you throw something into the sea, it makes a “pop” sound, but this one does not”.
This is the waste that I want to cut. The waste of expenses incurred or benefits overlooked, just because I did not look a little harder, ask around a little or did not make one or two phone calls.