The economy’s down and money is tight. Food prices went up with gasoline prices, but didn’t come back down with them. The stock market’s tanking, 401k’s are devalued, and the easy money has dried up. With well over a million jobs cut this year alone – and more on the way – it’s a good time just to be thankful that you have a job; certainly not the environment to ask for a raise.
So don’t ask. Just take one. It’s not that hard, and you can make it as big or small as you decide. Here’s what we did:
Cell phone: Cat & I were paying $89 a month to have our 2 phones. We actually got rid of them 3 years ago, but I include them here because for most people the money is there to be had. But oh my! How can you live without a cell phone! Easy; the same way you used to live before you had one.
AOL: Why we ever used AOL in the first place I’m not sure, but we did for years. It’s completely unnecessary, unlike the $24.95 a month we used to pay for it.
DSL: In for a penny, in for a pound. That’s right, we no longer have internet service at any speed in our house. Still have it at work. Still have it at the library. Like the cell phone, you may shudder at the thought of giving it up. Have you ever asked yourself why? Do you realize how much time you waste surfing the internet? Do you realize how little value it actually brings you? Do you know how much money you could save without it? I do: $29.99 a month.
Cable/Satellite TV: Honestly, how much value does this bring into your home? “Deal or No Deal”? “Dancing With the Stars”? “The Biggest Loser”? You’re kidding me, right? The only thing I have missed at all is watching college football, but you know what? I’m still alive. Turns out I really don’t miss it that much after all. Don’t miss the $31.88 a month we used to pay for it either, because we’re keeping that now.
Long Distance: Is there really a reason to pay for a long distance plan when you don’t need to? Isn’t it nice to get a real letter in the mail every now and then? It doesn’t affect incoming long distance calls, and we can still “10-10-xxx” if we need to make one ourselves. In the meantime, we’ll use the $28 that we used to spend on long distance each month for something else.
Here’s how it all stacks up:
Cell Phone: $ 89.00
AOL: $ 24.95
DSL: $ 29.99
Cable: $ 31.88
Long Dist: $ 28.60 (avg)
Total: $ 204.42
That comes out to $2,453 annually, and that’s conservative, because it does not include associated taxes, fees, surcharges, etc., associated with any of the above, nor does it include money spent for new phones, accessories, and the like.
But it’s important to remember that that $2,453 is post-tax money; raises are pre-tax. Assuming a 20% tax bracket (state & federal combined), my boss would have to give me a raise of $3,200 in order for my take home pay to go up by that much.
My boss can’t do that; so I did.
You may wonder, “What do we do without cell phones, TV, or the internet?” Well, interestingly, we do all of those things that we didn’t do when we did. We play games. We have conversations. We play (or learn to play) instruments. We do things outside. We read books. We go for walks. We watch movies from the library (free) or from Netflix (about $1 each over the course of the month). We get involved in community events. We fix, improve, repair, or replace all of those things that we didn’t have time to before. We . . . . well, you get the idea.
It’s really kind of nice.