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Beware of “Sleeper” Subscription and Service Fees

2014 October 21
by Aaron

sleep-feesI came across this somewhat disturbing Reddit post today about a man whose elderly father had been paying an AOL subscription that he hadn’t been using for over 10 years! When he broke it down – his father had essentially paid out over $2,500 in worthless fees! Ouch.

(Check out the comments on the Reddit post – as they are pretty enlightening about other subscription and fees folks noticed that others (or themselves) had been fallen asleep on.)

This got me to thinking about fees/subscriptions that I may be unwittingly paying for month after month, or that others may need to be aware of too. Let me know if you can think of others in the comments section:

Credit card fees

Awhile back I had a question about this recurring fee that I kept getting on my Discover card statement even though I pay it off every month. It’s called CreditSafe Plus Insurance. It’s an optional charge that many of us unknowingly sign-up for when we get a Discover card. The insurance provides coverage for your account should you become unemployed, disabled or pass away. While this could prove helpful if you have a $2,000+ credit card balance, its kinda foolish to have if you hardly (or never) have a balance. You can opt-out.

401k and other investment fees

According to FeeX, an online website that helps people become more aware of the fees they are paying on their investments, I paid $13.50 in fees for the month of September. 401k fees and other investment services have definitely become more scrutinized for their fees of late – but it’s good to be aware of what you are paying for your account management.

Online subscriptions

I have really come to detest recurring fees. To a point where I cringe every time we “need” to add a new one. For awhile, I was signed up for Lynda.com‘s monthly subscription – which I can write off as a business expense. I also just added a new subscription to a golf website ($8/month) that I enjoy. I’m keenly aware this can become a “sleeper” fee if I’m not mindful. This is why I put this fee on my Google calendar the day before its coming due, so I know I can quit if I’m not using it.

Cell phone fees

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard of AT&T’s $105 million fine for cramming bogus charges to its customers. With monthly cell bills being in the hundreds for folks (especially those with many on the “plan”) and it containing many pages, “sleeper” charges and fees are easy to forget about. A few months ago we were paying for a music service a family member had added but was no longer using. It’s good to check these bills every now and then – just to keep the cell phone company honest.

Memberships

I think gym memberships (among others) are notorious for being “sleeper” subscriptions. We often say, “Oh, I’ll get there next month“, or “It’s good for me to belong to a gym“. In my case, sometimes my best intentions don’t align with my actions and end up costing me serious change.

Any other fees and subscriptions we can tend to fall asleep on?

How to Get Free Books, CDs and DVDs Through Swapping

2014 October 14
by Aaron

I recently picked up a few audiobooks from the library along with a book called, Retiring Well on a Poor Man’s Budget. While I’m not retiring any time soon – I thought it would be an interesting read. The book contains over 1,000 ways to stretch your income and “enjoy your golden years”.

They list a few really neat websites that I’ve never heard of – but want to pass along to you. Owned by the same company – one site is called PaperBackSwap.com another SwapADVD.com and the last, SwapACD.com.

These sites have been around awhile – and contain a lot of books/DVDs/CDs that are available for swap (PaperbackSwap.com alone has over 4 million books ready to be swapped!). And, it’s pretty straightforward and easy to sign-up. read more…

Ooma 2 Years Later – How the Savings Add Up

2014 October 8
tags: ,
by Charlie

charlie_imageIt has been 7+ years since I ditched my old land line, and 2 years that I have been using Ooma as my preferred home phone service.

In 2007, I was using Qwest (now CenturyLink) home phone service, which was costing me $41/month and didn’t include long distance phone service (I used calling cards…remember those?). That year (February 2007) I heard about a new VOIP provider, called Sunrocket, offering 2 year unlimited phone service for $199. Without giving it a second thought I made the switch and swung my home phone service over to them. By July 2007, Sunrocket was bankrupt, and my phone service was no longer operational. DOH! Let’s just mark that up as a bad choice. :( read more…

Would You Quit Your Job for a Lump Sum? Catch: You Can Never Do the Job Again

2014 October 6
by Aaron

Many of us talk about quitting our job one day and never having to work again. But, here’s an interesting scenario: Would you quit that job if you were offered a large lump sum of money? The only catch: You can never do that job professionally again.

This scenario could be facing a professional golfer named Anthony Kim. If you follow golf at all, you may be familiar with the name. read more…

How to Tell if Your Attic is Properly Insulated

2014 October 1
by Aaron

I’ve discussed our prior experiences with attic issues here at the site more than I’d like to. But, after all our troubles with ice dams in the winter and poorly insulated and vented attics – I thought it could prove helpful to our readers to pass along what I’ve been learning.

As the fall season is upon us and winter begins to set in, I was recently alerted to a really helpful tip to tell if your attic is properly insulated. And, it’s mostly targeted to my fellow northerners and other cold climate inhabitants. read more…

5 Things You Are Likely Paying Too Much For

2014 September 25
by Aaron

I think sometimes I take cutting our monthly bills too far. Just the other day, I ended up back at my old hair stylists chair after I had left her (after 4 years of great service, mind you) for another stylist who was charging $7 less. Sounds like an episode of the Young and the Restless, but how ridiculous is that? (And, yes, I did feebly try to explain to her my leaving for most of the summer was an attempt to save a buck or two – which she was more than gracious about).

Like everything in life – balance is often a worthy goal. I still believe in ruthlessly examining where our money is going and seeking to pay less wherever we can. Yet, I’m also keenly aware of paying for good service and products that will last (which can also save you in the long-term). read more…

2nd Annual Goodwill Smackdown – The Results + $50 Gift Card Giveaway

2014 September 22
by Aaron

goodwill-14After two weeks of scouring our local Goodwill stores to find that perfect item that we could flip for profit, the time has come to reveal the results of our Smackdown Challenge.

Who will have bragging rights for the next year of “supreme thrift store flipper” (last years winner was Laurie from our sister-site, TheFrugalFarmer.net)?

If you’ll remember, each participant was tasked with finding 3 items (one in household, one clothing and another miscellaneous item) and needed to resell those items on ebay or Craigslist. The highest percentage of profit (on any of the items) would be the winner. read more…

Lessons I Learned From My Great Depression Parents

2014 September 18
by Charlie

charlie_imageMy parents were products of parents that lived through the heart of the Depression. They had Great Depression living practiced every day of their life. Consequently, I am the product of Great Depression grandparents, which was passed down through both my parents. As they say, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.

In talking with my wife about an idea on what to write about, she said, “Why not talk about things that you do as a result of watching your parents?” From our discussion, I realized that, ya, I do have a lot of what I consider natural tendencies, which originated from the Depression. Hopefully, my examples will spur up ideas for you to comment on how your parent’s money saving lifestyles impressed upon you. read more…

Always Ask for the Special

2014 September 15

This one is going to be short and sweet (I hope). My family and I had the chance to get away from it all this past week and it was a very welcomed break. While we were away, my brother, his son and I hit up a driving range that had a chip and putt on its grounds (for those of you who aren’t “in the know” about golf – a “chip and putt” course is one where most of the golf holes are less than 100 yards – so all you really need to do is hit a “chip” and a “putt”). read more…

Why You Can’t Be Trusted to Save Money

2014 September 11
by Aaron

I was skimming through Reddit and found this (kind of) offensive video on “Why American’s Are So Bad at Saving Money“. Here, have a look and let me know what you think in the comments section.

To the author’s credit, it’s true we aren’t doing so great at saving money. As the video states, in the 1970’s, American’s socked away about 12% of their take-home pay. Today, that number has dwindled to 5%.

But, can you blame us?
read more…