If trimming your budget as described in Your Income Decreased. Now what? – Part 2 isn’t enough, then it’s time to make some tough decisions. What can you live without? It’s not something any of us want to consider, but unemployment or a drop in income may mean cutting some current expenses entirely.
Realistically, there are some things you can’t get rid of completely. You need shelter. You need food. You need heat and electricity. You may need a car. But what about all the other perks of modern life? Below are some common services to consider dropping:
- TV: Watch over-the-air TV instead of paying for cable or satellite service. Although it’s free, you will need a converter box (if your TV doesn’t have a digital tuner) and an antenna. The size of the antenna is determined by your location relative to the TV station antennas. If you live in an apartment, condo, or townhome, you may not be allowed to install an antenna or may be restricted to a certain size which may or may not have the range you need to pick up over-the-air signals.
- Internet: Access the Internet from the public library or other free access points like WiFi hotspots. Perhaps a neighbor will allow you to use their wireless network. Check if your cell phone service includes web access. Lack of Internet service will, however, make it more difficult to apply for many jobs.
- Phone: Drop your landline and become a cell phone-only home (or do the opposite). Keep in mind that during natural or man-made disasters (tornadoes, earthquakes, terrorism, etc.), cell phone service may be disrupted or even preempted for emergency communication. And a cell phone is useless if you can’t recharge it. However, cell service may be restored faster than damaged phone lines.
Carefully weigh the pros and cons when cutting services entirely. It helps if you write them down and discuss them with others. Also, if you signed up for a multi-year contract or bundle your services, you could be hit with large penalty fees for breaking the contract or changing your services. Review the fine print before making changes.
If you’re having trouble paying bills, contact the company to try to work out a modified payment plan BEFORE you miss a payment. It’s in the company’s best interest to work with you to get paid something rather than nothing at all.