Sunday, August 24, 2014

Staying Vigilant on Minimizing Expenses

When we first retired in May 2012, we did our due diligence in terms of reviewing all of our expenses in an attempt to minimize them.  As described in our book Retired at 48 - One Couple's Journey to a Pensionless Retirement, we sought out the best rates that we could get at the time for services like cable, home telephone, internet and mobility access for our cell phones and tablets. By bundling our phone/internet/cable under one provider, reviewing our service levels and features to reduce them to the minimum required and then negotiating a "loyalty" discount by agreeing not to transfer our services to a different provider for at least 2 years, we ended up with a fairly good rate.

Unfortunately the 2 years are now up and our bundle rate has increased by over 50%!  So it was back to the drawing board with comparison shopping between providers.  We took another look at our services and decided that we did not want to reduce them any further.  We are already down to basic cable, have one of the lower priced internet data package options, and are not ready to give up our land line and rely on our cell phones, like many of our younger relatives and friends have done.  

After long discussions with the various providers, we determined that with the current promotional offerings from the competitor, we would not save enough to make it worth switching providers at this point.  We were told by our current provider that we would not qualify for another discount for at least two months, but that we could try for one again after that.  So we will continue to monitor the situation and wait to see which provider comes up with a better promotion before deciding if we should switch some time down the road.

During the discussion with our current provider, we did find out that we were on an old "grandfathered" internet package.  In the new set of options, there was one at a marginally lower price that offered faster upload and download speeds but slightly lower data limit.  Since we have never come close to reaching even this lower data limit, it seemed like a good choice for us.  The cost reduction was minor, but we would get faster service.

While we were doing this further research on our expenses, we took another look at whether our IPAD mobility package was optimal for our usage patterns.  We had signed up several years ago for a flex step plan where you paid $5 per month for up to 10MB usage, $15 for up to 250MB and $30 for up to 1Gig.  While we tried to stay within the 250MB limit, we found that we were often pushing this boundary prior to the end of the usage period, or would accidentally exceed it slightly, taking the $15 hit for being bumped into the next step.  We decided to search for a better/cheaper plan that would allow us a higher data limit.  To our surprise, just like the case with our internet provider, our current IPAD mobility data provider had also restructured their plans.  In their new plan (which confusingly was called by the same name as our old plan), the steps were $5 for 10MB, $20 for 1GIG and $40 for up to 5GIG.  This was the perfect plan for us, but we were stuck on the old grandfathered plan until we called to ask for it to be switched over.

It is so annoying that in each case, the provider never bothered to inform us that they had new offerings that might be a better fit for us and at a lower cost.  What these two experiences have taught us is that we must remain vigilante in monitoring our expenses and constantly review our usage fees against the latest offerings.  With technology changing so rapidly in the TelComm industry and competition being so stiff between the major players (which is ironic since the big three of Rogers, Bell and Telus hold a virtual monopoly), there are always opportunities to get a better deal.  But we are on our own if we want to find them. 


  1. It would have been wonderful to retire at 48 and I wish we had done a few things differently. We are working hard to retire at 65 now.

  2. Best of luck to you and hope you reach your retirement goals soon. We are really enjoying our retirement :)