Monday, August 22, 2011

Frugal v. Miser: The Tale of the Phone Bill

I like to say I'm a frugal person. I don't go on shopping sprees, I'm pretty good at sticking to a budget, I find ways to save. I think that's different from being a miser....I know I can spend and the world won't collapse around me.

Unfortunately, I had a recent encounter with miser-me.

Last week Mike and I got an ugly surprise in the form of the phone bill. In the last month I had used my anytime minutes, a few hundred of my rollover minutes, and still gone over costing us roughly $100 extra on the phone bill. Ouch! I was in trouble.

I've never had this issue with the phone before but I think that's because I've been busier with school, internships, work, anything. Now, when people call, I pretty much answer at any time because let's face it, the life of an unemployed person can be a little lonely.

Mike suggested I increase my minutes and thus increase the phone bill. With the upcoming wedding, I felt I had to be pretty strict about it. "No", I said, "I can cut back, I can handle it". I felt committed to this line, until I talked to my sister and she said that when she's not willing to spend pennies, she knows it's being miserly v. frugal.

I decided to take a look at the plan and figure out what I could do. First things first, check out my usage so far this month. I was half way into my billing cycle and had used up 90% of my minutes. That was obviously not going to work for me. Doubling my anytime minutes only costs me $16 more per month. Since I know we can afford it, and we can't afford to lose my sanity, I went ahead and did it. At the same time, I saw that AT&T must have changed their texting plans (it used to be 200 texts, 1500 texts, 2000 texts, unlimited...or something). I knew there was no way 200 would work for me but 1500 is just too much. I was able to reduce my texting plan to 1000 which saves me $5/mth.

I came out only spending $11 more per month and with WAY more sanity.

Here's the lesson: Being frugal is good - saving is good! Being a miser -- no good. If you're really into saving and cutting down on bills take a look and make sure that you're not making yourself miserable in the process. I think my sanity is worth at least $11/month.