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Frugal Retiring News, Issue 55, December 2013
December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

From Julie and I to you, your family and loved ones we wish you the very best Christmas and Happy New Year.

We hope that you are blessed with good health and happiness, and of course staying frugal.

My special note on healthcare costs

I must've struck a nerve in many of you due the many responses the special edition generated.

"I had no idea there was that much difference"... Was the common theme when comparing the health insurance rates you can get before the end of the year and what it will cost after January 1.

No one knows what's going to happen so for the last time this year I ask you to check out...

This page, that will tell you what the difference is in about a minute.

Do not shoot the messenger when you find out the difference in insurance costs after the first of the year.

Frugal living tip number one

About a year ago I bundled my satellite TV service ( Direct TV); my cell phone service ( Verizon)... With Century Link Internet and home phone service... Big mistake, maybe you can learn from the errors that I made.

Here is when I thought bundling was a good idea

I have eliminated entirely our home phone service... I evidently got on some call lists and was receiving almost daily calls from solicitors... With caller ID on the cell phone I hope that stops... It sure has cleaned up my desk, Julie's desk, and the kitchen counter.

I will keep you posted as to how this works out...

I can tell you that my computer runs faster with Cox cable than it did with Century link, despite the download speed being three times faster with Century link

I called each service separately and simply asked, how can I save money?

Just by asking that question at DirecTV, I found I could keep my exact same service for $30 less a month by agreeing to a year's contract.

I was happy with my service and equipment and pleasantly surprised at the savings... And I wished I had called sooner.

For me personally spending time on the phone with any type of customer service ranks right up there with a root canal... It can be very frustrating... But when I added up my savings at the end of the day it was all worth it.

There is a right way and a wrong way to do this...

Here are some tips on how to get the best deal over the phone.

I'll treat my cell phone experience separately.

Frugal living tip number two

I probably violated many of my own principles listed in the guide to living cheap... By buying a smart phone in the first place... If this keeps you from making the same mistake it's worth revisiting my decision.

It was in a weak moment that I bought smart phones, Apple products...The happy and helpful employees at the Apple Store helped make my decision.

I was blown away by the features of the smart phone... Especially the Siri service... I asked the phone where the nearest Costco was and had the info instantly... The kids working at the Apple Store probably said, "Poor old man" when I left.

I was still able to save $10 a month on my cell phone service by switching to a senior plan with a limit of 450 minutes a month...

Point being, it does not hurt to call up your current provider and ask how you can save money... Perhaps you are paying for too much data... Since we don't text our usage never approached the one GB we had together.

PS...if you are stumped on a few last words in the crossword puzzle...Siri can really come in handy.

Not knowing that the poets phrase for having plenty was...ENOW completed my puzzle this morning.

Frugal living tip number three

Julie and I have stopped sending out Christmas cards and buying each other gifts many many years ago.

Here is why the Hallmark Corporation does not care for

We now send gift cards to our nephews and have no use for Christmas wrapping paper.

Having said that, before... obviously not while we were living on a boat... Julie always shopped for wrapping paper and gift cards on December 26.

They are usually at least 50% off... If you still exchange gifts and cards, this is a great way to save money for next Christmas.

We also saved all of the bows and package decorations that could be used again when we used to exchange gifts with friends and family... Okay, we've always been cheap....

In closing

This current year has been difficult for most people... It is my hope that you have learned just one or two ways to which you can lower your expenses... If you have I would appreciate you sharing this newsletter with your friends and family and coworkers.

The gift of saving money, and learning the skills necessary to do so is a gift that keeps on giving.

Have a wonderful and frugal 2014.

Merry Christmas,

Gary and Julie

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