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Evaluating Days 2 and 3 of the NYT’s 7-Day Financial Tuneup

  • Sat, 03 Feb 2018 20:28

Photo by William Hook on Unsplash.

I’m still doing The New York Times’ 7-Day Financial Tuneup, though I haven’t gotten as much out of Days 2 and 3 as I did out of that first question about identifying our values.

Day 2 is about trimming your budget, but they go at it from the direction of “call your utility/phone/internet providers and see if you can negotiate lower bills” instead of “find the places where you are literally wasting money.”

I do agree that reducing your overhead costs is a good way to trim your budget, but I’ve never had any success with the whole “call your providers” thing. I’ve tried it, and the answer has always been “this is the package we offer, take it or leave it.”

The only way I got my phone bill down was by switching to Tello, for example. I did call my previous phone provider and ask if they had any other options, and they didn’t. So I’m a little perturbed that the NYT is spreading this idea that there are secret utility prices out there that you can get just by asking.

The NYT also suggests canceling your subscriptions, which is interesting advice for a subscription-based news site to offer. I tried canceling Netflix once, and then ended up signing back up because I thought I’d be doing some writing on Stranger Things (that idea didn’t pan out, which is fine because this discussion at Vox sums up my response). I don’t want to cancel my news subscriptions or my Patreon pledges, because I need to read the news for work and I value supporting artists and creators.

I’m not super-fond of the “cut your subscriptions” advice, first because people tend to subscribe to stuff they like and value, and second because there are way bigger budget cuts to go after. A whole month of Netflix is cheaper than a single cocktail, after all.

If I were writing the piece, I’d be all “Hey, are you paying ATM fees instead of getting cash back at checkout? Are you buying takeout not because you are excited about a special treat, but because you didn’t have time to go grocery shopping? When you do go grocery shopping, do you throw half your produce away because you don’t use it before it rots? Do you impulse-buy a candy bar every time you enter a convenience store, even if you just went in to get a prescription and have to stand in a whole different line to buy the candy?” (THAT LAST ONE WAS ME. FOR, LIKE, SIX MONTHS.)

As for Day 3, well… yes, credit cards have rewards, and yes, I am in favor of taking advantage of credit-card rewards if you pay off the card in full every month. I don’t really have much to say beyond that except for “if you’re not careful, you’ll spend more than you earn in rewards on ATM fees, credit card annual fees, credit card interest, etc.”

If any of you are doing the 7-Day Tuneup, are you getting more out of Days 2 and 3 than I did? Have any of you called your internet provider to ask for a lower rate?

The Billfold

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