Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Cutting Costs

DW and I have been looking for ways to cut back on our expenses, from eating out less often to cutting out services we don't feel we need.

I've even reduced my trips to the LCBO and other shops where I buy my beer. No more stockpiling shelves of bottles and cans. I went almost a month without buying new beer, choosing to deplete what I have accumulated. Once my shelves are empty, I'll try to only shop for beer every two weeks, buying only enough to carry me through that period.

Wish me luck with that.

Earlier this year, we cut out some of the specialty channels from our Bell TV. We cut out HBO and the Movie Network stations, as well as Space, Comedy Network, and Showcase. I went through John Oliver withdrawal and haven't seen the last season of Game of Thrones. I can wait for it to reach Netflix.

But DW and I decided to dig deeper, and we made even more drastic cuts. As of this weekend, we no longer have a landline. Everyone in our family has a cell phone, so we're still reachable. That was a tough cut, and we'll have to spend the next while, letting our doctors and other services know about our phone number changes.

Our cut with Bell didn't stop at our landline. We also quit our television service altogether. We bought a digital antenna, and in the next day or so I'll climb onto the roof and set it up. We should still get at least 10 or so local stations: as long as I can get CBC, I'm happy.

In our search to further cut expenses, we looked to our cellular services and we confirmed what we had already heard: having a phone number in Québec is much cheaper than owning one in Ontario. Because two of our five phones were off-contract, we called our provider, Fido, to see if we could cut our cost. We've been loyal customers for about eight years and loved their customer service, had recommended them to anyone who was looking for a provider.

I explained that I worked in Québec and could provide an address, but was told that the address had to be my primary residence, which doesn't make sense to me. It's a mobile phone: why does it matter where I live?

DW and I learned that a competitor from la belle provence, Videotron, had a kiosk set up in the St.Laurent Shopping Centre, in the east end of the city, and that they were offering packages to Ontario residents at Québec rates.

For example, if you brought your own phone, you could get 6 GB of data for $50 a month. This deal offered all of the perks of our current plans: unlimited Canada-wide calling, international texting, voice mail, call display.

DW was paying $45 each month for 500 MB of data: DD16 had a $50 plan with only 300 MB.

If you had three lines, you received an additional $10 off, each month, per phone. This is what convinced me to switch and bring three lines.

DW and DD16 were off-contract. I had about six months left on my contract: if I wanted to break it, I'd have to pay Fido $164. But the three of us were paying $164 per month for our phones, with a combined amount of 2.8 GB of data. Through Videotron, we would pay $110 each month for a combined total of 14 GB of data.

DW and I took the 6 GB plan, at $50 each. DD16 took a 2 GB plan, at $40. With a $30 saving for three lines, that made the $110.

I told Fido of the deal I was being offered (I didn't tell them who was providing the deal, telling them that they should already know their competition). I told them that I would really like to stay with them, but this was business.

It all came down to numbers.

Fido came back to me, several times, over the course of the day. The best they could do was offer me 3 GB of data for $50 (my existing plan was 2 GB for $69).

"Fifty dollars for 3 gigs is not 6 GB for $40," I told them. "Thanks, but no thanks."

Fido still has two of our lines (my father-in-law's phone is on my bill). DD14's phone doesn't become contract-free until March of 2019. By then, we can bring her over and we'll each receive $15 off per month.

Or better, if rates drop.

No landline. No cable TV. Cheap plans on our cell phones. We've cut about $150 off of our monthly expenses.

That's something to drink to, but only when I can afford to.

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