With Halloween in the air this month, perhaps it’s fitting that regular reader and disciplined dividend investor, Klaus Wentzel, sent me this outstanding case study in fighting ‘Vampire Fees’. You know, those hidden fees and billing changes that companies increasingly tack onto our routine bills?
Klaus has had extraordinary success in getting into the details of his monthly bills and uncovering hundreds of dollars in financial bloodsuckers. It’s inspirational to see what he has done, so I thought I’d just share this story in his own words. Thanks, Klaus!
Chief, Here is a post idea. “Fight back against inflation by lowering your vampire fees”. These are some of the found money items I discovered recently doing a financial housecleaning.
My T-Mobile cellular plan had a couple phones that you can pay off on an interest free 24 month payment plan, that just got paid off. I found a device insurance plan that was costing me $11 per month on a phone that is worth $150. I found an upcharge of parental control of the phones that was $5 (we don’t have any children to worry about), a $10 upcharge for more high speed data than we use. Paying off the phones and cancelling the unneeded services saved me $967.32 annually.
My water company gave me a practically free Smart Irrigation Controller. I took a leap of faith and connected the Irrigation Controller to a weather station located at Fire Station less than 500 feet from my house and set the controller to Automatic Schedule. My year over year water use will be down 40% and my lawn and especially my Redwood Trees look the best ever. I met the 30% year over year water conservation mandate that is currently in place with breathing room without having to give up anything. I have even received the ultimate compliment from my neighbor’s gardener when they asked me, “How are you dealing with the water reduction mandate, and yet your lawn and Redwood Trees look healthy?” My annual water savings is $944.39.
My trash collection service sent me a bill that showed my quarterly service fee had increased $150 per quarter. I was shocked by the increase and found that they had increased the cost of my two extra yard waste bins to $128 per quarter. The old cheaper price made having extra yard waste bins available, even if you were not using them every week a no-brainer. You would not believe the amount of yard waste I got rid of at no additional charge (like whole 40 trees for fire clearance). I am done with my fire clearance, so I arrange to send the two extra bins back. Instead of $600 increase, I will have a $56 decrease.
In total, I’ve saved almost $2K a year: Water Savings: $944; Cellular Phones: $967; and Trash Collection: $56 = $1,967.
That was enough to fully cover inflation on my home insurance (per your recent post) and increases to my electricity cost. My insurance was up $1,511 and my electric utility up $417 = $1,928. (Electricity increases were partly offset by switching rate plans and reprogramming my spa and HVAC system).
Net, net, my cost savings were $39 higher a year than the added costs!Instead of letting my vampire fees ratchet up, I am actually saving a little. I bet you will get some great ideas submitted. I feel great fighting back against companies that are cranking up their rates!
What ‘Vampire Fees’ have you encountered in these inflationary times? What have you done to tackle them?
Image Credit: Vampire Castle Created with Midjourney Bot AI