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A Round-Up of Good Money Ideas

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Here are the newest headlines to catch our eye this week

by Jean Chatzky

Today’s post is a little bit of a potpourri. There are weeks where I — when opening my morning paper and email digests (you won’t be surprised to learn that I consume a lot of media) — think to myself: Now, that’s a very good idea. This week, there were enough of them that I wanted to take the time to tell you what they are and suggest maybe you try these tricks yourself.

Check on your subscriptions.

Netflix announced a few weeks ago that it plans to increase the prices on its most popular plans by 10 percent. The standard plan (which allows you to watch on two screens at once) will go from $9.99 to $10.99. The four-screen plan will go from $11.99 to $13.99. The $7.99 plan will stay the same. Now, that may not sound like much money — on an annual basis we’re talking about $12 to $24 extra a year. But how long has it been since you looked at everything you subscribed to and double-checked that you’re actually using it? I’m talking about the health club, the wine club, the airline Wi-Fi, the credit monitoring that you can get for free from SavvyMoney. Why spend more than you have to?

Keep your pantry like a store keeps inventory.

A blogger named Dave Parro did a deep dive into his family’s purchasing habits for 2016 — finding that they bought 162 items on Amazon, an average of three a week. Most were ordered on mobile devices when the supply at home came close to running out. But in the rush to, say, replenish the soap, they had stopped comparing prices — putting the first item that popped up on Amazon into their carts — to their detriment. Sometimes, they paid twice what was necessary. So, Parro upended the process, creating a household inventory system that he shared here to help estimate how long products will last so that he can reorder and not rush it. He estimates he’ll save close to $500 this year.

Invest in your bills until they pay for themselves.

Finally, this one is a bit of a radical — though still really interesting — idea. A blog post at FinancialFreedom-Journey.com suggests amassing stocks in companies you pay on a monthly basis (like the cable company, electric company, etc.) until the dividend on that stock is enough to cover your monthly bill. At a company like Verizon Wireless, for example, which pays a dividend of 4.99 percent, that’s a pretty powerful argument. Now, might you be better off investing those dividends back in additional shares? In many cases, absolutely (the blog notes this is not the optimal investment strategy). But there is something intriguing to the notion — as the blogger notes — that your investments are essentially paying for your bills. Occasionally, we as humans need mind games to keep us interested in and excited about our investments. This just gave me a new perspective.