Retail Therapy That Pays

Like most people, I enjoy something new. Briefly. Buying something can give a fleeting feeling of “happiness” which plays directly into the plans of commerce companies. Luckily, around here we know that shopping is not the key to true happiness. It can, however, be the path to a lot of savings.

There are a few things in this country that everyone needs. That list typically includes car insurance, home or renters insurance, a cell phone plan, and internet. Some people may have a mortgage on the list of necessities, while others (way cooler people than me) can make due without a cell phone. Either way, there is a list of things that you need. For these items, it actually makes sense to do some shopping. 

It can pay you to shop around for the best deals on these necessities. You may be thinking to yourself that this sounds boring. Yup, it can be. But it can also save you hundreds of dollars in a couple hours. That’s way more than I make in my day job.

Honestly, the process of shopping around for necessities is way easier these days since we have a thing called the internet. Even I would start to question everything if I had to call physical humans to get different car insurance quotes. Instead, with a few minutes on the computer you can get quotes from multiple companies and easily choose the best one for you.

When I graduated from college, it was time for me to buy my first car. That also meant I needed my own insurance. I didn’t know any better, so I signed up with my parent’s insurance provider immediately. For YEARS I stuck with that plan, paying way more than I should have every single month. A couple of years out of college, I finally spent some time shopping for new car insurance. One hour later I had switched my car insurance and was saving ~$800/year. Now that is retail therapy. After learning that lesson I make sure to shop for new car insurance every year. With introductory promotions, I have been able to save money by switching almost every time.

Take some time to shop around for new car, house, and renter insurance. I’m willing to bet it is worth it. But what about internet? Internet, at this point, is a necessity for almost everyone. Unfortunately, depending on where you live, the options may be limited. You may even find yourself having to use the worst company on Earth, Comcast. (My internet will probably be cut off now). Seriously, it can be tough. Here are my tips. If the internet provider around you has an introductory price, and you aren’t on it, give them a call. Let them know your internet is too expensive and you will need to cancel it if the price doesn’t go down. You’ll have to spend some time with “customer retention”, but typically you can get some sort of deal to lower the internet cost. DO NOT sign up for a bundle. It’s 2020, cut the cord. This helps if you have another internet provider in your area that you can threaten to move to. Or, push comes to shove, you can actually make the switch.

It’s also worth reexamining your internet needs. Are you a professional gamer or someone who works from home with a need for the best internet? Or do you stream The Office every night from Netflix? You may be able to lower your internet speed and not see any decrease in your quality of life. One last thing. If you pay to “rent” a modem from your internet company, I hereby give you permission to shop for your own modem. Check out Goodwill first, it’s amazing how many modems are available there every time I go. Make sure to pick one up that can handle the internet speeds you pay to receive.

The cell phone plan is another area where it is important to examine your needs and then shop around for the best deal. Do you really need unlimited data? Nowadays, I find that I am around wifi almost 100% of the time. This is a way bigger conversation in society, but if you use your cell phone minimally you can get away with a way smaller (and cheaper) data plan than most people. Once you know your needs, shop around. There are a ton of cheap cell phone providers out there. I personally used Republic Wireless all through college and for a few years after, and they fit my needs perfectly. Because there is no need for me to reinvent the wheel, check out this summary of cheap cell phone plans. And try to avoid society calling you towards the best new phone.

You should take time at least once every year to shop around your essentials. It should only take a couple hours in total (or a few episodes of The Office). It’s the only kind of retail therapy I have found that pays me and may actually lead to more happiness. After all, it allows me to save money and gain more control over my finances and my future. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.

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