You're probably picking up on a common theme in these personal finance pages, that I LOVE to squeeze every cent of value out of whatever service I'm using. If it doesn't serve a purpose, or if it's a bad deal I have zero loyalty, nor should you. I'll put a good amount of work into reducing my recurring expenses even if it only saves me a few dollars a month. That difference really adds up over time, and it's money you could be investing and compounding, which is especially important if you're younger.
On this page, I've taken the opportunity to highlight the best deals I can for my recurring expenses.
The items you find below won't be the best for everyone, but I'll write a little bit about my use case and rationale. If you find yourself in a similar boat, hopefully you can up your savings percentage too!
Pro tip: when you work through setting your budget each year, go through each line item and reevaluate the competing offers for those services. Push the price down every year as far as you can. You can try to reduce the work involved in switching by asking your existing service provider to match the competing offer.
Do you pay the same amount each month for your smartphone plan? While some might consider that a good thing, if might not be. Take a look at your data usage patterns, do you use the same amount every month, or are you like me, and some months use only a little bit (the boring months), and some months much more (the exciting months with travel and adventure)?
Most people have WiFi at home, at work, and every place that's part of their regular day-to-day routine. This means that in a regular month, we are only using a little bit of that 2GB plan we pay some of the highest rates in the world for. Don't you think it makes sense to get a discount that month? That's the logic behind plans like mine that charge you only based on your usage.
The best part about this plan is that even on those months you do need every byte of that 2GB, you're paying the same rate as a regular discount carrier.
PC Mobile ($44/mo - $6/mo for BYOD = $38/mo)
- Unlimited national talk, international SMS/MMS
- Voicemail, Caller ID, Conference Calling
- $6/GB data (the first GB is split in two $3 + $3)
- 30 PC Points / dollar on every bill when you use the PC World Elite Mastercard (read up on my banking page).
- It uses the Telus/Bell network - so great LTE.
PC Mobile gives you a $6/mo discount if you figure out getting your own phone. That's what I do. They don't have top end phones anyways like Pixel or iPhone. Getting a phone from your carrier is almost always a bad deal for you anyways.
I surprised myself, on most routine months I use 500MB or less (given that I'm on WiFi all the time). This costs me $41+tax.
In my non-routine months, I usually use 2GB or less, which gives me $50+tax.
While PC Mobile has reasonable roaming rates, you can get an even lower rates for calls and data just by switching your SIM card every time you leave the country.
I use KnowRoaming while away. The best part is that it gives you unlimited free WhatsApp use anywhere in the world!
Sign up at KnowRoaming.com
Use my offer code ALEKI29 to get a 30% discount and $5 credit on an already insanely cheap $10 SIM card to get started.
Full disclosure, I get a $5 credit for pointing you their way.
Pro Tip: before you leave and switch your sim card, use the call forwarding feature to forward your calls to the number you get with KnowRoaming, and none of your callers will even notice you're out of the country.
Home Internet / Phone / TV
Here's the secret... two of those services are actually free (no monthly bill). Unbeknownst to most Canadians, free HDTV is streaming through the air right around us, all we need is a relatively cheap antenna to pick it up. See ya cable bill! Check out this site to see which channels you'll get, but if you live in a city you'll most likely get the big Canadian channels.
Heads up: with lower-cost providers, some have said that customer support is the biggest difference. But, just remember, they are selling you the capability coming through the plug in the wall. Take ownership over your equipment and home network.
Internet - Carrytel $39.99
- 50mbps down, 10mbps up (good enough for 4K)
- Unlimited traffic
- Netflix - $9.99/mo
- CraveTV - $7.99/mo+HST
- CBC, Global, CTV, etc. HD Antenna - $0/mo (Antenna was $30)
- Freephoneline.ca - $0/mo ($79 voip unlock set up fee, and bought $15 device Linksys PAP2T online)
- Most people probably don't even need home phone. This is a not-so-guilty nostalgia thing for me.
My annual home telecom/entertainment budget is: $866.38
Unless you've got super complicated taxes. Just do them yourself - it couldn't be easier with SimpleTax.ca. Pay what you like (including $0). But, it's fantastic, and saves you tonnes of time and effort, so I'd send at least $10 their way.
Now, this one might be difficult to swallow for some, but I've made a point of not buying a car. Considering that some estimates place the cost of car ownership at $10,000+ per year, and knowing the alternatives available to me in a city, I couldn't justify it.
If you're about to take the plunge, consider this first:
- Is a car-share service available in your city?
- Do you have easy access to good public transportation?
- Would you like to join the eBike club? (Shout-out to Scooteretti).
My Transport Situation (in order of frequency):
- Within my city, and daily commute during months of at least 5° C weather: eBike Scooter (~$100 annual service, ~$600 battery replacement every three years), $0.25 / day of use for charging).
- Within my city, when I need a car: VrtuCar ($10/mo membership, $3.99/hr+$0.39/km - insurance and gas included).
- During the cold months, or on rainy days: Ottawa's fantastic public transportation system OCTranspo ($113.75/mo or $3.35 per ride).
- Going to home to visit family: VIARail (Ottawa to London is $205.66 round trip if booked early).
- Flight: always find lowest price on Google Flights, then book it on PCTravel.ca for 30 PC points/$, AND the airline points.
My annual transportation budget is $2,285.15 (not including flights/vacation).