Not Minding Your Media
Many parents of small children are old enough to remember those halcyon days when television was (gasp!) free. Today, we pay and pay handsomely for the dubious privilege of being able to gaze at the tube 24-7. Still, if you carefully review your monthly cable statement, you will probably find that you are paying for programming that you don't use -- or can live without.
"I rarely even glance at our satellite TV bill," admits Mary Chapman, an Alexandria, Virginia, mother with two school-age sons. "But a couple of months ago, I decided to see exactly what we were paying for. I discovered we were subscribing year-round to a 'sports pass' that my husband wanted only during basketball season. It was $30 a month, and I hadn't even bothered to check!"
Similarly, take a few moments to peruse your next telephone bill. All the bells and whistles you signed on for -- such as caller ID and call waiting -- cost you every month, so decide which ones you need and which you can do without. "I was paying a monthly fee to have three-way calling before I realized there weren't three people in the world I wanted to talk to at the same time," recalls credit counselor Williams.
Indeed, it's a good idea to examine all your media and ask yourself if they're worth the cost. A DSL or other cable line for your computer can easily run $50 a month. While such high-speed connections are a convenience, you may want to consider reverting to dial-up. "I have high-speed Internet access at work, so I use our home computer mainly to check e-mail," says Brooklyn, New York, mom Molly Meyers. "Dial-up is perfectly adequate."