Simplify Your Life & Save Some Money

By William Lynott

Simplifying life is something we all can benefit from. Here are some easy, effective tips for paring down the extra baggage in your life, and saving some money along the way.


Your communication Costs

You’ve never had it so good when it comes to keeping yourself reachable. With your cell phone, landline, and broadband Internet access, you’re never far from anyone you want to reach (or anyone who wants to reach you).

Unfortunately, you’re probably paying a lot more than you realize for all those communication options. Contact your primary provider to see what bundled plans are available in your area. You may be surprised at how much you can save by giving all of your communications business to one company. In addition to saving you money, dealing with one supplier will greatly simplify your bill-paying procedures. 

If you are already dealing with only one communications company, give them a call and ask for an analysis of your account. Companies are constantly coming up with new bundling plans— and one of them might save you a bundle. But don’t expect them to come looking for you; you’ll have to ask.


Your Accountant a pay Cut

Sure, you hate all that paperwork and record keeping that has become part of your life. Don’t we all? Nevertheless, if you find yourself scrambling to find receipts and other records for your accountant at tax time every year, you’re probably costing yourself some real money. 

Chances are that your business records are well organized, but that may not be true for your personal tax records. Certified Public Accountant Tom Normoyle of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, says that even the simplest of systems, one file for income and one for deductible expenses, can be a money saver.

“When clients present me with a shoe box full of unsorted papers, I have to charge them for the hours it takes to make sense of them,” Normoyle says. “A simple filing system that separates records of different types is one sure way to reduce my fee.”


Money While Paying Bills

No one enjoys paying bills. That’s why we sometimes postpone that unwelcome job to the point of risking late payment fees and blemishes on our credit reports. Paying bills may never be fun, but new technology has made the task quicker, easier, and less costly.

Nearly all banks are online these days, and most offer free (or almost free) online bill paying. Once you sign up and choose a password, you log in to the bank’s website where you enter the payee’s name and address, phone number, and the amount to be paid. The bank takes over from there, either by mailing a check to the payee or by making an electronic transfer of the money.

You need only enter the name and address of a payee once. Each entry is saved so that the next time you need to make a payment, you simply choose the payee and enter the amount.

You save precious time, the costs of postage and buying checks, and trips to the post office. What are you waiting for?


the Credit Card Monster

Life as we know it today wouldn’t be possible without credit. However, credit has its dark side as well. Credit cards have been compared to drugs; they offer short-term pleasure in exchange for long-term pain. 

Saying “charge it” is quick and easy, but that habit, uncontrolled, can lead you down the road to financial oblivion. Once you become hooked on credit cards, it can be painfully difficult (and sometimes impossible) to free yourself.

Independent studies continue to show that the more credit cards you carry around, the more likely you are to dig yourself into a bottomless financial pit. Equally important—if your wallet, heavy with plastic, is lost or stolen, the risk of identity theft skyrockets.

Now is the time to relieve yourself of that hazardous burden. Perhaps you have a card for personal use and a separate card for business. That’s all you need. Dump the rest and your wallet will be bulging with the money you’ve saved, instead of all that plastic.

Caution: avoid cancelling several credit cards all at once; that could affect your all-important credit score. Instead, cancel them over a period of months, and be sure to keep the two cards that you have had the longest. The credit scoring companies like to see a long history of good credit performance.

Dig Out 

from under All That Paper

With all the paper you’re required to slog through for business purposes, you don’t need to add to the burden by hanging on to reams of paper because of the worry that you might need it some day. Most of it will never again see the light of day.

If that sounds like you, organizing guru Maria Gracia, founder of Get Organized Now, suggests these guidelines to help end the nightmare of out-of-control paper:

• Use the four Ds—do it, delay it (file it in an action file), delegate it, or dump it.

• Open mail over the wastebasket. 

• Immediately get rid of mail you don’t need, such as catalogs or advertising offers of no interest. Then, use the four Ds on what’s left.


Insurance You Don’t Need

The cost of insurance is a major burden for entrepreneurs these days. That’s why it’s important to cut through the smog generated by the insurance industry. In addition to your professional liability insurance, there are only five types that you must have: life, health, disability (as long as you’re working), homeowner’s or renter’s (as applicable), and auto. For most people, the rest are a waste of money.

Life insurance on your kids is a classic example of insurance you don’t need (unless you’re raising a future Shirley Temple). Also, never agree to car rental insurance or credit life insurance. Your own auto policy or credit card will probably cover those bases.

Once you’ve pared things down to those six types, look into consolidating some of the remaining personal policies with one company. That’s often a money saver.


Your Share of Free Publicity

Advertising professionals know (but usually won’t admit) that free publicity is often more effective than the best paid ads. Most of your prospective clients will be far more receptive to a news item about your practice than to a typical advertisement.

So, how do you go about getting a piece of the free publicity pie? First, you need to learn what makes a good story. Then, you need to learn how to sell it to your local news media.

Your news item doesn’t have to be of eye-popping importance to gain a free spot in the media; it just has to be newsworthy, meaning there is something about you or your practice that the public might find interesting. Even simple things like interesting news about you or an employee, changes in your practice, or your own hobbies, activities, or accomplishments, can be the seeds for free publicity.

To get free publicity, you have to seek it actively. The media isn’t going to come looking for you. While it isn’t necessary to have a contact in the local press to get your share, it doesn’t hurt. 

  William J. Lynott has an extensive background in management consulting, marketing, and finance. He’s written more than 900 articles appearing in a wide range of consumer magazines, trade publications, and newspapers in 17 countries. Contact him at

 According to ABMP’s 2013 National Consumer Survey, 44% of clients prefer to pay by debit card and 16% prefer to pay by credit card. Good news for you: debit card processing fees are generally lower than those for credit cards.

Statistics courtesy of Harstad Strategic Research, January 2013

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