Are You Getting Ripped Off by One of These 8 Unnecessary Services?
For many of us, money is tight these days. In fact, a recent study reveals that 76% of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. With money so tight, and over one quarter of the population having no savings at all, this is not the time to be spending money on services we do not need. Here are eight unnecessary services you should stop paying for. (See also: 8 Fees You Should Cut)
Believe it or not, cell phone companies have GPS navigation services available to you for a monthly fee. With AT&T, it's AT&T Navigator. With Verizon, the service is called VZ Navigator. They range in price from $4.99 to $9.99 a month, and they are completely pointless. Whether you own an Android or iOS smartphone, you have built-in turn-by-turn navigation with voice prompts. It uses GPS, it's always updated and it's completely free. The only reason you'd pay for a service like this through AT&T or Verizon is if you had absolutely no idea about GPS, or you signed up for a 30-day free trial and forgot to cancel. Either way, dump it. You are paying for a service you already get for free.
Cell Phone Insurance
Sticking with phones, another nasty service you'll often be pressured into buying is cell phone insurance. For a "low" fee of around $7-10 per month, you can insure your very pricey phone against accidental damage. Here's the problem with that; it's a gamble.
Let's say you spend $7 a month to insure your phone. Over the course of the 2-year contract, that's $168. You will also have a deductible to pay, should your phone meet the requirements of the contract (remember, not everything is covered). Those deductibles average $150. That's over $300 you've spent, should you ever need to replace your phone. Chances are, you won't.
But you can forget all of this and ask your home insurance agent to draw up a "personal articles" policy. It will be half the price of the insurance offered by your cell phone carrier, and it won't come with a deductible. Or, you can just bank the $7 per month, and if you ever do need to replace your phone, go to the refurbished models on eBay. You'll save a lot of money.
With few exceptions, extended warranties are a rip off; especially when you buy them from the place you buy the original item. When it comes to electronics like laptops, printers, tablets, and monitors, they are just not worth the paper they're printed on.
The fact is, most products do not break in the first three years anyway. The first year is always covered by a complete manufacturer's warranty. And after the third year, the item is usually not even worth repairing. Now, sometimes it can be a good idea to pick up an extended warranty from a third party, especially on something you plan to keep for a long time. If it comes with an option to replace it with a current model, even better. But Consumer Reports says you should never buy an extended warranty; the big box stores are heavily incentivized to sell these marked up plans. That also goes for car purchases, too. (See also: How to Use Your Credit Card's Free Extended Warranty)
Rental Car Insurance
If you've ever had to rent a car, you'll know the sales pitch all too well. "Sir, would you like to decline the rental insurance and risk paying thousands of dollars should you get into a crash?" It's made to be a big, scary decision. And for $30 a day, why take the risk?
Well, it's not a risk at all. The rental insurance is optional, and you are already covered by the comprehensive and collision insurance you have on your own car. Personal Accident Insurance and Personal Effects Coverage are usually covered by your home, life, and health insurance policies. In fact, the only time you should ever consider car rental insurance is if you do not own a car, and thus, don't have car insurance.
It's important to monitor your finances closely, especially these days with so many hackers and identity thieves around. But don't pay for credit reports. Annualcreditreport.com gives you access to your reports from the three credit reporting companies, completely free, once every 12 months. Split them up into four months intervals, one from Experian, one from Equifax, and one from Transunion. That will give you a great picture of how your credit is doing. DO NOT sign up for monthly services from places like freecreditreport.com (oh, the irony of that name), who will charge you $12.99 per month for a service you can get for free. (See also: How to Get a Truly Free Credit Report)
Monitored Home Security
You may think peace of mind is worth $50-$100 every month, but just bear in mind that monitored home security is not giving you the protection you may think.
Aside from the fact that many people don't even remember to turn it on regularly, know that anyone serious about robbing you will not care about the home security system. They know police response times can average 30-45 minutes, and more in bigger cities. They also know people ignore the sirens, as 80% are false alarms. So although the alarm may be blaring, they'll be in and out before ever being noticed. These alarms are easy to disable, and you will get locked into a 3-year contract that will auto renew if you don't remember to call before the renewal date. If you have a dog, it's a way better alarm. And for those about to cite the insurance reduction, it equates to about 15%... nowhere near your monthly fee.
If you're looking for a date, you can pay lots of money every month to places like Match.com and eHarmony. Or, you can use free services like PlentyOfFish and OKCupid. Sure, there are more features on the pay sites, but several people I have talked to say that they've had the same luck on free services as they have on the expensive ones. Of course, if you are using free sites you should make an extra effort to look up information on the people you are choosing to meet. Take precautions. But anyone you meet, whether from a free or paid site, can be an angel or something far less than that. (See also: Get a Drink on the Online Dating First Date)
You hear the ads all the time. If you have debt coming out of your eyeballs, and owe everyone more money than the government owes China, you should call this number for help. Sure, you can call them and they can sort a few things out for you. But they will charge a nice fat fee, and you can do everything they do if you just do a little research. Some of them will say they can remove black marks from your credit, but what they'll often do is dispute it, then run a new report to show you they're worth the fees you're paying. Later, those black marks go right back on. So, avoid credit repair services at all costs.
Any other services that are certain rip-offs? Please share in comments!