Sunday, June 28, 2009

Finding Money & Spotting Financial Errors in the Mail

It's possible to make or save money by just opening the mail. Bills, pay stub statements and even junk mail can be a source of savings. Within the last two weeks, a careful review of bills and statements has led to a savings of more than $200 in my home.

Phone and utility bills: My husband Avi recently spotted two mistakes totaling $110 on our monthly phone bill. We were billed $80 for a home repair of our wireless network. The repair did not happen. We challenged both charges and were given credit for the errors.

Magazine renewal fees: Through a special promotion, we had ordered several magazines for $2 per annual subscription. Last week, we received a postcard with details about an automatic subscription renewal. After reading the fine print, we discovered that the renewal rates were substantially higher than the initial promotions. We were billed $120 to renew four magazines. We canceled the subscriptions.

Phantom monthly charges: After examining her Internet and cable television bills, my mother discovered recurring charges for features she had not ordered. She protested and had the charges removed.

Pay stub mistakes: Review pay stubs. You may be responsible for tax or income errors. If you've been overpaid, your company could request immediate repayment. A friend once faced a substantial tax penalty for a recurring tax error that was ultimately her responsibility.

Promotions: From free facials to complimentary cups of coffee, we have found useful discounts by reading promotional mail, including e-mail. Coupons for food, entertainment, merchandise and services have yielded valuable savings and services.


Sharon is the author of the Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well and Save Money -- a coming of age memoir about money -- and a contributing writer in Wise Bread's 10,0001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget.

1 comment:

Charlie-PayLessForFood said...

You are so right about checking your mail to save money! I've been a victim of the magazine renewal trick as well.

Some other things to watch the mail for include rebates that actually look like junk mail. It seems that some rebate companies purposefully do this so you'll actually throw the rebate away.

Credit card companies are also tricky. A few of my credit card companies frequently send me a lot of junk mail offers, but then every so often slip in an announcement about a credit card rate change or even worse a change in the payment due date.

This is bad because many people have automatic billing for their credit cards.

If they fail to see the due date change notification in the mail they risk paying their credit card late and incurring penalty charges and fees.