Another $3300 in my pocket.

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A few weeks back, I wrote about how we cut the cable cord. We have not yet regretted our decision to invest in rabbit ears instead. Occasionally we have to wiggle the dang thing to improve the signal. But since it’s used for a half hour every weekday, we can live with that. Now this should have taught us to go look at all the recurring expenses being piled on us every month or year. But if we were that evolved, I wouldn’t be stalking the personal finance blogosphere would I?

Completely unrelated photo of me paragliding in Colombia just before Covid

Enter the annual insurance premium invoice. We have been with the same insurance company for a combo home and auto plan for the last few years. There’s few companies that will insure homes in most parts of our drought ridden tinderbox state now. So we stuck with them even though the premiums kept going up every year by at least ten percent. To load some more straws on the proverbial camel’s back, we added a newly minted driver to our auto plan in the summer of 2019. The company customer service person insisted that purely by virtue of living in the same household, his license would cost us a whopping $2400 a year whether he had his own car or not! And any form of communication from our own local insurance agent was non-existent. He was happy to perennially get a commission from our ever bloating plan without so much as replying to my emails, leave alone returning a call.

This Blue Capped Motmot is more likely to respond than my agent

Thankfully for us and not so thankfully for our wannabe Travolta ala Grease, we had a beater car that was older than him. Barely had he driven by himself for a few months, Covid hit. After an almost virtual high school graduation (and no prom), the poor kid started college from home like hundreds of thousands of others in the class of 2020. By this time, I had read the unmissable book on the last Great Influenza and had an inkling of what was to come. But his enthusiasm kept us all optimistic about him getting back into the saddle soon. So we kept the jalopy and the ridiculous insurance premium.

Not so bad looking for 20 years old.

By the time this year’s insurance premium arrived with it’s clockwork ten percent hike, the junker had not been driven regularly for six or seven months with no end in sight to the havoc being wreaked by the virus. But I was sidetracked by the salt in my wounds from the pathetic service provided by our local agent with whom we had stuck for almost 10 years. I looked around and found another agent specializing in the same company. His effusively helpful assistant handled all the paperwork of switching over to their agency and magically delivered a thousand dollar drop in premium! She even assured my recently woke self that every possible discount had been applied to the policy. I did have to buy a home alarm system. Easily achieved on Prime through the equally easy to install Ring. Still a good deal after the cost of the system and the monitoring at $10 a month.

Sometimes, you catch a sardine and miss seeing the marlin that swims past (is that even a real fishing metaphor?). Anyway – a month later, when I tried to start the car for it’s weekly run to charge the battery, all I got was a loud click. Turns out, the battery needed to be replaced. After a jump, the drive to the shop got me thinking. I was now paying almost $1800 a month in insurance for a car that had not been driven in over seven months and would not be driven until the next fall. And the value of the car itself was barely as much as the annual insurance premium. Not even counting the registration, maintenance and gas. What exactly was the purpose of this arrangement again?

There’s always someone coming for your money (croc in Llanos, Colombia)

A quick call to the aforementioned effusive assistant resulted in a bombshell of a discovery. If we eliminated the clunker and Travolta became an alternate driver on one of our cars, our premium would fall by $1300 a year!! (Remember – I had specifically posed this question to the customer service person.) And oh by the way, Ms Effusive confessed, she was surprised to find that we had not been given a discount for having ‘at least a 2 year’ college degree! That would drop down our premium by another few hundred dollars. By this time, I decided to roll the dice again. Calling our friendly neighborhood car shop guy, I inquired if he knew anyone who was interested in buying the bucket of bolts. Lo and behold! Yes there was. His assistant had been looking for a car for his son and was willing to pay $2000 for the car without me having to pay for the pending battery replacement. That was well above what I was expecting. Woo hoo! Was I on a roll or what.

‘Travolta’ and his sister get emotional about their ‘baby’ car

Long story short. Rustbucket sold. Travolta on bicycle (for exercise). And yours truly is richer by at least $3300 – at least for now. Moral of the story: If you, like many of us docs at this time, have spare time on your hands – review every single recurring expense. Personal or business. Shop around for policies and new agents. Get a second opinion on everything from your cable plan to your health insurance. And remember – only you care about your hard earned money.

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