Do you want an awesome hack for the holidays? One that could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars for about an hour’s worth of work?
Looking back, it seems so simple and obvious that we should all be doing this. So here’s how it all came about.
Two weeks ago I took a long-ish hard look at my business expense lines in my Profit and Loss Report on XERO (awesome accounting software – made here in New Zealand) and I was like:
‘Wow. Why am I spending so much on all these things?’.
This report scared the bejesus out of me. It very clearly showed me that my software costs alone each month were around $700-1,000.
Now normally this might be fine, but none of these were actively contributing to revenue I was making. Turns out I had blown out my costs for team, tools, software and technology for no good reason!
I immediately asked myself if I really needed to be spending all this money on tools and technology?
The answer was NO!
It all started because I got an annual bill for tool I’d previously been using for years, and I was like Why am I still paying for this because I haven’t used it since the start of the year?
When I dived deeper, I realized this was happening across the board.
How to dramatically reduce your business expenses
Step 1. Take it down a level
I looked at the tools that I use all the time to see whether I could drop the plan down from a pro plan to either a more basic plan or even a freemium free plan.
For example I downgraded my Zoom account. I adore Zoom and use it everyday for calls, interviews, team catch ups and more, but since I’m not using it for group coaching or programs for now, I went back to the free account.
What I love about Zoom is that they offer you a monthly contract, so you can upgrade and downgrade whenever you like, and add on features like their Webinar Platform for a few months, rather than being locked in all year.
Then I looked at Typeform, a great service for being able to collect surveys and use conditional logic depending on peoples’ answers.
But I didn’t need to be on the super pro version as I’d finished collecting responses for the surveys I’d run for feedback. I simply exported all my responses and went back to the free account.
Plus Google Forms works perfectly as a free survey tool, without the fancy functionality.
Another example is I pay for Google suite and apps so that I can have my own separate email domain. At some point I’d put eight emails under that one account for various courses that I’ve run.
I didn’t realize that every single email address that I created cost me about US$6 a month. It doesn’t seem like much but I didn’t actually need to to that, I could have simply made them alias addresses within one account.
Just like that, I have saved US$40 a month and cut down the complexity of my email accounts!
For almost all of the tools, it was possible to downgrade or switch to the free version without losing any of the functionality I used.
Top Tip: When you login, simply navigate to Account Settings or Billing. They spell out your options there.
I was surprised to see several of them even offered up multiple months of refunds if you let them know that you’d be inactive or not using their tool/ software. Bonus!
Almost all of them had a contact email, form or one click downgrade you could use. All up this took me about 10 minutes for four tools.
Step 2. Stop paying for nothing!
I then looked at all the tools that I’m not using all, that I’m still paying for.
I started with Shopify, even though it’s great and I think it’s the best option out there for selling products online, I’m simply not using it since my eCommerce experiment ended.
Why should I pay around US$30 a month for something that is not being put to use.
I did the same with Zapier, which is an awesome tool for connecting and integrating apps. We don’t need to use it anymore because we have a workaround with my email provider ConvertKit and my online course software of choice, Teachable.
And that was the only thing we were using it for. And they just billed me for a full year. So I got that back – their helpdesk was amazingly responsive and proactive too. Thanks Zapier!
I recently trialled some pretty cool educational software but it just wasn’t working for us. I approached the founder and they very generously gave us a pro-rata refund for 9 out of 12 months as I’d paid for a full year.
By this stage I realized that if I extrapolated all those monthly subscription fees out for a full year, plus the lump sum refunds I got, it was already over US$3,000 in savings that I’d reclaimed.
All of this took less than hour to do via email, forms or simply one click of a button.
How to reduce your life expenses
This got me thinking about what other services I was paying for personally that I’m not actually actively using.
Luckily there were very few. But the first to go – which had been on my mind for months, every time I saw the charge on my credit card, was for an online fitness program membership I had not engaged with since signing up.
So I simply emailed their support and asked to cancel, and here’s the thing, I also asked if they could retrospectively refund me several months.
I’m a big fan of the following motto, and a handy habit to get into, which is…
Step 3. Don’t ask don’t get.
I wrote an email that said:
‘I’ve not been using this membership for five months and you can see that through my lack of login activity. Is it possible to refund a couple of extra months?’
They said yes to two months. Better than nothing!
I don’t think most of us think about the simple act of asking for what we want.
If you ask for a refund, my recent experience is, almost every single software company or service is happy to do this.
Since I was on a roll, I then extended it when my car insurance renewal bill came through yesterday.
I had to change the address, so got on the phone to do that and while there asked if there was a way to reduce the premium.
Turns out they had my car value at $5,000 more than it’s currently worth – because cars sadly depreciate at the speed of light.
And POOF! $100 knocked off my bill that I was about to pay on autopilot.
I just wanted to share these as examples as quick and painless ways to add some extra savings (or reclaim your hard-earned dollars) back into your bank account, for very little time and effort.
What have you got to lose?
And I figure it’s about this time of year where it’s pretty nice to have some savings in the bank and a bit of extra money to play with to spend on the things that you do love, or the people that you love or the causes that you really support.
Step 4. Go on a cleanse
If you’ve been in a little bit of denial (like me) about your spending or you’ve signed up for all these things and forgotten to cancel them, or simply can’t be bothered, I hope this gives you the kick in the butt you need to take action!
Right now is a really good time of the year for you to take a bit of a cleanse on both your business and personal subscriptions that you may have been paying for.
You can take it a step further by uncluttering your life too!
If you were one of those people who’s bought a gym membership and you haven’t been at all yet, but you’ve been paying for it all year please please please cancel that.
Instead use that money to do something else, like hire a personal trainer, go to a CrossFit gym you actually turn up to, buy a piece of equipment that you know you’re going to use at home or partner up with a friend to train outside together.
We are paying far too much money for services or products that we just aren’t using.
You may find that with all the money you saved from doing the above steps I’ve laid out, that you’re now able to pay for or afford a subscription that you really do want or maybe even a course that you been wanting to take.
I encourage you to go ahead and declare you’re going to downgrade or cancel subscriptions and services in time for the holiday seasons, that are costing you money, with no return.
You deserve it!
Share what you’ve done recently to save some money or cut your business expenses in the comments below.