With the country in the midst of a whopper of a recession, you may be thinking about ways to cut back and watch what you’re spending more carefully then in the past. This is great thing to do, especially if you’re not forced to do it based upon your personal financial situation. Below are my Top 10 money-savings tips for folks that are looking to save some money and increase their wealth by changing how they spend their money, not stop spending their money. Think of it as getting more for less.
1. Keep track of you Expenses
If you don’t know where you’re spending your money it will be hard to start cutting back. Start capturing everything you spend money on over a 1 month period or try a two week period if all of your recurring bills fall within a 2 week cycle. This will give you some valuable insight to where your money is going. You may be surprised to see how much you’re spending on miscellaneous stuff over a month’s time. Then it’s up to you to figure out what you want to cut back. Also, consider renewing, replacing, and/or calling all the current recurring bills you pay looking for a better deal. This list includes your phone, cable, internet, insurance, car loan, credit card, mortgage, landlord, etc…
2. Manage your Credit Cards like a business
Today there are cards for every thing. 0% interest for 12 months- great if you carry a month debt. 5% back on gas- this is smart to have especially if you are driving over 200 miles a week. Money back on all purchases or travel points for every dollar you spend. You get the idea. You should have a different card that maximizes the reward for each type of purchase- i.e. gas, travel, groceries, retail goods, etc… Last year I received over $1,200 back in cash and free rewards just by using my credit cards effectively. You should get in the habit of maximizing the rewards based upon the type of purchase you are making. Cardholderoptions.com has most all options to choose from all the major card issuers in the industry.
3. Add a little more too each Mortgage Payment
This will save you tens of thousands over the life of the loan. Paying $114 extra a month on 30 year mortgage with a balance of $250,000 and an interest rate of 6%will save you about $55,632.63 over the life of the loan. You will also pay that loan off 5 years early. So you might want to think twice on how you spend your money each month- it can have a dramatic affect on your life. Check out this site to figure out your loan payment savings- http://www.hsh.com/calc-prepay.html.
4. Take In more and eat Out less
You ever hear the saying less is more? Restaurants can be easy and convenient, but they cost you. Try to eat out only once every other week while taking in food from either a restaurant or a shopping center that has pre-cooked meals ready to go. You’ll save some money, still feel a little energize by not preparing the meals you take in, and hopefully you get to spend more quality time with your family or loved ones.
5. Consider your employer’s Flexible Healthcare spending plan
These types of plans allow you to put a set amount into the plan so you can pay expenses like co-pays, prescription costs, and over the counter medications with pre-tax money. This saves you over 30% a year by spending your money pre-tax- that’s some savings! Please look closely into your plan options before choosing a plan- i.e. flexible spending accounts may not be your best option.
6. Review & Consolidate your Insurance Policies
If you’re like me, you probably bought your car insurance first, and then added other insurance products like Home Owners or Life insurance. Now is the perfect time to revisit all of your policies. Try combining as many of these policies as possible with the same insurer- you usually get a better deal when you consolidate policies with a single insurer.
7. Submit an early & thorough Tax Return
Sounds simply right? April 15th always comes sooner than you think…I personally have my tax return in before Valentines Day with a refund in hand for some spring break project. You can find a good accountant for $100-$300 depending on which part of the country you live in. A good accountant will easily make up for any costs associated with their services. If you feel like you can’t afford a professional or you are a do-it-yourselfer, at least purchase some software that can help find savings for you. TaxAct, H&R Block Tax Cut and TurboTax all do a great job of pointing out opportunities to save money.
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If you want to feel like you just got a small raise at work, start clipping or clicking coupons. Yes, it is now even easier to save money by printing coupons you want. If you put in the effort you will get rewarded every time. Try clicking for coupons at shopathome.com. For larger purchases, sign up with a cash back site. I just joined Bing and earned $41 cash back dollars on 3 days just for buying what I wanted through their site- not bad. Their site is located at https://cashbackaccount.bing.com/cashback/welcome.aspx
9. Make your home Energy-Efficient
This is an area where the more you can spend, the more you will save. I recently hired someone to add additional insulation to my entire home. My circa 1950’s split ranch was definitely lacking some insulation, well, not any more! I’ve seen my rooms stay heated and cooled longer, air leakage cut over 30%, & my energy bill has gone down quite a bit. As a less costly first step, you could seal up your doors and windows with new weather stripping, add more insulation to your attic, clean your a/c unit, or start switching out your old light bulbs for fluorescent bulbs- this can save you big time. See the EnergyStar site for some great energy saving ideas.
10. Drink more Water
Water is virtually free and is great for your system. You will not only save a few bucks a month, you will also be a little healthier for it & may lose a few extra pounds without even trying.
This last one may sound to simple to be very effective, but you can easily save a hundred dollars or more a month by substituting some water for you daily soda break or mid day coffee run. And if you look at #3 above, you can turn your water money into $55,000 over a period of time- that’s pretty cool. Now I’m not saying don’t indulge in your life’s pleasures, but I am saying with some simple tweaks to your daily routine, or maybe a switch of a company you do business, you can have a long lasting affect on your financial wellness.
Now there you have it. My top ten ways to save some money, become smarter on how you spend your money, which should provide you great satisfaction in controlling your personal finances. This is the recipe for healthier and wealthier living.