Stop Overspending With These Tips
In honor of the new year, let’s talk about easy ways to revamp your monthly budget by lowering some of your regular expenses. Truth be told, it’s always a good time to reevaluate how much money is going out versus how much is coming in, but I figure I’d capitalize on the fact that some of you may be in the resolution-making mode, and here at American Credit Foundation, we know it’s never a bad time to make sure your money-management skills are top notch.
In that spirit, check out these 15 tips for keeping your monthly expenses, from your mortgage to your daily java, under control.
- Carpool to work or use public transportation. Kiss soul-sucking commutes goodbye by sharing the ride with others going your way. Not only will you save on gas, parking fees, and vehicle maintenance, think of how nice it would be to sip your coffee and read the morning news during your drive to and from work instead of sweating it out in never-ending rush hour.
- Refinance your home. Tired of paying sky-high interest rates? Get in touch with various lending institutions to see what they can offer you. This not only saves you money in the long run, but you’ll likely enjoy lower monthly mortgage payments, as well. Just remember not to add to your balance if you do go this route (tempting as it may be).
- Transfer high-interest credit card balances. If you’re credit score is good enough, you’ve likely received at least a few zero-percent transfer offers from various credit card companies. If you’re currently carrying a balance with a high interest rate attached, taking advantage of one of these offers may be a good idea. Just be sure to make note of when the zero-percent offer ends, typically 12-18 months after you transfer your balance, and set a monthly payment that’ll have your debt erased in the allotted time.
- Negotiate to lower high credit card interest rate. If your account is in good standing, meaning you pay your bills on time, it’s worth a shot to see if your lender is willing to give you a break on your rate.
- Bundle your cable, cell phone and internet bills. This requires a bit of calling around and comparing prices among different service providers, but it’s a solid move most of the time. Just be sure you’re aware of whether or not the bundled price is only good for a certain amount of time before you agree to it.
- Unplug. No, I’m not referring to an electronics detox, though that’s usually not a bad idea, but it’s not related to this column’s purposes. Instead, make a habit of unplugging any of your electrical household items when they’re not in use. Believe it or not, even if the items aren’t turned on, they do draw a small amount of electricity just by being plugged into the wall socket and, over time, the associated costs adds up.
- Kick bad habits to the curb. Think smoking, excessive drinking, or the weekly Krispy Kreme visit. All of these are vices your body can do without, and eliminating them, or at least cutting back, can be a boon to your monthly budget.
- Cash in on unused items. Scour your home and gather anything you have no need for but might tempt others’ fancy. Post to your favorite social media selling site and make sure to apply your earnings to debt payments first, if any.
- Decrease the hot water heater temperature. Along with the air conditioner, your home’s hot water heater accounts for a decent chunk of your monthly energy expenses. However, most people have their temperature set too high. Give yours a check and lower to 125-130 degrees Fahrenheit or about 60 degrees Celsius to save some cash each month.
- Do away with your landline. With cell phones everywhere we turn, it’s a good bet that most of us don’t need a home landline anymore. However, if you can’t bear to part with it, at least consider canceling such unneeded services such as long distance and caller ID.
- Rethink your fun. Instead of attending costly concerts, dining out numerous times a week, or snatching up the latest bestseller, opt for free musical entertainment in local bars or coffee houses, borrow books and movies from the local library and host potluck dinners with friends at home. When it comes to entertainment, don’t be afraid of getting creative and kicking off your weekend plans with a “free things to do in my city” internet search.
- Brew your own coffee. It’s been said before but it’s worth repeating: Cruise right on past that costly Starbucks with ease as you sip your own home-brewed coffee from the comfort of your own car.
- Keep kids’ activities to a minimum. When you add up the total costs stemming from your youngsters’ art classes, sports teams or Karate lessons, you might be surprised how much you’re shelling out each month in the name of enriching experiences. It’s not just the monthly participation costs, but there’s likely equipment or uniform expenses, as well, and let’s not forget about the gas you use toting the little ones to and fro. Consider limiting their activities to one at a time, per kid, or maybe, for a season, eliminate them all together. Focus on family time for a spell instead of rushing back and forth to endless games, lessons and the like.
- Take advantage of students’ skills. Looking for a simple trim to your locks? Hit up the beauty school students. This option will stress your wallet far less than going to a fully licensed beautician.
- Brown bag it. In addition to the money you save by cooking at home as opposed to heading out to dinner, you can also make good use of those leftovers by taking them with you to work for lunch. Daily lunches, which can range anywhere from $5 to $25 or easily more, can quickly eat away at your bottom line. Conversely, scrapping those costs will give your wallet a substantial breather.
These are just some ideas when it comes to cutting back on regular expenses. If you think on it, it’s likely there are several other ways to shave some money from your budget. Don’t be afraid to get creative when it comes to saving money, especially if you’re looking to pay down debt. And remember, if you have questions or concerns, you can always contact the team at American Credit Foundation.