Saving money is always a good goal, yet often we’d rather focus on our immediate needs and wants rather than our long-term financial picture. But saving money and enjoying your current lifestyle don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Here are four ways to save that won’t impact your enjoyment of your everyday life.
Negotiate Your Credit Card Interest Rate
If you have an outstanding balance hanging out there on your credit card, you may be spending a large chunk of your monthly budget just paying the interest on these charges. Lowering your interest rate could help you redirect some of these funds into savings. If you have a good history of making at least your monthly minimum payments, you probably have some leverage to negotiate. Call your credit card company and see if there’s room for negotiation. It always helps if you can point to a better offer you’ve received from another credit card company so take a look at those pesky offers you receive in the mail and use them to your advantage.
Find a Credit Card with Perks that Work for You
If you feel comfortable using your credit cards for your monthly expenses, finding a card with the right perks can really benefit you. Credit cards now offer all sorts of incentives, and finding one that fits within your lifestyle and typical spending habits is important. If you love to travel and would choose to travel regardless of any incentive, a card with travel perks (i.e. miles towards airfare) may be a good choice. If you spend a lot on groceries and dining out, you may want to choose a card that gives extra rewards in those categories. The options are endless, so do your research. Also keep in mind that in order for this to be effective, you have to be able to ensure that you are still only spending what you earn and will be able to pay off your balance at the end of each month. Otherwise, the downside of interest and penalties will outweigh the possible benefit.
Explore Your Cable Options
These days many people are cutting the cable cord, and I can completely understand why. Between services like Hulu, Netflix, Sling, and on-line programming, there's very little programming that requires you to stick with the traditional cable model. Even if you're not willing to cut the cord just yet, this is another expense that may be negotiable. Large cable companies like Comcast and Verizon will often start you off at a very low rate for services in order to get your business initially, then within six months to a year the rates will increase dramatically. They often expect you to call and renegotiate your rate at that point, but many people never will. Setting a calendar reminder of when your current policy expires will help prompt you to take another look at these expenses and take action to lower your bill.
Set Your Utilities to Autopay
On a monthly basis you may pay water, electric, gas, cable, and the list goes on. For each of these, there may be a fee to process your payment. $2 here, $3 there, and before you know it you’re spending $10 a month on fees that you don’t need to pay. That’s $120 a year! Most banks these days have part of their online banking system dedicated to automating these payments. Take a few minutes to link up your utility accounts to autopay and not only will you save in fees, but you’ll get back some time in the process. As a word of caution, the downside of autopay is that you need to know you will have enough in your bank account on the date of withdrawal to cover the cost of these bills. Additionally, the amounts often fluctuate from month to month which makes it harder to budget for. It’s also important to continuously monitor the amount of your bills for reasonableness in order to prevent surprises.
What can you do today to lower your monthly expenses without impacting your lifestyle? Take a look at your budget to see where you might be able to find areas for improvement.
Written By: Lindsay Dell Cook
Lindsay Dell Cook is a CPA, writer, and founder of Budget Babble. She lives in Philadelphia with her uber supportive husband, and enjoys taking their adorable mutt for walks or reading a good book while buried under a pile of cats.