For most of us, the money we make comes at the expense of our time, effort, blood, sweat and tears. Given this, it’s always a surprise that more people don’t do the simplest things to literally save themselves $1,000s of dollars a year. Stop handing your hard-earned cash over to corporations with huge profit margins and put it back in your bank account or take an amazing vacation. The 5 simple money saving tips below apply to almost all of us. So, take a few minutes and start taking your money back.
Internet and Cable
Almost all of us have this expense and the average monthly price for most American households in well north of $100. Aside from getting rid of the service altogether (which is always and option), you do have several cards that you can play when dealing with internet and cable companies.
- Never lock yourself in for more than a year. Once you are locked in, you are stuck and do not have the ability to negotiate.
- If you have met your commitment term and your price lock has expired, you are probably paying way too much. In many cases your monthly fees will almost double once your price lock disappears and many people don’t notice for many months. Cable and internet companies count on this type of behavior. Be vigilant and put these expiration dates in your phone as a reminder of these and other important dates.
- Play hardball. Believe it or not, most Americans do not like to negotiate. We take things at sticker price and just assume that there is no wiggle room. This is simply not true. Cable and internet companies have HUGE margins and can offer enormous incentives. Everything from deeply discounted service to $100 Visa gift cards. Make them work for your business.
Credit Card Balances
This one is a no brainer. Credit card companies are offering 0% interest on balance transfers for up to 24 months. Stop paying interest and apply those interest payments to the principle balance. In addition, by consolidating your credit card debt onto a single 0% card you could also see a lift in your credit score. What kind of balance transfer card should you look for? Here are some quick tips on picking the best.
- The longer the 0% interest period the better.
- Low introductory rates are often used as bait by credit card companies that have high post introductory rates. So, if you often carry a credit card balance it’s probably unrealistic to assume you will pay off all your credit card debt during the introductory period. Translation, make sure that the interest rate after the introductory period is as low as possible.
- Look for a credit card that also offers rewards. This is a great way to make your money work for you.
Depending on your age, credit rating and the type of car you drive…this could be a huge expense. You have to shop around. Insurance companies are some of the oldest, largest and most profitable companies IN THE WORLD. Most of us are paying too much for auto insurance and, once again, it’s because we quickly become complacent about the products and services in our lives if they “Do the job”. Insurance is something that most of us will never use, so we assume that it is “Doing the job”. At the very least, try the following tips and see if you save.
- Sometimes it’s as easy as a phone call. Call your agent and have them review your coverages. Make sure there is nothing in there that you don’t need.
- In addition, make sure you are getting the appropriate discounts based on your age, credit level and driving history. Often times if you have been with the same insurance company for many years and your credit has improved, for example, you will be in the wrong ratings tier.
- Play hardball. They want your business. Make them earn it. You need to shop around and find out if you are paying too much. You probably are. Just be sure that you are making apples to apples comparisons when getting quotes from the various insurance providers.
Cell Phone Plan
Like it or hate it, almost all of us have a cell phone and an accompanying cell phone plan. Depending on the amount of minutes, speed and quantity of data service, number of phones and phone type, the cost can vary considerably.
- Avoid annual contracts by purchasing your own phone. Believe it or not, the “free” phone provided with your annual cell phone plan is simply built into the cost of the plan. It is absolutely not “free”.
- Now that you are not locked into any one carrier you are free to negotiate the best price. It’s amazing the amount of room that carriers have to negotiate your rates. It’s not unheard of to literally cut your bill in half.
- Only pay for what you need. Increasing or decreasing your voice and/or data service is simple and can usually be done in just a few minutes with a phone call or by logging into your carrier’s website.
- Check back often for deals and specials. Be wary of “free” hardware and always read the terms and conditions of any deal as you don’t want to be locked into a contract.
Meals at Home
The average American eats out 4.2 times per week. Does your family unit consist of just you or you and your significant other? If so, chances are that number is closer to 10-12 times when you include breakfast, lunches and dinners. Eating out is expensive…and generally a less healthy way to get your macronutrients. Cooking, however, takes time and effort. In addition, you don’t always have the long list of spices and ingredients necessary to make nice home cooked meal. All of these issues are exacerbated if you are just cooking for 1 or 2 people. You end up making too much food and have left overs for days or the ingredients spoil before you get around to using them. In comes pre-prepared meal services like Blue Apron, Sun Basket and Plated. You can choose from a variety of meal plans for different dietary restrictions, the quality of the ingredients is top notch and often times locally sourced, and you pay by the serving. Instructions, fresh meat/fish/poultry, produce and spices are all included. Don’t want to cook every night? You can have it delivered fresh just twice a week if that’s all you desire. The bottom line is you will save the money in your wallet and your waistline.