Tips for Keeping More of Your Money
Tools and Tips to Gain Control
Balancing your checkbook at the end of the month can be challenging. You want to keep your Netflix and your cable TV! Your car or home insurance payments have steadily crept up year after year! You’ve been procrastinating about cancelling that gym membership you no longer use! Whatever the issue, here are 14 tips to help you keep more of your money.
- Start tracking your spending: Fixed expenses like monthly rent, student loan payments and car loan payments are easy to track. Where most people get tripped up is controlling what their discretionary income goes towards. So, when you find yourself at the end of each month wondering where all your money went, start by looking through your bank statement and add how much you spent on that everyday afternoon triple, venti, caramel mocha, latte. Maybe you ate out a few more times than you thought. You can get a picture of your where your money’s going by completing our budget tracker or downloading one of the many apps available online.
- Create a budget (or reevaluate your budget): Assuming you already completed the step above of tracking and categorizing your spending, the next step is to determine which areas of spending need work so that you can create a budget. Do you have money left over to SAVE at the end of the month? Are you spending every dollar you earn? Are you spending more than you earn? Do you have multiple student loans that it may be beneficial to consolidate all you loan payments into one and save some money? Maybe you’re still paying for that vacation that you put on your high interest credit card?
- Transfer a high-interest debt: What interest rate are you paying on that big credit card bill? 15%… 20%… 25%? Check out our blog post for a practical example of the money you could be saving by transferring your high interest credit card debt to a credit card with 0% APR (annual percentage rate) for a certain number of months. These types of offers can help you pay off your debt in a timely manner — without having to pay interest.
- Shop for cheaper car insurance: In 2016, a Lypper colleague who has had his home and auto insured with the same insurance company for over ten years did a little shopping around to find out other providers’ rates. With this information, he called his current insurance provider inquiring about potential savings, stating that “some of your competitors are courting me for my business. Before I decide, I’d like to know what you can do for me.” Lo and behold, they found him over $600 of savings a year for the exact same coverage. How generous can these companies be… It feels more like he was being squeezed by them for over ten years. That’s the price of loyalty! And the power of a phone call, yes, a phone call!!!
- Cancel a subscription or other monthly expense: How about that monthly membership fee for that gym you no longer use. Maybe you have both Netflix and Hulu! Are you too lazy to make that call? Apps like Truebill and Asktrim do the dirty work for you.
- Eliminate a fee: ATM fees, investment fees, checking account fees! Make them disappear. If you withdraw cash from an ATM not affiliated with your bank, you are likely charged a fee. Look online for your bank’s nearest ATM to avoid fees. If your bank charges a fee when the balance on your checking account falls below a certain amount, well…, find a new bank. There are a multitude of brick and mortar as well as online banks that can accommodate that. Also, check out the local Credit Union to see what they offer.
- Download coupon apps: There are tons of free apps out there that can save you money — apps that offer instant deals and coupons for grocery stores and drugstores, and even some that actually pay you cash back just for shopping (to help you save, not spend more!).
- Cook dinner at home: According to a recent survey among households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more, one-third live paycheck to paycheck, and 44% said lifestyle purchases, such as dining out and entertainment, were big hindrances to saving. Among millennials bringing home $75,000 or more, 71% confessed these expenses were stealing their savings.
- Bag a lunch: Bring leftovers to work. You’ll keep more of your money and, hopefully, eat healthier!
- Lower a monthly bill: Negotiate! A lot of people don’t realize they can save on their existing monthly bills just by doing a little negotiating. Truebill and Asktrim could be helpful in this area as well.
- Reduce your utility bills: Purchase a smart thermostat, replace your lightbulbs, get federal and state tax credits, lock in a low price before the winter heating season. Shower at your gym!
- Get a cheaper cell phone plan: Surveys indicate that most people don’t make the effort to look for a cheaper cell phone plan and they are paying about twice as much as they have to each month for cell phone service.
- Shop with a grocery list: Shopping with a grocery list makes it much easier to avoid spending extra money. Grocery shopping without a list is the easiest way to forget important items and getting home to find out that you now have three jars of peanut butter! Check out these apps.
- Try using cash: Use the envelope budgeting system. Split up your paycheck for each area of the budget and put the cash in separate envelopes. That will force you to budget based on the amount of cash you have left, rather than just swiping a card and continuing to overspend. Check out YNAB.