Your budget is flexible. You’re working on it and keeping it under control. Maybe you have stretched it as far as you think it can go, or maybe you’re just now getting a glimpse of where your money goes each month. Either way, we can all benefit from some easy tricks to get a tighter grip on monthly expenses so that we can finally breathe a little easier. The good news is that the money saving tips are not difficult and there are now some apps to make some of these even easier! Read on for some interesting insights into how you can reduce monthly spending on your household needs.
I know, I know. You probably saw this one coming; but it works and people just don’t do it as often as they should. It’s better to spend some time on the phone than to go each month locked into payments you can’t afford. It makes so much sense to squeeze your payable accounts and cut down whatever monthly charges you can! You may not be excited about doing this, (I know I never am!) but the sense of relief and accomplishment after you’ve successfully renegotiated some of your monthly payments will far outweigh your current apprehensions!
For those monthly needs such as insurance, groceries, or even gas; you should never underestimate the power of comparison shopping. Don’t just do it once, though. Do it frequently. Pay attention when prices go up. Monthly services especially take advantage of the fact that you’ll likely let automation take over and not notice or care when rates start to increase. It just so happens that introductory pricing last just long enough for you to get used to the service and stop noticing the charges. This can also lead to potential overdraft fees and snowball into other problems.
When you comparison shop, consider variable pricing such as the best day of the week to buy gas, or groceries. Some stores may have better weekly deals than others. In addition to finding a local gas station with the best price per gallon, be sure to pay cash to avoid additional fees.
If you have an assortment of credit card balances, or just one with a really high interest rate, it may help to consolidate the debt with a balance transfer. Some cards offer 0% balance transfer fees and an introductory APR of 0%. This will allow you to pay off bigger chunks of debt without having some of your payment coming back on your balance in the form of interest.
You may not always qualify based on your credit score, but as you work on your credit, you’ll slowly but surely have access to better and better offers. Be careful about transferring too much though! If you have a balance with a low APR keep it where it is. You don’t want to pile up an account you can’t pay off within a year, only to have the introductory period end on a massive consolidated balance!
Make Payments on Time
So, one way to improve your credit and reduce monthly spending is to make your monthly payments on time. Timely payments and paying more than the minimum each month will open doors for you in the future. (Check out my book, The Spender’s Guide to Debt Free Living, to find out all about how to create your very own Debt Hit List!) It can also help you avoid those overdraft fees I mentioned above. Keep an accurate account of what you have in your bank account and what you can afford to pay out on your monthly expenses. Don’t let a deadline go by without paying, and don’t let your checking account get too low.
If you regularly overdraft your account and just can’t avoid it, try looking into checking accounts that don’t charge overdraft fees. Paying money you don’t have is more than a financial setback. It’s demoralizing and it can make you feel like you can’t get out of debt… BUT YOU CAN!
Pro tip: When I used to constantly find my account overdraft I did 2 things that significantly helped with the fees. #1. I’d call the bank and would ask them to reverse the fee. #2. I asked the bank to “turn off” the “Courtesy Pay” feature. I told them that I’d rather the card be declined than have them cover the purchase AND have the fee tacked on.
Just like renegotiating and comparison shopping, you may find that you’re entitled to refunds that you’re ignoring. It takes time and effort to get money back for failed goods or services. A good company makes it easy for you to get your money back, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way.
Letting it go might seem to make sense in the short term, but if you’re dealing with regular instances of product returns or service failures such as an internet outage, then you should definitely take control of the situation and get properly reimbursed. You should only be paying for what you get, right? In the case of an internet outage, you may be entitled to money you never thought you’d see again.
Get Cash Back
The world is full of incentives to buy; which can be a real downer when you’re committed to succeeding at your Spending Fast. However, for those “needs-based” expenses, you’ve got to kind of “work” the system. Gas points for groceries is just one example. Cash back is one of the most direct ways to reduce monthly spending.
There are ways to get cash back for your spending without contributing to your overall credit card debt. For example, you could download Ibotta if you haven’t already. This is an app that essentially provides coupons for money back on certain items. There are other apps, too. On the topic of paying bills on time, there is an app called MoneyLion. With a free core membership, money lion rewards you for making on time payments. It also helps with those pesky overdraft fees. There is no minimum balance required either, and they monitor your credit for free.
Tell me in the comments, what are your favorite EASY ways to save money for household items?