As the holiday season is officially upon us, nothing screams "Help!" like your wallet. Below I've listed 10 ways to help you save money this year by making some minor adjustments to your daily routine or spending habits.
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#1 Cutting Cable
Did you know the average subscriber spends $85 per month on cable services? A recent study conducted by Leichtman Research reflects households are cutting the cord on cable. In fact, approximately 754,000 subscribers cut their cable during the second quarter of 2018. As a result of this, cable companies saw an increase of 383,000 subscribers moving to stream services, particularly in DirecTV Now and Sling TV.
I wish I could say this shocked me but after looking for ways to cut my budget expenses down, I canceled my DirecTV service and started a DirecTV Now subscription. This saved me 66% on my cable expense as my bill went from $120 to $40 plus with the special offer over the summer, I received a Free Apple TV as well as no bill until Oct 1. For me, this was a Win-Win!
This is why cutting your cable bill is ranked #1 on the list because you do not have to rid your cable altogether but rather look for ways to reduce the bill. If you happen to be addicted to the cable service you have and are still in doubts about canceling it, then there are a few other ways to cut costs.
Take a look at your latest bill and review the fees listed. You may see additional programs listed for channels you aren’t watching. I noticed that I was paying an additional $10 per month for HBO but hadn’t watched anything on that channel in two months. This was a great cost-cutting measure. Another strategy that many consumers never act on is calling your cable company and negotiate your cable bill. Before I got DirecTV Now, I use to do this every 6 months because companies want to keep their base customers. My $120 bill would get slashed to half.
#2 Reduce Your Power Usage
When it comes to saving money, it is the little daily actions taken that stack up to big monthly savings. One of the little daily changes is watching your electrical use. This is one of the bills where you have control and decide how much to consume. While I am not saying to turn off your breaker and live in the dark, I am saying take small actions. Here are several ways in how to reduce your electricity bill.
The first strategy is obvious. Turn off the lights when not using them. This is a difficult habit for many but making this a regular habit and kindly reminding other family members, just saving $1 a day quickly adds up to $30 in savings. Also, check for appliances that are plugged in and not being used. Unplugging regular appliances in the kitchen and bathroom can save you some change.
Another strategy is to minimize the use of your microwave. By thawing frozen foods in your refrigerator before cooking or rather than defrosting in your microwave has substantial savings since these amazing appliances use so much energy.
While there are multiple other strategies, my favorite is replacing your light bulbs with energy efficient LED. I have to be honest. I was not on board with this at first but after taking the challenge, I replaced all my bulbs with the CREE LED bulbs and I saw a $40 savings on my next electricity bill. My home was surrounded with floodlighting and landscape lights. After replacing these with low watt LEDs, it made a huge saving impact while keeping the golden glow that I love on my exterior home.
#3 Reduce Your Grocery Bill
Are you thinking I’m going to write about coupons? I do recommend to use when applicable but rather you will learn some household tricks to having a lower food bill.
The first trick is to stop buying bagged lettuce/mixed greens. This came as a total shocker for me because it’s fast, simple, and affordable, or so I thought. Bagged lettuce spoils quickly and when you compare the cost of it to that of a head of romaine lettuce, the head will last longer and you are likely to replace it as often—hence saving money. Plus it is fresher.
Secondly, if you buy potatoes, are you having to replace these weekly because of the root growth? I do until I read an article on preserving these root plants. Once you arrive home with your newly purchased potatoes, place these in a paper bag and store in a dark cool place (not the refrigerator). The paper will allow the water vapors to escape easily thereby saving your potato from rot or root growth. I’ve been told you can keep these up to about a month and with winter approaching, it’s a great way to save some money.
Thirdly, cut back on frozen prepared meals. This can be difficult if you are a busy bee and rarely have time to cook. The truth is frozen meals are costly when compared to making this yourself. You can buy spaghetti, sauce, and make your meatballs that will produce about 4-6 meals for under 5 dollars. This is practically $1 per meal compared to eating out which usually ranges from $7-$12. Huge savings! Another trick is learning to cook meals in a crockpot. You can easily prep these meals in less than an hour and have the crock pot cook all day. Once cooked, you freeze it to have additional frozen meals.
#4 Stop Paying for Monthly Subscriptions
Have you totaled your monthly subscription service bills from companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime, clothing box services, or personal hygiene box subscriptions? If not, you should consider this because you may be surprised that you’re spending over $100 per month. It is easy to be enticed in these low-cost monthly subscriptions from $9.99 to $14.99 or more but if you have too many, this can be detrimental to your finances.
I love the marketing and health benefits of a certain weekly food box delivery. The issue with such services is the total cost per meal. You will easily pay from $10 to $13 a plate. When you have a family, it is very expensive to feed those mouths weekly. This is why I switched to $5 Meal Plans. I have cut my food budget drastically with easy to prep meals and it allows me to cook extra meals for the work week. The savings from cutting back on monthly services have saved me over $100 per month because when I am honest with myself, I don’t need these. I just want them.
#5 Pay Off Credit Cards
The average interest rate in the U.S., as of 2018, is 13.08%. Consumers are accustomed to paying high interest rates on credit cards while others use their cards charging zero interest. If you are one of the lucky ones paying no interest, then this tip isn't for you. If you are paying interest then take a look at your credit card statement and total the sum of interest you have paid since January.
Odds are, you could have paid off the card already using the interest you paid the bank. So pay off those credit cards so can you start putting some cash back into your pocket.
#6 Bring Lunch to Work
If you paid $6 per lunch, five days a week, that sums up to $30 per week or $120 per month. This is a very low figure too because lunches usually cost from $8-$12.
It can be tempting to want to socialize with your colleagues if they are going out to eat during lunch. While I don't want you to be anti-social, you must limit such occasions to once per week.
By meal prepping, you can save a lot of money from dining out. People tend to eat healthier too when they bring their lunch and a great way to prep is with PlateJoy. I've been using this company to plan my meals since April and the meals are delicious. They make it easy to shop for key items and most meals can be prepped in 10-15 minutes.
#7 Limit Your App Purchases
Similar to Spring cleaning, I recommend you perform a Fall cleaning within your smartphone. Going through the active purchases, determine how much you can save by cancelling all the apps. Next, determine which apps are a must keep and which ones are not necessities.
This is a win-win situation because not only are you saving money, but you'll free up some space on your phone and it may even perform better.
#8 Overpaying for Insurance
Currently I am licensed to sell Life Insurance in Texas and more often than I not, I see more and more people being overcharged. This upsets me because I see families being taken advantage of everyday but by salesmen who care about nothing but their pockets. The difficult part is determining if you are overpaying.
My tip to families is to always shop around to get "comparable" quotes. Browse several companies and ensure the coverage is the same throughout. Always buy term, never whole life and ensure you get enough coverage to pay off all the bills, put your kids through college, and allow your spouse retire. This is the standard benchmark to aim for because in the worst possible situation, that's how you need to plan.
Another tip is to look to see if you are overpaying for auto insurance too. Consumers have a tendency to stick with one company with one quote forever and while companies are always lowering and raising rates, consumers never call to get a check up on a lower quote.
To get you started, here are a few resources to help you shop. Receive a quote from USAA Life Insurance, eSurance for auto and home, and Navy Mutual for life insurance.
#9 Avoid Overdraft Fees
These fees are outrageous. If you bounce a check, the bank and the company will both charge anywhere from $25-$50 each. This means you are charged $50-$100 for money you already don't have. With proper budgeting, you can eliminate this unnecessary hassle. One of my favorite banks is USAA because they charge absolutely $0 to bank, I get reimbursed my ATM fees if I use a competitor's ATM, and the customer service is superior!
#10 Buy Used
This is self explanatory. This can be applied to everything from cars to clothes. Yes, clothes too! With a company like THREDUP, the company buys your used clothes and then sells the secondhand items to buyers online. Used items are less expensive as some life has been exhausted from the item but you also can receive significant discounts from retail price.
When it comes to saving money, take a look at your purchases. By examining your bank account and credit card statements, the evidence is uncovered on your spending habits. Anyone can save money and by taking just a few small adjustments in your daily habits, you can stack up the savings.