Is your monthly cash flow in a bind? Do you need to free up some money for a larger purchase? Here are some tips to help you get started. (Note: I know that sites out there suggest many different spending tips, but these are ones that I’ve tried or have had friends try that have produced success)
1) Avoid Beverages or Alcohol While Eating Out: Not only is this a financial tip, but it’s also a health tip. Ordering water when going out to eat instead of soda or alcohol can trim your budget as well as your waistline. This is a consistent battle for me as I’m trying to live a healthier lifestyle and “drop a few.” These two high-margin add-ons can go a long way to boost the bottom line of your local pub or restaurant. Note: If you work at a restaurant, I’m still thankful for you and your service and you can pretend I didn’t write this one :)
2) Take on an extra roommate: If your budget is in a bind, perhaps it’s worth looking into finding another roommate. Yes, you may sacrifice some “me” time, but you have someone else that is right there with you to help pay for utilities and who you can blame when guests come over and your place looks like a mess. If you have kids, they can also serve as your scapegoat for a messy house :)
3) Appeal Property Tax Assessments: Homeowners – did you know that when your property tax assessment comes each year, you can appeal the value they placed on it? As home prices continue to settle and stabilize, if you feel like your value is still too high its worth appealing. A couple of years ago I thought my statement looked a bit high. I called to appeal and it turns out there was an error on their end and it ended up reducing my taxes. They recognized it on their end without even coming out to the house. All it took was a two minute phone call.
4) Lower Car Repair Maintenance Costs: Who likes paying a ton of money to fix their car? Sometimes a big repair will come out of the blue, but a quick internet search for a coupon from your local auto shop will cut the bill down. Oftentimes something along the lines of “Save $10 on your next purchase over $50” or a “$10 off your next oil change” coupon can be found right on their website. It’s not a lot, but it is worth 2 minutes of your time and the cost of printer ink to check it out. If you want to cut costs even more, talk to a buddy to find out how to do an oil change yourself.
5) Shop Around For Health Club Membership: Spending money to stay fit is a great way to utilize your budget. However, do you really need all of the frills that your local club provides? Is it worth money at a place that has a big pool if you hate to swim? Do you really use that hot tub or sauna that always seems to have people twice your age hogging it? Does your club offer childcare but you don’t have any kids? If you don’t use them, you’re still helping to pay for them. Perhaps it’s worth looking at a different solution. Low-cost health clubs are popping up all over the place and it may be worth moving your membership.
6) Raise Your Insurance Deductible: A deductible on an insurance premium is the amount that you have to pay out of your pocket if you’re making a claim. While a $100 deductible may be great piece of mind, do you know how much lower your premium would be if you took on a $250 deductible? If you plan ahead and build a little emergency fund, it may be well worth your while to take on the added risk. If you have more saved up, what about bumping that deductible to $1,000? One thing is for sure, the insurance company isn’t losing money by giving you a nice low deductible since it is more risk for them to take on. If you take on just a little bit more risk, it may be well worth the boost to your pocketbook.
7) Adjust Your Tax Witholding: Do you have trouble making ends meet for 12 months out of the year, but then enjoy going hog wild with a big fat tax rebate? Perhaps it’s worth adjusting your tax withholding so that more of that money goes into your pocket each month. If not, you’re essentially giving the government a nice hefty loan with your hefty rebate. The IRS has withholding calculators on their website that you can use to run the numbers. Plus, just think if you could invest that extra money each month instead? It’s a baby step to boosting your retirement account. Don’t trust that extra cash burning a hole in your pocket each month? Put it right into an automated savings account so that you don’t even have to see it month to month.