Some everyday items are a necessity, but others are just out of habit or a want, not a need. There are many ways to ensure that a person stays within the lines of their budget each month. One of the easiest options is to avoid paying too much money for an item when they don’t need to.
Here are a few guidelines to help accomplish that goal:
- Cut Down on the Utility Bills – Turn the lights off when leaving the room and your utility bills will be much friendlier. Do a quick nightly utility sweep before going to bed to make sure all of your electronic devices and appliances are turned off. Set your water heater to 120 degrees, and to save even more money, you can turn your electric heater off or turn your gas heater down when you go away on vacation.
- Bottled Water – H2O is a fundamental commodity, but a water filter on your kitchen faucet is more economical than buying bottled water every day. This does not prevent distributors from charging an arm and a leg for a single bottle. They are able to get away with this by convincing people that they are selling natural spring water; however they’re usually only selling tap water that has been filtered by an appliance very similar to the inexpensive filters that you can attach to your faucet or purchase a Brita filter for your fridge. Save the Earth and save money!
- Gifts – Search for coupons, discount codes, and promo codes online before buying anything. Look for coupons for the item you have in mind or for the store you want to buy it from. Sign up for email subscriptions from your favorite retail stores because they will periodically send you coupons. Follow the social media accounts of your favorite retail stores and brands. If the recipient has access to a computer, save money and paper and send an electronic card instead.
- Premium Gas – Don’t pay high prices for premium gas because it’s not necessary and it won’t improve the vehicle’s performance. Higher octane gasoline only exists for cars with higher compression ratios, like high-end sports cars. These types of vehicles need the most expensive premium gas. Most cars, however, see no benefits from premium gasoline. As long as the manufacturer does not mandate high-octane gasoline, regular is the best option and is the best for your budget.
- Good Money Management Skills – There are still banks that offer free checking, don’t be afraid to switch to save the monthly fee. Paying bills on time is a great way to ensure good credit, which translates into lower interest rates. Consumers don’t need to include a late payment in their budget when they pay their bill on time. If you need help creating a budget or need some tips and advice to properly handle your money, give Advantage CCS a call today. The call is absolutely free and completely confidential. Our credit counselors are here to help you!
- Energy Drinks – Look for coupons online before purchasing the drink. Buy at a discount bulk store like Sam’s Club or Costco to save more money. Some manufacturers offer direct purchasing with discounts by ordering a case. Look for sales in your area. Try cutting back to a half-can per day or less. Avoid the desire to pick up energy drinks at the gas station because you will pay more for them there. Look for promotional offers of your favorite brand as well.
- Gym Membership – If you can, get rid of the membership altogether. Chances are you aren’t going enough to justify that monthly cost. If you still want to keep the gym membership try negotiating a lower fee. Let the manager know that you would still like to be a member but you are on a budget. Try asking what the cost would be if you paid for a year in full instead of paying month-by-month. You might be able to get a nice discount. If the membership includes things you don’t use, such as child care or a pool, ask for a reduced rate that doesn’t include these things.
- Groceries – Meal Planning is one of the best ways to save money on groceries. Packaged foods with claims of being healthy are usually overpriced and the true natural and healthy foods can be acquired at a fraction of the price. Why pay full price for an item at the grocery store when it is possible to use a coupon instead. Avoid high prices on products by choosing generic or off brands whenever possible. Keep a running list of items you are about to run out of. And we’ve all heard this one before but it’s true….never shop when you are hungry! You can also save a ton of money by growing your own fruits and vegetables. Here are a few more helpful tips: https://www.advantageccs.org/articles/budget-food
- Magazine Subscriptions – First of all, ask yourself if you can live without those subscriptions. Chances are you can, so you should just go ahead and cancel them right now. If you decided that you can’t live without them, you should never pay newsstand prices for any magazines. A typical magazine at the store costs around $3.99. If you are grabbing one per week, you could be spending well over $200 per year. Look for group discount deals on sites like Groupon or LivingSocial. You could also see if there are any free magazines out there.
- Auto Expenses – Save money on auto expenses by using public transportation when possible. Auto dealerships are great for purchasing new vehicles, but they overcharge on repairs and body work. Slow down and avoid accidents and speeding tickets as this will keep insurance rates more affordable. Stick with an automobile that is fuel efficient as operational costs will be lower.
- Late Fees or Over-Limit Fees – Paying late fees and over-limit fees on credit cards and bank accounts can be a very disheartening use of your money and time. If a minimum payment on a credit card is missed it can result in a late fee that can be as high as $39. You might even see an increase in your current APR. Over-limit or overdraft fees can really add up too, especially when they are made in quick succession, resulting in fees for each transaction (purchase) made while an account is overdrawn.
- Cable TV – Cut the cord! Cable is so expensive and the prices seem to go up each year. Look for other ways to enjoy TV and save money. You can watch your favorite shows and channels on Internet websites like Hulu.com, Netflix.com, and HBOGo. New research has revealed the gaming console as the method used by a large number of consumers to connect a TV to the Internet in order to watch shows and movies. There are some streaming internet devices out there like the ChromeCast, Boxee Box, D-Link, or Roku 3. There are many free or low-cost options out there.
- Internet Access – Another costly thing that should be looked at is Internet Service. There are cheaper options out there that will still provide you with the same service. Check out providers like FreedomPop, NetZero, T-Mobile, and Mediacom for just a few examples. Compare their prices to the prices of major competitors. You can get the same speed and service that you had before so why not go with someone else and pay less each month.
- Landline Phone – Get rid of the landline, it is no longer necessary, especially since most people have their own cell phone. There’s really no need to have a landline and a cell phone. Use the power of the Internet. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers offer great solutions and incredibly low rates. VoIP transmits the call over a digital connection so you use the Internet that you are already paying for to make your calls.
- Cell Phone – Find a plan with the barest minimum features you need and use a free app like WhatsApp for texting instead. You should figure out exactly what you need before you sign up for a plan. Data is pretty much the only cellular feature left that has options other than unlimited, you should figure out how much data you will use and select a package slightly above that number so you don’t get hit with over-usage fees. Sometimes non-contract plans are cheaper than a two-year deal and often use the same towers and networks as major providers.
Most of the above guidelines are simple enough to follow and they could drastically reduce the strain on your monthly budget making it easier to manage your money properly. You should always take a good long look at your spending habits and see if there are things you can change to save money. These small changes could add up to big savings!