This is part two of our BIG List to help you save money now, with tips 26-50. You can check out part one here.
50 Simple ways to save big money now! (Part 2)
Blue Water Credit’s guide to cutting your monthly costs by 5%, 10%, or even 20% and combat inflation!
In the latter part of 2022, everything has changed yet again – but this time, it’s our economy that’s causing us fits with inflation raging out of control. Through May, inflation soared to 8.6% year-over-year, the highest rate of price increases since 1981.
Whipped up by a perfect storm of pandemic-era stimulus ending, supply chain issues, war in Ukraine, and a record bull market, food, gas, energy, and housing (plus anything tied to an interest rate) are costing us a lot more these days.
In fact, the average U.S family is now paying $311 more for the exact same goods and services than they were just 12 months ago. For many of us, that’s just the start of how pricey normal life is right now when you add it all up.
And as our Federal Reserve aggressively hikes its benchmark lending rate as a means to slow inflation, that only means our mortgage rates, credit card interest rates, and other loans are costing us far more.
So, what’s a person to do?
Fortunately, you can take action to assess and address just about everything you spend money on. Today, we’re going to propose 25 ways to save money for this year and beyond. Some of them may seem relatively small but add it all up, and I estimate the average family can save 5%, 10%, or even 20% off their monthly bills and spending just by going down this list!
It’s not the perfect fix – and will take sacrifice and diligence – but it sure will help you ride out this wave until we see more stable economic conditions very soon.
As always, Blue Water Credit is committed to helping you through the highs and lows when it comes to debt, credit scores, or providing sage personal finance advice and resources.
So, here we go with our big list to help you save 5%-20% off your monthly budget! (26-50.)
26. It probably will also save you to have your family dine-out nights during the early week or off-nights when the restaurant is not as packed and busy – they’ll probably offer some sort of special.
27. If you really want to crunch the numbers, order your favorite dish but just drink water: restaurants make a surprising amount of their profits by selling soda, teas, beer, and wine!
28. Back at home in your living room, give a quick audit of your cable TV bills. My guess is that it’s probably ridiculously overpriced. Shop around online for competitors and special deals if you switch, and give your current company a call to break up with them. Once they know you’re serious and get you to Client Retention, they’ll probably throw a great sweetheart offer at you that saves you a chunk of change.
29. Even better, cancel your cable and just go with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and the many, many others. You’ll pay pennies on the dollar compared to standard cable.
30. But we also tend to amass quite a lineup of streaming services, so make sure you have only the one(s) that are most popular and used with your family.
31. That being said, do the same with your home internet service.
32. And I’m 100% sure that you’re wasting a lot of money on your phone plan. While most people sign up with the big internet providers that lock you into an expensive 100-year contract, there are some incredible money-saving alternatives.
For instance, did you know that Wal-Mart offers one of the best phone plans you’ll find? Yes, Wal-Mart! You can switch any phone from any provider, your contract will only be month-to-month, and you’ll probably pay around $30 for unlimited internet for your phone or special family bundles. Try it!
33. Make sure you have cash reserves. The best way to save cash…is to have cash. I’m only half-kidding because keeping solid savings or a rainy-day fund is a lifesaver when the car breaks down, the roof leaks, or life throws you other curveballs. If you don’t have about six months’ basic expenses put away, you’ll surely turn to your credit cards when things go south – or worse, take out payday loans or financing that will cost you far more in the long term.
34. Do a low-spend week or month. This won’t be popular at first with your family, but engage in a low-spend weekend, week, or even month. The key is to make it like a game, getting everyone tied into an overall goal, tracking that so everyone can see, and offering some reward or reinforcement if you all reach that goal. And once it’s over, the “normal” spending will feel like a vacation to everyone!
35. Get a cash-back credit card or start playing the points game. While this definitely can save you money, be careful because you’ll need the organization and discipline to pay off your credit card every single week/month to avoid interest charges.
36. Quit the bad habits! Smoking, guzzling a six-pack of craft beer every night, or your “shopaholic” impulse purchases are costing you dearly. Cut out the bad habits – and start spending!
37. Address that high-interest credit card or loan. As part of your debt management plan, sit down with all of your credit card or loan statements and make a spreadsheet that includes interest rates, balances, fees, APRs, repayment timelines, and more. You’ll see some glaring numbers that are costing you dearly!
38. Address those by calling your credit card companies or lenders and asking if they can do something to reduce those payments since you’re a great customer, or consider transferring your balances to a low-interest card to consolidate. There also may be consolidation loans or personal loans that allow you to pay off higher-interest debts and lower your monthly payments. (But be careful because that may hurt your credit score so contact us first!)
39. The other options for paying off your debt are snowballing or stacking, which call on you to accelerate payments to your higher interest or higher payment debts first. There are a few strategies and ways you can do this, and even free software and apps that allow you to track your debt payment plan. No matter how you do it, it may take a little pain and sacrifice at first but soon free up some big sums on a monthly basis. By then, you’ll be ready to pay off your next high-interest credit card and keep the snowball rolling!
40. Americans give a lot of money to charities, non-profits, and religious organizations, and we applaud you for giving of yourself. But if the budget is a little tight and you need to cut back for a while, you can still manifest your philanthropy by volunteering your time or even professional services for charities, not money.
41. It’s vacation time! You definitely don’t want to cancel your vacation this year, even though the budget is tight. But with the astronomical cost of hotel stays and airline tickets these days (as well as everything else!), it may not be the ideal time to blow through $5-$10,000 just for a weeklong family vaca. Instead, think about doing something in nature closer to home – like a wonderful camping (ok, or glamping) trip. You can pack up the car and drive there and stay search Airbnb for accommodations instead of fancy hotels. With the savings, you can probably go on a few vacations and still save!
42. Team up with neighbors, family, or friends on big purchases. We all have a garage full of “STUFF,” and yet we use that STUFF pretty rarely. So, the next time you have to buy a lawnmower, power washer, ladder, or any other big purchase that won’t be used daily, why not split the cost with a neighbor or friend, sharing its use?
43. Keep driving that used car! Aside from our mortgage or rent, a good portion of our monthly outflow usually is sitting in the driveway, with the average new car payment now $648 and a sticker price of more than $47,000 ($64,000 for luxury cars!). That’s a lot of green for something that depreciates quickly and constitutes a big part of your budget. So, to save a whole lot of money, keep driving your current car for a couple of years if it’s running well. It’s not glamourous, but it will certainly pay dividends, especially if you can pay your loan off, which is when you really start to recoup the cost.
Then, when you’re ready to buy, shop around with your bank or financial institution for the best low-interest auto loan on a solid new vehicle or used car that’s 2-3 years old, which is when it depreciates the most.
44. Check in with your tax planner and financial advisor. It’s always a good idea to check in with your financial team, especially before you make any major money moves or if there’s been a significant change in your financial situation. Their sage advice can definitely save you a lot of money in the long run!
45. Pack your lunch (and coffee). Most of us are so busy that we just hit a restaurant, café, or delivery for lunch at work, as well as a coffee or two from Starbucks or our favorite coffee shop every day. Add it all up, and that could be $150 or more per week or $600 per month – and that’s per person who’s working in your household.
So, why not do a little planning and meal prep a couple of times per week and bring a great lunch to work at least four days per week? It will save you a ton of money, you’ll be far less rushed, so you can use your lunch hour to sit in a park or even at the gym (instead of driving to a restaurant and waiting), and you’ll also eat a lot healthier. And the same thing for coffee – just bring a thermos of your favorite high-quality coffee made at home for real savings.
You don’t have to do this every day, but even 3-4 days per week will cut your weekly work food bill in half!
46. Refinance your mortgage! One of the big-ticket items where you can really save is your home loan payments, so it’s worth contacting your favorite mortgage broker to review your options. At worst, they will tell you there’s no chance for savings and you haven’t lost or spent anything. But they may deliver the good news that a refinance can actually save you a big chunk of change!
And even though the days of record-low interest rates are gone, there are still plenty of ways to save, such as a 15-year mortgage, adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) if you think you’ll be selling or refinancing again in a few years, dropping mortgage insurance, or even taking cash out of your home to pay off debt.
47. Make bi-monthly mortgage payments. The biggest purchase you’ll make in your life isn’t your home. Instead, the biggest purchase is always the LOAN you use to buy the home. That’s because the average person pays $1.25 to $2.00 in true cost for every $1 they borrow thanks to interest. So, that $500,000 may cost you $800,000 when you add up all of those mortgage payments over 360 months.
48. If you can’t refinance into a lower rate, the other way to save huge money long-term is to make two mortgage payments per month, not just one. You can also make a 13th payment every year or just add extra money towards principal monthly. There are many ways to do it, but the result will be the same – you’ll pay down your principal more quickly, cut out a lot of interest, and your total cost for the home will be far lower than if you stuck to the regular amortization schedule.
49. Save automatically. This simple tactic may not seem flashy but will set the path for financial success no matter what your income, investments, or situation. As your paycheck hits your bank account, set it up so a certain percentage goes into a dedicated savings account. After the initial adjustment, you probably won’t even miss it, and after six months or a year, you’ll be impressed with how much of a rainy-day fund you’ve amassed!
50. Delay purchases with the 30-day rule. Are you at the mall and you really love that new handbag? Or you see a crazy cool pair of sneakers online? How about that new expensive mountain bike that’s on sale at your local sports store? While we all love new, shiny things, the key is not to get swept up in impulse purchases that aren’t well thought out and planned. So, some financial planners recommend a 30-day rule for big purchases; if you see something you want, wait one month before you pull the trigger on buying it. By then, you’ll know if you really want it or the desire to own it (and spend all that money) fades. (Of course, a one-week rule is fine, too!)
For real savings, boost your credit score! Your credit score may have been important when the economy was booming, but it’s CRUCIAL that you keep a great credit score now, and if the economy dips further. Record-low interest rates are gone for the time being, and many of us are paying a whole lot more on a monthly basis for the same auto loans, credit cards, mortgages, and more.
In fact, recent research has found that even the relatively small difference between a good and mediocre credit score will save you about $45,000 over the course of your life. (Now imagine how much you’d save with a great credit score!)
The best way to combat inflation is to increase your credit score as much as possible, allowing you to qualify for the best possible interest rates, plans, and offers. Even insurance, utilities, cell phone plans, and getting your dream job may be impacted by credit score these days, so be sure to make sure your FICO is optimized.
If you’d like to save and need some financial help, contact Blue Water Credit for a complimentary credit score consultation!