Life hacks for saving money
Increase your bottom line with these painless money-saving tips and strategies.Increase your bottom line with these painless money-saving tips and strategies.
Saving money doesn't have to mean doing without. Consider these strategies, tips and tweaks for keeping more of your hard-earned money without compromising your lifestyle:
- Observe the 30-day rule. The next time you feel an urge to splurge on a shiny new kitchen appliance, or another pair of designer shoes, for example - write down the item and the date and then wait 30 days. If you still want the item, buy it then. Chances are, though, its appeal will have faded.
- Kill those vampire charges. Many appliances, such as computers, printers, surround-sound entertainment systems and coffee-makers with built-in clocks use electricity even when they're turned off, adding "vampire charges" to your utility bill. Unplug them when they're not in use - or use a power strip that lets you disconnect them all off from a single switch.
- Bill yourself. If you're carrying significant credit card debt from month to month, open a separate savings account and arrange for automated transfers from your checking account, to be used exclusively to pay off your balances. By effectively treating your savings like a monthly bill you'll get out of debt much faster. Also as you pay down your credit debt, look to cancel cards and consolidate the amount of credit cards you have to just a few. Fewer cards will allow you to keep track of and pay off balances easier.
- Plan your purchases. If you're in the habit of making spur-of-the-moment purchases at the supermarket, break it by knowing what you do - and don't - need. Having a list can help you dodge impulse triggers and stay on track as you move through the aisles. Another money-saving tip? Don't shop hungry. You'll be less likely to be enticed by ambient aromas into buying non-essentials.
- Don't store your credit card number on shopping websites. Granted, having to retype it every time you make a purchase can be a bit of a hassle. But not having to retype it makes it easier to buy things you don't need and run up your account balance. Declining the invitation to keep your card on file can put a brake on impulse buying.
- Read your credit report regularly. It's an opportunity to secure better interest rates by removing inaccuracies and outdated information from your record. As a rule of thumb, request and review your credit report annually, and at least six months before applying for a mortgage or other major loan.
- Subscribe to personal finance magazines. Publications like Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Money, and Consumer Reports offer practical money-saving advice, tips, and ideas that can help you manage money more effectively and avoid mistakes. Also check out personal finance blogs and relevant articles in general-interest publications like USA Today and US News & World Report.
- Consider an internet bank. Moving your savings or CD account to an internet bank can yield a range of benefits including the convenience of anytime/anywhere banking. And, since internet banks have a lower cost structure you can save money on fees and services.
- Trade in tens and twenties for fifties and hundreds. Psychologically, it's easier to part with smaller bills than bigger ones - which means you'll be less likely to break a $50 bill to make a $10 purchase than pay for it with a ten.
- Ask for a better price. When shopping for major items - e.g. cars, furniture, appliances, electronics - get in the habit of asking, "Is that your best price?" The simple act of putting the question will often result in a discount.
- Hold a garage sale. Plan it carefully and you can reasonably expect to net $1,000 to $1,500 or more. As a rule, the proceeds are not taxable, provided the merchandise is sold for less than what you paid for it, and you run no more than a few sales a year. The payoff in reduced clutter and more closet space can also be substantial. (You don't need a garage to hold a garage sale: A patio, yard or apartment parking lot can also work.)
- Avoid "buy now, pay later" offers. Zero-interest deferred payment deals are tempting, but they can wind up costing you more in the end. As long as you make all your payments in full and on time, you won't have to pay any interest. But miss a payment, and you'll have to pay all the interest - typically at the highest allowable rate. Better to postpone major purchases until you have the cash to pay for them.
- Time your purchases. Before you make your next big purchase, check the calendar, since discounts are available at specific times of the year in many product categories. For example, you'll do better on linens, bedding and winter coats in January, and air conditioners and patio furniture are cheapest in August.
Of course, none of these financial life hacks are designed to make you rich - but they will help you hold on to more of your money, which you can add to your savings. There's really no downside.
This information is made available to you as a self-help tool for your independent use and is not intended to provide investment advice. We cannot and do not guarantee its accuracy and applicability to your individual circumstances. All examples are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes. Please consult with a financial advisor for a solution suitable for your needs.