The Holidays are fast approaching and having some extra cash available couldn’t come at a better time. Here are five ways you can save money today without losing anything in the process.
1. Internet/Cable: Do this today! Contact your cable and/or internet provider and ask about promotions or new packages they offer. Providers such as DirecTV and Comcast are always changing packages to entice new subscribers to join. Unfortunately, they fail to share this valuable information with their current customer base. If you make the call and are refused a better deal, ask the representative this, “How much will I save if I cancel the service?” Now you have their attention and in many cases this will place the representative in a “save customer” mode, offers that didn’t exist a moment ago now flow freely from their lips. You may also be transferred to the “win-back” department where even more savings can be had.
Keep tabs on your bill and promotions, make this call every 3 to 6 months as savings can add up to $500 a year or more. For instance, last month I cut my monthly Comcast bill (internet and phone) in half saving me $606.12 per year, more than worth the 10 minute phone call. DirecTV gave me more HD channels for $10 less per month PLUS 6 months of premium movie (HBO, Showtime, Starz) channels at no cost. Although the savings may not seem significant, getting more for less is never a bad thing. So, if the thought of threatening to cancel your service seems difficult for you, consider this – Make the call or forever be taken advantage of.
2. Auto Insurance: When it comes to saving money, one of the best places to start is with your auto insurance. In such a competitive market, you owe it to yourself to shop around. Insurance companies want your business and in some cases, you can save hundreds per year just by switching providers and quite possibly get better coverage in the process.
3. Interest Rates: If you’re paying higher than average interest rates on your credit card you have two choices 1) Contact your creditor and see about getting a reduction in your interest rate or 2) Consider switching card companies all together. For your auto loan, look into refinancing options with your current lender. Many banks out there will also consider buying your loan in an effort to gain your business. Try avoiding extending the payment term though, this can end up costing more in the long run even if you do reduce the interest rate. The key to success here is to always pay on time. This may seem obvious, but it’s the number-one predictor of your credit worthiness. If your credit has faltered due to slow/late pays or missed payments, you’ll likely not be approved for any reductions or even worse, pay more in interest on future loans which could end up costing you thousands.
4. Grocery Shopping: 50 percent of grocery purchases are impulse and if you’re one of those who frequent the grocery store 2,3 or even 5 times a week, you’re costing yourself hundreds each year. Each time you walk into the store you’re presented with ads just begging for attention. You may not move on the item right away (unless it’s a One-Day-Only sale) but the more you see it with each visit, the more likely you’ll be to cave and buy. Enticing ads aside, impulse buying on non-sale and non-essential items will add up much quicker than expected at check out.
Also, consider the fuel cost over time. Obviously, everybody’s vehicle type, fuel prices and distance from their store will differ. But here’s an example, each trip I make to the store costs roughly $1.00 in gas, if I visit the grocery store 3 times a week, I’ll end up paying $156.00 a year just in fuel. Combine that with impulse purchases and the number climbs exponentially.
5. Research/Restraint: If we really want to save money, we have to realize that it all starts with us. Research and compare everything, weigh the pros and cons and decide if it’s something you need or want before you consider making a purchase. Once you’ve decided, STOP. Let it sink in for a minimum of 24 hours. For example, if I’m considering the purchase of a large ticket item, like a new MacBook Pro for instance, I tend to let it sit on my mind for a couple of weeks, regardless of how bad I think I need it. Feeling comfortable with our decisions can prevent buyers remorse or unforeseen blow-back from an unsuspecting spouse.
Whether you want that shiny new car or 60 inch HDTV or have to replace your refrigerator or water heater, you can save thousands on the spot by doing your homework. Competition is beautiful, even more-so when the consumer is the benefactor.
If you have any useful tips to help others save money today, please share in the comments below.