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How to Save Some Money Now

How to Save Some Money Now

by Chris Petry

We’ve all had the pleasure, or should I say displeasure, of visiting the grocery store several times in the last year. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, real food prices are up nearly 10% from where they were this time last year.
The good news for homeowners is that home values are still quite high. What’s great for homeowners doesn’t always translate to homebuyers. Especially with the frequently discussed interest rates being points higher than they were two years ago. If there’s a silver lining, however, the Federal Reserve has indicated rate increases are coming to an end. If you recently purchased a home or you’re in the process of doing so now, refinancing is a viable option.
Below you’ll find a list of small but meaningful things you can do to save a little extra cash in our shifting market.
Always Make a List
When one goes to the store without a plan, you’re much more likely to overspend. Make a list and stick to it. It’s easy to forget just how much certain ingredients cost when you haven’t bought them in a while. You might on a whim grab something you used to buy for say $4, only to be shocked at checkout when it rings up closer to $7. Impulse buying can add up in the long run.
Auto Debit
Some banks, loan originators, and even utility companies will provide discounts for enrollment in autopay. The other added benefit of this is that you won’t forget to pay and incur any late fees.
Eat at Home
Who doesn’t love going out to eat? Or, these days, placing an order through DoorDash? Here’s why you shouldn’t. First off, prices are at all time highs. Especially where fast food is concerned. The fast-food industry is doing astoundingly well. Prices are up 9-13% (depending on who did the research) and profits are up at about the same percentage rate. So, you’re paying more for lower quality food that is objectively less healthy than what you can prepare at home for a fraction of the cost. Now add the delivery fee on top of the food itself and you’ll find your takeout habit can be having serious consequences on your budget.
Pay Cash
Map out how much money you’ll need to carry you through the week and withdraw it from the ATM. The convenience and dissociation that comes with a credit/debit card means we’re more likely to swipe it impulsively. When we see the money depleting in real time from our wallet, we often restrict our purchases in response.
Purge those Subscriptions
In the post cable and home video age, access to content has become a little more scattered and, ultimately, disposable. It’s easy to forget you signed up to a streaming service to watch a single show six months ago and you’ve yet to revisit the platform since. Especially when the debited amount is only three or four dollars. Except when you’ve done this multiple times for multiple different services, you’ll find you’re wasting $20 a month for content you’re not even watching in no time. Last year, I watched two shows on Netflix. Two. Was it worth paying $15 a month for 12 months for two shows? I’d say not. I wanted to watch Chucky on SYFY but it was hardly worth paying for a cable package for one show. So, I bought the entire season on Blu-Ray for $20 at Best Buy. Way less than I would have paid for cable for an entire year.
Cash Back
Check the terms and conditions on those credit cards. The best cards will reward your purchases with points or incentives which you’ll be able to use on future purchases. Some store credit cards allow you to make large purchases interest free if the balance is paid off within a certain period of time. That may not technically be cash back, but it is certainly cash saved if you budget correctly.
Wash Cold
If you’re like me and 95% of your wardrobe is black or dark grey, you should’ve been doing this already to preserve color. Still, everything you wear can be washed cold. Heating up water uses energy and increases the bill. Or, at least that’s what conventional wisdom tells us. If you’re doubtful of the difference, do it for the fabric and any added savings will just be a bonus.
If you haven’t changed out your bulbs yet, it’s past time you do so. LEDs might be a little more expensive at the point of purchase but they save big in the long run. They’re much more efficient and they burn cool to the touch.
This one’s less about immediate savings than it is about taking advantage of what you already have to supplement what you have coming in. You may not become a Craigslist millionaire or eBay entrepreneur but you can certainly pocket a little extra cash by reselling the stuff you’ve outgrown, don’t have the space for, or haven’t used since your high schooler was in a crib. The general rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it in two years, you probably won’t be using it over the next two. So, discard it and free up that space and capital. It’s just money that you can be using to cover debts and expenses, going to waste in the back of some attic or closet.
You can bundle cable and internet and sometimes even a home phone or mobile phone line. You can also bundle your car and homeowner’s insurance. Most of the time, bundling services will actually save you money in the long run, as opposed to paying for each separately. I’ll never forget arguing with Comcast at my first apartment that I didn’t need cable. “Take off the cable charges! I just want internet!” I quickly found out that, as illogical as it seems, an internet only package was more expensive than the plan that afforded me basic cable. It’s the same with insurance too. Individual plans come with much higher monthly premiums than a bundle deal where you pay one bill at a lower average rate.
Being honest, nothing I’ve listed above is likely to move the needle much on its own. However, if you practice more than one of the outlined tips, it’s more than likely that you’ll see some benefit over the coming months. Of course, as the economy itself begins to correct, we’ll all be feeling a whole lot better about swiping our credit cards again!