When your paycheck runs out before the next payday, it’s time to start looking for ways to get more for your money. Saving money doesn’t necessarily equate to sacrifice, though. Sometimes you simply need to tweak a bill or two or find creative ways to spend less.
Some bills involve contracts, such as cell phone, Internet service, cable television, homeowner’s insurance, car insurance and medical insurance. Before a contract runs out, do a little comparative shopping and see if you can get lower rates from your provider’s competitor. Bundling services, such as purchasing all your insurance or communication services from one provider, can translate to lower rates.
Being unorganized can waste hundreds of dollars each year. Organize your bills and payment schedule to help you avoid paying late charges or reconnection fees. Forgetting to make a credit card payment on time means a hefty service charge and higher interest rates. If you forget to pay a utility bill, you face a reconnection charge and may be required to put up an additional deposit.
Audit your restaurant expenses to see what you have been spending. There may be room to trim your expenses without completely eliminating dining out. Instead of ordering a beverage, order tap water. When possible, split a meal with your spouse or friend. Spitting a meal plumps up your pocket book while slimming down your waist. Use restaurant coupons and take advantage of weekly specials.
Call your credit card companies and see if you can get your interest rates lowered. If you are buying your home--and struggling with your house payment--check to see if you qualify for the “Making Home Affordable Program” to lower your monthly payments (see Resources).
Become a coupon shopper and join a coupon group to help you learn saving tricks. One trick to maximize savings is to pair coupons with store sales. Some programs, such as Couponsense.com, tracks local stores for its members and informs members of the current store sales and which coupons to use.
Get a library card. Check out books from the library instead of spending money on books. If they don’t have a book you want to read, there is a good chance the library will order it for you. Libraries also have videos, DVDs and current magazines and newspapers.
Instead of throwing expensive dinner parties to entertain friends, throw a casual and affordable potluck, where guests each bring a side dish and their own beverages. Arrange game or movie nights with friends instead of going out.
Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real-estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.