More Ways to Save Money

I've never met anyone who didn't enjoy saving money. 

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I got some positive feedback on last week's topic, so I decided to expand on that by sharing  a few ways I have personally shaved down my monthly expenses.  I'll even share a few costly mistakes I've made in hopes it will save you from making the same ones. 

Money saving tactics don't have to be huge or difficult tasks done all at once. The little things add up and you will see results. I'm no financial expert, but I have found that frugality often begins out of necessity, and continues by choice. Once I  realized that I could use money I'd been wasting to pay off debt and save for things I really wanted, it almost became a contest (with myself) to figure out more creative ways to save. 

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  • BUDGET: Preparing a budget seems overwhelming, but is crucial. Even if you think you know what you owe, there's something about seeing it on a written page and watching those balances get smaller.  There are many free resources online to help with budgeting and tackling debt. If you have hopes of getting a mortgage sometime in the future, it's important to find a lender who doesn't mind coaching you on things that can really help (or hurt) your chances of loan approval.  If you need some recommendations, just let me know. (Did you know that paying off a credit card and closing the account can have an unintended negative effect?) 
  • CANCEL SELDOM USED MEMBERSHIPS, SUBSCRIPTIONS,  & AUTO RENEWALS: I'll tell you a true story.  I paid 19.99 per month from 2015-2019 for a gym membership I used maybe twenty times.  Not proud of that, but it auto drafted and the longer it went on, the more I told myself that I had too much time invested to cancel. I have also learned the hard way about other subscriptions that automatically renew or things that start off as a 'free trail', but require payment information. I doubt there are many  people who don't have at least one  item they could immediately cut out of their monthly expenses and not even miss it.  Bonus savings: Go to all the sites that your bank account information is saved and delete it immediately.   Online shopping is way too easy, but storing your card info makes it even easier to impulse buy. 
  • CABLE: Cancel premium channels or any channels you don't watch. Better yet, cancel it altogether. I know this is easier said than done because it took me a long time to build up the courage to do so. I can honestly say with all the reasonable streaming options, I very seldom miss cable television. On the rare occasions I do, I just think about the $100+ I'm saving each month.  And if it's something I can't wait to watch for free later, like Blacklist or Better Call Saul, I just pay for the season with some of that savings.   If you want to get some good ideas on cable alternatives and what to stream for free, post it as a question to your friends on social media. You will have a multitude of options! 
  • INSURANCE:  I mentioned in my previous blog that it's wise to touch base with your insurance company to ensure you are getting all the discounts you're entitled to, as well as shopping around for better rates. I once saved several hundred dollars per year on homeowner's just by asking. Just make sure you shop for comparable and adequate coverage.  
  • INTEREST RATES & SERVICE FEES : Until they are paid off, you can call your credit card companies to see if they will give you a better interest rate. If not, look into finding a company that will, and transfer the balance.  If mortgage rates are lower than when you purchased our home, consider refinancing your loan. If you are paying service fees for your checking accounts, find out if there's any way to have them waived.  Many banks waive monthly fees for students or if you direct deposit your paycheck to your checking account and allow them to auto draft even a small amount to your savings. 
  • CELLPHONE:  If you don't want to have a 'no contract' service provider, at least evaluate your plan and stop paying for services you don't use. Keep you phone longer. Just because you are eligible for an upgrade doesn't mean you have to get one. If you don't have unlimited data, watch out for data running in the background and use WiFi when possible.  I once thought I was being thrifty by keeping a phone, but forgot it was a lease, so I continued paying the lease amount for several months after I could have just owned it outright. 
  •  MEAL PLANNING:  If you can't commit to meal prepping for the week, at least meal plan by making a list of all your meals for the upcoming week. Keep in mind how much time you will have to prepare the meal and plan accordingly.  For years, I would go over budget at the grocery store. Even worse, I often ended up not even cooking the food, but eating at restaurants because of work schedule and poor meal planning. There are so many good recipes online and "What should I cook for dinner?" is another question your Facebook friends love to answer.  
  • EATING AT HOME: I'm not saying that I don't go out to eat or that being frugal means never going out to eat. I just go less and it's much more enjoyable when I do. Proper meal planning means you don't find yourself cruising through the drive through for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday. Not only is eating at home way less expensive, but healthier and more enjoyable than endless fast food. Bonus points for making your own coffee or tea instead of buying it already brewed. I figured out that just cutting out morning coffee at the drive through and restaurant lunch  5 days a week saves me a minimum of $300 per month!  The amount of money spent on food is shocking for those of us who weren't previously tracking it. 
  • SHOPPING:   When I first decided to become frugal to get out of soul crushing debt, it was like a competitive sport.  I was very fortunate to come across a site called Southern Savers that taught me all the basics of finding amazing deals and using coupons. Back in my heyday, I would come home from the drugstore with 6 month's supply of paper products, laundry detergent, dish detergent, shampoo, deodorant, and makeup all for $3.20. I'm not joking. It was addictive. Jenny, who runs that site, explains exactly how to shop with coupons and take full advantage of sales.  I'm literally still using my stockpile from 3 years ago! These days, I order my groceries online, so only digital coupons I have downloaded on my grocery app will work, but I've found that aside from the convenience, it saves me time (which is money) and actual savings from not making impulse buys.  
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I know that I used to read blogs on how to save money and think "Duh.. that's just common sense." And it's true, but we have to actually do the things to see the results. I learned that the hard way.  These are all things I've actually done that have saved me lots of money plus promoted better financial habits in general. 

I know this isn't technically a real estate topic, but feel free to call or message me with any of your real estate questions or future topic suggestions. 

Have a great weekend! 

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