Saving more money doesn’t necessarily mean giving up restaurant meals for good or never buying a new outfit again. In fact, there are plenty of ways to save money without making too many sacrifices. The following eight ideas might take a bit of extra effort, but they also have the potential to pay off, right into your bank account.
1. Get healthy. For people who struggle to stay fit, eating healthy and staying in shape is easier said than done. But for those who are in good shape, you can save a lot of money on life insurance and individual health insurance plans. And as an added bonus, you’ll feel better and have more energy. You don’t have to join a pricey gym, either: You can take up walking or jogging, or download a free app that helps walk you through different exercise programs.
2. Rethink auto insurance. Every year, re-examine your auto insurance policy for savings opportunities. For example, consider raising your deductible, which lowers premiums. For older vehicles, evaluate whether you really need collision coverage, which covers damage to your car when your car hits or is hit by another vehicle or object. And make it a habit to compare auto insurance quotes annually, which can be done online in minutes. (While you’re at it, consider taking time to compare other insurance policies that you currently have, including homeowners insurance.)
3. Improve your credit score. Of all the painless ways to save money, improving your credit score is arguably the most important. From home loans and car loans, to credit cards and auto insurance, a good credit score can save you a small fortune. Over a lifetime, the savings can easily reach tens of thousands of dollars. The simplest way to improve your credit score is to make on-time payments each month on all of your accounts.
4. Invest on the cheap. Whether you are a passive investor who prefers mutual funds or an active stock and options trader, there are easy ways to save money. For mutual fund investors, stick with funds that have low expense ratios. One rule of thumb is to keep the weighted average expense ratio for all mutual funds under 50 basis points (0.50 percent). Compared to funds that charge well over 1 percent in fees annually, the savings over a lifetime of investing can be substantial. And for active traders, stick with discount brokers that charge $10 per trade or less.
5. Think triple play. One of the biggest monthly expenses for some is the cost of Internet service, cable and phone. The majority of providers offer discounts when you bundle all three of these services together. Called a triple play, you not only save money, but you also get the convenience of a single bill each month.
6. Go prepaid with your cellphone. While this option won’t be right for everybody, many can save a small fortune with prepaid cellphones. You can find prepaid cellphone plans that start at $25 a month. And because they are prepaid, you don’t have to commit to long-term contracts. Two of the more popular prepaid cellphone carriers are NET10 Wireless and Cricket.
7. Shop online. There are several benefits to shopping online – convenience being chief among them. But shopping online can also save big money. Many retailers offer special discounts to online shoppers. And virtually every company that sells products or services online offers promo codes, discounts or coupons. Particularly if you have a big purchase, make sure to search the Internet for deals before buying. You can also track discounts and coupons through online tools, including RetailMeNot and PriceGrabber.
8. Get cash back. If you have good credit, there are a number of cash-back credit cards that pay up to 5 percent on purchases. The key is to use the card for monthly bills and everyday expenses, not to charge things you don’t need. Put monthly bills that accept credit cards on automatic payment, and use the card for everyday purchases such as groceries and gas. And as an extra precaution against overspending, pay the credit card bill in full several times throughout the month. It’s easy to do online, and it prevents any surprises at the end of the month.
With these strategies, you should be able to redirect more of your money into your savings account without feeling the pinch too much.
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