5 Ways to Save Money in the New Year
What better way to start 2011 than with an action plan on how to save money? Here are five easy ways you can save money without changing your lifestyle.
1. Use Your Smartphone for Deals
Do you have a smartphone? If so, be sure to download apps that will search for mobile coupons. For the iPhone, download Yowza!!, MobiQpons, and Save Benjis. With these apps, a barcode appears on the screen of the iPhone, and the cashier will scan the barcode and give you the discount. No need to print the coupons! For the Andriod, download the Google Shopper app, which allows users to scan the barcode of any item in the store and the app will compare prices among different retailers. And for the BlackBerry, visit 8coupons.com and CouponWinner.com (if you have Internet on your BlackBerry).
2. Improve Your Credit Cards
Call up your credit card companies and ask them to lower the interest rates on your credit cards — ask to speak to a supervisor if necessary. By making this phone call, your rates should be lowered by 3-5%.
Also, if you have credit card debt, try to pay more than the minimum payment on your credit card bill, even if it's only a few dollars. This will get you out of debt sooner and you'll save money on interest payments.
3. Track Your Expenses
Do you know how much money you spend each month? In order to begin to save money, you need to know exactly, to the penny, how much money you spend. This will allow you to determine where you are wasting your money. For example: Are you spending $150 month on coffee each month? Are you spending $200 each week by eating out at restaurants? To help you figure out how much money you spend, use this free Expense Calculator. Also, if you have an iPhone, for $4.99 you can download the iXpenseIt app, which enables users to take a picture of their receipts after they make a purchase. The app stores the receipt's data, allowing users to easily track their spending.
4. Shop with Cash Only
When shopping, leave your credit cards at home and use cash instead. At some point, you're going to run out of cash, which will force you to stop shopping, whereas with credit cards, there are no boundaries and you can easily rack up thousands of dollars without even realizing it. Plus with cash, you don't have to worry about interest rates, late fees, or damage to your credit score by accumulating debt or by not paying the bill on time.
5. Set Goals
You probably have a few New Year's resolutions. If it isn't already, make one of your resolutions for 2011 to save money and be conscious of your spending. Challenge yourself! For example, promise that you're going to use cash only for the next three months. After completing that challenge, chances are you'll stick to cash and never go back to credit cards, which is a huge financial success.