Finding Money: 11 Ways to Save Money you are Spending Without Sacrificing Anything
There are a number of ways to find money by rearranging your finances, stretching your shopping dollar, and spending wisely. Here is a collection of 11 Tips to help you find some money of your own.
Change your Witholding Tax
If you typically receive a tax refund each year, you can actually ask your employer to reduce the amount of tax withheld off your paychecks. I know I know – you like getting those fat checks at tax time each year, but in reality it’s like an interest-free loan to the government. Your money is much better in your own pocket, thank you very much.
Reduce Interest Rates on your Debt
This also applies to your other loans. If you happen to be drowning in your own finances, you can call any creditors you owe, explain your situation, and they can make concessions for you. If the agent you are talking to on the phone can't do it, politely ask for their manager; they have more clout for granting rate discounts.
Refinance your Car Loan
If your car is still less than five years old, and you got your loan through the dealer, you may be able to do better. Using a website like bankrate.com will help you find the best loan rates in your area, and Kelley Blue Book will tell you the blue book value of your car.
Assuming your credit hasn’t worsened since you bought the car, and assuming the car is in good condition, you will likely be able to refinance your loan for minimal fees.
Just make sure you don’t extend the term of your loan. The idea here is to refinance at a lower interest rate, not reduce your expenses by extending your liability periods.
Consolidate Student Loans
Wouldn’t one nice monthly payment be nice? You can save up to $150/month by consolidating your student loans.
The aim here is not to reduce your interest rates overall, since most student lenders will offer the same rates. Instead call each lender you have a student loan with and explain your situation and desire to consolidate. Some will offer you rate discounts after making payments for a certain period of time, or discounts for paying with pre-authorized debiting from your bank account.
Get Rid of Mortgage Life Insurance and replace it With an Individual Policy
You will find that more often than not, replacing your mortgage life insurance policy acquired through the bank with an individual term life insurance policy will save you at least a few bucks each month. Not to mention a myriad of other benefits that make this decision a no-brainer.
Eliminate Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
Not to be confused with Mortgage Life Insurance, mortgage insurance is required by the bank if you made a down payment of less than 20% of the value of your home. Once you have achieved more than 20% equity, this insurance drops off.
You may not be close to having made enough payments to accrue 20% equity, but your home may have appreciated, and all the appreciation belongs to you.
You will have to pay for an appraisal of the property, which can run in the neighborhood of $350, so it would be best to analyze how much you are paying in mortgage insurance before running out to pay for an appraisal for minimal savings.
Save on Utilities
A few techniques used in this department will not only help you to save some money, but you’ll also be friendly to the environment in the meantime.
- Wash your air filters for your heater or furnace regularly. Doing this can save you up to $50/year in heating expenses.
- Install a thermostat that adjusts automatically at night (since you’ll be wrapped up in blankets, you probably don’t need the place to be as warm). This can knock an additional 10% off your bill.
- Seal your windows to eliminate draft, by installing weather stripping or adding caulk to the weak spots.
- Call your utility company to see if they have any programs in place for you to earn discounts. Sometimes use of certain appliances or techniques will allow you to save money off your bills.
- Xin has a few other tips worth checking out to reduce your heating expenses.
Although this expense in and of itself can rarely change, you can change how you pay for it. Many employers have a dependent care spending account, which will allow you to pay for your child care with pre-tax dollars. This is another way to get your tax refund up front, so if you are also employing step one from this article, be sure not to reduce your withholding too much or you may end up owing when you file.
Home and Auto Insurance
Have you shopped around lately? If you haven’t, you may find that rates have changed and you can replace your policy while saving money.
You can also consider increasing the deductible (the amount you have to pay out of pocket if you make a claim), which will reduce your premiums. Just make sure you maintain a deductible that your wallet or emergency fund can handle at claim time.
Term Life Insurance
Again, you may find that the rates have changed since you took out your policy. With people living longer, the cost of life insurance is actually going down! A term policy is easily replaced by applying for a new policy with a different company, then canceling your old policy once accepted at the new rates. It is very important that you get your new policy in hand before canceling the old one, just in case they discover something in your medical records that lead to higher rates or a flat out refusal to offer coverage.
Permanent Life Insurance
Do you have a whole life or universal life insurance policy that is sucking you dry? Chances are that if you need to find money, you can find it here. Call your insurance agent (or the company directly) and look into your options for reducing your premiums. Oftentimes part of your premiums go to the cost of insurance, and the rest go into an investment account of sorts. You will likely have the ability to reduce the amount going into the investment account. You also might be able to take out a loan against the cash value of the policy if you need a chunk of money right now, but be sure to consult a professional about all the ramifications before choosing this option.
The trick with all this money you have now found is to use it constructively. In some cases you have taken on more risk in reducing your expenses (for example by increasing your insurance deductibles or reducing your withholding tax), leaving you vulnerable to possible financial hits later on. Be sure that you document your money saved, and apply it directly to other areas of your finances that need it: debt reduction, savings, or an emergency fund.