Of course you do!
In this ongoing series, we’ll point out effective ways you can save a lot of money this year, next month, and even today!
Here are our first 10 ways to start saving money today:
- Cut down on beverage costs.
Did you know that the average American spends about $650 a year just on soda and soft drinks! For a family of four, that adds up to $2,600 – enough to pay off a credit card or put aside for savings, perhaps. Add in bottled waters (when you could just bring your own reusable bottle and fill up at water coolers), energy drinks, and expensive coffee drinks (more on that later), and you may be able to save $300 or $400 every month just by watching what you drink!
- Compare homeowners or renters insurance policies.
Most families purchase a homeowners insurance policy, pay the high premium, and forget about it. But it’s a good idea to contact your agent every six months or so, just to check in if there are new programs, specials, or lower rates available. It’s also prudent (and free!) to shop around a little and see if you could save significant money with another company or agent. Something as simple as installing new smoke detectors, adding an alarm system, or other health and safety upgrades may qualify you for a discount.
- Shop around for a better auto insurance plan.
While you’re at it, contact your insurance agent and ask him or her if there are better deals available for your auto insurance. You may get a discount for signing up with a company that holds your other insurance policies, too. Or, if your driving record has improved (or just stayed uneventful), you live or work in a different zip code, or your credit score has gone up, there may be a price break you’re not currently taking advantage of.
- Hit the OFF switch on electronics and appliances.
Sure, we know to turn lights off when we leave a room and shut off the TV before we leave the house. But even when you’re gone and things are supposedly off, certain appliances still drain a lot of electricity – and run up your energy bills. In fact, toaster ovens, coffee makers, mixers, kitchen radios, some microwaves, cable boxes, video game consoles, and other entertainment systems and appliances STILL draw electricity even if they’re off. As a general rule, if an appliance has. LED light or digital display, unplug it – don’t just turn it off – and you’ll start saving.
- Install a new SMART thermostat.
Heating and cooling costs add up big for most homeowners, whether you live in a place with the coldest arctic-like winters (hello, Chicago!) or sweltering, humid summers (hi again, Chicago!). But most home heating or cooling systems are outdated – and their thermostats are wildly inefficient, too. You don’t have to replace your whole HVAC system to save money, but switch out your old thermostat for an energy-efficient smart model.
In fact, a new Energy Star thermostat allows you to program specific temperatures for different times of the day. You can even program it higher or lower based on different zones of the house or adjust for when you’re not home. How much money will that save you? The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that you can cut back on energy costs by up to 15% per year just by getting a smart thermostat!
- Bundle your cable, internet, and phone services.
It’s ridiculous home much the average person pays for cable TV, Wi-Fi at home, home phone, and cell phone service every month. While you may not think you can live without all of those, you may be able to save a pretty penny just by bundling your services. In fact, most telecom companies are so motivated to get your business (and keep it), that they’ll give big discounts and special pricing for consumers that sign up for all of these services with them. Just by calling around and comparing bundled packages and offers, you may save $100 a month or more!
- Take a close look at your memberships and subscriptions.
From monthly magazine subscriptions to membership clubs, internet sites that require a monthly fee and smartphone apps with recurring monthly payment. In fact, the average household pays $129 in memberships and subscriptions like this every month! That’s well and good if you use them and like them, but most of us don’t even realize all of the things we’re paying for! Take a careful look at all of your memberships, subscriptions, and online recurring payments, cutting the fat where necessary
- Cut out those ATM fees.
The average American spends at least $290 in ATM fees every year. That’s not banking fees, but just the cost to access their own money at ATM machines. In fact, the average out-of-network ATM fee is now $4.52. There are even ATM operator fees of $2.50 to $3 for non-members, and steep international fees. Some opportunistic banks even charge ridiculous ATM fees based on location, such as many Las Vegas money machines that charge $10! In total, you may be wasting $30 or $40 every month in your household just by using the wrong ATM and the wrong bank.
- Pack your lunch most days of the week.
Of course, everyone loves to eat out when they’re at work. But the cost really adds up. Let’s do the math – if the average brown bag lunch costs about $4, but going out to a restaurant, sandwich shop (or even fast food) comes to about $9 a meal, you’ll be saving $5 a day by not eating out. Add that up over 20 working days, and you’re at $100 savings a month, or $1,200 a year. However, realistically, you probably spend more on nicer sit-down restaurants, tips, beverage costs, snacks, etc. So make it a policy to brown bag it Monday through Thursday and then splurge on Friday. You’ll save a lot of money and not feel you’re missing out!
- Request that your credit card companies lower their APRs.
Credit cards will often reward good customers with lower APRs, reduced interest rates, or by fixing a low interest rate if you’re currently paying a variable rate. It doesn’t hurt to call them and ask for some sort of better terms, rate, or savings. The worst they can say is “no!” But if you’ve paid on time and they value your business, they’ll often do something to keep you. Do this for all of your credit cards, and you may start saving significant money every year!
- Know your credit score.
About one-third of Americans have no idea what their credit score is right now, and nearly 45% of us haven’t checked our score or report in the last twelve months. That lack of attention can cost us big money. In fact, errors, inaccuracies, duplicates, and even ID theft cost American consumers countless millions of dollars each year.
To make sure you save as much money as possible, pull your credit report at least three times a year.
Contact Nationwide Credit Clearing for a free credit report and consultation to make sure you aren’t overpaying!