What we make. Examining incomes for a wide range of average Americans.
What does the average person earn at his or her job every year?
That question is easy to answer, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average wage for working adults in America as of (Q4 2017) is $857 per week or $44,564 annually.
However, while that is just an average (mean), our paychecks vary widely on a whole lot of factors—aside from our occupation. For instance, men make $49,192 on average, which women earn only $39.888, or just 81.3% of their male counterparts.
It’s common sense that age factors into what we earn, too, and the data proves that, with men 55 to 64 achieving the highest annual earnings ($58,760), while women topped out $43,420 from ages 45 to 54. It also makes sense that there’s a huge correlation between education levels and income. College graduates with at least a Bachelor’s Degree earn an average of $66,456 annually (it literally pays to stay in school!), while those with a Master’s Degree or higher earn a lofty $77,324 on average.
As could be expected, people working white collar jobs make more, as professional, management, and related occupations bring home $64,200 annually, compared to an average of just $28,028 for service occupations.
Now, let’s run down the best, the worst, and some other notable occupations based on their corresponding salaries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are the 25 highest paying jobs in America:
Median salary: $269,600
Median salary: $252,910
3. Obstetrician and Gynecologist
Median salary: $234,310
4. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
Median salary: $232,870
Median salary: $228,780
Median salary: $201,840
Median salary: $200,220
Median salary: $184,240
Median salary: $173,860
Median salary: $168,140
11. Nurse Anesthetist
Median salary: $164,030
12. Petroleum Engineer
Median salary: $147,030
13. IT Manager
Median salary: $145,740
14. Marketing Manager
Median salary: $144,140
Median salary: $144,110
Median salary: $139,880
17. Financial Manager
Median salary: $139,720
18. Sales Manager
Median salary: $135,090
19. Financial Advisor
Mean salary: $123,100
20. Business Operations Manager
Median salary: $122,090
Median salary: $120,270
Median salary: $117,580
Median salary: $114,120
24. Political Scientist
Median salary: $112,250
25. Medical and Health Services Manager
Median salary: $109,370
Now, here are some notoriously low-paying jobs in the United States:
- Gaming Dealers $21,990
- Animal Caretakers $31,240
- Cooks $16,000 – $24,000
- Hotel clerks $21,500
- Bank teller $24,940
- Janitor $24,850
- Restaurant host, hostess, waiter or waitress $24,410
- Farmworkers and laborers $10.52 per hour and an average yearly salary as low as $25,570
- Retail cashiers $25,827 to $32,732.
- Personal and home care aides $22,272 to $26,921.
- House cleaners/maids $23,469.
- Motion picture projectionist $18,260.
- Manicurists and Pedicurists $26,400
- Childcare workers $28,090.
- Fast food workers (salaried or full-time) $20,257
- Dishwasher $9.10/hour or $18, 930
- Walmart worker $8.86/hour or $17,860
These jobs pay near the national average:
- Attorney $51,000
- Elementary school teacher $35,630 – $83,160. (Median $53,400)
- Event Planner $45,810
- Flight attendants $43,350
- Child, family, and school social workers $43,540
- Real estate agent $39,000
- Administrative assistant $24,000 to $50,000 (Median $32,502)
What trades pay:
- Heat, AC, and refrigeration mechanics and installers $43,670
- Construction worker $32,000
- Plumber or electrician $39,000
The highest-paying private sector jobs in America:
- Chief executives officers (CEO’s) $15.6 million (but their bonuses commonly reach millions or even tens of millions of dollars!) By the way, that’s 271 times more than the average American worker!
- Average NBA basketball player salary $7.15 million
- Average MLB baseball player salary $4.47 million
- Average NFL football salary $2.7 million
What government employees and civil servants earn:
- State worker $49,240
- Policeman $48,000
- Fireman $43,000
- Garbage collector $43,000
- Average U.S. Army private up to sergeant $17,892 to $27,814
- Governor $70,000-$187,256
- Senator $193,400
- Congressman $174,000
- United States President $400,000
50 Traits to help you achieve success, wealth, and financial independence. (Part 1)
What separates the most successful and wealthy people from the average person isn’t natural talent. They don’t have some secret the rest of us don’t have access to, nor are they luckier than we are. In fact, there are specific fundamental core concepts that just about every ultra-successful or wealthy person has in common. (Yes, maintaining an excellent credit score is definitely one of them!)
It turns out, if you want to be well-off, it doesn’t matter where you came from, how much money your parents had, or what your present circumstances are. Maybe your credit score is 500 and you’re saddled with debt, but you set your mind to becoming debt free? Or, you’re a renter but want to buy a home because you’re tired of overpaying to make your landlord rich. It’s possible that your finances are well under control, but you’d like to build a better financial future for your family.
No matter what your version of “success” or “wealth” is, we all have to walk the same path to get there – which means incorporating these 50 habits to achieve success, wealth, and financial independence:
1. Pay off bad debt.
Successful people understand that paying interest is a great way to make someone else rich – and keep struggling, yourself. In fact, financially comfortable people always pay off credit cards, car loans, small installment loans as fast as they can, and don’t carry personal debt on a month-to-month basis. While they often pay off their mortgages as well, they distinguish between “good debt” and “bad debt.”
2. Plan for rainy days.
Financially aware people may take risks, but they definitely are pragmatic as well, planning and preparing for the unforeseen. They keep a good amount of savings, make sure they are well insured and protected, and generally minimize liability in every aspect of their lives.
3. Automate savings.
Whatever they earn, successful people break off a tiny piece and stash it, deducting it directly from each paycheck. This is what they mean by “pay yourself first,” as it gives them a solid foundation to invest and grow before they ever touch the rest of the funds for basics or play.
4. Invest young.
Even in their 20’s or sometimes their teens, these folks understand the compound principle of money. By putting money into 401k’s, Roth IRA’s and the like early, they benefit from returns and a windfall as they get closer to retirement.
5. Go the extra mile.
People who achieve big things in life invest extra effort, thought, and creativity into everything they do, no matter how big or small.
When you look at those who achieve excellence at anything from art to sports to neuroscience, the typical pattern is that that didn’t spend a ton of time partying or playing video games. Any classically trained musician will tell you that they didn’t attend a lot of social functions so that they could practice.
7. Log long hours.
Successful people got the hard work out of the way early, not looking for shortcuts or get-rich-quick schemes. By doing, they learned to refine their work, the way a swimmer refines their stroke to maximize the outcome and minimize the effort.
Instead of getting hung up on the minutiae of the process, they’re constantly focused on the target, asking questions like: how can I improve? What is lacking or holding me back? There is a built-in evaluation of every project they undertake.
People who accomplish great things in life are confident but not cocky, have a good sense of their own strengths and weaknesses, and have a high self-worth, while remaining humble.
Some of the most unlikely experiences give rise to the best ideas. Great thinkers get outside their bubble and open themselves up with a relentless curiosity about the world.
They have specific training, knowledge, skills, and talents. Instead of just being generalists, high achievers invest in the education or training to become the best at one single thing, while adding on to their core skill. For example, professional athletes train constantly, but they also educate themselves on nutrition, concentration, and responsiveness.
There is no substitute for reading and ultra-achievers read non-stop. Studies show that 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more every day (for education or career reasons – not romance novels!). Reading is part of that core skill set, no matter the discipline.
13. Organization and goal setting.
81% of wealthy and successful people scratch things off a daily To Do list compared to only 19% of working class people. Just the act of writing down goals is very powerful, allowing the mind to prioritize and receive a jolt of satisfaction from completing even simple tasks.
14. Wise use of time.
Successful people use their downtime to inspire their projects and explore other ways of thinking. Since time is our greatest asset, successful people don’t spend theirs on empty entertainment. In fact, 67% of wealthy people watch one hour or less of TV every day, while 23% of poor people do, and only 6% of wealthy watch reality TV shows vs. 78% of poor.
Setting tangible goals with concrete timetables and planning the action steps to achieve them is crucial to success. Being able to break down big goals into small digestible steps is key, along with a consistent reevaluation of their plan based on changing circumstances. If we don’t, then we aren’t experiencing progress and our projects quickly lose momentum.
16. Risk and a relationship to failure.
Failure is not the enemy of successful people – it’s a necessary instrument of growth. In fact, if they don’t go through enough failure in their lives, they understand they’re not taking enough risks.
17. Optimism bias.
Successful people don’t wait around for luck to bless them –create their own opportunities with hard work, smart planning, and confidence in their efforts. In fact, 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity instead of luck, while only 4% of poor believe the same. Furthermore, 76% of affluent people attribute negative outcomes to bad “luck” vs. only 9% of the poor.
People who own their actions good and bad, and exhibit accountability for their actions tend to draw quality people around them. They never try to pass the buck or dodge blame – this goes back to that self-awareness piece.
19. Flexible thinking.
Agility takes practice, but it’s a necessary skill. Successful people have firm values but flexible thinking, adjusting their sails depending on how the wind blows.
20. Create vs. consume.
Instead of just amassing and worshipping material things, successful people are marked by their contributions, whether it’s a new business, building a house, or forming a non-profit. Creation is one of the processes held in highest esteem by high achievers.
21. Presence of mind.
The key to success (and happiness) is to always be fully present in the moment. That goes for work as well as play.
Mega high achievers dare to dream about the unattainable…then they attain it! In fact, 80% of wealthy and successful people are focused on a singular goal – and never take their eye off the ball.
“Fall seven times, get up eight,” as the old saying goes. You hear great minds talk about setbacks and disappointments, but they understand that their success is earned by bouncing back.
24. Dissatisfaction with the status quo’.
It’s really about developing a vision rather than accepting mediocrity. Achievement is about reaching higher.
25. Singular focus.
Multi-tasking is a myth that amounts to “do everything badly.” The human brain can only fully focus on one thing at a time. Successful people know this and don’t try to juggle – work in immersed short bursts of concerted effort.
Look for part two coming soon with 25 more traits of wealth and success!
The homebuying and mortgage process starts with your credit score.
Homeownership rates are near modern-era lows, but it’s not because people don’t want to buy. But surveys reveal that coming up with a down payment, qualifying for the mortgage, too much debt, and even credit score are holding them back from homeownership.
In fact, the majority of people who are planning to buy a house in the next 12 to 18 months are pretty confused about what credit score they need, and how to improve their score. However, this national survey found that only 45 percent of potential home buyers really understand what their credit score is measuring – their responsible management of debt and risk of defaulting on new loans.
Likewise, less than 50 percent of respondents could identify what their credit score affects in the mortgage process (such as interest rates, program guidelines, and the amount they qualify for.)
Their lack of clarity can actually hurt their score, further delaying or even canceling their plans to buy a home. For instance, 33 percent of consumers polled think that increasing income will help their credit score, and 28 percent believe that closing old accounts will do the same (not the case).
Even more concerning is that they’re unsure of where to even start with the knowledge, actions, and assistance to ready their credit for a home purchase. Only 22% of people polled thought that they should check their credit report in the three months leading up to their mortgage application!
Of course, when people start the process of buying a home, there are a lot of things to focus on: which neighborhood they want to live in, finding the perfect house, getting approved for a mortgage at a great interest rate, and then the all-consuming process of packing and moving. But before any of that happens, there is one more item that should lead off their checklist: taking care of their credit score.
So, keeping your credit score up to par has some very tangible benefits during the home buying process:
• Lower interest rates,
• A greater variety of loan programs available,
• Qualify for loans with less money down,
• Your offer on a house will be seen as more favorable if you have a high credit score, giving you more leverage. During multiple offer situations and bidding wars, the seller sometimes requests additional documentation like proof of the buyer’s credit score and funds.
• But, of course, saving money when you make your mortgage payment every month is the real benefit. Even a credit score increase of a few points may help you qualify for a lower interest rate, adding up to tens of thousands of dollars in savings over the life of your loan.
Consider these three scenarios, where three consumers who are buying a $400,000 home, with a $320,000 mortgage, qualify for interest rates of 4%, 4.5%, and 5%, respectively. Please note this is just an illustration for educational purposes.
Interest Rate: 4%
Monthly Payment: $1,527
Total of 360 Payments: $549,982.42
Total Interest Paid: $229,982.42
Interest Rate: 4.5%
Monthly Payment: $1,621
Total of 360 Payments: $583,701.48
Total Interest Paid: $263,701.48
Interest Rate: 5%
Monthly Payment: $1,717
Total of 360 Payments: $618,418.51
Total Interest Paid: $298,418.51
That means if your credit score was top notch and you qualified for a 4% interest rate (hypothetically), you’d save $190 a month compared to the 5%, and $94 compared to the 4.5% loan. That sounds nice, but doesn’t seem like big money, right?
But when you compare the long-term savings, the person with the 4% loan saves $68,418 in total payments over the life of the loan compared to the 5% loan, and $33,719 compared to the 4.5%
That’s some HUGE savings for just a very small interest rate difference. (For even more information how a good credit score will save you money, read this.
So, how do you make sure your credit score is ready for the home buying process? Here are some tips to make sure your credit score will be as high as possible when you’re ready to buy a home:
1. Always pay on time.
According to FICO, 96% of people with a FICO score of 785 or greater have no late payments on their credit reports, so be one of those people who have a spotless payment history if you want the perfect FICO. Since payment history is 35% of FICO’s scoring model, paying on time is crucial.
2. Check your credit report periodically.
It’s important to make sure that there are no errors on your credit file and everything is in order. These days, you also need to make sure that your identity hasn’t been stolen or compromised, which affects up to 1 in 8 Americans every year.
3. Spend less and pay down your balances.
FICO calculates a significant portion of your score by your credit utilization ratio – how much debt you keep to how much your total available balances are. A survey of those who had the top scores revealed their average credit card balances relative to their limits was just 7%.
FICO calculates 30% of their scoring model by the overall money you owe and how close you are to the limits on your credit cards and revolving debt, so low balances, and healthy ratios are the key to a top score.
4. Keep a good mix of credit.
Consumers with FICO scores above 760 have, on average, six accounts that are currently “paid as agreed” and an average of 3 accounts with a balance.
5. Keep well-seasoned accounts.
Most super scorers also have, on average, an account that’s 19 years old. The average age of their accounts is between 6 and 12 years old and they opened their most recent account 27 months ago or more. 15% of FICO’s scoring is calculated by the credit history.
6. Start early.
Don’t wait until you’re ready to start looking at houses or apply for a mortgage to start working on your credit. Get a copy of your credit report from Nationwide Credit Clearing six months before you’re ready to apply for a mortgage. That will give you plenty of time to pay down debt, close unwanted accounts, or dispute errors and inaccuracies in order to maximize your score – as well as working with Nationwide Credit Clearing to repair your score.
7. Do’s and Dont’s during the home buying process.
It’s important not to make big changes during the mortgage process, as it may trigger a red flag for lenders, who are trying to make decisions based on a static snapshot of your finances. Avoid big purchases on credit, moving large sums of money to and from bank accounts, and applying for any new credit or closing existing accounts.
8. Consider getting help.
Before you even sit down with a mortgage broker or take a ride around town with a Realtor, home buyers would be wise to contact Nationwide Credit Clearing. With a complimentary free credit report and consultation, we can analyze your situation and give you an accurate assessment if your credit is home-buying worthy or needs some work.
Contact us today to get started – and happy home hunting!
10 More ways to start saving money today! (Part 2)
You’re very welcome!
Make sure to follow Nationwide Credit Clearing for more great information on improving your credit score, saving money, and creating a brighter financial future.
Ten more money-saving tips and hacks:
1. Check for bank fees and credit card annual fees.
These days, banks make countless millions of dollars every year just on fees, charges, and other avoidable costs. But that doesn’t mean you need to stand for it – check to see what kind of fees your bank and credit card companies are charging you and don’t be afraid to take your business elsewhere. Just be reading the fine print and moving your money to a bank, credit card, or financial institution that charges less but still matches your needs, you can save a few hundred dollars every year.
2. Watch those ATM fees.
When you use a bank other than your own, the average financial institution hits you for $2.50 in ATM fees AND your own bank can charge you an average of $1.57. Ouch. Plan your trips to the ATM so you’ll always have enough cash on you, or use your debit card at places that don’t charge a service fee. Just by paying attention to when and where you use the ATM, you may be able to save $10-$25 every month per adult in your household.
Money-saving tip: most supermarkets don’t charge fees for cash back on purchases!
3. Find coupons, rebates, and discount codes.
It may be a little cliché to sit at your kitchen table pouring through the newspaper and cutting out coupons, but these days, just about everything you need is online to save some serious bucks. In fact, most retailers have specials, promotions, coupons, rebates, and offer discount codes for good customers – all accessible to you for free on the web.
But instead of spending a whole lot of time hunting for the money-saving offers you need, there are amazing websites available that search out, aggregate, and present all of those money-saving opportunities for you. You can even enter your favorite store or the products you normally buy, or specialty items you’re looking for and receive email alerts when great deals pop up.
4. Refinance your mortgage.
Call a mortgage broker or your current lender to see if you can take advantage of today’s super low rates. Even the difference of one percentage point in interest rate can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan!
In fact, the best way to take advantage of a refinance with lower interest rates is by improving your credit score, which can save you tens of thousands of dollars – or more – over the term of the loan!
5. Review your cell phone plan.
Call up your carrier and ask to review your usage minutes and the plan you’re on. You might be overpaying for something you never use. Are there a few people in your household that use cell phones? Make sure to price out a family plan. In addition, if you have a home phone that you don’t really need, it’s a good time to cancel it.
6. Buy a good coffee maker.
If you’re like me, you’ll NEVER consider abandoning your much-needed caffeinated beverage, but making it at home will save you buckets of money. The average American spends $1,100 a year on coffee, though I would argue us working professionals drop even more at Starbucks. A good coffee maker will cut that cost by about 1/20 and you can make it how you like. Buy a thermos and bring extra to work for that afternoon caffeine injection.
7. Plan your meals out.
If you’re like me, you waste a lot of money on eating out. In fact, the average American spends more than $2,500 a year eating out! There’s nothing wrong with going to restaurants, but it adds up quickly so it should be a special, fun outing, not just an impulse based on convenience. Pre-scheduling your nights out to eat with the family and days out at work helps you cut costs. and you’ll actually enjoy the experience more. Try being frugal Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, and then start rewarding yourself toward the end of the week.
8. Lower your water heater’s thermostat.
Does anyone else see it as a ridiculous waste of energy that we turn on the scalding hot water and then have to cool it by turning the cold halfway up? Lowering your water heater to the 120-degree setting can save you up to $450 annually.
9. Regulate the heat and air.
About 32% of all energy waste comes from heating and air conditioning, which costs a pretty penny, especially in the cold winters or scorching summers. The biggest problem is that you’re heating or cooling your whole home equally, although you and your family are probably congregating in one or two rooms. So, turn down the thermostat but utilize portable heaters, fans, and even window AC units to save big money on your energy bills.
10. Improve your credit score with Nationwide Credit Clearing – and start saving money!
These days, your credit score is tied to just about every interest rate, loan, and financial account that you hold, which means that improving your credit score is the #1 most effective ways to keep your hard-earned dollars in your own pocket.
To find out just how much a great credit score can save you, contact us at MyNationwideCredit.com for a free report and consultation!
The 15 most common credit score wrecking balls!
Of course, one of the biggest wrecking balls that smash through your credit score and finances is paying your bills late. For accounts on your credit report, like mortgages, credit cards, auto and student loans, and many others, paying even just a day or two late can trigger a 30-day late, which will significantly ding your score.
Even worse, being 90 days late causes further damage to your credit report that. Remember that payment history (paying on time every month) is 30% of your score, so pay on time to dodge this wrecking ball!
2. Max out credit cards or accounts
Your credit ratio, or the amount of total debt you hold compared to your available credit, is also a major factor for your score, making up 30% of your FICO as well
So, when you max out your credit cards, even if they are paid on time, your score will get smashed.
3. Have an account charged off and go to collections
Once you are 90 days late with your credit card payment or bill, the next step is typically that your creditor soon charges off the debt, sending it to a third party for collections, causing even more damage to your credit score that can be hard to erase.
4. Cosign for someone who doesn’t pay
Maybe you have a friend or even family member that asks you to be a cosigner on their credit card, auto loan, or another account. I know that you’d like to help, but aware that if they don’t pay, YOU are fully responsible for their debt. In fact, those late payments will show up on your credit report just like you took out the debt, yourself.
5. Filing bankruptcy
If you want to talk about a big, heavy wrecking ball, filing a Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy is one of the most damaging events to someone’s credit score. However, for some people, legal insolvency is still the best option if they are drowning in debt with no way out. The good news is that Nationwide Credit Clearing can work with you during and after the BK process to repair the damage!
6. Foreclosing on your home
Another major wrecking ball is foreclosure, which occurs when you miss enough house payments so the bank legally repossesses the home. Foreclosures cause serious damage to your credit score and will take seven years to fall off your credit report.
7. A judgment against you
This is a dangerous and scary wrecking ball for consumers. When you don’t pay your debt obligations, your lender or third-party collection agencies may take you to court, trying to secure a judgment for the amount you owe (plus late fees, penalties, and court costs). Also, there are state and federal judgments for unpaid child support, alimony, IRS tax liens, etc. that will never disappear from your credit file until they’re satisfied! Contact us immediately if you have judgments!
8. Applying for new credit recklessly
If you start filling out a lot of credit card and loan applications within a short period, it shows the credit bureaus that you’re financially desperate, or something is wrong. Since their main job is indicating risk for lenders, your credit score will take a hit, accordingly.
9. Close old credit cards in good standing
It may seem like good financial sense to cancel old or unused credit cards, but by shutting down a seasoned card or credit line in good standing, you’ve just effectively erased a positive track record of paying on time. Sorry, but your score will go down once that positive payment history is taken out of the equation.
10. Not pay student loans
Remember when we were talking about judgments? Unpaid federal student loans will level your credit very quickly, and they also won’t naturally disappear from your credit report until they’re paid. Unfortunately, unpaid student loans are the fastest growing form of credit score “wrecking ball” in the United States.
11. Utilize payday loans, cash advances, or financing through Rent-a-Centers
All credit is not created equal, and when you take out loans that are deemed risky, it will hurt your score. Payday lenders, check cashing services, certain retail credit cards, and financing purchases like furniture can shake the foundation of your score.
12. Try to outthink the credit card companies with balance transfers
Are you “jumping around” between credit card offers, taking out 0% interest or cash-back offers and moving balances around just to stay one step ahead? The chances are that questionable financial practice will catch up with you sometime, in the form of penalties, late fees, small print you miss, or higher interest rates. But even if it works, your credit score will be battered and bruised.
13. Not using your credit at all
About 30 million Americans are considered “Credit Invisible,” as they don’t have a sufficient – or any – credit history. If you don’t have any credit cards or other accounts, there’s no established payment history for the credit bureaus to judge you by, and your score will be rock-bottom. Luckily, you can contact Nationwide Credit Clearing, and we will guide you through how to establish credit and build a good score.
14. An imbalanced mix of credit
Do you have only credit cards on your credit report? Or, is have you taken out four installment loans but nothing else? An imbalance between credit cards, installment debt, auto or student loans, mortgages, etc. can also act like a demolition crew to your credit score.
15. Not checking your credit frequently
These days, credit and identity theft is the fastest growing form of crime around the world, and companies that collect your sensitive financial data – and even credit bureaus (like Equifax) are susceptible to hackers. Even if you pay all of your bills on time and do everything else correctly, the best way to protect your credit and finances is to regularly monitor your credit report.
Start by contacting Nationwide Credit Clearing for a free credit report and consultation at (773) 862-7700 or MyNationwideCredit.com.
10 Ways to Start Saving Money TODAY!
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!