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10 More ways to start saving money today! (Part 2)
You’re very welcome!
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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!
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!
Just how much money will you save with a good credit score? The answer may shock you!
Most people don’t think about their credit score on a daily basis, even as they use their credit cards, make their auto loan payment, or write a sizable check for their monthly mortgage. However, there’s a direct correlation between a good credit score and saving on all of these accounts – and more.
The top credit scorers typically save tens (or even hundreds!) of thousands of dollars over their lives, helping them pay off debt, amass savings, invest to retire comfortably, or achieve their other financial goals.
Meanwhile, consumers with subprime or even average credit scores get charged higher interest rates, fees, and see a lot of doors closed when they apply for new loans.
So how much money will a great credit score actually save you? Let’s take a look:
According to Bankrate.com, if your credit score falls between 600-679, the average U.S. credit card APR (annual percentage rate) is 22.9%
But if your score is in the 680-739 range, your APR drops significantly to 17.99%.
However, for the highest credit scores in the 740-850 range, the average APR is only 12.99%.
So how much can those lower credit card interest rates save you?
Looking at a popular tiered credit card with a $10,000 balance as an illustration, we see that with the lower 12.99 percent APR for high-score consumers, the monthly payment would be $297 for over five years to pay it off. But if you had that that higher 22.9% rate because your credit score was mediocre, that monthly payment would jump up to an astronomical $715…and for more than 7 years!
Therefore, keeping a great credit score could be the difference between paying $18,414 total to pay off this card or $44,330 – a whopping $25,000+ savings!
When it’s time to purchase a car and apply for auto financing, your rates and terms can vary widely. But one thing is for sure: a great credit score will save you a lot of money when you’re paying off that shiny new auto month-after-month.
According to VantageScore, which is the main purveyor of credit scoring for auto lenders, a typical $25,000 auto loan for a 5-year term:
- Below 550 Vantage Score (poor credit): 18.9% with $13,828 interest paid
- Below 620 score (subprime credit): 17.9% with $13,009 interest paid
- 620 to 680 credit score (average): 11% with $7,614 interest paid
- 680-740 credit score (good): 6.5% with $4,350 interest paid
- 740-850 credit score (excellent): 5.1% with only $3,375 interest paid
While a 760 is considered a top-notch credit score for mortgage lending, you’ll probably qualify for the best auto financing with a 720 or higher score. In fact, consumers with excellent credit scores may even qualify for 0% financing on new car purchases.
One of the biggest ways your credit score will save you huge bucks is when it’s time to buy a home. And unless you’re paying cash for that home, you’ll be applying for a home loan, with rates and pricing based heavily on credit score.
Assuming that the average sales price of a house is $343,300, with a mortgage of $274,640 (20% down payment) and a 30-year fixed mortgage:
Let’s start with a 5% interest rate just for illustration purposes (historically, that’s low, but right now it could be a little high):
Your monthly payment will be $1,474
Total payoff over 30 years is $530,758 (interest and principal payments)
But if you have a better-than-average credit score and qualify for a 4.5% interest rate on that same loan, your monthly payment will be $1,392 with a total payoff of $500,962.
And if you have a great credit score that grants you a 4% interest rate, that means you’ll only pay $1,311 per month with a $471,960 payoff
So how much will a good credit score save you when it comes to this typical mortgage illustration?
-Savings in 1 year (compared to a 5% rate)
-Savings in 5 years
-Savings in 10 years
-Savings in 30 years
And for a $500,000 home, the difference between a 760 and a 620 credit score could cost you about $150,000 or more in additional interest payments due to higher rates!
In fact, according to Michelle Chmelar, the vice president of mortgage lending with Guaranteed Rate, every 20-point step down from a 760 credit score could cost the borrower 25 basis points when it comes to pricing, as well as higher fees and closing costs.
Other ways a good credit score will save you money:
Qualify for the best credit cards:
With a top score, you’ll have the best credit cards jockeying for your business, offering the lowest interest rates (sometimes even 0% for a period), options for low or no annual fees, and great perks and rewards. The credit card companies will also gladly extend you higher balances. Together, this can save you hundreds of dollars every year.
Better car insurance deals:
You may not have known that car insurers also rate and apply coverage based on credit scores. While some states, like California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts, don’t allow car insurance companies to look at credit, in most states, you’ll see much lower premiums with a better credit score – saving you money.
Cheaper cell phone plans:
If you’ve walked into a store recently to buy a new cell phone, you were probably asked to authorize a credit score check. In fact, cell companies will require a hefty security deposit and might even charge you higher rates – or outright deny you a contract – if you have enough blemishes on your credit report.
Get approved for rental housing and apartments:
Most landlords include an authorization for a credit check when you submit an application, and your payment history is a pivotal factor in approving you for a lease. Likewise, if you have judgments from past landlords or collections from utility companies on your credit history, you can probably kiss your chances of getting that nice apartment goodbye.
Utility bill savings:
When it’s time to sign up for a new electricity, heating, water, or trash account, a bad credit score can cause some serious problems, In fact, most utility companies will charge increased security deposits – sometimes hundreds of dollars – for bad credit consumers.
Make the grade with student loans:
The average college graduate now leaves school with $37,172 in student loan debt, an increase of 6% (or +$2,200) over just last year. You better believe that a great credit score will help you qualify for lower-interest student loans!
Don’t miss out on your dream job:
A bad credit score can hurt you in ways that have nothing to do with taking out a loan. In fact, employers are screening their potential employees for credit score, especially with government jobs or those in the financial sector. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 Americans have been subjected to a credit score check when applying for a job, and 1 in 10 have actually been denied a job because of a bad score or something on their credit report!
Are you ready to start saving money? Let’s start with your credit score! Contact us for a free consultation and credit report.