It’s easy to fall into a financial rut. You pay the same bills every month, make the same amount of income and no matter how hard you try it still seems you have little to nothing left over in your savings account. While many of your lifestyle expenses might seem unavoidable, and in the case of your mortgage or car payments they might well be, there are a thousand possibilities for potential savings lurking in your budget.
We’ve compiled this handy guide to show you some of the key areas of your lifestyle to re-examine, in order to gain an extra step towards securing your financial future.
Everyone needs to get from point A to point B, and gas isn’t cheap right now. So while it might seem like no big deal to make an extra run to the grocery store, or make a quick trip back from work to retrieve something you forgot, extra miles sneak up surprisingly fast. At current prices of $2.46 a gallon, a car that gets 20 miles to every gallon will cost you an extra 256 dollars an year for just an extra 40 miles per week.
See if you can try carpooling to work instead of taking your car to save on fuel and maintenance, if you live in an area with good public transportation there’s no shame in taking the bus or train instead.
The AAA calculated the average cost of owning a car at a whopping $8600 per year. With insurance, depreciation and maintenance it’s obvious that your vehicle can cost you a pretty penny for all the service it provides.
Start working on your monthly insurance bill as it’s likely you’re being price optimized and charged higher rates for being a loyal customer. Call a few other insurance carriers if you haven’t done so already and see if you can get a better rate, in fact call your current carrier and let them know about your misgivings and they’ll usually a negotiate a better price for you.
If you have an extra car just sitting in the garage costing you monthly, look into selling it the occasional benefits it offers are probably far outweighed by the yearly costs.
According to money management experts, real wealth can only be created once you stop owing money. The first step to reducing your debt burden is trying to refinance your mortgage, contact your bank and other lenders and see if they are willing to negotiate to lower your interest rates. If you’re really struggling to make payments you might want to look into government programs such as HARP which are designed to help qualifying homeowners get their mortgage on better terms, with lower monthly payments.
Credit card debt is also a big expenditure for most households. Once again there’s nothing wrong with calling up your credit card company and trying to get a more favorable interest rate to reduce monthly payment.
If you’re carrying a lot of debt you could try transferring your balance to a 0% APR card, this can give you some much needed breathing space on the repayment of your debt. Do make sure to opt for a 0% balance transfer card, and that you don’t max out the balance of your new card by making the transfer.
Your electricity bill will usually offer the biggest avenue for long-term savings. A report published by the US Energy Information Administration in 2013 showed that the average American household’s electric bill was $110.23.
At the end of the day, the savings you make are spurred on by your commitment to cutting costs. By writing out a list of your monthly expenditures, you can start looking for items that are unnecessary or expenses that can be foregone. Then you can start putting that money towards achieving the financial objectives you’ve always planned, through sound investment strategies. Remember your financial future is always in your hand, and it’s never too late to take control.