Simple ways to immediately find hidden money
The holidays are going to come up quickly and now is the time to set money aside so you can buy gifts, take trips, and make the holiday season magical. So here are 10 simple ways to immediately find hidden money you already have in your budget. Make these changes and set aside the savings so you don't take on any new debt this year
- Change your bank. If you pay any fees at all or your bank is inconvenient so staying with them is costing you in time and money in gas, consider changing banks. For those who qualify, I recommend USAA Banking. They make switching to them extremely simple and streamlined.
- Stop grocery shopping without a plan. Shopping without a plan results in impulse buys and spending too much money because you're not sure what you need and perhaps you're not even sure what you want. When you shop with a plan, you stick to your budget, say no to things that just “look good”, and don't waste money guessing at what you need.
- Shop your cell phone plan. If you pay a high cell phone bill every month, you might be shocked at how much you can save without sacrificing service. Numerous smaller companies exist that run on the major companies' systems and towers but charge much less. You should especially shop your plan if you don't use a ton of any one service, such as rarely calling but texting more, or rarely using the internet but calling more. Companies like Ting.com tailor what you pay based on what you actually use.
- Refinance your student loans. Student loans are a huge drain on a monthly budget. You could potentially save thousands by refinancing your student loans. I recommend Credible.com, as they have numerous vetted lenders that they check for you and they can give you personalized, specific offers in just a matter of minutes.
- Combine your errands. The more often you're out running errands, the more gas you spend, the more time you burn, and the more likely you are to add on additional expenses like a treat from the coffee shop or a quick burger. Eliminate these three money-burners by combining errands into a single trip or with other reasons you're already out.
- Stick to a tight schedule when shopping. When you don't have time to waste while you're shopping, it's easier to grab only what you're there for and ignore impulse buys. Research has shown that the longer you're in a store, the more money you spend. So set yourself on a schedule or time limit so you can't dawdle in stores. Try this, then compare to other shopping trips to see your savings – you're in for a wonderful surprise!
- Evaluate your insurance rates. This tried-and-true method of saving money is tried-and-true for a reason… it works. If you've had the same insurances for at least two years, it's time to shop around to see if you can get a more competitive rate from a different company. You should start first by getting some quotes, then see if your current carrier will match the lower prices of other companies for the same coverage. You may find that not only will you save money but you might actually get better coverage than you currently have. Shop your auto insurance, home or renter's insurance, and more. On top of these insurances, consider dropping other insurances you currently have but don't really need any longer, like cell phone insurance on an outdated model.
- Limit extra spending – like dining out, activities, and shopping – to businesses with great deals and coupons. Use local coupons, nationally available coupons, and check Swagbucks.com for everything from local deals to online shopping to grocery shopping. By limiting yourself to businesses with deals and coupons, you can save well over $100 in just one month. If you use their Swag Button in your browser, they'll let you know when deals and cash back are available at online stores as you shop around!
- Make meal plans. When you plan your meals, you don't end up eating out as much nor spending too much at the grocery store on convenience foods and ingredients you don't end up using.
- Get more sleep. As odd as it may sound, getting more rest can actually save you money. When you get to bed at a decent time, you eat less, use less electricity and heat, and are less likely to spend extra money online shopping or playing online games. On top of these benefits, getting adequate rest reduces stress – a serious budget-killer. Stress has been proven to contribute to poor financial decisions, such as eating out too much because it's just easier, not planning for expenses properly, spending too much for goods and services because comparison shopping feels overwhelming, and even earning less due to lower productivity. Get more sleep to both improve your health and find you have more money left in your budget at the end of the month.