Thursday, April 13, 2017

Financial Black Holes: Where Are You Wasting #Money

Spring cleaning is the ideal time to clear the cobwebs and dust from your house. You should also take this time to clear the cobwebs from your finances and clear out your financial black holes. If you feel a little bit of pain every month when the bills come due, it’s a clear sign that you’re spending too much money somewhere. As painful and tedious as it may be, you need to sort through all your bills and identify where you could save money each month. The more money you save per week, the more you have set aside for luxuries or unexpected costs.
Make A Budget
Sit down with a hot drink and identify which expenses are costing you the most every week. Can you afford to cut back on these in any way? Also, see if there are any small expenses that could save you money each month. Netflix might not be too expensive, but do you have a friend who might like to share your account? That’s a few extra dollars in the bank each month. If you watch shows almost exclusively on your laptop, trim the cost of your cable bill by cutting back on the premium channels.
Your gym membership might have been a great deal at the time, but it’s only worth it if you’re going regularly. Cancel the membership, and see if you can motivate yourself to workout at home. There are a number of fitness videos available online for free, and you can buy some weights and smaller fitness aids for a fraction of the cost of a gym membership.
Take a look at that pile of magazine subscriptions you haven’t read yet. If you’re on the fence, cancel all the subscriptions and see which ones you really miss. You may find that it suits you better to buy one issue every once in a while, instead paying for a full year’s subscription.
The little things may not seem like much by themselves, but they all add up to more dollars in your account each month.
Clear Your Credit Card Debt
One of the golden rules of financial planning is to clear your most expensive debts first. More often than not, this will be credit cards. While credit cards do offer a convenient way to pay for goods and services, if you find you’re struggling clear the balance every month, consider a low-cost loan as an alternative. Shop around for offers from Pretty Penny or other loan providers. Make sure you negotiate a deal that you can afford, or you could end up in deeper debt.
Go Green
Of course, household things like water, electricity, and a broadband connection are necessities, but you can trim the fat by making your home green. Unplugging all your unused electrical devices, air sealing your home, or switching to LED or CFL light bulbs can reduce your energy consumption, saving you money on your bills and helping the environment. Also, now that traditional incandescent bulbs are being phased out in favour of energy saving bulbs, LED and CFL bulbs are becoming more and more affordable.
Going paperless and receiving your bills online can also save you a few dollars per month. Your providers won’t charge you for the printing and postage, and getting monthly reminders will mean that you never forget to pay a bill again.
Negotiate Better Deals
Energy providers often have great introductory deals for new customers, which could save you hundreds of dollars a year on your bills. However, if you’re nervous about switching, then just call up your current providers and try to negotiate a better deal on items like your electronic devices. Believe it or not, your providers love making money from you, and they don’t want to lose your business. Just get in touch with your provider, either in store or over the phone, tell them that your current deal isn’t working for you anymore, and they will help you find a better deal on your service. Don’t be afraid to haggle if you’re buying in store, but always be respectful and polite if you’re asking for a lower price.
If you’re looking to upgrade your electronic devices, but you don’t want to pay a small fortune for the newest models, you can buy the previous model for a fraction of the price it was when it first came out. They still perform most of the same functions as the new release, so you’re not missing out on much if you don’t buy the latest gadget.
Sell Your Old Devices
Much like you shopped around for older models to get a better deal, other people would also be willing to pay money for your current device if it is still in good condition. If you’re upgrading your device, ask if the store will pay you for a trade-in; you could get a discount on your upgrade, or get some cashback for trading in your old one. There are a variety of ways to sell your old phones and gadgets, so look around and see who will offer you the best deal.
Shop smarter
Buying food on a budget is a struggle for a lot of people for various reasons. Fortunately, there are several ways to reduce your food bill each week, including shopping for cheaper store brands, buying non-perishables items in bulk, or sticking to a shopping list. You can also save money on food by avoiding takeaways, packing a lunch to take to work, or freezing your leftovers to eat them later. The best thing you can do to keep your grocery bills low is to find ways to reduce the amount of waste food you throw away this week.
Wherever you can, take advantage of discounts, special offers, or coupons. You can find a lot of coupons in the Sunday paper, and if you use them regularly it will far exceed the cost of the paper. If your local supermarket has a weekly circular, take one and make a note of their weekly discounts.
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