For centuries, the sentiment for frugality has been “a penny saved is a penny earned.” Whether or not Benjamin Franklin ever used this expression is up for debate, but he did say “Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” When all is said and done, it is not how much money you make but how much of it you actually keep.
To begin a personal finance review, you need to know where you are spending your money. Viewing a detailed accounting of all the money you spend can be very eye-opening. Things like coffee breaks, lunches, entertainment, happy hour, groceries and subscription services all contribute to your spending. Programs like Mint and EveryDollar can help you accomplish this task.
Itemizing your spending can lead you to the obvious areas where savings can be accomplished. Next, go a bit farther to see if you can save on essential services.
- Get comparative quotes on car, home, other insurance.
- Review and compare utility providers.
- Review plans on cell phones.
- Consider eliminating the phone line in your home.
- Review plans on cable TV, satellite for unused channels and packages or receivers.
- Consider cable entertainment alternatives like Hulu, Netflix, AppleTV, and Sling.
- Review available discounts on property taxes.
- Consider refinancing your home … lower the rate, shorten the term or pull cash out and pay off higher-rate loans.
- Consider refinancing cars.
- Call credit card companies to ask for a lower rate.
- Consider transferring the balance from one card to a new card with a lower rate and then, pay off the balance as soon as possible.
- Review all the automatic charges on your credit cards … do you need or still use the service?
- Discover late fees that are regularly being paid and eliminate them.
- Review all bank charges for accounts and debit cards; determine if they can be reduced or eliminated.
- Pay your bills on time and avoid all late fees.
- Monitor your bank account and avoid overdraft charges.
- Some companies have customer retention departments that can lower your rates to retain your business.
A strategy that some people use is to report their credit cards as lost so new cards will be issued. When they are contacted by the companies to get a valid credit card, they can determine if the service is still needed.
The money you save can ultimately help you in the future for a rainy day, an unanticipated expense, a major life event or retirement. Cutting back now will benefit you later, possibly, when you need it even more. Tennessee Williams said, “You can be young without money, but you can’t be old without it.”
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