Having extra money is great. But let’s face it; not many people can afford to write a check for an extra $100 or more each month says Paul Haarman. Yet there are actually lots of ways you can get more money in your pocket right now – no matter how much you make. Here are seven smart (and painless) ways to squeeze more money out of your budget.
1. Automate your savings plan
The best way to save for something is not to want it badly enough. That’s why people who go into debt are typically people who really, really want something. If instead you automatically transfer a certain amount each month into a “Someday/Maybe” account, that may be all you need to start saving for bigger things like an emergency fund, travel, or new car – without feeling the pinch of missing that money every month. You can set up an automatic transfer from your checking account into a high yield savings account through your bank or with Connexus Credit Union by visiting this page.
2. Get a better cell phone plan
A better cell phone plan could get you at least an extra $50 a month. If your current carrier charges you for going over your minutes, text messages and/or data limits, call them up and threaten to leave. Tell them you’ll sign up with one of their competitors (like Simple Mobile or Ting) if they can’t give you a better deal. But don’t jump ship just yet – ask them to match the offer from their competitor. When they say no, go ahead and switch. The key is not giving in too soon because all cellular carriers know that once someone switches, it’s hard to get them back so they will often meet your demands to keep you as a customer.
3. Get your car fixed properly
Not changing the oil in your car regularly can cost you. A lot. Most people change their own oil or take their cars to Jiffy Lube for an “oil change” which costs around $20-30 dollars typically – including the filter explains Paul Haarman. But your mechanic will charge you twice as much ($50-$100) because they don’t have to make a stop at Walmart first and they actually remove the drain plug, clean it out, replace it, torque it down properly and refill with fresh oil. That’s why you should always ask if they are going to do this when you go in for just an “oil change”.
4. Switch banks
If your bank is charging excessive fees or not paying interest on your savings account, it’s time to switch. Some of the big banks charge up to $15 a month for checking accounts. Don’t do that! You can either open an account at your local bank or credit union (which is non-profit) where you’ll only pay around $5 – $6 per month, if not less. Or you can use an online bank like Capital One 360 which offers free checking and interest on your money!
5. Cancel cable TV
The average US household is paying over $100 each month for cable TV. If you suspect there are probably better options than this, you’d be right. You may want to start by trying out Hulu Plus. For just $7.99/month you get access to lots of current TV shows. If Hulu doesn’t cut it for you, you can also check out Netflix which will cost you about $8.99/month – but that only gives you access to their streaming library (not any live TV). You can always purchase HD antennae and get all the local channels in crystal clear HD for just $20-30 dollars.
6. Cancel your gym membership
This one may be hard to swallow if working out is part of your daily routine, but believe me, there are better ways to spend that $50 or more per month than on a gym membership says Paul Haarman. First of all, don’t go during peak hours because most people try to cram in too many workouts each week so they go during the busiest times. Secondly, if you go to a gym that has childcare, bring your kids and work out while they play (I do this all the time and it’s free). If you go on vacation, don’t cancel your membership – just freeze it for up to six months! Most gyms will give you a prorated refund which means you only need to pay about 1/3 of the annual price.
7. Be Open-Minded About Your Interests
If you keep buying things related to something because “it might be useful” or because “you like it”, stop what you’re doing and ask yourself: “Is this something I’m really passionate about?” The odds are pretty good that if you don’t enjoy something, you’re likely to stop doing it after a short time anyway. So don’t force yourself into spending money on topics that aren’t your favorite.
Not all of these ideas may work for you, but if you can pull off even a handful of them, it will make a big difference in your financial situation says Paul Haarman. Don’t be afraid to test out new strategies and never give up. Doing something is better than doing nothing – even if the results aren’t what you expected or there’s still room for improvement.