There is a wise saying that what counts is not how much money you make but how much of it you keep. With that in mind, here are 10 money-saving tips in no particular order.
1. Get rid of cable television.
You don’t need it. The cable must go. Read a book or read to the kids. If you really must watch television, there are so many good shows on free television stations, particularly PBS. For movies, visit your local libraries for free movie rentals. Believe it or not, they have good selections.
2. If you are renting, you should seriously look into buying a house.
Homeownership provides great tax savings and a good way to build wealth. And when you are ready to buy, consider buying a house you can afford and not the property your realtor says you can qualify for.
Also, bear in mind that your real estate agent stands to make a sizeable commission from the sale. For that reason, their interests and yours may not necessarily be the same.
3. If you have an account with a bank and you pay monthly maintenance fees.
Consider closing the account and moving your banking business to a credit union. Credit unions are non-profit and are owned and organized by people united by a common bond such as religion, ethnicity, culture, neighborhood, recreation and so on.
With as little as $25.00, you can open a credit union checking account with unlimited check writing privileges and withdrawals. They also offer loans (both secured and unsecured) at more attractive rates.
4. If you file 1040EZ, 1040A or a simple 1040 and have access to an internet.
There is no reason to pay someone to file your taxes or buy expensive tax preparation software. Many websites offer free filing services. Some of them may require income eligibility. TAXACT ONLINE has a very user-friendly website and offers free filing services, including free electronic filing for federal tax returns.
For state filing and other extras, they charge a fee. With a direct deposit, you can e-file and get your refund (if you are due one) in as little as 14 days. Avoid Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) ripoff. If you waited a year for your refund, there is no great harm for an extra 14 days wait.
5. If you are planning on buying a new car, a word of caution.
Do your homework first before stepping into a dealership showroom. Do not fall into the temptation of purchasing expensive roadside packages or extended warranties.
For one, today’s vehicles, no matter the make or model, are built to last. Just follow the manufactures scheduled maintenance guide (i.e. rotate tires and change oil filters, AC, brakes, engine coolant, timing belts, at regular intervals) and you will be fine. Take it from someone who has a car that was purchased new back in 2000.
The car has over 200K miles and runs like new. And just saying no extended warranties or roadside packages may not be enough. Make sure it is no tacked on under a disguise. And for men, be wary if you are steered to get a sales pitch on these packages from endowed and cleavage showing ladies in the finance department. It is no coincidence or accident.
6. On the roadside assistance packages, there is a very good chance that it may already be covered by your auto insurance plan.
May be offered as a compliment by the manufacturer, albeit for short period of time, for buying a new car from them. Do not pay for the same service twice.
On the other hand, If it is not in your auto insurance plan and does not come with the new vehicle, it may be a wise thing to purchase such a plan from Automobile Association of America (AAA) for as little as $50.00 or $60.00 a year.
In addition to roadside assistance, AAA membership provides a discount at major hotels, discount at some auto repair shops and a bail bond for minor traffic violation arrests.
7. Avoid extended warranties on appliances and electronics.
They are a waste of money and the benefits are rarely used. The technology on electronics now changes in the blink of an eye, and by the time the factory warranty runs out, you may already be itching to replace the product.
8. Make it a habit to read monthly statements or correspondences from your financial institutions and bills from your service providers.
Don’t assume that since they come from reputable institutions, that they are error free. The mistake may come from the merchants and vendors submitting incorrect amounts for payment or may be charged that you did not authorize.
A good example is an alteration of check amounts. Always reconcile their Statements with your records.
9. Just as you look at items that would save you money, avoid activities and behaviors that would cost you money and may also be detrimental to your health.
A prime example is an alcohol. Nothing good comes from alcohol consumption, except maybe temporary happiness. To the contrary, the costs in terms of DWI, domestic abuse and violence, your health, etc can be enormous.
10. Incorporate physical exercise in your daily routines.
I’m not advocating expensive gym membership or costly exercise equipment that you may rarely use, but rather a brisk walk in the park or around the neighborhood, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking your vehicles (if security permits) far away from the shopping mall and stores.
Exercise should not be about vanity alone but a long-term good health preserver. As the saying goes, if you rest you rust.