Earning money is not an easy job to accomplish for most people. Even then, more than a third of Americans carry a credit card debt, which is way more than what they have in their savings account, according to a 2019 Bankrate report. And if we take WalletHub’s recent credit card debt research into account, we as a society have reached a milestone we shouldn’t be proud of – for the very first time in the history of the world, the United States combined owe more than a trillion dollars – yes, a trillion dollars – in debt accumulated through credit cards.
The above mentioned facts just lay it out bare open how good we really are when it comes to financing. But if you are looking for a silver lining, you can take lessons from that and become a more financially responsible citizen starting today. Read on to find how you can avoid wasting your hard-earned money and spend your money in a wise manner.
Buy an older model phone
Buying the latest model phones is a big waste of money. For example, you can get a Samsung Galaxy S10 for a price of somewhere around $900, while Galaxy S9 – which is basically the same phone – costs around $600! Similarly, if you go for iPhone 11, you will end up spending around $700. However, if you go for a slightly older, but equally functionable iPhone XR, you can buy it for a hundred dollars less at $600! Now, ask yourself – is having that latest model of your favorite brand worth all that extra cash?
You never have to pay the full price of any product or service
Food, clothing, plane tickets, movie rentals, hotel rooms – pretty much everything that you buy is offered at a marked-down price at some point. So, by paying the full price for a product or service, you are basically hurting your own wallet. To get the most value for money, you should always take advantage of the special discounts that are offered on Cyber Friday and Black Friday.
Go for a health savings account
If you are not aware of a Health Savings Account (HSA), it is basically a kind of savings account where you can deposit your money that is completely tax-free, for the purpose of handling all of your medical expenses. However, the interesting thing to note is that you can use this HSA card to pay for even over-the-counter products such as condoms, contact lens, laxatives, sunscreen, bandages, and even lip balm! Now, while you can get the products at the same exact price, you are paying for them from your pre-taxed money.
Always go for a family plan when it comes to Netflix
If you are going solo with your Netflix plans, you are losing out on a lot of money. Always go for family plans, and share it with a friend or a cousin. You can trade your Netflix password for their Amazon Prime or Hulu password and you both win! While you might think of that $10 as just pocket change, over time you are actually saving a lot of money by simply sharing your password!
Set up a 529 for your kids
For those unaware, 529 is a “qualified tuition plan” that helps you to save money for your kids’ college education. With this type of savings account, you can easily set aside tax-free money right from your paycheck into your kid’s college tuition and other related charges. While the laws might differ state wise on how much you can actually save through this process, it can be anywhere between $240,00 to $529,000 per kid – which is huge!
Always wait before you make a purchase
Human impulse is a really powerful thing, and of all the things that it can make us do, one thing that hurts your financial planning the most is a purchase that you make all of a sudden. In such cases, you should always try and wait for two or three days. If you still crave that product, you probably need it. On the other hand, if you no longer feel the urge to buy that item – hey congrats, you just saved some money by not buying a product you neither liked nor needed.
Be smart with electricity consumption
We don’t realize this, but a lot of money is wasted when we simply don’t care about the electricity we end up consuming. So, the next time you decide to leave your house for a few hours or don’t need a product, always make sure to turn off that device or unplug it. According to an estimate by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a person ends up spending $165 annually on electricity for devices that he or she didn’t even use! So be smart with your electricity consumption and you could easily save money in just a year’s time.
Make it a point to buy clothes off-season
Clothing retailers always work in seasonal cycles, so they have to make way for the new, season clothes. And to do that, they have to get rid of old clothes. This is a good thing for consumers, as right from skirts, swimwear, short-sleeve shirts or similar items will be priced way too down around October. Similarly, if you want to buy something puffy or cozy, April is the right time to buy it. Of course, if you are a fashionista, this would not work for you. But if you are not interested in the latest trends and simply love the classic styles, this will save you a ton of money for sure!
Go for a plugged-in thermostat
Most people think smart thermostats are useless, or simply not worth the money. While it may be true that smart thermostats cost a bit of money, it is truly worth every penny. According to a recent study carried out by Nest, just by switching over to a plugged-in thermostat from an analog one can easily save at least $150 annually! Yes, the end does justify the means in this case, so it is a great idea to buy a smart thermostat and ditch that old, analog one.
Buy a new fridge
If you don’t have an EPA Energy Star-certified refrigerator, it is high time you get one. Uncertified fridges aren’t exactly energy-friendly, and end up using way too much electricity than it usually should. For instance, if you still have that French door fridge that had a drawer freezer at the bottom – replace it with a more energy efficient version, and you can easily save somewhere around $200 a year! And if you are someone who is interested in data and facts, EPA also has a calculator that can help you with that.
Avoid shipping fee
In this digital age, online shopping has become a necessity. And any person who frequently shops online will attest to the fact that shipping fees do end up being sky-high at times. However, with a smart approach and some research, you can easily avoid the shipping charges.
For instance, Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, Bonobos all offer free shipping. And if you are interested in large-scale retailers such as Target, they offer free shipping to a physical store near you, where you can collect your items easily. So, always try to dodge shipping charges, and it can help save some money in the long term.
Always make it a point to pay more than the minimum due amount
According to Experian’s 2019 survey, an average American has over $6000 of credit card debt. Now, let us say that your credit card company charges an interest rate of 15 percent, and you simply decide to make the standard monthly payment of $100. Keeping in the interest rate in mind, you would take 120 months to just pay your outstanding debt, not to mention the one you are already accumulating! Now, if let’s say you increase the payments to $125 a month, and you would only take 78 months to clear your debt. Similarly, $150 will bring that duration down to just 59 months! This is why is advisable to use a credit card calculator for your debt, as annual percentage rates (APRs) and minimum payments etc. can be really confusing for an ordinary person.
Let’s be honest – every single person on this planet would love a good discount. However, when it comes to shopping online, it can turn out to be a cumbersome process to track each and every deal that is on offer. This is why Honey is such a great option to consider. This app tracks discounts on the web and presents the best possible ones for you. It works as a Google Chrome plug-in, and when you decide to check-out, it will automatically use the best discount code on your order. Cool, isn’t it?
Go for an ATM-reimbursing bank account
Having an account with online banks such as Ally can be a good option to save some money. Since these banks do not have any ATMs of their own, they pay the withdrawal fees you incur when you use other bank ATMs. So, open one of these online bank accounts and save yourself some money!
Sign up for the best rewards programs
In this modern age, almost every major chain offers some sort of rewards program or the other. And by not signing up for one of those – a process that hardly requires anything more than just your name and email address – you are basically robbing yourself of your own hard-earned money!
Some of the best rewards programs that you should sign up for are AMC Stubs Insider, CVS ExtraCafe and Target Circle. Sign up for one of these and never miss out on money that rightly belongs to your pockets!