More Ways to Save Money

Hello! I’m Salinas Bankruptcy lawyer Cypress Coast Law with your Friday Financial Tip. Something to help you stay on the path to financial success. I’m the only bankruptcy lawyer you’ll hear with advice about how to avoid the need for bankruptcy.

In my show here in KRML I’ve provided many tips designed to help you develop power over your finances. This power is what will motivate you to develop the good habits that will keep you out of debt problems. Although we’re well into 2015, here’s some tips for today about saving money in the new year:

  1. Implement a new shopping strategy

Next time you plan to buy something pricy—a camera, a BBQ, even a lawnmower, be sure to comparison shop at a minimum of three stores that carry each item. To save time, do this online. And another way to save big is by shopping during off-peak periods. If you typically spend $600 on school or winter clothing but make the decision to shop the smart way: markdowns that average 40% will yield cost savings of at least $240.

  1. Develop a spending plan

If created and implemented correctly, a budget will reveal weak areas and force you to live within your means . However, only about a third of Americans prepare a monthly budget that tracks their income and expenses. That leaves two out of three consumers who may have no real way to assess their finances and incorporate more responsible spending habits.

One unfortunate result is overdraft charges. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has found that consumers who don’t make use of a budget year average $225 a year in overdraft fees.

  1. Plan your meals

When making the grocery list for the week, plan your meals around the sales and corresponding coupons that are available. I know that couponing can be very time-consuming, but there are even websites that can provide coupons for just what you’re interested in. In a pinch, try eliminating a few items from your list or substituting generics to save at least $20 per week.

  1. Reduce budget busters

The little luxuries may seem inexpensive and worthwhile, but they add up rather quickly. Try cutting variable expenses, such as coffee drinks, smoking, gym memberships, or cable TV. Shaving down your $4 caffeinated beverage from five to two cups per week can save you up to $624 per year. On the other hand, if you cut out that $55 monthly gym membership and seek free alternatives, you can save up to $660.

  1. Scrap the loyalty

Switching to Geico (or any other insurance company) may or may not save you money, but it’s definitely worth looking into. Even if you have been with one car insurance company for years, use online comparison tools and shop around to find the most competitive rate. If you find a better quote, call your present carrier and see if they can beat it in order to retain you as a customer.

  1. Load up the rainy-day fund.

Failing to have a sufficient emergency fund in place is the easiest way to enter and remain in debt land. To put things into perspective, if you charge $600 for a set of new tires to a credit card with an interest rate of 16.9% and a minimum payment of $20 per month, you will end up paying $186 in interest over the course of three years. And set that rainy day fund up with a local credit union—it’s one of the easiest ways to develop a relationship with a potential lender. Fund the account with an automatic deduction from your paycheck—it’s got to be automatic to work.

  1. Finally for today, renegotiate your debts.

It never hurts to call around to each of your creditors and attempt to have your interest rate lowered. Be familiar with your recent use of your card to show that you’re a valuable customer—someone your creditor doesn’t want to lose. Set aside some quiet time to call. If you’re unsuccessful with the telephone rep, respectfully but firmly ask to speak with a supervisor. I’ll bet you’ll have at least one or two successes on your first try.

Folks, gaining power over your finances is a series of these small steps. But those first small steps can lead to feelings of frustration and hopelessness—a feeling that the problem is so big that nothing can be done. And because we can’t solve the whole problem at once, we often discourage ourselves from even trying. I’m here to encourage you to take those small steps, and to create those good habits, that can make changes in your life.

If you have questions about ways to save or to avoid common financial traps, or if you’re in trouble financially, visit my website, cypresscoastlaw.com, where you can access my full library of Financial Focus shows, or call me at 424-1764, that’s 424-1764. Initial consultations are always free.