Considering the currently rough economic conditions being faced by many Americans, it never hurts to save a bit of money. Although these tips aren’t necessarily meant for those with the most stringent penny pinching tactics in mind, they offer some of the best financial advice about fees you may not normally think about.
- Buying New instead of Used Cars – Cars depreciate very quickly once you drive them off the lot. So why not let someone else pay for that depreciation? Remember that cars are a poor investment because they always lose their value. Also, when you are buying a car, avoid paying extra fees for services you don’t need, like that “paint protection package”, it’s nothing more than a $500 wax job, really.
- Cell phone service cancellation fees – There are a lot of reasons why we may find ourselves wanting to change cell phone providers; however, your contract likely contains fees ranging from $150-$350 for doing so.
The first thing to avoid is buying your cell phone at a mall kiosk. These stores are third party providers that often tack on more fees for termination over the service provider. If you do find yourself in this situation, there are several options.Often times cell phone contracts contain a provision which reduces fees for termination due to poor service. If you’ve moved to a new area and find you are no longer getting a signal, then keep this option in mind. Be mindful though that this option is still more expensive than the next two.Most cell phone contracts contain a provision locking in the costs and fees of the service at the date of purchase. Many of these companies do regularly tack on additional fees. If this is the case, you have grounds to terminate your service. Your last option is to use a contract reselling service. These companies will sell the remaining time on your contract to someone else for a fee. They don’t have the best reputation, so be cautious when dealing with one of these companies. Some online resellers include Cellswapper and ReCellular.
- Eating out too often – Eating out isn’t bad in and of itself it’s just that Americans tend to do it way too often. If you’re the type never to pack a bag for lunch, doing so can save you a lot of money in the long run. Besides, eating fast food all the time has additional costs when we get all fat and unhealthy from it. When you do go out to eat, take advantage of the deals from websites like Restaurant.com, which usually includes coupons for many local restaurants.
- Car wash – Sure automatic car washes save you time and keep your car looking great, but you will save a ton doing the work by hand. You can expect to pay anywhere from $7 to $30 at an automatic car wash, versus a couple dollars for a bucket, sponge, and some soap.
- New electronics – It’s awfully enticing to always buy the new gadget with all the latest features, but do you really need it? Try to upgrade your devices only when you need to, and unless you’re a technology insider, there really is no need to try and stay on top of the curve. While that new device may seem totally awesome right now; remember, it too will be obsolete in another 6 months.
- Extended Warranties – Especially for new electronics, warranties rarely ever pay for themselves. It is better to read up on some consumer reviews, and buy a quality product, than dish out the extra cash to warranty a piece of junk.
- Memberships and subscriptions you never use – Don’t think that just because you bought a membership to a gym you will actually use it. If you find yourself never going, do yourself a favor and just drop the membership. Get rid of old magazine and newspaper subscriptions as well; besides, you can probably find the information for free online.
- Special programs and offers from credit card companies – Most of these offers add no value to your account, and can be dropped without worry. If you’re unsure of any additional costs, call your Credit Card Company or bank. They are required by law to disclose all additional fees.
- Brand names at the supermarket – This one is a bit more subjective. Some people don’t notice any difference between name brands and generics, while others do. It never hurts though to try out the less expensive brands to see if you do like them. Just keep an open mind, and if you find you don’t like them, no harm done, just go back to the brand name.
- Flexible spending accounts – Ok, so this isn’t as much a money trap, but a great way to save that most people have never heard of. Flexible spending accounts allow you to deduct money from your paycheck into the FSA to use on medical expenses. The advantage to this is that you don’t have to pay income tax on this money.